Agents of Buzz Stalk the Unsuspecting

I’ve been following Kevin’s thread about book reviewing, reasons to do it, pro and con. Kevin and I review a lot of books. Sources as varied as publicists for the New York houses and authors themsleves ponder the efficacy of reviews. Do reviews sell books? The jury’s out. They’ve been out for fifty years, sequestered in a seedy hotel, studying sales figures, returns, bestsellers, conspicuous flops. Let’s call it a mistrial. Let these people go.

The heat wave in New York may be clouding editorial judgment. Ed has a link to an article in Newsday about creating buzz for books. Picture this: you’re in Central Park on a Sunday. A person approaches you with the first two chapters of a novel; stunned or alarmed, you accept those pages, if only to make the person go away. It’s harmless in the greater scheme of things. You’ve been buzzed. Curious, you begin to read. A new plan evolves. Why waste time in the park when you could be in a bookstore?

When I lived in New York, thousands of buzz agents approached me on a daily basis. Most wanted change, loose change, sometimes for a purpose, a subway token back then, or bus fare to Tampa. A solid third of these change agents held brochures for restaurants, coffee shops, cheap suits, discount shoes, designer eyeware, the Circle Line tour, shares in penny stocks. No one ever offered me a book. I never allowed the person to get too deep into their spiel.

Maybe I’m old fashioned, out of touch, behind the times. I don’t want perky street people buzzing me. Okay, maybe a star map of Beverly Hills, but that’s the only exception. Once I know where Eddie Murphy lives, I can settle down and read a book review, unless the book is by Brett Easton Ellis. Then I have to go the park.

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