"Aaaah!" she cried, falling to the floor of her favorite bookstore, where she writhed in agony, occasionally gasping for air amid yelping sobs, sobs that some in the typically tomb-like environs of the store thought to be mere pleas for attention. The more astute customers who gathered around her, however, knew her as a publishing industry watchdog. So they were sympathetic upon realizing she had merely succumbed to the heady corporate drama the first three months of 1998 had brought the poor girl's way. Somber, scared faces quietly became the norm as it dawned upon them all that there but for the grace of God they went also.

No, "Postscripts" has (unfortunately) not taken the form of bad serial melodrama, it just means to note that three months into 1998, three publishing industry events stand out: Late February brought news of Rupert Murdoch's plans to drop his company HarperCollins' publication of a book by Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong. Murdoch deemed the book too negative of China; Murdoch has extensive holdings in China. HarperCollins at first refused all comment, then later apologized and announced it would compensate Patten, whose book will eventually be published, but not by HarperCollins. The entire debacle leaves a really bad taste in the mouth. Then two weeks ago the American Booksellers Association filed a lawsuit in California alleging unfair business practices by Borders and Barnes & Noble. The conclusive effects of that suit remain to be seen since, well, the suit hasn't been concluded. And on March 23, German media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG announced a deal to buy Random House, thus making the largest American book publisher actually German. (In 1986, the company bought Bantam Doubleday Dell.) On March 25, National Writers Union president Jonathan Tasini made a statement about the deal that "fewer companies means fewer voices," but in an article in The New York Times on March 29 reporter Edmund L. Andrews cites a different view: "Vera Graaf, a literature editor for the Suddeutsche Zeitung in Munich, said the American tongue-cluckers are off the mark. `It is really ironic that it falls on the "literary" Germans to rob the "pragmatic" Americans of their illusions,' she said."...

Though not nearly as well-publicized as these national events, local mystery maven Jan Grape and her husband Elmer are looking for buyers for their bookstore Mysteries & More (which will host Sue Grafton in May)...

Texas Folklife Resources plans to hold their Language of Tradition series again this summer after the success of last summer's inaugural series. The Language of Tradition programs "examine the intersection of the spoken and written language in the preservation and represenation of Texas' traditional culture." Last summer's three programs highlighted Texas' cowboy, African-American, and Hispanic cultures. TFR director Pat Jasper is now working on programs tentatively titled "Girl Talk," "Political Talk," and a program honoring folklorist J. Mason Brewer; Texas' first lady Laura Bush is putting her energies behind the effort to save his home in Austin's Eastside...

Marion Winik appears on John Aielli's Eklektikos KUT 90.5FM Thursday, April 9, 11am, to discuss her new book The Lunch-Box Chronicles...

The Austin Writers' League spring classes are filling up; call 499-8914 to request a schedule or enroll...

Robert Boswell and Antonya Nelson will read on the SWT campus April 6, 6pm, at the UPACC; Andrea Barrett reads April 9, 7:30pm, at the HRC's fourth floor auditorium.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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More Postscripts
The last time we heard about Karla Faye Tucker, she was being executed; now, almost four years later, there's a new novel about her. Or about someone very like her. And Beverly Lowry's classic Crossed Over, a memoir about getting to know Karla Faye Tucker, gets a reissue.

Clay Smith, Jan. 18, 2002

Not one day back from vacation and the growing list of noble souls who need to be congratulated is making Books Editor Clay Smith uneasy.

Clay Smith, Jan. 11, 2002

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