OF making many books there is no end. The Bible is consoling to an editor on that point. And yet sometimes I wonder. I realize that last year some 9273 new titles appeared in this country, and that despite the recession there will probably be no sharp curtailment of this production in 1938. But I wonder how few of these volumes actually do reach the readers for whom they were intended, and how many there must be that wilt unnoticed and whose total sale will be less than 2000 copies.
From an enlightening pamphlet, How We Spend Our Money, which has just been issued by Public Affairs, I find that $6.00 is the average amount spent each year on reading matter by families with incomes of $2500 and under. This $6.00 covers the cost of the daily newspaper and such magazines as are procured — and the residue (if any) goes for books. I notice that in this year of relief rolls the baseball attendance has broken all records in Cleveland and New York; I notice the surprising number of shiny new cars which are evidently a necessity for some; but as for new books, I must conclude that they are a luxury, and that only with cheap reprints or by sortie as yet unsolved method of production can a publisher hope to reach the mass markets.
Meantime, with the loyal fraction who would rather read than eat, there is always a quest for new refreshment. For them I suggest: —
Young Man with a Horn, by Dorothy Baker (Houghton Mifflin, $2.50), the novel of a jazz musician told in a terse, skillful lingo in time with his music.
Towers in the Mist, by Elizabeth Goudge (Coward-McCann, $2.50), a historical novel of Oxford in the sixteenth century by the author of City of Bells. Excellent atmospheric writing.
Blow for a Landing, by Ben Lucien Burman (Houghton Mifflin, $2.50), a chuckling, halfpathetic story of the shanty-boat people on the Mississippi, rich in its dialogue and detail.
Love, Here Is My Hat, by William Saroyan (Modern Age Books, 25ȼ), short stories by a daring young man with a delicious sense of humor. When he is good (cf. ‘Ever Fall in love with a Midget?’ and ‘The Filipino and the Drunkard’) he is very, very good . . .