David Smay and I just received the following email, from a disappointed reader who shall remain nameless. You can't do anything about people who don't dig the tone of what you do, but he raises a reasonable complaint about the illustrations that I've heard from other readers, so thought it merited response here on the LITG blog. Here's the email, with my reply below:
I'd been looking forward to reading your book "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth" for several years and finally got hold of copy and read it last month. I felt like I needed to contact (you) the editors, if only to express my major disappointment. Your book is advertised as a dark history of bubblegum music and I was looking forward to some sort of logical outline and readable history of bubblegum (a type of music I don't know much about). However, immediately upon reading the introduction and first few tentative essays, I could see it was going to be rough going. While planning the book, I'm sure you all thought it would be cute for your contributors touse as many kooky and coy references to gum, candy, sugar, sweets, etcas possible. While delving into your book, initially the candy references were annoying...then they became plain excruciating... and then painful. The painful candy references on almost every page made reading the book an almost impossible chore. But I'd paid good money for it, so I struggled through all the "gooey, chewy, yummy" references. Another glaring annoyance in "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth" is the fact that there are NO color photographs inside...and what photos you do place in the book are all 2 X 2 inches and in gray-ish black and white. Oh, wait...I forgot...there IS a large forlorn photo of a Monkees lunch box... ...but why are all the other photos the size of large Puerto Rican postage stamps? A book about bubblegum music without color photos is beyond ridiculous. Something along the lines of a thick, colorful, well-written glossy would have been preferable and you may have sold a few more books. I'm sure by now your book as become the "textbook" on bubblegum music...however, it's clearly not. And I'm sorry I paid money for it...and I would feel guilty loaning it to friends or even donating it to my local library. Thanks for reading and better luck next time.
(anonymous disappointed reader, CA)
Editrix Kim's reply:
I am sorry to hear of your disappointment with the bubblegum book, which did receive excellent reviews from most other readers. I personally find no fault in the use of candy metaphors and double entendres by writers addressing a genre that is packed with same, and this is something the writers chose to do on their own, with no prompting from the editorial department.
A large part of your unhappiness with the book seems to be the b/w illustrations--something that we editors had no control over, and something that suggests you purchased the book sight unseen. I apologize if you expected a glossy, price-guide type tome, which is not what our book was meant to be. Printing books is expensive, and at the time (2001) color was simply prohibitive for such a hefty book and for our indie publisher. There were of course 8 full color images on the back cover, which is better than none! We are now in our second printing of "Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth." It is the hope of our publisher, Feral House, to one day issue a revised third edition--with color pics now that there are cheaper printing options in the Far East.
The bubblegum book offers thoughts on bubblegum music and culture from nearly 50 thoughtful and talented writers from the zine, music history and comics worlds, among them Jake Austen, Peter Bagge, Chuck Eddy, Alec Palao, Domenic Priore, Metal Mike Saunders, Gene Sculatti, Greg Shaw and Dave Thompson (to name just a few), more than 300 pages of bubblegum lore and exploration, a thorough index and a ton of love for this neglected genre. I'm truly sorry it wasn't the book you were looking for, but couldn't be prouder of the book we wrote.
If you're ashamed to give it to the library, why not leave it on a bus bench? Or on top of your trash can--maybe your trashman digs the Cowsills?