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The world of the paperback the University of Chicago invites you to join us for this series of 15 minute programs dedicated to the discussion of literary topics and the review of significant paper bound books each weekly program will bring to the microphone a different author authority or educator with his particular viewpoint towards the topic for discussion. The book selected for today's discussion is Gypsy moms. Our guest is the author and publisher of the novel James drought. Here is your discussion host from the University of Chicago Robert C. Albrecht. Mr. drought is a true can one characterize you as the only free writer in America and I control the company that publishes all my work. And as a matter of fact my wife and I are its only employees. We're sort of the Stanley Kramer of the book publishing industry. When I write the books themselves. And then we produce the books in both hardcover and soft cover editions. And we do our own selling. We've set up our
own distribution system of about 300 university and college bookstores. And in that way we are able to control the publication and sale of my work which gives me probably more freedom in the work itself then that I or any other writer would have in the same way that ten years ago the only way a movie director could begin making a new kind of movie would be through the means of independent production. And I think our manner of independent production in the publishing industry now is going to establish a trend that will be responsible for opening up the entire field of books in this country. New ideas for the more powerful themes. Well did you do this out of choice or out of necessity. I was an editor for both this week magazine and Saga magazine and had worked in the field of
magazines books for a long time. I did four books as a kind of freelance editor on the side and helping people produce books that had already been sold through publishing houses and in the meantime I was doing my own work a little more creative type of work. Narrative novels plays all kinds of things and I found that I was unable to get any of these works published through the existing publishing companies. We submitted through friends and for the matter of fact all my friends in the book publishing field were always trying to get me published was something that I respected. And each time they would send it back to me saying this T.J. and this is just a little too hot to handle or this is. This simply isn't done.
And one very close friend sent back a book and said This is changed my entire attitude toward the Korean War. But it simply isn't in the film. We were forced really to begin our own company. We were excluded from the existing publishing facilities at least the hard cover people. What was it about these books that the hardcover publishers backed away from. Well they're a little different in that there are a very simply read and books mostly from the literary style. And then they reach written around a single character from long situations and the ideas arise organically was to create the book itself.
But we just happened to be in the trend of publishing where almost all the books being published treated the narrative as a tool to use in order to examine a particular character or another. You know most modern books attempt to find it. The characters identity Well they are always examining the people in the books. And so we were completely contrary to this in that we were starting with. Very powerful characters. I should say I was. Who knew what they were who were not going to change and who simply expressed themselves throughout the whole course of the book. It's is it's a difference between the. Shakespearean Tennessee Williams story
or the take the lesser of the Marlowe where the character himself must be granted what he is because all he is going to do is simply express whatever he is in the most vital interesting way possible. And that's why I think books were contrary to the trend. We've since found that they must be. At least acceptable to the public at large and I think it's like anything else the public at large is usually ahead of any of the little Oley industries that serve the public taste it seems to me is always the leader. And we went into production in our own edition of our first book called A secret and placed it in a number of university stores in what they call adulterate softcover edition. Well excuse me why did you decide to place in there first was there some advice of some particular
reason the university store people are the real professionals in the book publishing field and at least in the in the in the bookselling field. There are also the most honest. They're running a somewhat subsidized market. So they feel a little more responsible to the public that they serve in that they try actually to provide that public with the best work being done and available. And if the public responds to any book then they in turn will order it and make more copies available. This differs from the traditional hardcover industry in that the traditional hardcover book stores in the big cities will be responsible for selling a certain number of copies before a book is even published and before their customers even respond to it.
