shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass


one book on the way to being lost

Tales of wonderful books that have vanished or are in danger of going poof! circulate around the 'sphere all the time. And that shows no signs of stopping, and, of course, one of the great goods blogs can do is call attention to these books -- sometimes even before it's too late.

Mr. McLaren called my attention to the story of a book that sounds like something I would have immediately sought out, had I known it existed: Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts by Julian Rubinstein.

Robert Gray of Fresh Eyes: A Bookseller's Journal is in the middle of a fascinating chronicle of the how and whys of the impending disappearance of what is, by all accounts I've seen so far, a wonderful book:

Well, good books, and particularly good new books, go missing for a variety of reasons, many of which have been discussed again and again in this forum and elsewhere.

When books go missing, they do not run off and join the circus. They do not go on the road like Kerouac and seek out wild new adventures on cross-country treks. There is no Amber Alert for missing books.

It's damned hard to motivate readers to care about the books that are present and accounted for, well-displayed, and passionately handsold, but it's borderline impossible to get readers to care about the books that go missing.

Why should they care?

This is why.

Sometimes books need to be rescued.

Julian Rubinstein's Ballad of the Whiskey Robber has not gone missing yet. And it shouldn't, but it could, especially now, as it approaches the sixth month of its shelf life, a hazardous time for any newborn because that dreaded Returns virus is already looking for a way infect it.

There are several reasons why Rubinstein's book has not received the care and feeding it deserves, and most of them have nothing to do with the industry's often callous attitude toward its own product or with a publisher's ineptitude or even with an author's unwillingness to hit the bricks and make something happen.

Go read what Gray has to say. See if you don't want to buy this book, and tune in for the second installment of what went wrong. Let's try and save this one.


  • At 8:03 PM , Blogger Clint said...

    What's weird is that a customer at the book store where I work asked me if we had the Ballad of the Whiskey Rider on Friday, and all the way up to the computer I kept trying to remember where I'd heard this title (you'll have to forgive me ... I've had a lot of book titles thrown at me in the last week.) I'd already sent him away dejected (the computer says we can't order it) before I remembered you talking about it being lost. I wished I had remembered earlier ... I'd have asked him where he heard of it.



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