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Madonna as an Author

Last week I received a phone call from someone at Fox Media who wanted to have people in the industry comment on the children’s book written by Madonna. It was an interesting call, since I don’t think the reporter was prepared for the response I gave. In fact, after hearing the response, she indicated that mine was a bit contrary to most she had gathered so far.

So many times, when we are at book shows, people whose books we are exhibiting come up and ask to have their book moved away from another title because they don’t agree with the philosophy or content in that other book. This always surprises me, since it’s logical that anybody who chooses to enter the world of publishing believes in and abides by the First Amendment. Over the years, though, I have found this is not always the case.

I have often represented titles for which I may not have an affinity or whose contents I may not entirely accept, but I will and do represent those books without bias to the trade. I strongly believe that everyone should, and does, have a right to publish information on any topic, and that the consumer will be the person to make the final judgment as to whether the information is important or valid. Censorship of any book will occur with nonpurchase of a title, and this is the only kind of censorship that is valid.

My reply to the reporter about Madonna’s book? I stated that there are literally hundreds of great children’s books published every year by unknown authors and illustrators. Some are much better than Madonna’s; some are worse. But Madonna will get the sale due to her visibility as a public p”Ýn. Does this appall me? To the contrary, no. As long as it helps get people reading to their children, I encourage any and every celebrity to author a book. The bigger question is, once we get people reading, how can we continue this process?

Another question the reporter asked, which I thought was very humorous, was, “Do you consider that a person like Madonna should write a children’s book?” How naïve and biased our society has become if people believe that the persona they see on television and elsewhere is the same as the private person. Madonna is a mother and probably gets just as much joy as other mothers when her children bring home those chicken-scratch first drawings from school and just as angry when her children misbehave.

It was interesting to see that the initial run of the first in her series, The English Roses, will flood the bookstores (more than 1 million copies are reportedly coming into print), and that this book is being simultaneously published in more than 30 languages, including Faroese.

New Baker & Taylor Benefit

Each and every month, new benefits are being developed for PMA members. One of the newest ones involves Baker & Taylor. While most publishers can get their titles listed in the B&T database, PMA members have an additional advantage. You can get two copies of each of your titles into their four warehouses, so that when purchasers log onto the B&T database, they will see that your books are stocked and can be sent immediately.

Just visit the PMA Web site, where new benefits will be featured monthly on the home page.

Must-see TV

While on a trip to New York last month, PMA president Don Tubesing and I went to the premiere of an HBO documentary entitled How Do You Spell MURDER? It’s about a project begun by a group called ProLiteracy, which empowers inmates in a Rahway, N.J., maximum-security prison to teach other inmates to read. The concept is interesting, and some of the results are incredible. After the film there was a Q&A with the directors of this documentary, a group from ProLiteracy, and a former inmate. If you missed the showings earlier this fall, you may want to order a copy of the videotape from the filmmakers, Alan Raymond and Susan Raymond, at www.howdoyouspellmurder.com.

New Voices

We’d like to introduce two new people this month–Judith Stein, the new

PMA Newsletter

copy editor, and Geri Newburn, the new voice on the phone

at the PMA office.

Judith has worked with many publishing houses on the East Coast over the years, including Scribner’s, Chelsea House, Grove Press, Inner Traditions International, Temple Foundation Press, and Shambhala, to name a few.

We’d also like to thank Robin Quinn, who is leaving her post as the

Newsletter‘s technical editor, for her hard work over the years in

helping us grow this newsletter into to one of the most informative

publications in the independent book-publishing community.

As for the cheery new voice at the PMA office, she is Geri Newburn, who

says she “feels like I’ve walked into a candy store, where all the candy

is free,” as she explains her love affair with books. Geri has two

children–Jenna, who will be starting college next year, and Jack, who

is in high school and shares his mom’s reading addiction.

We’re happy to welcome both Judith and Geri to the PMA family!

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