Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Teaching America how to read

"Do you realize there are towns in America where there are no libraries at all? Not even a bookstore! The only place the people in those small towns can get a book is at the drugstore. And what do they read? Our books."

"My heavens," she said.

"We are responsible for the changing literary taste of America," he went on. "People have to learn to crawl before they can walk. First they won't read anything but the most obvious kind of lurid adventure stories. Then we sneak in a good book or two. We train them. Eventually all our books will be as good or better than the best so-called literary hard-cover books. Do you think all hard-cover books are good literature just because they cost four dollars? Most of them stink."

She smiled a little at his vehemence and took a few healthy gulps at her drink. It made her feel more confident and finished it off.

"It's our books, with our sexy covers, and our low cost, and our mass distribution that are teaching America how to read. Let people who don't know anything say Derby Books are trash. They'll see."

— from The Best of Everything, by Rona Jaffe.

Rona Jaffe in the early 1950s worked at Fawcett Publications for Gold Medal Books, innovators of the paperback original.

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