April 5, 2006: From the Editor

Self-published books

Self-published books by, clockwise: Jeff Markowitz ’74, Paul Kalkstein ’65, Ann Herendeen ’77, and Thomas Farrell ’70

Last year, Princeton authors sent PAW more than 200 books to consider for coverage in our Reading Room section. Readers of the page —

occasionally two pages — know that the books span a wide range of topics and genres: fiction, poetry, history, science fiction, and how-tos offering advice on everything from writing more clearly to dealing with future in-laws.

One kind of book is omitted from our coverage: self-published works. In this issue, we recognize the alumni authors of these books — people who write for the love of it, often laboring long after their day jobs are done, sometimes while nursing egos bruised by rejection letters from literary agents and traditional publishers.

Of the 155 books submitted by undergraduate alumni last year, at least 11 percent were self-published. (Graduate alumni did not send any self-published books to PAW.) In her story about self-published authors, Katherine Federici Greenwood quotes literary agent Albert Zuckerman ’53, who notes that he turns down excellent books “all the time,” because they’re unlikely to be profitable to a publisher.

Authors of these books occasionally ask PAW why their works are not included in our pages. Greenwood, who edits Reading Room, explains that as a one-woman department she doesn’t have time to read all the books received, and so she relies on published reviews in making selections. “We don’t review books in Reading Room; we write about the books and their authors,” she says. “For that reason, I try to choose only books that have been well received by critics” — and self-published books generally are not reviewed. We do, however, include short blurbs about self-published books in our online summary of all books received, which is available at www.princeton.edu/paw. In that small way, we try to recognize the commitment and quality work that these authors demonstrate.

This issue also includes the response by former dean of admission Fred Hargadon to Jerome Karabel’s book about Ivy League admissions. An excerpt from the book, The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, was printed in our Feb. 15 issue, and Hargadon’s response was published online at that time.

We had hoped to publish a response from the current admission dean or another Princeton official who could comment on past, current, and future admission policy, but that now seems unlikely. At the same time, we heard from numerous alumni who requested that we print Hargadon’s response in the magazine. We are happy to be able to do that here.

For more discussion about this topic, please click here, where you will find a link to the Karabel excerpt, Hargadon’s response, and reader letters. end of article

Marilyn H. Marks *86



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