While wandering around my local Barnes & Noble early this afternoon it suddenly struck me that there are a whole lot of things in the book world that I either actively scorn or simply ignore, so I started a little list in my head. I expected the list would go three or four deep, but when I got beyond that measure I had to start jotting them down in order to keep track. So realizing that the list will reveal as much about me as it does about the publishing industry, I’m going to share it here anyway for you to make what you will of it:
Things About Books That Drive Me Nuts
- Books with two authors – I always wonder how much writing the “big name” of the pair actually did on the project. I’m OK with this kind of thing if one of the two authors is clearly designated as having done the “research” for the book and the other as the writer.
- Ghost Writers – Even worse than dual-writers, are ghost writers. I don’t know which to ridicule most, the ghost writer or the celebrity/politician too damned lazy or inept to do the actual work themselves.
- Books with James Patterson’s name slapped on them so that the instantly hit the bestseller list up in New York City – I know the guy gives away millions of dollars to good bookish causes. I get it. But come on, how many bestsellers does one brand name (and that’s all he is nowadays) need in a given year? Ten? Twelve? Twenty? Is there no limit as to how many slots this guy will gobble up in the future?
- Novelizations of hit movies or television shows – do people have so much free time on their hands that they want to spend it slowly reading a written recap of the movie or film they just watched. Seldom do these novelizations add much, if anything, new to the plot, so why bother? On the other hand, film adaptations of books and short stories are something I very much enjoy because it’s fun to compare the two formats and to see the characters and settings visually come to life.
- The Barnes & Noble bestseller list – a B&N bookseller tells me that it has no relationship to actual book sales as represented on any other bestseller list based upon, you know…book sales. This appears to be the books that B&N wants to push by offering them at 30% to 40% off for reasons of their own. The fiction list is particularly bad, usually offering nothing but books by the same old authors writing the kind of trash I don’t read.
- The New York Times bestseller list – whoever puts this one together often displays the editorial board’s liberal bias by ignoring nonfiction titles written by conservative writers that are selling like hotcakes. This has been documented more than once and greatly cheapens the whole “New York Times bestseller” thing.
- Books about Bruce Springsteen – Good grief, is there a more overrated singer in this guy’s generation? He’s been boring me for several decades now and I just don’t get him. So who’s buying all those books with his mug pasted on the cover that I’ve been seeing for the last three or four years?
- Books by celebrities (even if they actually write them themselves) in which the celeb lectures the rest of us on how morally superior they and their little buddies are – Hollywood environmentalists who fly in private jets, live behind fences, hire armed bodyguards when they dare stick their noses out the front door, or have no friends that politically disagree with them, just need to shut the hell up.
- Tiny hardback books of maybe thirty or forty pages written by big-name authors and carry big-name price tags – I spotted And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman today, but while it seems to carry a beautiful message, the little book’s cover price is $18.00. I’m pretty sure that I read more than half the book in the seven or eight minutes I held it in my hands…come on, eighteen bucks!
- Major series continued after the death of the author/creator of the series – I enjoyed the writing of Vince Flynn, Robert Parker, and Robert Ludlum, for example…a whole lot, in fact. But I really don’t much want to read books by Flynn, Parker, and Ludlum mimics. And, honestly, the guys who are doing this kind of work right now are pretty much all good writers on their own who could be giving us something new and exciting to read, not rehashing old characters and plot lines that may have been getting stale even before the original authors passed from the scene.
So there you have it. I know I sound like a grumpy old man sometimes – but that’s who I am.