National Book Award

On Nov. 18, the National Book Foundation awarded its annual book awards. T.J. Stiles won in the non-fiction category for his lengthy book, "The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt." Much ado has been made of the fact that Stiles took his moment in the spotlight to thank the actual 'book-makers' (editors, designers, etc.) and librarians behind the book. Bravo! (Full disclosure: Stiles did extensive research at the Drew University Archives' Gibbons collection that I was processing at the time.)

So before I thank the specific people who have helped to bring my book into existence, I want to thank the editorial assistants, copywriters, marketing managers, copy editors, graphic designers, production managers and managing editors. I want to thank the indexers, publicists, receptionists, and sales people. I want to thank the mail room guys, warehouse staff, bookstore clerks, and independent-bookstore owners. I want to thank the book reviewers, academic scholars, MFA students, librarians--especially the librarians--agents, and the unsung archivists. I suspect that the advent of the e-book is fooling some people into believing that none of these people are necessary anymore, or perhaps that they do not even exist. But if they cease to exist, then e-books will only be worth the paper they're not printed on.

For information on the other winners and honorees (including Colum McCann, Gore Vidal, and Dave Eggers), or to watch the entire speech, visit the National Book Award website.