Indie Bookstores aren’t Dead

Taking a look into the selling of books, I think we all have the sense that big stores, big companies are dominating in an oligopoly of sorts. However, looking at smaller affluent cities (like Boston and Seattle) it’s clear that there are still brick and mortar shops making a killing and helping define book trends. Leisure follows the wealthy so it’s no surprise that while in general, a niche bookshop may not do so well, in the right place they’ll thrive. Continue Reading…

A look at something good

Throughout the semester we’ve been talking a lot about how to make a difference in the industry, how content gets produced and what good content even is. I think we might agree that good content should be entertaining, insightful, impactful and most importantly available to a public that needs it.

Considering a genre we haven’t talked much about, this week I looked into Kid Lit news. I was rather happy with what I found. The Children’s Book Council just sent out a press release detailing an inspiring, coordinated effort between the nonprofit First Book, Molina Healthcare Inc. and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). These organization set out last year to create a booklist for low-income families’ children. First Book is an organization dedicated to distributing books to low-income families and educators. Molina Healthcare partnered with them to conduct an assessment on the issues most pressing to these communities and put together a list that includes food-insecurity, mental health, physical health, and family incarceration. In coordination with CASEL, which focuses on foundation skill education including self-management, self-awareness, responsible decision making and relationship skills.

Together these organizations conducted research and supplied funding to produce collections of books for their under-served constituencies resulting in two special collections of books focusing on these issues, supplementary tips sheets and bilingual videos, and an expansion to the Health and Wellness section of the First Book Marketplace, used to provide materials for educators and libraries.

In the midst of such tumultuous times, it’s heartwarming to see organizations working with each other to produce books for at risk communities and to make them as relevant, helpful and available to these communities as possible.

One more time for the people in the back

The only thing worse than being discriminated against as any variety of minority is being told your experience of oppression is invalid. Somehow, we have ended up in an era of cis, het, able, white, middle class (and up) men claiming that they are victims in a very recent and overestimated age of minority-visibility. The HuffPost article “Can we stop pretending the publishing industry is fair now?” written by Claire Fallon is spot on as the royal we continue to remind the world that as fair as everything looks to the people in the middle of systematic power, it continues to be measurably disenfranchising people from all minority groups. Continue Reading…

A good short game

When I started browsing the web for this week’s article, I wanted to learn about books series length, specifically the tetralogy and when this became such a thing (at least amongst YA dystopia giants). Finding a dearth of information on the subject I widened my lens out to book length on the whole, and I came across two intriguing articles. One from The Telegraph and another from The Big Thrill using major authors Ian McEwan and James Patterson respectively as pro-novella-ists. McEwan notably saying “Very few novels earn their length.” Continue Reading…

YouTubers=Authors: Ghostwrite or ghostwrong?

In keeping with my article last week, I’m looking more into how publisher are incorporating authors of other media into the industry. There is a recent and rising trend of YouTubers creating books. Much like publishers mining for fanfiction writers, publishers are also picking up YouTubers and giving them book deals. Their books are supposed to be related to their online content but provide fresh material suitable for print. This is, in essence an extension of vanity celebrity publishing as what publishers are counting on is a YouTuber’s large, pre-existing fan base. These new books can be original content, a collection of recipes and anecdotes, memoirs– anything really. Continue Reading…

Making a Market: A brief history of YA fiction

I would suspect many of us love Young Adult Fiction, whether we love to read it, write it, or talk about it. In a time when the new millennium seems obsessed with wizards, vampires and dystopian action heroines, it’s hard to think of a time when this wasn’t a thing. As recently as 2004 the Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America publication showed a substantially 20% decline in youth readership from 1982 through 2002.  Continue Reading…

Radio Retromania

antique radio

antique radio

Last week when we spoke about audiobooks and their cyclical popularity, I couldn’t stop thinking about podcasts and radio and NPR. It then occurred to me that a lot of what is happening across the board is a kind of retromania. People are buying typewriters and pointing backwards like Walter Benjamin’s interpretation of the angel of history.

Paul Klee's Angelus Novus

Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus

The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

Continue Reading…

What better way to buy a book?

In our first few weeks, we have talked about distribution and which distribution models are effective, novel or concerning. In keeping with the focus of the class we have spoken a great deal about e-pub formats, primarily e-books, but also audiobooks and even serialized e-books and audiobooks. We have mentioned brick and mortar book stores and the death of Borders. What we have not heard about though, are vending machines. The Huffington Post has published an article detailing “A Brief History of Book Vending Machines” by John Geoghegan.  Continue Reading…

This is why we can’t have nice things: Yet again, people misuse the internet in public

New York City Internet Access Kiosk

In February of this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a public project of converting approximately 7,500 phone booths to internet kiosks throughout the city with free phone service, wi-fi and internet browsers.

New York City Internet Access Kiosk

New York City Internet Access Kiosk

It made perfect sense. In closing the digital divide, what we need is more egalitarian access to the internet. What many people want to have access to is the internet or even a charging station. Last class, we learned about the basic structure of the internet (clients connect to information or other clients via servers), but what happens when users obtain public access? Continue Reading…