Interview With a Gatekeeper: Riverhead’s Rebecca Saletan
On the Author's Voice, Diversity in Publishing, and Peter Matthiessen
The occupational hazard of being an editor includes rarely having a moment of respite, and if you’re Vice President and Editorial Director Rebecca Saletan of Riverhead Books, reprieve comes brief and breathless between early morning interviews, houseguests, Sunday email correspondence, after-hour author meetings, and Friday night industry events. Her work stretches far beyond the nine to five workday. Does Saletan sleep? I doubt it. But at least her authors can rest knowing she’s devoted to them and to raising the bar in publishing.
Kerri Arsenault: How did you come to editing?
Rebecca Saletan: I feel like I have the most boring story! Like practically everybody else who went into publishing in my era, I was an English major. It was also that era when the options seemed to be business school, law school, or med school—there wasn’t a lot of other guidance about other fields. But I’d discovered at Yale, or maybe even earlier, that I liked working on other people’s prose in some ways more than on my own. Then my cousin suggested I speak with my aunt’s ex-husband’s ex-girlfriend, who was working at Yale University Press. I went to see her for an informational interview, and she said, listen there might be a job here. A production editor—which is a role you never think about when you’re going into the field (it involves proofreading indexes, checking galley corrections and other essential but unsung behind-the-scenes editorial tasks)—was going on sabbatical with her husband, a professor. The managing editor was looking for someone to hire for those months, not to fill that job, but to be a peon to take some of the load off. So I did that and by the time that ended, a spot had opened up, as assistant to my aunt’s ex-husband’s ex-girlfriend and another editor. After that I became a copy editor for a year, which is a slightly unusual background for the acquiring editor I eventually became. By the end of that stint I really knew I wanted to be in New York and in trade publishing. So I started over again as an editorial assistant, but because I had that initial experience I was able to land a very good assistantship, to editorial legend Jason Epstein at Random House. And my copyediting experience came in handy too, as after a couple of years I was promoted to managing editor for Vintage Books, which was only just then beginning to grow.
KA: Not such a boring story. It seems like being an editor involves a lot of legwork. You don’t just suddenly become an editor.
RS: It’s true. And I graduated into a recession with ten percent unemployment, so I was very lucky to land a job out of school. In those days nobody did internships like they do now. But in a way, my experience in scholarly publishing was like having an internship—it gave me an edge in getting what was essentially still an entry-level job in trade publishing.
KA: In my own college experience there weren’t many internships available, as you mentioned, and there was no requirement to have one before getting a job. Do you think a person could become an editor the same way you did?
RS: At Riverhead these days, applicants for assistantships typically come to us with one or two internships under their belts. This is related to the question of diversity, which I know you want to talk about. Once they get that first assistantship I don’t think the process is that different. Editorial seems to be the thing that stays the most the same. Though everything else about publishing has changed a lot. It’s still an apprenticeship position where you learn by doing the grunt work, although the nature of the grunt work has changed as technology has evolved. This was pre-fax machine and definitely pre-email. At the university press, we used telex machines to send messages to the London office. One of my bosses had the first personal computer I’d ever seen—a KayPro as big as a sewing machine, which had a screen about six inches square, but in general, editors did not work on computers. When I worked for Jason Epstein, I had to take dictation. Assistants at Random House used IBM Selectrics, and there was a brand new mainframe computer that you booked time for when you had to do a batch mailing, like sending out a bunch of galleys. Another thing about old-fashioned technology was that it made the whole editorial process more visible. When you photocopied a manuscript, you saw your boss’s editing on the page. When you took dictation, you saw how he or she communicated with authors. At Yale we were actually required to circulate carbons of all our correspondence. I try to think about that in how I work with assistants—to make sure that they see some of the correspondence, what editing looks like on the page, even if it’s in tracked changes in Word rather than on the page. But the process of working your way up from assistant to editor is not that different. Once you got your foot in the door, the trick was to get the grunt work under control enough that you could make time to acquire projects on your own, which was and is generally the only way you come up as an editor.
KA: Since you brought it up, we can go right into the diversity questions. How are these internships connected to diversity, as you suggested? Are you saying the diversity of books depends on diversity of employees at publishers?
