Lots of links! Let’s get to them.
There were a few controversies this week in publishing. Firstly, if you have ever attended a conference with the fabulous YA Author Ellen Hopkins, you know that in addition to being a brilliant writer and storyteller she’s also a terrific, honest, and inspiring speaker and devotes a huge amount of time to mentoring up-and-coming writers. So it was very distressing to hear that she was dis-invited from the Teen Lit Fest in Humble, Texas, due to a librarian’s complaint. In the wake of the news about Hopkins, several additional writers subsequently withdrew from the event in protest.
Secondly, bestselling author Jody Picoult made some waves this week when she accused the NY Times Book Review of a white male literary fiction bias in the wake of Michiko Kakutani’s rave about Jonathan Franzen’s upcoming novel FREEDOM. While I leave it to you the reader to agree or disagree with this characterization of the NYTBR, PWxyz’s Jonathan Segura recalled the Kakutani/Franzen spat of 2008: After Kakutani slammed Franzen’s memoir THE DISCOMFORT ZONE, calling it, “an odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass: petulant, pompous, obsessive, selfish and overwhelmingly self-absorbed,” Franzen shot back, calling Kakutani “The stupidest person in New York City.”
And in further controversy (or is it?), industry sage Mike Shatzkin wrote a post that characterized print books, as “On a path to oblivion.” The crucial takeaway: “Indeed, the insistence by some people that they will “never” give up the printed book — which leads to rather ludicrous glorification of the smell of the paper, ink, and glue and the nonsensical objections that the screen would be unsuitable for the beach (depends on the screen) or the bathtub (I can’t even imagine what the presumed advantage of the printed book is there) — must ignore the fundamental dynamic. Print books aren’t getting better. Ebooks are.” No doubt there will be lots of reactions to this article, and we have already been discussing this in the Forums.
In further e-book news, Saundra Mitchell has a thoughtful take on a WSJ Journal article that speculates that ads and product placement could soon come to the e-book world, Apartment Therapy Unplggd surveyed the different e-reader apps on the iPad, and two new iPad-esque tablets seem to be on the horizon: one from Google (link via PubLunch) and one from HP.
Ever wonder if editors (or agents) have second thoughts after passing on projects? Well, of course we do. This week veteran editor Reagan Arthur wrote a very candid post about how she passed on Alexa Stevenson’s memoir HALF BAKED, which was recently published by Running Press, but ultimately trusts that it found the right home. (via Dystel & Goderich)
In financial book news, Forbes released its list of the Top 10 Author Earnings in the last year (James Patterson coming in first with a cool $70 million), a new academic paper claims to be able to predict box office revenue through an analysis of the script (most important variables: the genre, how conflict builds, whether conflict is multidimensional), the Millions surveys Time Magazine’s choice of authors on the covers from way back when, and B&N CEO Len Riggio bought a million more shares of the company.
And in writing advice news, my client Natalie Whipple has an awesome and inspiring post that uses the Japanese snack umeboshi as a metaphor, my client Jennifer Hubbard has a terrific take on the author/agent relationship, Tahereh has a hilarious interview with Eric from Pimp My Novel, and guest posting on PMN, Henriette Lazaridis Power surveys some great first lines and the different approaches the authors took.
This week in the Forums, the care and feeding of an introvert, does agenting need to evolve?, unagented author websites, just a few more days until MOCKINGJAY, and do you like or dislike thinking of titles?
Comment! Of! The! Week! Goes! To…. There were some really great ideas and responses to the post on what you would do if you were King/Queen of the publishing industry (some more practical than others), but I especially enjoyed Mark Terry’s suggestion of publishers creating a rival to Amazon called DeNile.com. His comment is definitely worth reading in full because he has some very interesting ideas.
And finally, this is one of the most hilarious and effective political ads I’ve ever seen, in support of a bill in the California state legislature that would do as San Francisco has already done and eliminate plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies. I give you: a nature video on the life cycle of a plastic bag, narrated by Jeremy Irons (via @TravelForGood):
Have a great weekend!
When I lived in Korea they started charging for plastic bags in the stores there too. I think it's a great idea. I think charging for bags may be less controversial than banning them completely. It works for reducing usage.
Chris Eldin says
Thank you for posting the video. One of the best I've ever seen.
Elle Strauss says
Okay, about the plastic bag…do non plastic grocery bag users buy plastic kitchen garbage bags?
I use my plastic grocery bags for the kitchen garbage, so the way I see it, I'm recycling.
wry wryter says
Okay Nathan so a couple of things I am going to take from your post today are:
Ellen Hopkins should publish on ecologically sound stone tablets therefore she can pitch them at the superintendent's thick skull,
regarding the plastic bag issue, how about shopping with the always reuseable shopping tote made form Shatzkin Butt Hide.
