The Book Beat

Do you remember the PBS show “Book Beat”?  It was on in the 1970’s, as I recall.  The host of the show was Bob Cromie, who worked for a long time at the Chicago Tribune.  It was one of my favorite book shows.  Come to think of it, what other TV shows about books were there?  “Book Beat” was about the only one.  (Anyone remember any other shows about books?)

The show was a half-hour during which Mr. Cromie talked with, usually, one author about a specific book.  I liked his approach to the discussion, though it’s been so long since I last saw his show, I’ve forgotten many of the details.  Especially with fiction, he’d ask the author how his/her book came to be, how the author wrote (in some detail, as I recall), and then discuss the book in detail.  I suspect it was his interest in getting down to details that I liked.  Did the author write an outline, or plot simply as he went along?  How much detail did he go into in the character’s backstory?  How much research did he do?  And so on and so forth.  It’s always good for an aspiring author to know how other authors work.

It’s unfortunate that TV shows about books aren’t popular any more.  (Nowadays the most popular shows on PBS seem to be cooking shows and shows about wild animals.)  Also it’s kind of unusual, given the tremendous upswing in self-publishing in the past several years.  There are more books out there–taking regular publishing and self-publishing together–than ever before.  You’d think that PBS could come up with a serious show about books, noting the best of the published and self-published.  There are so many to choose from.  However, I do understand that considering how many books get, for example, self-published only in digital format, that could pose a difficult problem in research.  How would you find the best of the best?  After all, someone would have to read all those books to begin with.  But with the radical changes that are taking place in publishing, a TV show highlighting the best of published books could be a popular show.  (Ah, yes, I realize, what do I know?)

Read any good books lately?

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