VSL:WEB // Read any good book reviews lately?

Oprah can only pre-digest so much prose. Her round sticker of approval sends Americans out to bookstores en masse, but really, that’s only a few times a year. What about the fate of the books she doesn’t bless? How do they bolster their Amazon ratings? What did publishers do before Oprah?

The answer can be found in an evocative slide show, courtesy of the New York Times website, called “Book Ads: The Golden Age, 1962–73.” Positively stuffed with words (they were, after all, promoting something that required reading), the ads conjure a period when discussing books was all-important fore-foreplay. While blurbs from fellow writers abound, a photo of the book’s author (plus ça change!) was also a crucial selling point. How very cool to see the mug of a strapping 35-year-old Cormac McCarthy used to promote his second novel, Outer Dark — a full 40 years before the apocalyptic The Road received the Oprah bump.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here. VSL:WEB // Read any good book reviews lately?