An uneasy time in the book world

Reports from this year's poorly attended BookExpo America in Los Angeles have not been very encouraging. A piece by AP's Hillel Italie reports that while there will be 276,000 new book releases this year, fewer books will be purchased. Core membership of the BEA has dropped.

And while Amazon's Jeff Bezos was upbeat about the future of Kindle and the electronic book, that's not necessarily good news for either bookstore owners or publishers (who for whom paper-and-ink books remain more profitable.)

But Italie's piece does at least close with an anecdote by David Shank, CEO of the Penguin Group, that reminds us all of the delightful serendipity that defines a book convention at its best (even if this particular incident did occur 20 years ago.)

"I didn't even know the Navy published novels, but I thought this had potential. We bought it for $49,000," Shank told Italie. The book? We now know it as Tom Clancy's "Patriot Games."

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