Ligori: Let's cut right to the chase. How big a hit will Chronicle's reputation take, by coming out with a title like this?

Chronicle is a well-established company. We have a reputation for putting out high-quality books, and we've been one of the country's leading publishers for years. We can take the hit, and probably make up the lost revenue with our Porn for Women series.

Ligori: Occasionally, and by accident, listeners claim to learn something from Car Talk. Do you think that'll happen with this book?

Well, anything's possible. The book has "answers" to 100 reader-submitted questions, along with automotive horror stories, relationship advice, and musings on a bunch of crackpot theories from the guys. I'd put the odds at 1 in 10 that reading this book will not be a complete waste of time. But don't quote me.

Ligori: What kind of things have you learned while editing the book?

I learned that Tom and Ray can write, as well as talk. Who knew? I also found out that, apparently, I shouldn't have been adding mothballs to my gas tank to increase the octane. And that it's okay to ask my mechanic out on a date - although it's not required for minor repairs.

Ligori: Can your staff recommend some alternate uses for this book?

We've been using our copies as table shims, drink coasters, and doorstops. When the bookstores start returning them, I'm planning to load a couple of cartons in my trunk as ballast, for when it snows.

Ligori: Are you at all afraid of being sued? After all, you are publishing a book that purports to give automotive advice. What if some people take the advice, and have... uh... bad outcomes?

Well, we went through a similar thing when we published Every Child's Guide to Self Appendix Removal. So we're prepared for whatever comes. We have good lawyers at Chronicle. Plus, I think everybody knows this is a humor book. Humor comes first at Car Talk. Car repair comes second.

Ligori: Lawsuits come third. Okay, well, since you're being held personally responsible for the success of this book, have you updated your resume and prepared for a job search?

Can you hang on a minute? The couple at table 12 needs their water glasses refilled.

Ligori: Okay, it's clear you're not going to concede that this was a bad idea. So let's cut to the chase. If someone wanted to plunk down their hard-earned money for a copy of Ask Click and Clack: Answers from Car Talk, where could they find it?

They can find it at bookstores nationwide, and online at NPR Shop's Car Talk Shameless Commerce, or at www.chroniclebooks.com. Buy it from us... we get a bonus!

Ligori: Can you cut us in on that? The pay in public radio is lousy.

Get in line, buster.