Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
And his idea, his point, is that publishers are always pushing new pubs as the best books ever, so good they'll blow anything you've read right out of the water. But Ihara doesn't buy it, and he calls them out by saying, "all the middlemen along the way — the publishers, publicists, critics and book sellers — know the truth: The book they are hyping probably is not the book you ought to read, not even the book you would most enjoy reading. That book lies hidden in the back of the bookstore, or perhaps not even there. It is 10-, 20-, 35-years-old. However good it is, no one talks about it anymore. You might not have heard its title or its author's name." BAM.
Ihara goes on to explain why this happens, that we all want to feel we're moving forward and the endless march of exciting new fiction and revelatory new non-fiction is evidence that yes, there are yet new things to explore and discover. But then he does his magic trick, throwing together the sound argument he has just made - luring us bookie technophobes in with that line about the bookstore, that dog! - by bringing up the opportunity offered by the digital future:
The potential for the iPad to contemporize and repackage novels is endlessly exciting. Novels could get the full "Criterion Collection" experience and come with a wealth of supplementary information: a comprehensive history of a novel's covers, links to online book communities, reviews, biographies, photgraphs, authors interview, short stories, etc. Zeitgeist would come included.
Now wait - when did Apple get to this party?! And how dare you give Jobs et al good ideas for what they can do with books! (I should note that I was getting on a plane last weekend and as I walked through first class - ahem - I saw no fewer than THREE ipads.)
Yes, I do think Ihara is offering something fun and intriguing here, but I also must salute him for offering resources now available for those of us who prefer to find our reading material not in the review sections in newspapers - though those are important and I do *not* want to see any more cut - and not in the "just published" section of Amazon, but more idiosyncratically, with no regard for how recent but instead how fitting for our own quirky literary sensibility. Ihara mentions The Second Pass, which offers "spirited reviews of older books," and The Neglected Book Page, which "contains essential gleamings from our literary amnesia." I'll add both sites to our sidebar, which needs cleaning up anyhow.
I won't even get into the mind-blowing that was the Association of American University Presses meeting in Salt Lake City last weekend. Too much, too soon. Too many ideas, too many experiments, too many talking heads - almost all of whom are worth listening to, but at the expense of my sanity. I'm still sorting through it all. For now, I just want to take a moment to slap Nathan Ihara on the back and thank him for this article, before I dive into my massive pile of old books purchased at a library sale recently and find some gem.... most likely published before I was born.
To old books!
(Thanks to Shelf Awareness for including a link to the article way back on Monday, when it came out!)
Monday, June 14, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Friday, June 04, 2010
Apple last week announced a digital self-publishing program for its iPad giving 70% of revenue to authors, similar to Amazon's formula. Last month, Barnes & Noble also announced a service called PubIt!, allowing authors to post and sell e-books online.
Last fall, Jane Friedman, former chief executive of News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers, started Open Road Integrated Media LLC, which focuses on e-books, including authors who are willing to be published digitally before going into print. Traditional publishers such as Nashville, Tenn.-based Thomas Nelson Inc., a religious publisher, have struck alliances with Author Solutions Inc. for print and online self-publishing.
And a flurry of tech-focused startups now offers self-publishing services, including Smashwords, FastPencil Inc. and Lulu Enterprises Inc. Website Scribd.com says it publishes 290,000 independent books annually on its site, which authors sell at a price they set themselves.
Amazon executives say they signed Ms. McQuestion to the Encore imprint after noticing the positive user-generated reviews of her books. Thanks to its vast database, Amazon not only knows what people buy but also how they consume e-books—such as which passages readers most often highlight
As a reader, I cannot hate this idea any more than I do right at this moment. I hate the crowd-sourcing concept, which I blame for such cultural highlights at Jersey Shore, and I hate using technology to spy on consumers. It makes me want to run screaming from Amazon.
I know it's hard. You're a writer, you are frustrated by rejection. That rejection is so much about the lack of control - who is rejecting me and on what criteria? It's maddening, I know. As an Editor, I've struggled with rejection letters.
Self-publishing may be the way to go for some, but collective production with a point appeals to me so much more. I appreciate the model offered by The Nervous Breakdown, which publishes short pieces and hosts readings and parties, and has now announced that it will start publishing books through Hukilau - which admittedly, I know nothing about. But if you're going to get into the self-publishing game, this is the model I prefer. They have a community, they have standards, they have shared interests, and now they'll publish each other, for each other, and for others to learn more about and possibly join this community. I don't believe they are overtly political, but they are a community - and that I respect.
I must also say how impressed I am that bestselling author Brad Listi created this community after finding success. Now there's an author I can applaud - use him for your lede!