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Inside Higher Ed on The Three Percent Problem

At some point in the next couple weeks, I’ll post something more substantial about the sales and rankings for The Three Percent Problem, our $2.99 ebook that collects the best of the best of Three Percent and organizes these pieces into a semi-coherent look at the contemporary publishing scene. (In case you’re interesting, for a short time the book did make it up to #751 in paid Kindle books, and was #1 in all three categories that it was listed in.)

Anyway, the other day Scott McLemee from Inside Higher Ed wrote a really gracious article about the book:

So cough up the three bucks, is what I’m trying to say. It goes for a good cause — and besides, the book is a good deal, even apart from the low price. The pieces have been revised somewhat, and arranged by topic and theme, so that the whole thing now reads like a reasonably cohesive attempt to come to terms with the developments in book culture during the late ‘00s and early ‘10s. As John B. Thompson showed in his study Merchants of Culture (Polity, 2010), dealing with any particular change in publishing requires you to grapple with the whole system — the vast apparatus of production and distribution that connects writer and public. Translation is one aspect of it, of course, but it links up in various ways with the rest of publishing. While Post was making his running assessment of the state of literary translation, he also had to think about the new ways we buy and consume texts. One of essays is called “Reading in the Age of Screens,” which indeed could be an alternative title for the whole book.

Notification that the book was available came to me last week via Facebook, which is amusing given Post’s definite ambivalence about the “all digital, all the time” tendency of contemporary life. “In the digital world,” he said in a note, “we tend to stick to what we already know we want, reinforcing certain patterns, and losing some of the serendipity that a lot of readers point to as a huge influence on their life.” True, and yet I did buy the book and start reading it (on a screen) within a few minutes, and was able to ask the author questions later that afternoon. The lack of serendipity was not a big problem.

It’s a really great piece (and I’m not just saying that because it’s about this book), and does a fantastic job of laying out some of the issues—especially in relation to academia and the study & teaching of international literature.

Definitely worth reading the whole thing.



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