Too Hot for 'Harper's'

'Elle' Mag Rescues Gaitskill Essay on Not Wanting To Have Kids

In My Dog Tulip, the focus shifts from Ackerley's sex life to that of his dog (after all, as he notes dotingly, "A full life naturally included the pleasures of sex and maternity"). He introduces the dog he likes to call "my bitch" to several potential studs before making do with a mongrel who succeeds in knocking her up. But that's not all for Tulip's adventures. Master has barely finished raving about what a "perfect mother" she is when he gives her puppies away and steers the dog into a new phase: wanton promiscuity. "Whatever the consequences might be she must have carte blanche," he writes. "She must take her chances, suit herself. She must go free."

Inspiration for the series struck when the NYRB staff was working on the second edition of The Readers Catalog. According to NYRB publisher Rea Hederman, "We found that of the 40,000 'Best Books in Print,' almost 15,000 were out of print." His staff asked friends and subscribers for the names of favorite out-of-print books and began tracking down the rights, whereupon they learned that some reprint fees run as low as "a few hundred to a few thousand dollars."

Hederman has a ready-made market for the Classics Series: subscribers. He says NYRB has always been profitable because of its "enormously high renewal rate," which he claims is 85 percent for people who have subscribed for two years or more. The current circulation is 130,000. "They know these books," Hederman says of his subscribers, adding that about a week after the first Classics mailing went out in August, "We began to get orders. Some people have ordered the whole series."

Hederman believes he will turn a profit if he sells 3000 to 4000 copies of each book, in which case the series may expand to about 50 books a year.

ccotts@villagevoice.com

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