Last month, Yen Cheong of Penguin Group started tracking the number of titles that NPR covers each week after she figured out that statistically, the odds of booking an author/getting a review on any of the shows is less than your odds of being accepted to Harvard. 15 times less, in fact. According to Yen, there are 100,000 plus authors published a year. I heard somewhere that there are 300,000 books published each year (I have no idea where. I could have imagined it. You know, 1/3 of all statistics are made up on the spot. Or so I’ve been told/made up on the spot.)
Anyhoo, point being, there are a hell of a lot of books out there. And we all know that book review sections are shrinking, reading levels are down, blah, blah. Not to mention the fact that book reviewers all seem to cover the same book. How many times has Jhumpa Lahiri popped up in the past few weeks? Not that she doesn’t deserve it – well, I haven’t read the newest, but Interpreter and The Namesake were great books – but come on! And, of course, Slunchie favorite Sloane Crosley . I’m not trying to hate on this authors that are a success, but how many interviews can we read with Junot Diaz?
So why, why, why, do we continue to publish so many books? And why are we so shocked when the majority of them receive little or no coverage? And WHY, pray tell, is that the fault of the publicity department? We send out the books, we come up with clever pitches, but the fact is, there is only so much we can do. If we get one or two major reviews for a non-established author, please congratulate us. And if we get NPR, throw us a party. You would do it if we got into Harvard, right??