One of the periodicals I rely on to keep me up-to-date about what writers are up to is about to cease publication.
NEW YORK - Book, a bimonthly magazine partly owned by Barnes & Noble, is going out of business. The last issue, featuring a cover story on Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, comes out next week.
"Barnes & Noble made the decision it couldn't go forward supporting the magazine," Jerome V. Kramer, editor in chief and a co-owner of Book, said Wednesday.
. . .The magazine was founded in 1998 and at one point had more than 1 million subscribers, thanks largely to a free promotional offer from Barnes & Noble, which owns 50 percent of Book. Barnes & Noble ended the program last year and the subscription base has dropped to around 190,000.
Book was sold in numerous stores besides Barnes & Noble outlets, but Kramer said it lost business after "Barnes & Noble" began appearing, in small print, on the cover earlier this year.
"A lot of independent sellers pulled out," he said.
It appears Kramer unwittingly allowed his publication to get caught in the crossfire between corporate and independent booksellers. I suspect adding the phrase "Barnes & Noble" to the cover of Book was an effort to increase sells by giving it the stamp of approval of a respected brand. However, the change may have doomed the periodical by limiting the number of outlets willing to carry it.
Perhaps Kramer will find a way to continue contributing to the literary world. Book was intelligently written and edited and well worth one's time.
An essay in the Books section of The New York Times makes me realize my reading habits are somewhat anomalous. I estimate at least a quarter of the books I read in a given year are translations from another language. Apparently, that is not so for most people.
"There is no Frigate like a book/ To take us Lands away,'' wrote Emily Dickinson. But the ship most American readers sail remains strictly within national borders. According to a recent Publishers Weekly article, of all the books translated worldwide, only 6 percent (maybe less) are translated from other languages into English. By contrast, almost 50 percent are translated from English into those other languages. We all know that events of global importance take place outside our linguistic borders every day. And since our educational system is famous for how poorly it teaches foreign languages, it might try to compensate by offering students a lot more books in translation.
I think I became a reader of international literature for several reasons.