Mind-reading in the papermill

What publishers, editors, authors, and readers are really thinking

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Detective novels

Publisher: I am enjoying cocaine, because it is the 1980s.

Editor: I too, am enjoying much cocaine.

Author: I always said seven books a year was the lucky number. Cocaine is the best.

Reader: I feel an attachment to this character and must continue to follow his always-surprising endeavours in the next installment. Also, emotions are hard.

Science fiction books

P: Should I just tell the author to write the screenplay first?

E: Well, fuck you too, spellcheck.

A: I hope the pro-environment message isn’t too subtle. Maybe I should set it in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, just to be sure.

R: Mom, can I have this one please?

Modernist poetry

P: Can we at least make it look like Lord of the Rings?

A: The substantive breaks with stylistic convention will secure my fortune and happiness.

R: And to think, he finished it only days before his death in poverty and obscurity.


P: And you’re saying the publishing rights are free?

E: So many folios, so little time.

A: Actually, I am more than one person.

R: Should I put this on the coffee table, or next to it?

Contemporary literature

P: I’m so alone.

E: Success in this internship will help kick-start my career in publishing.

R: Oh, I thought it was Fifty Shades. Nevermind. And it didn’t win a Booker?


P: I am also the editor.

E: I am also the author.

A: I am also the reader

R: I am also the publisher.

Diet books

P: I feel no compassion for human life, and never will.

E: Is this immoral?

A: Maybe I did a bad thing.

R: Now society will accept me!

Canadian literature

P: Have we run out of stock nature photos yet?

E: Is it too much to ask for a lead character?

A: My novel will finally define for all time the “garrison mentality.”

R: Since the election of the Harper government, I have a newfound desire to discover this country’s nationalist traditions.

Erotic fiction

P: $$$

E: Would a comma add to, or detract from, this erection?

A: I enjoy writing while my kids are at school.

R: By reading this in a public place, I am showing the world how comfortable I am with sexuality.

Dickens novels

P: Shall I leave the end off?

E: I’m just going to pretend I got to the end.

A: And they pay me by the word!

R: I chose to focus on the first chapter in my book report, Mrs. Sanders.

Self-help books

P: <3 capitalism 4 lyf.

E: So many sentences in the imperative…

R: Oh. He has a PhD. That means that this is the one I can trust and so will buy.

Recipe books

E: Did he mean tablespoon or teaspoon?

A: You put the onions in the pan, and the money comes out.

R: The claims about preparation time mean these recipes will fit into my daily schedule with ease.


P: Do you think they’re ever going to do anything about this?

A: Shall I change the units or the examples this time?

R: “Charlie, I found it. It was under the keg.”

Kama Sutra

P: Should we put this in the ‘world’ section?

E: Is the illustration upside down?

A: I am extremely fulfilled, like, in every single way you would expect.

R: Where is the nearest yoga gym? I hurt.

Financial guides

P: I don’t need this. I will never need this. People will always pay for books.

E: I don’t need this. I have a BA.

A: Soon, I shall be king.

R: Where did I leave my piggy-bank?

The For Dummies books

P: Can we do a Dummies for Dummies?

A: We need air. Send help.

R: Adderall is easier.

Academic journals

P: We should do this again.

E: He didn’t cite me. Rejected.

A: Only five more till tenure.

R: Thanks for your submission to the Journal of Studies. We have passed your article on to be peer-reviewed.

Liberal political theory books

P: That was boring.

E: The white male author of this book has clearly never felt love in his life.

A: Why won’t everyone listen to me?

R: I wish everyone listened to me like they listen to this man.

Scientific data collections

P: Did you run it by EXXON first?

E: It looks like it’s true. But it also looks like a lie.

A: Punk gave us all unrealistic expectations when it comes to authenticity.

R: Oh. That’s handy. My car actually reduces the effects of climate change.

The Harry Potter books

P: And she’s 100 per cent sure she’s done, is she?

E: Boom. Fucking. City. Life is so good.

A: Should I tell them about Harry’s real father?

R: I can’t wait to get my letter from Hogwarts!