Tuesday, December 30, 2008

DOUBLE STANDARD at the Post and Courier

I found it quite ironic that the Post and Courier would run an Associated Press story on the success of the local publisher The History Press, even though the policy of the newspaper will not allow the books to be reviewed by the paper.

The Post and Courier, like many newspapers, clings to the outdated tradition of only reviewing books published in hard cover format, while the success of companies like The History Press is built on publishing only trade paperbacks. History Press books may not be a cloth-covered hard cover with a paper dust jacket, but they are published on acid-free paper with state-of-the-art covers. As technology has improved over the last decade, the publishing industry has seen a massive change in production. In the twenty-first century, being published in soft-cover does not mean a poor book, while being published in hard cover does not guarantee quality. Have you seen all the bad hard cover books for sale at your local bookseller?

The percentage of books that are NEVER published in hard cover continues to climb, yet many newspapers still refuse to review soft cover books. The end result is that the readers of the Post and Courier have missed out on learning about several hundred books written exclusively by local authors and historians targeted toward the paper's readership, only because of the publisher's format.

It is also ironic that the story about The History Press was not written by a local reporter but was done by Associated Press. How can you miss that big of a story in your own back yard? With the well-documented crisis in the newspaper industry these days - circulation and revenues decreasing - one would think a local paper would be more willing to cater the needs of its readers rather than upholding an outdated tradition.

But of course, this IS Charleston, where tradition is often more important than reality.

1 comment:

shedlockc said...

Hey Mark, I just read that article this morning, and it is rather strange that they won't review paper backs still. And you're right, there is LOTS of crap done in hardback. I was happy to see that the history press spokeswoman acknowledged all the local historians like yourself that put out good work and enjoy the city's history. Post and Courier and any other popular mass audience papers may want to begin reviewing paperbacks, because in this economy, lots of us will be avoiding expensive hardbacks and reaching for a $20 book that's just as good.