RS: It’s a huge and difficult topic and I don’t even pretend to have the answers. I do think it is more about class than any other difference, although it’s about race too. I have two college-aged daughters myself and I see how much the issue is just getting your foot in the door, which can depend so much on having connections, having and knowing how to deploy the same social references in terms of whom you’ve read, what you know about, et cetera. I look at how much time I spend with my own daughters just editing the correspondence they pursue for jobs and internships. They’ll say, I have to write an email to somebody asking about X, and can you look at it before I send it out? So there’s kind of a polish and a knowing the language and the customs and an in-groupiness that is very hard to pick up if you come from outside of a certain class and social set in New York. It’s not just about who can afford to live in Manhattan—or Brooklyn. Many assistants can’t afford to live in those places, or they do it by having multiple roommates. And they’ve been able to take those unpaid or barely paid internships that land them the job in the first place. Sometimes, too, if you’ve managed to get an education and are in a position to aim for more, maybe you don’t want start working at starvation wages, maybe you aspire to make a living wage. That’s something your family has worked really hard to enable you to have. Maybe you don’t want to risk squandering that chance in this underpaid, insecure field.
KA: I hadn’t thought about it in those terms.
RS: Not to say people don’t want it. Lots of people want it. But those are the obstacles. There’s a certain luxury in knowing you can take a low-paying entry-level job and that if worse came to worst, you could move back home and float a bit. It’s like early childhood education; it’s a leg up on what comes after. Very few of the people I’ve known in publishing are the proverbial trust fund babies. Most people I know in publishing have had to support themselves from early on. But still, there’s a vast range between trust fund and no buffer. It’s complicated, the interaction among these things.
KA: As you were talking, I was thinking of my conversation with Elisabeth Schmitz of Grove Press where we discussed the article in the Times, “The Faces of American Power.” That article makes the argument that diversity is a problem in every industry and I thought about the article when you were discussing class and early childhood education. I have friends in Manhattan who are looking at kindergartens and they practically have to have a resume for their five year old.
RS: I’ve been down that road myself.
KA: How did this all happen? Why do we have to have resumes for five year-olds? So they can get an internship and subsequently get a job because of that internship? How did we get here?
RS: It’s complicated to resolve. Some of what is required is actively understanding the benefits to the [publishing] industry and making the commitment and the connection to that. It’s an interesting moment. The industry in general is waking up belatedly and slowly to the real benefits of having diversity in staffing. At Riverhead maybe it’s been more apparent because our list has been so multicultural in focus. I mean, it’s a plus to have a Spanish speaker and reader on your staff. Not to have one but to have multiple. It’s a plus to have people reading more diversely and understanding different cultural experiences. That’s good for us and it helps us publish the list that we publish. It requires making it a priority of bringing people in not just as writers but on staff who come from more diverse backgrounds. I have colleagues who are making that a priority, and have made me determined to do a better job of it myself.
KA: What is Riverhead doing about this?
RS: Riverhead’s list has been since its inception, long before I got there, a really multicultural list. Not just with respect to international representation but within the American experience. It publishes writers who come from a lot of different backgrounds and that includes for example my author Claire Vaye Watkins, who grew up in Nevada and the Death Valley area. She wrote an incredible op-ed for the Times a couple of years ago about the college recruitment process and how little attention it pays to the rural poor, like her. You could say these are voices that have also not been particularly well-represented in what publishers publish. Because the Riverhead list is known for its diversity—we always come out on top in the VIDA numbers, for example—people have asked us whether we have some kind of quota system. We don’t. I think we get there by going where the excitement is. Where we are hearing voices we haven’t heard before. When I’m reading submissions, I’m not generally getting as excited about manuscripts and proposals that tell me what I already know as I am about stuff that pushes the envelope for me personally. I tend to get excited about writing that takes me into worlds that aren’t as familiar. I think my colleagues feel the same. All of this has resulted in a diverse list that we’re really keen to publish.
We are hearing voices we haven’t heard before. When I’m reading submissions, I’m not generally getting as excited about manuscripts and proposals that tell me what I already know as I am about stuff that pushes the envelope for me personally. I tend to get excited about writing that takes me into worlds that aren’t as familiar.
KA: I have heard other editors say this, that they look for manuscripts outside their own experience. If that’s true, then logic would say that white, educated people—the majority of people making decisions about what books to publish—would produce a diverse list.
