Berinstein, Paula 1950–

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Berinstein, Paula 1950–

PERSONAL: Born May 18, 1950, in Los Angeles, CA; married. Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A., 1972, M.L.S., 1979. Hobbies and other interests: Singing, hiking, writing music, fiber crafts.

ADDRESSES: Home—Los Angeles, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Information Today, Inc., 143 Old Marl-ton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055. E-mail—pberinstein@

CAREER: Writer. Paula Hollywood, Inc., worked as software developer; Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA, worked as reference librarian; Rockwell International, programmer and analyst for Rocketdyne Division; Berinstein Research, Los Angeles, principal, 1987–2002; freelance writer, 1994–.

MEMBER: Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Silver Snoopy Award, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1986, for computer design work.


Communicating with Library Users, Special Libraries Association (Alexandria, VA), 1994.

Finding Images Online, Pemberton Press (Wilton, CT), 1996.

Finding Statistics Online, Information Today (Medford, NJ), 1998.

The Statistical Handbook on Technology, Oryx Press (Phoenix, AZ), 1999.

Alternative Energy: Facts, Statistics, and Issues, Greenwood Publishing (Westport, CT), 2001.

Making Space Happen: Private Space Ventures and the Visionaries behind Them, Plexus Publishing (Medford, NJ), 2002.

Business Statistics on the Web: Find Them Fast—At Little or No Cost, Information Today (Medford, NJ), 2003.

Author of "The Big Picture," a column in Online, 1997–99. Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel, Information Broker, Odyssey, WGA Journal, and Searcher.

SIDELIGHTS: Paula Berinstein told CA: "I write because I can't 'not write.' I write because the ideas won't stop and the only way to express them is in words. Words course through my veins and dance in my brain. I am forever searching for the most elegant, the cleanest, the cleverest way to describe, persuade, or tell a story. I think I'm getting better, but I still have so far to go!

"I started out as a visual person. When I was a kid, I drew and drew and drew. I was pretty good at it, and I thought I'd be an artist. But when I was a junior in college I took a world literature course, and art became history for me. Words hijacked my imagination and haven't let me go to this day.

"I'm excessively curious. My mother always told me I ask too many questions, but I don't care. I really want to know what's out there and why things happen the way they do. The way I see it, when you stop being curious, you might as well just fade away.

"Until recently, I have always done things the hardest way possible. Look at the subjects I've chosen to write about: alternative energy, the private space movement, statistics, the history of technology. I almost wrote an encyclopedia of scientific ethics. It is not exactly light reading—or writing. Then one day my husband said, 'Why don't you give yourself a break? Do something easy for a change. You'll appeal to more readers.' So now I take on more manageable projects, and I'm a lot less strained. I don't feel I have to prove anything any more.

"I used to worry that I was disorganized and slow, but I discovered that writing is just a chaotic process, and you have to learn to live with the mess. All creativity is like that. If you worry about being neat, you'll end up constricting your thoughts and limiting yourself.

"My favorite nonfiction writers are the profilers in the New Yorker. They do lots and lots of research, then write long, elegant, transfixing pieces. I aspire to be half as good as they are.

"My favorite fiction writer these days is Val McDer-mid, author of The Wire in the Blood and other crime novels. She has a way of making characters so vivid that they almost materialize in front of you. In that respect, she's a lot like Dickens. I also think Barbara Kingsolver is the bee's knees. While I don't write fiction for publication, these two authors have influenced me quite a bit by showing me that it's details that make writing interesting. (I do write fiction for fun, but I find the process tortuous, and I don't think I'm that good yet.)

"I think the publishing industry is in big trouble. Books have become commoditized, and there's less and less money for any of the players, from author to publisher to retailer. Even if most authors don't rely on their book income to pay the bills—and fewer and fewer of them do—I can't imagine how publishers, distributors, and retailers are going to last unless the whole paradigm changes. You know, most brick-and-mortar stores won't keep a book on the shelves if it doesn't sell within a few weeks. I've heard that airport stores give a book eight hours to sell or they'll send it back. What kind of a world is that?"

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Berinstein, Paula 1950–

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