It’s our new Friday feature, This Week in Books. Which will look a lot like This Week in Publishing! Only, since I’m not working in publishing I thought it should have a new name. Thus: This Week in Books. Stay tuned on Friday for your linkage goodness.
FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY! It’s still HARRY POTTER week, so please please don’t miss the bottom of this post, where you’ll have your chance to end HARRY POTTER week with a contribution of your own.
We’re also bringing back Page Critique Fridays. Page Critique Fridays may not be complete until Page Critique Saturday or Page Critique Sunday, but the page up for critique is posted in the Forums. UPDATE: My critique and the importance of specificity posted here.
Meanwhile, I’ve been storing up lots of links over the past few weeks, and off we go!
How are the NaNoWriMo-ers doing?? There was actually a bit of controversy around NaNoWriMo as Laura Miller posted an article calling NaNoWriMo a waste of time and energy, while Carolyn Kellogg riposted point by point with a post called 12 Reasons to Ignore the Naysayers. Where do you stand?
Lots and lots of e-book news this week. The NY Times announced that they will have an e-book bestseller list in 2011 that will divide e-books into fiction and nonfiction, Engadget has a preview of a color e-ink reader arriving in China in March, Eric from Pimp My Novel notes that e-books are closing in on the $1 billion a year benchmark, and CNET (where, disclosure, I am employed), has a comprehensive post on how to self-publish an e-book as well as a breakdown of Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad.
And in less than rosy news, GalleyCat picked up on a report that adult hardcover sales were down 40% in September, and overall sales were down 12%. Yikes. But speaking of those e-books, they were up 158%.
In really creepy and weird news, there was a significant controversy at Amazon this week around a guide to pedophilia that was self-published as an e-book. Amazon initially defended its decision to sell the book, stating to TechCrunch, “Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable,” but by this afternoon the book had been de-listed without further statement by Amazon.
The Wall Street Journal confirmed a rumor that was making the rounds while I was in New York: Random House is significantly reducing its office space and will be leasing out the rest. Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum states that this is not a sign that the company is planning layoffs.
In honor of the new fictional Roger Sterling memoir, the Onion AV Club surveyed 30-plus books written by fictional characters (via BookSlut). Which fictional character do you want to see write a memoir? I’m going with Omar from The Wire.
There were two separate posts on the benefits and consequences of the Internet and social networking. Veronica Roth talked about how sometimes not writing is as important as writing, and Sarah LaPolla wonders if social networking is making us dumb (hint: her conclusion is rosier than that).
And the great Tahereh has a great and accurate list of 7 Things Your Characters Do Too Much.
This week in the Forums, talking about my decision to leave agenting and what it’s like being an agent, debating the Kindle vs. Nook, your daily NaNoWriMo encouragement courtesy of Somner Leigh, do you have to be serious?, and what to do when you’re losing the spark.
Comment! Of! The! Week! goes to Lindsey, who put a great image together with the concept of J.K. Rowling, clutch writer:
Here’s my image of Rowling’s final clutch touchdown: My daughter and I are standing in the parking lot of BookPeople in Austin, Texas. It is the midnight release of the seventh book. Thousands of people up and waiting. The Austin Symphony is playing Hedwig’s Theme. Bookstore employees and fans are dressed as HP characters. All manner of games, mazes and foods related to the world of HP are tucked into different areas of the parking lot. My daughter looks around at some of the fans and says, “They’re so old.” (She was ten, ‘they’ were 20-somethings.) And that’s when I got Rowling’s amazing play: She reached generations of readers with this story. She created a world and we all entered in. Parents, grandparents, children, teens…we all know what a muggle is.
What a run, what a marathon.
And finally, a massive, huge, endless thank you to all of your kind words this week as I made my transition from the publishing world to the tech world. I can’t say enough how thankful I am for the kindness of the Internet and this community! I never knew when I started this blog that it would lead to so many great friendships (and if I had, I would have started it in like 1992). Thank you thank you. I really, truly appreciate it.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST. It’s been a blast hosting HARRY POTTER week, but now it’s your turn!! If you’d like to write your own HARRY POTTER/J.K. Rowling post, add it to the list below. And be sure and stop back by to see what everyone else posted!
Have a great weekend!
I love the sour grapes comment – thanks for making my day – what you're really doing is suggesting that I'm not supposed to be critical of Harry Potter, or that I should I keep quiet and not say that the books are obviously derivative and that Rowling plays lots of cheap tricks as a writer – and I mean REALLY cheap tricks. If you'll re-read my post, then you'll see that I foresaw this happening.
Sour grapes on my part? For not liking Harry Potter?
