The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 22, 2013

Krohn: Judging books by cover sometimes helpful

One of the occasional perks of a newsroom are the goodies that arrive in the mail. Major corporations hope to generate media coverage by sending out promotional packets for everything from beef jerky and steak sauce to music CDs and T-shirts.

Food in a newsroom lasts about as long as it takes a Miley Cyrus routine to offend half the nation.

But by far the most mailed items we get are books. Journalists are readers, but the books are one thing that aren’t snapped up. That’s because most all of them range from very bad to intensely boring. We have large file drawers full of orphaned books that even the worst-stocked library would not appreciate as a donation.

Many of the books are from self-published authors hoping to spur their writing careers through a book review. A few are good, but they are the exception.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you can. The titles of many of the books scream boredom. “Mergers of Membership Associations and Nonprofits” is one of the slim volumes that arrived. I’ve no idea what it’s about and wasn’t tempted to crack the cover to find out.

A lot of writers seeking some, any, ink from the media tend to be on the conspiracy/fringe side with titles such as, “Betrayal of Americanism” and “Counterfeit Gods.”

A majority of the books that come in, though, are in the self-help, advice and inspiration category:

“Parent Babble, how parents can recover from 50 years of bad expert advice.”

“The Everyday Parenting Toolkit.”

“The iConnected Parent.”

“Quicksilver — a revolutionary way to lead the many and the few.”

My favorite: “Shut up and Stay Married” with a cover photo of a couple with duct tape over their mouths. If you’re married, you don’t need to read the book to know the concept is sound.

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