August 16, 2003
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Paying for Review Copies

Publishers give free copies of books and such to the working press. It's their job, after all, and reporting is a tough racket without having to pay for the stuff you have to review.

But I still remember the first time The New Yorker phoned Eastgate to say they needed a few review copies sent to West 43rd Street. We'd have sent them everything, of course. Overnight, gift wrapped -- anything. This, after all, was The New Yorker.

But they insisted on paying for the hypertexts. It wasn't that much money. But publishing is naturally a small-scale business and, especially in those days, every penny mattered. A lot.

Now, with Tekka, we're on the other side of the street. Those free review copies matter to us, too. They let us look at books we'd probably not see otherwise. Not all of them get reviewed -- but some of them turn out to be wonderful gems. (We've got an economics book in the next issue, of all things, that the reviewer ranks with Kernighan and Plauger!)

But, still, some of those books that appear on the doorsteps of Tekka reviewers are actually bought -- especially those from small presses. Seed corn.