JOURNEY TO THE END OF TASTE
As the series nears the end of its first decade, curious patterns have emerged. Books about James Brown and Led Zeppelin have been widely adopted in college classrooms, as has Carl Wilson's sociological dissection of Celine Dion, Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste. In fact, the latter was championed by James Franco, became the series's second-most popular book, and may have been responsible for the recent popularity of deceased French academic Pierre Bourdieu. Meanwhile, a Japanese publisher brought out Haruki Murakami's translation of Jim Fusilli's book about the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, which became a runaway best seller in Japan.
Barker keeps a copy of the Murakami in a bookshelf near his desk. He took it out to show me. "You can tell it was expensive to print," he said, running his hand along the sturdy binding and showing off the built-in marker ribbon. "Ours are cheaply made, but we like them that way."
Eugenia Williamson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
, Book Publishing, 33 1/3, lifestyle features