RS: Which obviously mostly isn’t true. There are countervailing pressures toward the safe and the known, toward publishing over and over again for a known audience that is known to respond to familiar kinds of books, instead of pushing the envelope. And editing requires a weird balance between naïveté and knowledge. You are trying to stand in for the reader, anticipating tastes, but it’s also very difficult to make judgment calls on topics or in zones you don’t know much about. All of which tends to reinforce the established norms and to inhibit risk-taking. And points to the need for diversity in staffing.
KA: How do you go about looking for, finding, or discovering those diverse manuscripts? Is it based on what you said about reading about other worlds or is it a litany of things? Or are you a fortune teller, meaning how can you predict what’s going to sell?
RS: People often ask us how we predict that. I think very few of us do. One of the most common questions editors get asked is what are the trends?
KA: I’m not asking that.
RS: We can’t predict what’s going to happen 18 to 24 months from now, which is how long it takes to get a book from proposal to publication at a minimum, unless you’re in the zone of publishing where you’re publishing instantaneously. There are editors and imprints who do specialize in that, but Riverhead isn’t one of them. Unless you’re doing that, you are foolish to follow trends because by the time you can get a book signed up and the author can write it and you can edit it, and it goes through the process of being published, that trend will likely be past, or there will be ten other books out on the topic.
KA: I was talking to Declan Spring at New Directions and I asked him a similar question and he said, when he reads a manuscript and he’s not really sure he understands it, he thinks, this might be a New Directions book. So I guess what I’m asking is, what makes a book a Riverhead book?
RS: It always starts with instinct. Feeling a visceral excitement when I’m reading, that I’m being dragged deeper and taken somewhere I don’t already know, through a voice I haven’t heard before. For me, the voice is pretty much key. Some editors are plot hounds and understand genre, but I’ve never really been that person. For me, at least in fiction, it’s always the voice. I would say voice first, character second, plot third. It’s equally true in writerly nonfiction. I think it starts with that sense of excitement, then questions follow. Because I’m a somewhat quirky reader I always have to do a reality check on myself and say, Ok, you are excited about this, but do you think you can get other people excited about it? Is there an audience for it? I have a wonderful group of colleagues whom I can bounce things off, particularly my colleagues in publicity who are tremendous readers. For example, in July we’re publishing a novel that I love—actually, I can’t even call it a novel. We’re just calling it fiction. It’s an unconventional book called Pond by a British writer named Claire-Louise Bennett. It was published first by Stinging Fly, a tiny little press in Dublin, and then by Fitzcarraldo Editions in the UK. I read it and absolutely loved it and thought it was like nothing I’d read before. I said it was shorter female Knausgaard with more humor. Our publicity director called it a mashup of Lydia Davis and Samuel Beckett and said, “Buy it!” Because that’s the kind of house we are.
KA: So you’re taking a bit of a risk with this book. How much risk can you afford to take as a publisher?
RS: I can think of any number of places where, in this kind of case, the reaction would have been, Oh my god, that’s too weird. Or where the book might have been taken on but seen as a classy little book to publish for prestige or potentially to win a prize or two, but not something to go at with intensity and seriousness and belief that there is an audience out there for it. That gets into questions about how we publish. It’s been a huge privilege and pleasure to work for an imprint that doesn’t see its list as divided between a commercial wing and a literary wing. Everything we do is somewhere on the spectrum of literary quality, distinctive voice, and writerly-ness.
KA: What are your thoughts on today’s publishing model? How could it be better?
RS: It’s a more businesslike, data-driven model than the one I came up in. That’s incredibly useful in many instances, like when you want to see which of the things you are doing to promote your books is actually having an impact, and where. But it tends to encourage a more formulaic approach to publishing than actually works. And once you begin deciding at the outset that certain books can’t work, because they don’t fit the model of what works, you doom them to failure. So preserving risk-taking, not penalizing individual failures, and remembering that data is a servant, not a master—that would go a long way to improving matters. And allowing some eccentricity, some idiosyncratic ways of publishing—supporting imprint-level “branding,” to put it in contemporary terms—rather than trying to impose too much uniformity.
KA: So once you find this manuscript, can you tell me about your editorial process? The nuts and bolts of how you work with authors.
