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Glut of new books on birds and bees confounds editors

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Spring might be just around the corner, but that sound in the air is not a blue jay’s sweet chirp. It’s a bunch of exasperated book editors. This month and next, three — count ’em, three — titles on birdsong will hit stores. While it’s no easy task to make a single book on avian bioacoustics stand out, it’s even harder when you’re not alone. Lisa White, editor of birdsong scholar Donald Kroodsma’s The Singing Life of Birds, chalks it up to coincidence. Kroodsma and another bird expert are even characters in Don Stap’s Birdsong, but David Rothenberg’s Why Birds Sing offers more direct competition for serious bird fanciers. ”I wish it weren’t out right now, of course,” White says, adding, however, that the glut may help draw attention to all the titles.

Other publishers are abuzz about an even stickier dilemma. There are a whopping four new books on the history of bees and honey: Letters From the Hive by Stephen Buchmann with Banning Repplier, Tammy Horn’s Bees in America, Hattie Ellis’ Sweetness & Light, and Holley Bishop’s Robbing the Bees. And that’s not counting Jay Ingram’s collection of science essays, The Velocity of Honey. So what does Free Press editor Leslie Meredith think will make her book stand out? An attractive cover. ”People are always going to take the prettiest ones.’

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