I was in the city yesterday to play some music--but before I did, I had an errand to run. I won't elaborate upon it here, but it was extremely dorky and necessitated my getting a large black flight case from Orchard Street to West 26th. And I am cheap, so no cab. I took the train.
As I was getting my case out of my bandmate's car, I saw, lying on the seat, the book I had been reading. (Remainder, of course, which so far I love.) I thought, should I take it with me? You never know when you're going to be stuck with nothing to do for ten minutes. I actually picked it up--but I knew it wouldn't fit in my coat pocket. It's a medium-sized trade paperback, and half the thing would have been poking out. So I left it, and hauled my case to the subway.
I got on the F at 2nd Avenue, and halfway to Lafayette Street the train ground to a halt. The lights flickered. The smell of acrid smoke began to filter through the crack between the doors. As it happened, a train up ahead had met some reeking demise, and we would be held up, confined in the tunnel, for nearly half an hour. Eventually, we would make it far enough to the next station to be able to evacuate through the front car--but meanwhile, I was stuck. With nothing to read.
If Remainder had been a mass market paperback, I would have thoroughly enjoyed the wait. But like most books I want to read, it wasn't. What's our beef with this wonderful invention? Why can't all books be published this way? If there were a decent publisher out there who would put out my stuff exclusively as mass market originals, I would fall over myself to get on board. It's the perfect format--small, cheap, egalitarian. It doesn't last forever, but it lasts long enough. Let libraries have the hardcovers, and fill the bookstores with books you can stick in your pocket. There are times when I have decided to read something exclusively because of its format, choosing it over books I actually wanted to read more, but would encumber me on my travels. I have actually re-read bad books for this reason.
Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself--what's this whole thing about? Writing, I mean. Am I doing it just to amuse myself? Sure--but I don't want to amuse myself in a drawer. I want people to read it. I want LOTS of people to read it. I want my blathering-ass self promulgated as efficiently as possible throughout the nation and world. Mass market paperbacks cost half what trade paperbacks do. Half! Why can't we all drop the charade and embrace them? The human pocket should never be without one.