Some of the people are confronted with a great many books and they in turn have to sell them. When the university stores you have the opposite you have the kind of a public forum into which you can place just about anything. And the market itself dictates what will continue to be sold. Did you know about these characteristics of the university bookstores before you began or did you. Yes I have followed them quite closely because I thought that the new university stores had a wonderful market a wonderful audience they serve people in and around universities who are naturally interested in books and they do it in the most professional way possible. Most of the new university student unions have super bookstores and the kids buy maybe sometimes as much as 30 40 dollars worth of books a week in soft cover on credit. I get a lot of them
have credit cards. So did you have any trouble getting your books into these university bookstores. No. We first took that we took our first book out and we TESL it through four university stores and they let us and then they we sold books right off the rack and nobody had ever heard of this. And the kids responded to the book and liked it and we had a couple of professors pick us up in the sinus as a text. So that their students would be aware of a new trend in modern fiction. And then we took that testimonials from these four stores and my wife and I went on a 10000 mile car trip. With books packed in the back and with the testimonials proving that the books did sell if placed in the stores we had no trouble selling books to most of the university stores. We have about 300 now stock all seven of our books. On a continuous basis. But of course in order to do this we had
to produce books. In our own edition that would sell for two dollars and fifty cents in soft cover and we thought this was a little stiff and the price was too high and therefore we were cutting out a lot of people who might have liked to read them but couldn't and we simply couldn't produce them for the last because we were so small. So we began selling the rights to reproduce the books in man's newsstand editions where the price would come down to 75 cents or 60 cents. And then when it's coming out right now in this mass newsstand edition is the gypsey more or less. It's coming out in the Fawcett edition and they are able because of their distribution system the place the book in about 50000 different outlets which makes it available all over the country to anyone who wants it for a very small price. How many outlets did you have through your for your own press.
Well we still continue to sell our editions whether or not there's a newsstand EDITION. We have now 300 university stores stocked you know all the titles permanently. Did you often find yourself spending as much time as a publisher and editor and looked as distributor as you did as an author. Yes and it's a wonderful thing because it makes all things One thing for one. On the one hand I'm not protected from the reality of modern day life the way most authors are. I get the chance to know exactly what a book is how it's sold. In fact I'm the one who has to sell it. I also get the chance to meet a great many different kinds of people travel across the country and they get the chance to meet me which is enormously stimulating for them given to talking on campuses with the students. And then they're being able
to read the books of mine afterwards or before it makes it a much more viable healthy thing. And also it allows me as I said in the beginning the greatest degree of freedom possible. Anything I write I can publish and I can publish anything I write. And you think you've opened the way in a sense for other writers to do the same thing. I think so I think I've opened the way in a number of areas for instance the gypsy Morris has been called a kind of American Le Strother and it's cool that if you're familiar with a stride it was Fellini's great circus movie and it showed the proverb of the audience and it showed the the performance from the point of view of the performer. As a matter of fact I wrote the book before Fellini made his movie as a story. I didn't use the chance to publish it and the gypsy Morris shows
the the adventures and the thoughts and the excitement and the dangers of a small stunt parachute group traveling throughout the South woods which I haven't the do ones I used to be a stunt parachutist from the point of view of the performer which is tremendously different. Because if it takes that old circus attitude the rubes and the against the the towners against the real professionals you know as they move into a small town and take the people in the scares the daylights out of me and make it look like we're going to die and not die. Pull issued at the last minute. So on and so forth and this book could not really have been done in the brutal honest Gotti manner that it was done. And if I didn't control the publication of the original title and since I made a success with the title it has been wonderfully reviewed all across the country Press and I was
World of the Paperback
James Drought's "Gypsy Moths"
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features James Drought discussing his own "The Gypsy Moths."
Other Description
This series is dedicated to the discussion of literary topics and of the publication of significant paperbound books.
Broadcast Date
Talk Show
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Guest: Drought, James
Host: Albrecht, Robert C.
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-23-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:24
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Chicago: “World of the Paperback; James Drought's "Gypsy Moths",” 1966-07-27, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022,
MLA: “World of the Paperback; James Drought's "Gypsy Moths".” 1966-07-27. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <>.
APA: World of the Paperback; James Drought's "Gypsy Moths". Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from