RS: It varies with both the nature of the project and the nature of the author. First of all, since I do more nonfiction than fiction, the majority of the time I’m buying a book on the basis of a proposal rather than a full manuscript. I also work with a fair number of people who are publishing their first book or are relative newcomers. I try to make the editorial process suit the writer’s process, not to impose a blanket process that is mine. That said, I tend to be the kind of editor who needs to see the forest for the trees. And in any case, I have a fundamental belief that giving broad feedback is usually not that helpful. We all agree that the plot should move and the characters should be believable, etc. You need to show an author specifically what isn’t working and where—or sometimes, when a project is really embryonic, it’s most helpful to point to specific places that are working, where the heat is more intense. Some writers give you way too much, and you have to work with them to cut and sculpt, to create shape and momentum. Other writers begin lean and layer in. For them, it can be most helpful to go on what I call a “fishing expedition,” to ask a bunch of questions at various points in the text, some of which will fall flat but some of which will spark much greater depth and originality.
When I’m working with a first timer, I like to be deeply involved in the structural conversations at the beginning, and I’ll usually see the first few chapters and discuss the direction the project is taking. Sometimes I give that kind of broad feedback chapter by chapter all the way through the draft, then we begin to tackle the line editing on the next draft. Some writers prefer to go off on their own until they have a draft, and often more experienced writers know how to do that. There’s always a broad range of books that are in development that I keep tabs on at any given moment. Of course, apportioning time is a constant battle every editor complains about.
KA: That’s why you’re up so early, then? [We began our interview at 7 am].
RS: Yes, it’s a truism. There’s never really enough time in the work day. I also tend to work at home on Fridays. Most of the 9-5 is devoted to things that have to do with the publishing process itself.
KA: What are the other roles you play as an editor?
RS: I always remind myself to be grateful because there are all these things we can do to support our books and authors; it’s an interesting time to publish. And I am lucky to work with an incredibly dynamic crew in both publicity and marketing. We are maybe unusual in the degree in which we function as a team. There’s just a tremendous amount of back and forth and bouncing in and out of one another’s offices. On a given day I could be emailing with an author about articles that they might write and we might help place in the lead-up to publication, or about all kinds of other ancillary things from Instagram to Twitter to speaking engagements. Editors need to be part of that process. The reason I say we need to remember to be grateful is because there didn’t used to be all these ways to get the word out about books. The universe is both very fractured and very fertile now, so there are a lot of different places to go, and a lot of different ways to be involved, and a lot to manage. At Riverhead we have an approach to publishing that comes out of the belief that how we publish a given book should somehow be organic to what it is and who the author is, and we take that seriously. It’s like we’re constantly reaching down into this well of who you’re working with and what you’re working with and coming up with new ideas that grow out of that rather than trying to impose a cookie cutter model of how to publish from above.
KA: What’s your biggest joy of being an editor?
RS: It’s a great question. There are a few things. First of all, there’s the thrill of discovering a new voice. You’re not just going along for a ride that somebody else already started. You’re there from the beginning. Even when working with people who are known or whom you’ve worked with before, the intimacy that’s created in the editorial process is something special and irreplaceable. Your question took me right to the moment when an author and I both know that a book is as good as it can be, that moment of private intimacy before it goes out into the world. I tell authors to stop and appreciate that, especially the newbies who are anxious and excited about the publication process to come. Years ago, I worked on this wonderful memoir about the author’s 15 minutes of fame in the music business. She paused when we reached that moment and said, this is what I’d always hoped it would be like in the music business, and it never was. She knew to savor that experience of intimacy and completion.
KA: It’s interesting that the joy happens before publishing.
RS: So much is out of your hands in the actual publishing process. The end of the editorial process is one of those rare moments you can point to and say, No matter what happens, you helped somebody create something that’s really beautiful. Nothing emerges in the world exactly as it was originally imagined, and some books are artistically more successful than others, but still, that is the moment when as much as possible you helped a writer get onto the page the book they hoped to write. It is a great joy.
KA: Sometimes the not-so-great joy is when authors can’t earn a livable wage from their books. Can publishers do anything to help?
