Fawn-time, and a word about tariffs

This sweet little guy’s mom told him to hunker down and pretend he’s a fallen log, covered with mushrooms. He didn’t stir when I stumbled on him, and he was still there when I came back with my camera. From the looks of the does in our resident deer herd here at Meadow Knoll, there will soon be a bevvy of fawns.

The deer have plenty of forage this year: everything is lush and green, with moisture coming up from the Gulf and disturbances coming across the Southwest from the Pacific. We’ve had a progression of storms, at least once or even twice a week. For some people, too much of a muchness. For us, it’s been just about right.

With all that rain, the meadow in front of the house is a glorious sea of yellow and red gaillardia, aka “blanket flower.” A member of the sunflower family, it behaves for us as a perennial; farther north, it’s an annual. Like many prairie flowers, it was used medicinally by Native Americans. They made a tea of the root to treat gastroenteritis, and  powdered it for skin problems. For the Kiowa, a field of gaillardia blooming was a sign of good luck. I remember that when I see it, and smile.

Book report. The three novellas I worked on last year are doing well in their digital-only format (Kindle, Nook, iBooks). I remember how uncertain I was about the length (half the size of the usual mysteries) and the voice/tense. There are a few people who don’t like present tense. (I’ve never quite understood why–just because it’s different?) But everybody likes the length–about 130 pages. It seems to fit the time available in readers’ jam-packed lives. A full book represents a substantial time commitment, several evenings or a full weekend. The novellas concentrate the story, and readers appreciate that. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you prefer a short read or a longer one? Why?

Tariffs. Normally, we wouldn’t include “books” and “tariffs” in the same sentence. But these aren’t normal times–far from it. Trump’s latest tariff threat is against print books. One publisher called this a “frightening prospect” and for good reason. Many publishers have been taking advantage of the fact that a book can be printed in China for about 30% less than in America. Some publishers may be able to absorb at least some of that added cost. Others will pass it on to book buyers: to libraries (they buy a lot of books) and individual readers (that’s you). It’s not a zero-sum game. The higher the cost of print books, the fewer print books will be purchased.

And one more thing. If this tariff goes into effect, the publisher’s accountant will recommend that the increased printing cost be considered when an editor acquires–and attempts to justify, cost-wise–a new title. Increased production costs raise the bar for new authors, and make it all that more difficult to find a publisher willing to carry the risk. Book tariffs aren’t here yet. But keep your eye on Trump’s trade war. Its frontline is in our backyard.

Reading note. “Libraries are the future of reading. When the economy is down, we need to make it easier for people to buy and read books for free, not harder. It is stupid to sacrifice tomorrow’s book buyers for today’s dollars, especially when it’s obvious that the source in question doesn’t have any more dollars to give you.” ― Courtney Milan

 

 

 

 

 

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