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Publishing Is Mega Business

The critics quoted in ``Critics Say Big Publishers Threaten Good Literature,'' Aug. 25, are right: The venality of corporate publishers, the ultimate vanity presses, leads inevitably to deleterious standards of published works. What the article fails to show is the extent of the influence of mega-publishing.

Mega-publishing, to ensure sales, continues to strive for market control by using mega-distributors who service mega-bookstore chains that refuse to stock independent publishers' works.

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Some hidden ploys: Big publishing houses make money on hardcovers by charging $10 for the covers that cost 75 cents or less.

Mega-publishers regularly price books at eight times the cost of production, while small presses charge two to five times. Why? Small presses are sincere about publishing. Fat profits are not their goal. Many publishers do survive while losing money. Allan Shields, Mariposa,Calif. Publisher Jerseydale Ranch Press

Memories of Dresden

Your article ``Dresden Rebuilds Bombed Church In a Bid to Restore Civic Pride,'' Aug. 24, took me back to the horror of Feb. 13 and 14, 1945. I was a refugee living in Dresden, Germany. I had a chance to see part of that glorious city, undamaged before that time. Then on the 13th, the bombings and fires changed it all. I lived in the new part of the city when the fires hit; it was so hot that I thought I would never get out alive. The next day people were streaming away from the burning city. The low-flying planes returned, and machines gunned the crowd.

I am extremely grateful to the Allied forces for stopping Adolf Hitler and liberating Europe, but I can never justify in my heart the cruel destruction of Dresden and its people.

Maybe now the people who helped to destroy Dresden could help rebuild its symbol - the Frauenkirche - the Church of Our Lady. Helene S. Maris, East Brunswick, N.J.

The press - simply props?

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The opinion-page article ``Clinton, Not the Press, Needs Prime-Time Conferences,'' was one of the most confusing and convoluted pieces I've read in a long time. It's so typical of both the print and electronic media coverage of this president. According to them the man can do nothing right. The author starts out by observing that President Clinton's decision to hold more press conferences is laudable: ``The more press conferences the better,'' he states. ``The press conference is our best opportunity to question him on what he is doing - or not doing.'' He then follows this with a question of why the press should act as props on a stage for a president who appears mainly interested in using his outstanding sales skills to win back the American public. It would be difficult to hold a news conference without the press in attendance, despite the author's concern that they are merely props. Electronic media have the same rights and obligations for getting information ``straight out of the mouth of the nation's chief executive'' as the press. Harry V. Kellam, Raleigh, N.C.

Just the facts, ma'am.

The headline ``Stand Up for Macedonia,'' Aug. 15, does not stand up to the facts.

Contrary to the article, it is not Greece that undermines the stability of the region, but the government in Skopje, which refuses to take the minimum steps required by Greece to demonstrate the abandonment of its long-cherished expansionist aims at Greece's territorial expense.

It is for this reason that Greece was obliged, last February, to impose economic sanctions against the Skopje regime. The European Court has already refused an application by the European Commission for an injunction to order the immediate lifting of that embargo (which, incidentally, does not apply to food and humanitarian supplies).

Meanwhile, a UN-sponsored mediation under former United States Secretary of State Cyrus Vance is attempting, with Greece's full cooperation, to settle differences between Athens and Skopje. The talks are to resume in October, and it is hoped that they will show greater flexibility on Skopje's part, and will permit a solution to benefit all parties concerned - the people of the Skopje region. Anna Machairidis, Washington Embassy of Greece

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