Private: Covers

Sam Leith wonders why authors mention the things they do on book jackets:

Of particular concern to writers seems to be the number of languages into which their book has been translated. What are we expected to think? “I enjoyed Mimsy Niblick’s sparkling debut about the ups-and-downs of life as a dappy single gal in Hammersmith so much, what joy to be able to prolong the pleasure by re-reading it in Finnish, then in Italian, then in Old Norse.”

Helen Brown is sick of listening to Nikki Gimmell’s complaints about how exposed she feels now that her identity as the author of The Bride Stripped Bare has been revealed:

anyone who has read Gemmell’s contribution to Gas and Air (Bloomsbury’s anthology of birth and pregnancy-related prose) would be able to identify the coy writer instantly. Gemmell’s Gas and Air piece uses many of the same sentences, including the fear that sex after birth will be “like throwing a sausage down the Channel Tunnel”.

Charles McGrath isn’t terribly impressed with an algorithm that can determine the gender of an author. The place to look for the most revealing bits of our prose, he says, is in the “topic specific” references that programmers ignore.

Sara Nelson looks into the problem of buzz when “demand for a book has outstripped even the most optimistic publishing plan.”