Blacks in baseball and authors on video

Harvey Araton, in response to a question posted by CC Sabathia, meditates on the decline of black players in Major League Baseball over the past couple decades. He writes:

The most recent tabulation, done by Richard Lapchick in 2005 for the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, put Major League Baseball’s black population at 8.5 percent, the lowest in 26 years and about half of what it was a decade earlier.

. . . .
How did this happen? Did baseball unwittingly wake up to a significant cultural shift (in particular to a burgeoning Latino market) or did it abandon the African-American community and its vital contributions to the history of the game?

Elsewhere in the Times today, Julie Bosman has an article about authors who are distributing videos to be shown at bookstores instead of going on tour. Powell’s is producing the videos and other bookstores will be showing them. The first video in the series, featuring Ian McEwan, will debut at BEA this summer.

For Mr. McEwan, the film will virtually replace his standard book tour, since he has declined to do traditional bookstore appearances to promote his new novel in the United States. The book, On Chesil Beach, will be published on June 5 by the Nan A. Talese imprint of Random House’s Doubleday division.

For years publishers and bookstores have tried to lure book buyers by featuring authors in blogs, podcasts and question-and-answer forums with readers. Mr. Weich said Powell’s did not expect to profit from the first film but hoped to attract more visitors to its Web site,, by posting the videos there.

I saw McEwan read at Printer’s Inc. in Palo Alto back in 1998 and would love to see him again. Although I attend and host a fair number of author events, I’ve always understood that it’s totally unreasonable to expect anything more than a book from an author. As William Gaddis wrote, “What is there left when he’s done with his work, what’s any artist but the dregs of his work, the human shambles that follows it around?”

One Comment

  1. evicious

    Any word on why McEwan will not go on a book tour? Is it because it actually does not help sales?
    Maybe this explains why I often don’t know what to ask an author at a reading. I don’t really have any questions, really, because when I go to a reading I just want to see the author in the flesh. I mean, any hint of them being an actual real human being with ordinary human traits would give me the hope that one day I too can publish a book of some interest.

Leave a Reply