RS: I think about this all the time. We can’t always afford to pay writers a livable wage. We have to be business people, as you point out. We have to make it work financially. We have to try to pay advances accordingly and not overpay. It can be really tough on writers. Many of our writers teach writing, but not all of them do. Many of them are journalists. At Riverhead, we take this very holistic approach. We are often working with writers well before and well after publication, and between books, all with the expectation that we’re going to have an ongoing relationship. Obviously writers don’t always repeat with us, but most do. And for the most part when we take a writer on, we are consciously thinking long-term. My colleagues and I often pass on projects that look like one-shots because our whole model is taking on a writer and working with them book after book after book. We take an interest in the trajectory of their career. We are always out there talking to magazine editors, online editors, bringing to their attention writers they may not be aware of. It helps them, and it helps us, too. It’s good for us when our writers have their names out there between books, and it’s good for our writers to have those connections—not to mention those other sources of income.
For the most part when we take a writer on, we are consciously thinking long-term. My colleagues and I often pass on projects that look like one-shots because our whole model is taking on a writer and working with them book after book after book. We take an interest in the trajectory of their career.
The same thing goes for introducing writers to fellowships, residencies, and other opportunities that may be available. My colleagues Jynne Martin and Katie Freeman in publicity are terrific about this. It’s an enterprise we are all engaged with, and it can make a huge difference. You may know that the Whiting Foundation this year started a grant intended to finance the completion of a nonfiction book, and there are also other, lesser-known opportunities out there. Most writers have to have some other way to support themselves, which can be frustrating when they and we both want them to be giving more of their time to writing.
KA: This goes back to something we discussed earlier, but I’m wondering if you have any thoughts as to what voices may be missing from our literary culture?
RS: There’s still so much that’s not represented. John Freeman did a really terrific interview with Guernica that I only recently got around to reading, in which he talked about economic diversity on the page and how glaringly thin the range of that is in what’s currently being published. He said, When was the last time you read a novel in which somebody was using food stamps? It’s always easier to think about cultural diversity in terms of voices from different parts of the world and different ethnicities than it is to think about that. This is a kind of lack that’s more hidden.
KA: Regarding nonfiction, I’m a big fan of Peter Matthiessen, who you’ve worked with. He and Viking were sued for libel about his 1983 book, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. I just taught a writing workshop and a lot of students were worried about writing something that could be conceived as libelous or legally worrisome. Is that something you consider when taking on a project?
RS: Young writers seem to be obsessed with this question, and I don’t know why. I was a guest at Michael Archer’s nonfiction class at City College last fall, and I got a ton of questions on this. I was mystified, because it seems like such an esoteric question for writers who are just starting out. When you think you might have a legal question, there are attorneys in house, or sometimes out of house, to do a formal legal read and suggest what changes may be necessary to protect the author and the publisher from liability. I love working with them. It’s kind of fascinating looking at the issues they consider.
KA: Like what?
RS: As an experienced editor, you know the kind of things that are potentially going to cause problems. Usually these have to do with invasion of privacy, defamation, whether somebody is or isn’t a public figure, and whether quotation of published material can be considered to fall under fair use or not. Fair use comes up on many manuscripts that don’t have any other issues. I usually sit in on the conversations between the attorney and the author, because frequently there are changes that need to be made to the manuscript to make it less risky. Part of the editor’s job is to help mediate and arrive at solutions that don’t do literary damage while eliminating potential legal problems. I think the reason young writers are so preoccupied with legal questions is because many of them are working on personal memoirs, which are the most difficult books to vet legally. People’s accounts of their own lives involve other people who are not usually public figures, so privacy issues are of greater concern. Also they are usually based at least in part on memories rather than on the contemporaneous notes and recordings a journalist would typically rely on when going out to report on a given story or when formally researching or interviewing.
KA: I would argue that it’s not just young writers, but perhaps new writers? The people in my workshop were older and they were asking the same questions. Maybe they feel the world is too litigious.
RS: I always say this to writers, especially with respect to memoirs, which can be tough to write because the writers are hyperaware of who may be angered or hurt or feel exposed: Write with the blinders off. You can’t write if you’re censoring yourself. You have to get it on the page first and get to the emotional truth of what it is you’re trying to say. After you’ve done that, then we can look at it and see what needs to come out. It’s not always a legal question. Sometimes it’s about what you don’t ultimately want to say in public about somebody, even if it’s true and you have the basis to say it. But you can’t start out with that point of view or you’ll never get anywhere. Getting a draft down requires a certain degree of disinhibition and disregard for other people’s feelings. Once you’ve arrived at that emotional core, you can generally find a way to preserve the core without necessarily keeping in all the details that led you to it.