It's a shame I just missed the author top ten earnings list but then again who would want little old self-absorbed, pompous me… oh wait that was last year.
This year I'm into screenplays, ever heard of Oscar?
Sheila Cull says
I'm busted. What you said about people deciding to never read E books because they're not paper, makes sense.
Gotta keep my mind open.
Okay, if there's an e-reader with intuitive note-taking capabilities to replicate my margin scrawling… I would bite. Especially if you could keep it all one place on a computer.
I noticed, at an agent's contest, that there was an entry from a "Marjorie" at 2:38 PM. My entry was from me, Marjorie, at 9:43 PM.
If you click on the first "Marjorie" to view her profile, you are are taken to a page that shows the name was created this month and the blog has under 10 visits and no listed personal blogs.
I want to state that I am not that person and I did not create that profile. My comments will always take you to my profile which lists my blogs and over 6,000 visits.
I do not know if this was coincidence or deliberate… but I do not appreciate it because the same name, Marjorie, makes it appear as if I am the author of the comments or contest entries posted.
I wanted to post this so in some way I can disassociate from a name that may have been created to impersonate me and may be leaving comments on blogs that appear to have been written by me.
This is what happens on the internet I suppose, but with this post I have taken some proactive step to clarify what does concern me and make others aware.
Anon, why the ?
What don't you understand? There are two "Marjories" out there now posting on the same agents' blogs.
I am this Marjorie, and when you click on this name you always will be taken to my profile page where my blogs are listed.
I do not want anybody to think I am the other "Marjorie" with the newly created account, no listed personal blogs, and less than 10 blog visits.
Anonymous, if this is so difficult for you to understand… E-mail me for the Cliff Notes version.
I am done explaining it here. I have a cartoon to pump out.
Ishta Mercurio says
Elle: At our house, we use the emptied bags/packaging that we end up with when we buy loaves of bread, apples, potatoes, onions, toilet paper… You'd be surprised how much plastic the average family disposes of when you really stop to look at it.
Anyone who cannot see the value of a paper book over an e-book when reading in the bathtub has clearly never dropped their book in the water. Likewise with beach reading, frankly. Even though I have switched to e-books, I will still buy and check out paperbacks from the library for reading in those "high risk" places. I can afford $5.00 to replace a mass market paperback; I cannot afford $150 to replace my Kindle or $300 to replace my iPhone.
I want to clarify my comments on e-readers. For practical reasons, I have actually made the switch to e-books. I believe most of my book purchases in the future will be done through the Kindle store. However, I still find there are times when only print will do, and it frustrates me when that is completely blown off.
I know it must get old to hear the same arguments over and over, but that doesn't mean they are invalid. Perhaps if those arguments were acknowledged, we wouldn't feel the need to repeat ourselves. Perhaps if members of the e-book revolution spent as much energy finding an answer to the Bathtub Dilemma as they do mocking those who mention it, the problem would soon be resolved.
I do believe in e-books; I read them and love them. That doesn't make me blind to their limitations, however.
re: e-books vs. print books:
I'm an orthodox jew and I do most of my reading on saturday when I can't operate any sort of machinery or appliance or what have you. Maybe there aren't many of us but there are certainly people out there who prefer print books for more than just aesthetic/nostolgic reasons. Plus, until I can afford to quit the library,there's no way I'm getting an e-reader.
Nathan Bransford says
What's frustrating is that the bathtub thong has been solved long ago – put a Kindle in a plastic bag. Done. And it still comes up again and again.
Nathan Bransford says
Whoops! Should have read bathtub THING. Pretty funny typo though.
Excellent typo, Nathan. Very apropos.
That's a solution I hadn't considered. It amuses me that you recommend plastic bags two days after you posted that fantastic video, but I assume you mean a Ziploc bag–something that could be sealed. In that case, vive la'revolution!
J. T. Shea says
Don't mind the Bathtub Thong Dilemma, what about EMP? Electromagnetic pulse. Your new-fangled E-readers and E-books won't survive World War Three! Us paper fans, on the other hand, will still be able to enjoy reading (in between hunting and eating each other and dying of radioactive suppurating sores and the usual post-apocalyptic stuff).
LOVE the Plastic Bag mockumentary! I have watched Planet Earth and Blue Planet so many times with my kids that I have a special appreciation of the genre.
Man, the whole 'ridding the world of plastic bags' thing sounds good in theory, but we've been banned from using them here in South Australia, and let me tell you it sucks. Not only do you have to add a new room onto your house to store the new 'environmentally friendly' bags, but you also have to remember to TAKE them with you to the shops so that you don't have to keep buying MORE 'environmentally friendly' bags (hence the addition of the new room).
