Born on this date (different years): Olivia Newton-John, T.S. Eliot, Jack LaLanne, George Gershwin, George Raft, Linda Hamilton, Donna Douglas (Elly May Clampett), Johnny Appleseed.
If I were suddenly (or even gradually) elected Emperor of the Publishing Business (can you be elected emperor?), I would:
1. Eliminate the phrase "literary fiction." What book fiction ISN'T literary?
2. Require that novels without any sense of humor be published with a warning label: "May Cause Depression. Read something funny first."
3. Ensure that all e-books cost less than paper books. At least a little. You're not paying for paper.
4. Pass legislation requiring every book to come with a recording of a theme song composed exclusively for that book. Mine would be written by Adam Schlesinger or A.J. Croce.
5. Insist that no film based on a book ever follow the book precisely. Read the book if you want the book; movies are a different medium.
6. Allow every author the right to publicly rebut with impunity one review of each book s/he has published.
7. Require all self-publishers to pass a literacy exam. Misuse of your/you're would result in the denial of a literary license.
8. Have copies of every book sent to every library. The hell with overcrowding. This is America.
9. Bar school boards or civic bodies from banning any literary work. Yes, even pornography. At the very least, I'd require that anyone who wants to ban a book prove they've read it.
10. Require publishers to pay all travel expenses for any author wanting to do a publicity tour who can independently book at least three events.
11. Increase salaries to editors, publicists, cover artists and did I mention editors?
12. Send hard sales numbers hourly to authors on every title they've published.
13. Pay educational expenses to authors wishing to get advanced degrees. Right now, I'd be lobbying to get authors' children's educations paid for, too. I can't tell you what two college tuitions are costing me this year. Not without weeping, anyway.
14. Require that Oprah Winfrey endorse at least one book a year that will make most people laugh at least twice.
15. Get dental insurance for authors written into every book contract. I just had a $1700 crown put on a tooth, and it's not even a royal tooth.
16. Insist that book prices never exceed $10. Nobody should have to pay more than $10 to read a book.
17. Require Stephen King to read one book from every author, and then email that author personally with his reaction. If nothing else, it might make Mr. King consider writing a book under 1000 pages.
18. Lobby Congress heavily for legislation that would make it illegal for any town in America not to have an independent bookstore. They can have chain bookstores, too.
19. Insist that if Wal-mart wants to carry books, they carry ALL books. Lord knows they have the room.
20. Require that any celebrity who appears on a talk show pushing the book they "wrote" bring the ghostwriter along to be on camera as well.
21. Prohibit Snooki from ever pretending to have written a book again.
22. Prohibit anyone from continuing a series begun by a deceased author until at least 50 years after the author's death. Yes, Sherlock Holmes; no, Spenser.
23. Have mystery authors moderate Presidential candidates' debates: "So, Senator, how would you murder a rival? Poison? Scorpions? Hacksaw?"
24. Require a "Funniest Book of the Year" award to be given out annually, on television. Not C-SPAN, either. A REAL network.
25. Revoke the absurd "returns" clause in bookseller contracts. What other business lets retailers buy the merchandise, and then send it back for a refund if it doesn't sell?
26. Prohibit book conferences and conventions from charging authors--who are the draw for attendees--to attend. Yeah, I know that would be a financial burden for the convention committees. Consider what it costs authors to go to more than one a year. Free hotel room, too, now that I think of it. I'll pay for my meals.
27. Make the Emperor of Publishing a lifetime position.