A book salesman recently told me that there are about 600 book publishers in the United States, and I have observed all by myself that they run from Vintage to Vantage—which, viewed from either end, is a long way. Even if his figure is a typical salesman’s estimate, I hope that many of these never get my address. The postman whose bent back brings books up to my tenth-floor office already more than earns his hire. As he enters and tries to stand up straight, he reminds me of a hard-to-open book, and his eye says more than I care to read. As it is, his weekly deposit on my big desk scarcely leaves room for my coffee cup.
My postman’s future is not promising if promises of my already innumerable publishers about their new spring books come true—and they always do. We’re in for another avalanche. While never admitted in print—though facilities for such confession are not far from any one of them—publishers, it seems, have taken a vow to leave no subject uncovered.
And—speaking of covers—be it known to the reader that I am working up to the reason for CHRISTIANITY TODAY’s annual Spring Forecast: there are covers and covers. Literally, there are even covers for covers. Why is a well-bound, beautifully covered book covered up with what the industry calls a dust jacket? Dust, you say? My wife veritably finds the jackets harder to dust than the books. I admit that the composite effect of two or three shelves of colorfully jacketed books often creates the prettiest spot in the room, making a contribution equal, and often similar, to that of some modern paintings. Yet I suspect that the publishers’ concerns are not really related to interior decorating, nor to what my wife thinks of dust. They are concerned about that free space which ...1
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