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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, November 14, 2008 2:21 pm
The Writer of The Dragon Tattoo
Posted by: Keir Graff

Maybe I’m just a soft-hearted guy who’s more interested in books and movies than in news about how much money books and movies earn, but NPR’s segment yesterday (“The Making of a Posthumous Best-Seller“) about Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left me cold. The focus of the piece wasn’t so much about the book or its author as it was the unique challenges Knopf faced in marketing a book whose author can’t go on tour because he happens to be dead. There’s a nice quote from Sarah Weinman explaining why it’s a good book, but there’s also this, from Knopf publicity director Paul Bogaards:

“The retail channel was key,” says Bogaards. “In the absence of bookseller enthusiasm you might, as a publisher, have a problem.”

Do NPR listeners really care about the retail channel? Or do they just want to know, from an NPR reviewer, whether it’s a book worth reading? To me, Larsson’s untimely death is less a sales conundrum than a shame. As Bill Ott put it in his review, “What a shame that we only have three books in which to watch the charismatic Lisbeth Salander take on the world!”

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One Response to “The Writer of The Dragon Tattoo
  1. Reg Keeland Says:

    Keir, I totally agree! It was lots of fun translating these 3 books. Stieg intended to write a series of 10, so we’ll never know what antics Lisbeth might have gotten up to later. Although his laptop did contain part of vol. 4, his estate won’t let anyone see it…

    Reg Keeland, Albuquerque


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