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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why Dick Cavett Should Speak Up Sooner, Then Shut Up Altogether.

I should warn you up front that in todays post, the rant level will be ramped up significantly.
I will be capitalizing words for loud emphasis.
That's the kind of mood I'm in.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from, inviting me to pre-order Dick Cavett's new book, "Talk Show".
Whenever you order a book from Amazon, they e-mail you to inform you that there are books that you might like based on previous books you've ordered from them.
I like when they do this.

I have read Dick Cavett's blog on the New York Times website since it began.
He writes very well, even though a lot of what he writes there are things he has written in his other books.

Amazon was offering a very good discount on "Talk Show".
So good that it required me to order something else to get the order over $25 to qualify for free shipping.
There was another book that also offered a good discount that sent the order over $25.
So I took a flyer and placed the order, hoping that Cavett wouldn't be repeating himself too often.

The blurb for Cavett's book was:
"Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets."

Now I like confrontations as well as the next guy.
More, even.
And who doesn't like pointed commentary?
Off-Screen Secrets?
I live for them.

I received the e-mail informing me that the order was on its way.
In the interim, I read Cavett's current entry on his N.Y. Times blog.
It's an entire blog devoted to bellyaching about having to go out to the hinterlands to promote this book.
As someone working on turning my blog into a book, I would kill for the opportunity to go wherever necessary to hawk the shit out of my book.
If I wouldn't, I simply wouldn't make the effort to turn it into a book.
In this current entry, he mentions, virtually in passing, that this book is a compilation of his blog articles.
You know.
The ones that I have already read.
And that I'm now paying more than twenty bucks to have in my possession.
A word to Cavett: an off-screen secret can not still be a secret IF IT HAS ALREADY BEEN PUBLISHED!!

So he's complaining about having to promote a book he didn't even have to WRITE.
From the Motion Picture "Boy, He's Got It Tough".

There was no indication on the Amazon page about the book being a compilation of the blog articles.
Nor is there one now.
Now I must make it clear that I don't blame Amazon for any of this.
For two simple reasons: If I get my book published, I don't want to piss them off.
And I don't want any problems with my customer account.

No, I place the blame purely on the little shoulders of Dick Cavett.
I don't care if I piss him off like crazy.
It behooved him early in the process to place the information on the Amazon Page, and on the Borders Page, and on the Barnes and Noble Page that THIS IS A COMPILATION OF ARTICLES I HAVE READ ALREADY!
That MANY people have read already!

I can't believe that I am alone in this dilemma.
I imagine that many of his potential pre-order readers were culled from the people who read his blog regularly.
His blog appears on the N.Y. Times website, where there are many, many readers.

I have now had to deal with Amazon to try to get a refund. They don't provide a customer service number on the website, and you can't access it from Toll Free Information.
It'd been like trying to follow a buried treasure map to find them.
Finally after several jousts, where conflicting information was offered, I was able to return the package.
And of course, I couldn't open the package to retrieve the other book that was in the same box, so I had to return that too, and have to re-order it.
Somewhat of an inconvenience.

If and when I get my book published, I feel that it behooves me to relate to the potential readership that these articles were once published in my blog.
Right on the Amazon page.
Anything less than that smells of chicanery.

I undersand that my complaining about what Cavett did might seem as insignificant as Cavett complaining about having to hawk his book in the hinterlands.
The difference being that if I don't get my refund from Amazon, Dick Cavett owes me twenty four bucks.



  1. Actually they do tell you....First they tell you in this, first sentence.

    "Editorial Reviews
    From Publishers Weekly
    The erstwhile host of The Dick Cavett Show unburdens himself in this collection of rambling though piquant essays from his New York Times online column. It' s an eclectic and sometimes surprising lineup: on- and off-set celebrity anecdotes; meditations on the art of the comic insult; jaundiced assessments of the 2008 presidential contenders; not one but two apologias for radio DJ Don Imus; scenes from a Nebraska boyhood, with minor hooliganism and encounters with a movie-house pervert. Cavett occasionally lets his affable host' s persona slip to voice idiosyncratic passions, in his plea to ban fat actors from TV commercials, for example, and his snipes at public figures for language mistakes and mispronunciations (he reviles George W. Bush almost as much for saying nucular as for starting the Iraq War). Some pieces misfire, especially when Cavett overuses transcripts from his shows; even the celebrated trash talk showdown between guests Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer lies flat on the printed page. But in his beguiling profiles of celebrities--the deft magician Slydini; the humbled gossip columnist Walter Winchell; an aging John Wayne, who reveals an unheralded appreciation for Noël Coward plays--Cavett proves himself a solid writer as well as a talker.
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

    Then there are reviews by readers that tell you again.

    Perhaps you just needed to read the Amazon page.

    Not that I like them.
    Unlike yourself I find Amazon to be a major pain.

  2. This stuff wasn't there when I pre-ordered it.
    They don't review books long before their publishing date.
    The customer review wasn't there until very recently.

  3. The date on the customer review was November 14th.
    Two days ago.

  4. Perhaps you might refrain from pre-ordering until you can read review information to avoid feeling ripped off. But as I said I can't stand amazon and good luck in a quest for any justice with them.

  5. A lot of times, they offer you a much more substantial discount when you pre-order than when you wait. This was one of those times.
    You have to factor that into the equation.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."