Dear Reader by Paul Fournel and David Bellos (translator)

From TheBookbag
Jump to: navigation, search

Dear Reader by Paul Fournel and David Bellos (translator)

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A gentle, thought-provoking satire on the current state of the publishing industry. Great fun to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: November 2014
Publisher: Pushkin Press
ISBN: 978-1782270263

Share on: Delicious Digg Facebook Reddit Stumbleupon Follow us on Twitter

Robert Dubois is a publisher of the old school: the books matter - of course they do - but then so does the food and the drink which accompanies the profession. He's had a long career of paper manuscripts, authors and lunches and he fully expects that life will continue in this way until he finally retires, whenever that might be. Then one day an intern presents him with an ereader and nothing will ever be quite the same again, not least his briefcase, which is used to accommodating vast quantities of paper. He's not a Luddite - but getting used to this gizmo is not going to be easy.

It's a delightful book and a large part of this is because of the character of Robert Dubois. He's slightly jaded: for years I've not really read anything, because all I do is reread - he reads the books, but they keep coming back to him, only written by different authors. (It's not just publishers who get that feeling - reviewers often suffer from the frown of trying to concentrate on this book rather than remembering how the plot worked out last time around.) But there's a spark of something in Dubois and he comes to see the possibilities of the ereader, perhaps more than some of his younger colleagues.

It is satire, but it's very gentle, even affectionate. The publishing business which bears Dubois' name has been taken over and whilst Dubois is not fond of Meunier he accepts that he's doing what he has to do. He jabs gently at his cheapness and lack of style in the way he conducts himself, but there's no malice. There is a story here but essentially this little gem of a book is character driven: we enjoy Dubois' interactions with HIS authors and particularly with the group of (unpaid) interns in the office and I was delighted by the way that everything worked out for the interns and for books - the proper ones, that is.

There are delightful insights into publishing and the world of books. I've often wondered why I need to 'slide' the bottom of my ereader to turn the page - apparently it simulates a physical book and is a sop to seniors. I was annoyed! If Dubois is capable of changing why can it not be accepted that the rest of us will too. I demand to be allowed to scroll - which is far more intuitive!

Read the book - if you've an interest in publishing, in books, in people then I think you'll enjoy it and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then we think you might also enjoy The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.

Buy Dear Reader by Paul Fournel and David Bellos (translator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dear Reader by Paul Fournel and David Bellos (translator) at

Buy Dear Reader by Paul Fournel and David Bellos (translator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dear Reader by Paul Fournel and David Bellos (translator) at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.