a couple of years ago

The most popular posts on this blog over the past 12 months

Back in the nineteenth century an Italian engineer and economist named Vilfredo Pareto advanced the hypothesis that in any circumstances, about 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This thesis is known as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule. As a rule of thumb, the theory works, but only in a […]

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3 years ago

Which authors have written the most books?

You’re gonna love this. Once upon a time, back in the distant reaches of the twentieth century—well, actually it was 1984—one of my clients assigned me to ghostwrite a fundraising letter that Isaac Asimov had agreed to sign. I approached the task with some trepidation, both because I knew Asimov’s reputation as a prolific author […]

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3 years ago

Who is the world’s bestselling author?

Chances are, any book that you might write will never make you the world’s bestselling author. Sales for most books written today are pathetically low. As I noted in an earlier post, the average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling fewer than 250 copies per year and fewer than 2,000 copies over its lifetime. And […]

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3 years ago

Fun facts about books, authors, and readers

A recent newsletter from the Author’s Guild pointed me toward a fascinating infographic by Brendan Brown entitled “Which Country Reads the Most?” The article was full of fun facts, including many surprises for me. Here, for example, are a few particulars about books and publishing around the world: The five countries that read the most […]

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3 years ago

My new book: a fresh look at dystopian novels

After the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the US, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, and Brave New World returned to the bestseller lists. The reemergence of these classic dystopian novels prompted me to take a closer look at the genre. In the months that followed, I refreshed my memory of the three classics and other […]

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3 years ago

Five “good” technologies that endanger us

By Jeevan Sivasubramaniam My friend Jeevan Sivasubramaniam—Managing Director, Editorial, at Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.—has written a short article that meshes very well with my recent review of The Driver in the Driverless Car by Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever. With his permission, I’m reproducing it here.  Vivek Wadhwa’s latest book discusses how technology is not always […]

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3 years ago

Just how many books are there, really?

In a guest post here on October 4, 2016 (“10 awful truths about book publishing”), publisher Steven Piersanti remarked on the huge numbers of books being published today. Here’s what he wrote: According to the latest Bowker Report (September 7, 2016), more than 700,000 books were self-published in the U.S. in 2015, which is an […]

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4 years ago

What? Literary critics I agree with?

I never thought I’d say this, but here it comes. I have discovered that there is, indeed, some overlap between my choices in reading and those of some of the country’s top literary critics. On December 16, the New York Times published lists of the ten top books of the year as chosen by each […]

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4 years ago

10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing

Some years ago my friend and publisher Steven Piersanti, founder and president of San Francisco’s Berrett-Koehler Publishers, wrote an article entitled “10 Awful Truths about Book Publishing.” He has updated the piece from time to time with the latest data. Here’s the most recent version, dated September 26, 2016. By Steven Piersanti 1.  The number […]

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5 years ago

Which countries read the most?

I stumbled online across a fascinating—and surprising—article, “The countries that read the most books, mapped,” which appears on the website Indy100 from the UK newspaper, Independent. Published August 30, 2020, and with data from 2016, the newspaper ranked and mapped selected countries by the number of hours per person spent reading per week. This article […]

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