That is laughable, and makes me want to give up on the internet entirely.
But since you didn't actually comment on my two chief criticisms of Rowling's work, there's not much else I can say.
Attempting to attribute Rowling's outrageous good fortune to talent, however, is just plain silly, and makes me want to quit the internet for the second time in as many minutes. At the height of Titanic's success at the box office, George Lucas was asked: how do you explain what's happening with this movie?
But you can't explain it, he said.
Great, great answer.
And I'm afraid that the same applies to the magnitude of Rowling's success with Harry Potter. The same can be said for the success of the ridiculously popular 'Bridges of Madison County'. The same can be said about Stephen Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time', which everyone bought, and nobody read. The same can be said about the runaway train that was 'The Davinci Code'. The same can be said now for Twilight.
The same can be said for a hundred thousand success stories in which the success ballooned to a dizzying height and entered the stratosphere. You can't explain it.
Tom Westman, winner of Survivor Palau, said of winning Survivor that it takes one third endurance, one third social networking, and one third blind luck. I suspect that Mr. Westman has just summed up Life as well.
Quote: Random House is significantly reducing its office space and will be leasing out the rest. Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum states that this is not a sign that the company is planning layoffs.
Uh-huh. Six feet of snow in Boston ain't a sign of winter, either.
Sommer Leigh says
I just finished reading the two NaNoWriMo articles and the thing I took away from Laura Miller's article was…why does she care how we're spending our free time?
I mean, does she care about how much time knitters are spending knitting, or painters are spending painting, or web comic artists are spending in photoshop, or video game players are spending on various Halo games?
I'm uncomfortable with how disgusted she is with November writers. There's so much hate and anger and meanness in those paragraphs and I don't understand why. Why put that kind of energy out into the world? I mean, I know her rant isn't personally directed at me, but I'm part of the group she considers to be wasting their time (and hers? somehow?)and I know she doesn't know me as a reader or as a writer.
A general rule of thumb we can all take away from her article is this: When we don't understand something or we are not part of something, we probably have no business judging it.
Hey, there's something wrong with the math at Random House.
They have more office space now, but they have the same number of employees? Huh? That doesn't add up at all.
Did somebody with a big ego quit to work someplace else?
Nathan Bransford says
Apparently they have a lot of extra space right now on the floors they occupy and are thinking of consolidating into fewer floors.
Great page critique Nathan. Thanks for continuing to do those – you are so good at clearly stating what I feel vaguely about a piece.
So, first, I am very grateful to Laura Miller for addressing the Nanowritemo menace. Thank goodness. Finally, someone is taking on the important issues. I just hope she takes on the even more threatening problem coming up in December – Christmas carolers.
All those amateur singers – who insist on forming groups for some weird reason – roaming around, all willy nilly, SINGING! And do you realize that while the carolers are singing, they aren't LISTENING?! Really. I met a caroler on the street once, and they said they sing carols, but don't listen to carols, so that just proves it. And even though there are only one or two songs in this world worth listening to, listening is so much more important than singing. So no more singing should be added to the world until all the songs already sung have been listened to. Thoroughly.
If none of that makes sense, I'll refer you to Laura's article on Nano where she lays out exactly the same arguments just as clearly.
And because I know the internet, I would like to state truthfully that I love Christmas caroling and the above was just to make a point.
Which took up all my space, which is terrible because there are so many great links here. I'm forging ahead regardless.
So, the NY Times news about e-books is awesome and exciting. I'm also not surprised hardcovers in particular are down, since both the convienence and price factors favoring e-books will hit hardcovers the hardest.
That's a very interesting story about Amazon – I'm confused, though, about why this is seen as a censorship issue? Isn't a private corporation allowed to both publish and sell what it chooses? Maybe there is something I'm missing here….
Sorry to hear about Random House. I think technology changes – as welcome as they may be – still are very hard on those in the aging industry.
What fictional character would I like to write a book? Harry Potter. Maybe Rowling would be willing to help him edit a bit.
I really agree with Roth's article! I think time to let your mind rest is extremely important to every writer. So much true writing happens beneath the conscious mind.
Good list by Tarereh, too.
I really liked Lindsey's comment. Very sweet. And I had so much fun at the midnight Harry Potter parties. 🙂
Thanks so much for Harry Potter week, Nathan – you're awesome! 🙂
J. T. Shea says
Christmas carolers, Mira? You were right the first time. If I hear one more verse of 'Round John Virgin' I'll explode! Bah! Humbug!
Matthew Rush says
Yes I am extremely late to the party, but I did finally add a post to your blogfest/linky list.