KA: Let’s hope this is the final answer on that question! Speaking of Peter Matthiessen, what was it like working with him?
RS: When I arrived at Random House in 1984, Jason Epstein was in the middle of working on the book Men’s Lives, Matthiessen’s book about fishermen on the eastern end of Long Island, who were getting pushed out by the incursion of rich urbanites discovering that area as a playground. Many of the fishermen could no longer afford to live in the places where they and their families had been for generations. That was a fabulous project to get thrown into, because the philanthropist Adelaide de Menil not only commissioned Peter to write the text but had also commissioned photographers to take amazing photographs of the fishermen at work. I still have one of those photos in my office. In addition to the Random House hardcover, there was a beautiful oversize, slip-cased, high-end edition to be published. Adelaide had installed the designer in an apartment on Central Park South, and she was laying out the deluxe edition on the walls—you could literally walk through the book. That was an incredible introduction to publishing, to Matthiessen, and to nonfiction.
Like many young people, up to that point I had thought of literary writing as fiction, and I was only beginning to discover nonfiction. Peter’s next project was a collection of stories, On the River Styx. Somewhere in there he asked me to read one of them for him, a story he had been revising off and on for decades that he couldn’t make work. This was one of the great pleasures of working with Peter and one of the greatest gifts: he never condescended to me, this pipsqueak. He took me seriously from the beginning. You couldn’t give a greater gift to a young aspiring editorial assistant. I took a look at this story and saw what I thought was the structural issue that was causing the problem. Peter thought I was correct. That established a sense of editorial trust. So I got to work on other of his books before I left Random House, including one and a half volumes of the Watson trilogy that eventually became Shadow Country and won Peter the National Book Award for the third time.
Peter love an editorial debate. He could be really tough and stubborn and stood his ground, but interacting with him editorially taught me something that ran counter to the stereotypes. People outside of the process tend to assume that the editorial relationship is inherently antagonistic. In my experience, it rarely is, and it also tends to go best with writers who are quite sure of themselves, who have a real vision. People who know what it is that they are trying to do generally recognize that the advice they are given is solid—when it’s going to help them make their book better. I can’t work with somebody who only wants to please me and doesn’t know what they want to say. The most frightening people to work with are people who don’t have their bearings or have lost them and who want you to tell them what to do. Peter was never that way. He famously rewrote his books well into galleys.
After several years, I left Random House for Simon & Schuster, and several years later, I went to FSG, where I was editorial director of North Point Press. There Peter did a couple of one-offs for me, a book on Siberian Tigers and a wonderful book on cranes. More than a decade later, when I was at Riverhead, I was approached by his long time agent Neil Olsen about the possibility of publishing what Peter believed would be his final book, because by then he was already quite ill. Publishing In Paradise was one of the incomparable joys and honors of my career. I thought that maybe this time Peter, being as ill as he was, wouldn’t be rewriting the book all the way up until we sent it to the printer, but nope, he did it the same as ever. Our only knock-down drag-out argument was over the jacket, and for once I actually prevailed. Part of the pleasure of that whole precious experience was Peter being fierce in his usual way.
KA: Last thoughts?
RS: In my experience, people from outside the publishing world tend to express kind of reflexive condolences when they hear you’re in it, assuming that publishing must be over or on its way out. That includes people from other media fields who have been hard hit by all the material that’s free on the Internet. Publishing isn’t easy, but it’s never been easy. I want to reassure people it’s alive and well. In a way, now is a more exciting time to publish then ever, because there are so many ways of getting the word out about books.
In my experience, people from outside of the publishing world tend to express kind of reflexive condolences when they hear you’re in it, assuming that publishing must be over or on its way out. Publishing isn’t easy, but it’s never been easy. I want to reassure people it’s alive and well.
KA: I find things encouraging, too, which is why I want to talk to editors. At Lit Hub, we want to see what’s behind the gate. Do have any feelings about that term, Gatekeeper?
RS: When it comes to questions of diversity, it’s a reminder of our position of responsibility, in terms of who gets published, read, heard. But it’s also a reminder of the value that we can maintain in sifting, scouting, judging, improving, trumpeting. Even in these uncertain times, readers have shown that they recognize the value of that gatekeeping, and are willing to support it by paying for quality books.
Photo by Louie Saletan.