I bought one of those first edition books with the pages out of order. Glad to hear you mention it, because it really perplexed me at the time. It's sort of shocking to find that reputable publishers are paying this little attention. Even if your publishers didn't notice, your readers did.
Yes, they couldn't even recall them all effectively. But, hey, they're just books. Why would a publisher care what's written in them? Another reader writes:
In 1996, I self-published a book. It quickly became a "best seller," selling 3,000 copies in about a month.
So I got a big-time agent and she licensed the publishing rights for my book to one of the biggest New York book publishing companies.
I later found out that they NEVER read my book. They told me that they based their decision to publish my book on the title and cover design. The reason? When book salesmen go to the various booksellers, they only show their prospective buyers the COVERS of the books! (The salesmen don't even carry the actual books with them, only the covers.)
If you're sub-literate and need a few bucks, you know which industry to work for.
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