Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Military Publishing and Musing

The summer is almost halfway over and the war in Iraq continues. Supposedly a decision will be made in September about the recent "Surge" and what it has accomplished for the security of Bagdad and Iraq. We'll see what happens. I'm not optimistic that our young men and women will be spared further service in Iraq. Meanwhile its parliament takes the month of August off. I wonder where the members of parliament go for vacation. I'll bet it's not in Iraq.

Bookstore sales are down for the eleventh straight month. As a book publisher, that piece of news is of interest to me. Actually less than half the books sold at the retail level are sold in bookstores. You can now buy books online, in drug stores, gift shops, at large newstands, in supermarkets and warehouse stores. The square footage of today's bookstores has quadrupled in 15 years. But the market has remained flat in those stores. Go into a Borders or Barnes & Noble Superstore and you'll see for yourself. Customers are few and far between. Thankfully, Military books are available online at Amazon.com and www.war-books.com.

There hasn't been a Military Book Show associated with the national book expo, BEA, since 2001. Southfarm and I exhibited at that last show and miss it.

I was reading a military book, a hardcover from Bantam, recently and discovered a mistake not far into it. As I've asked before, when you discover a factual mistake in a book, doesn't it begin to make you doubt the facts of the rest of the book? Does me. The book, about WWII in the Far East, is Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors. The book is by James D. Hornfischer and copyright in 2006. On the top line of page 56 it states that Surabaya was the capital city of the island of Java in The Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia. Batavia (now Jakarta) was the capital of Java and The NEI.

There's a new rift about lowering the flag for our war's dead in this country, if you can believe that. People who do nothing for their country, don't fight, won't let their children fight, can't decide whether to lower the flag for our war dead. The result is confusion. An example was in Michigan in June. In Iron Mountain, Michigan, the flag was at half-staff for 24 hours (on the governor's orders) at a VFW Lodge to honor a Michigan soldier killed in Iraq. Just blocks away though, at the Veteran's hospital run by the Federal government, the flag flew at full staff. Federal officials said they do not answer to orders by a state governor. The dead soldier is all but forgotten in this turf war.--Walter Haan, www.war-books.com