Also, the new 'environmentally friendly' bags are not so environmentally friendly. It takes longer for them to break down than plastic bags.
As someone who owns two dogs, plastic bags are sorely missed in our household.
Nathan Bransford says
Here in San Francisco stores just use paper bags, which we then re-use to hold the recycling. They're also compostable. So if you forget the re-usable bags you don't have to buy more. It's really not that big of an inconvenience, if at all, considering that collectively San Francisco is saving 180 million plastic bags a year from landfills/ocean.
I am quite aware, Mr. Bransford, that you are trying to out-link me. You believe that if you place oodles and oodles of wonderful links within one post, I shall fail in my ablility to comment on them all. It is a diabolical plan – but ha! Ha, I say. You gravely underestimate my ability to ramble, Mr. Bransford.
It may have taken me until today to READ all the links, but I shall now commence to comment upon each and every one of them.
First up: Censorship. Censorship is bad. Seriously. You may have the right to guide the reading of your own children, but you do not have the right to control the reading of mine. So good for those who boycotted the conference that banned Ellen Hopkins.
I haven't studied the printing habits of the NYTBR, but I did notice she accused them not only of giving favorable reviews to white males, but giving them more review space in general. My educated opinion is this – of course there's a white male bias. Where isn't there? Besides, like all ethical issues within publishing, publishing is notable for having almost no accountability and/or sanctions when it comes to both covert and overt discrimination. I also noticed that the Time Magazine covers were – (wait for it) – almost all white men.
Mike Sh. is right on the money about how e-readers are getting better and paperbooks are standing still. I loved what Saundra Mitchell said about ad placement: that integrated product placement should be extremely expensive and acceptable to the author. Yes!
So, I have this new idea about helping agents not overlook bestsellers. I think literary agencies should get organized. They should find out what agent has an eye for what type of writing, and that agent only represents that genre. All YA queries get sent to Carol, who represents YA, and all Literary queries get sent to Tom, etc. Doesn't that sound organized and efficient? I thought so, too.
James Patterson makes alot of money. Know what else James Patterson does? Advertise on T.V.
Oooo. Research. I get to critique research!! Here we go: The movie research looks interesting, but it appears to leave out some important variables like cultural context and economic factors.
I'd better hurry if I'm going to buy Barnes and Noble. I still only have 44 dollars. I wonder if they'd accept barter? I'd be willing to critique some research for them – I'm good at that.
Cute article by Natalie Whipple. Tahareh asks the BEST interview questions I've ever seen. Eric is charming and funny, even if he is wrong about the self-publishing thing; I disagree with him every time on that! Good article by Jennifer Hubbard, except I don't agree. I think agents should be at their writer's beck and call night and day to meet every little whim that passes through their client's mind. I think the reasons for that speak for themselves. Every book I write will have the same first line: "If you don't keep reading this book, your hair will fall out." That should keep them reading.
Funny and quite pointed video. I like the English accent. Adds just the right touch.
Ha! I'm done. It may be too late – you might have posted Monday's post as I write – no one may read this – but it's the principle of the thing. I shall not be out-linked!
Thanks for all the wonderful links, Nathan. Hope everyone is having a happy Monday!
J. T. Shea says
Mira, don't read all Nathan's links. Just PRETEND you did.
White men on Time covers? Like Hitler and Stalin? Not necessarily an honor. And I'm a white man, but I've never been on the cover of Time(yet)!
$44? Does that include my $22.50? In which case, what did you spend the other dollar on? As for B & N accepting barter, I have a great collection of plastic bags.
'If you don't keep reading this, your hair will fall out.' Brilliant! 'But if you're already bald, reading this book will make your hair regrow.'
Nancy and Nathan –
Re: The bathroom thong. The first time I tried the plastic bag thing, I was using a box of cheapo plastic bags (who can afford Ziplock brand?). When I dropped my Kindle in there, the bottom of the bag broke open and my Kindle fell to the floor. Insert trombone sound effect — lolarious.
The baggie totally works, but proceed with caution. 🙂
I usually forget to baggie it, though, and bring it to the beach anyway. I've done this at least a dozen times and it's remained in pretty good shape. I even checked my email on for free from the beach in France using the 3G. That was pretty sweet.
And also, I live in a nice metro area where I can check out e-books from the library. Any regular library users should check to see if this awesome feature is available for them. Some of the books are also available as audiobooks to download to my iPod. Libraries rock.
Ha! I meant "bathtub thong", as in, the derivation from "bathtub thing". If anyone else refers to the "bathroom thong", though, I suggest changing it to "bedroom throng" or "bathroom throne" or some other happy alternative 😉
Your Mayor's people should call my Premier's people and do lunch 🙂