- Free-to-attend virtual Indigenous Comics symposium;
- Looking back on a terrible year in books;
- When authorial publicity scheming goes wrong, Balzac-styles;
- They’re calling in the big guns in the UK to investigate PRH taking over S&S;
- RIP: Adam Zagajewski, Poland’s preeminent poet, dead at 75;
- Do Queer books still need happy endings?;
- Has memoir writing reached pandemic levels?;
- Digital text books on the rise… but if everything goes online, how will we justify gouging people who want to be educated?;
- Douglas Adams’s note-to-self is all of us;
- Take a deep dive into the strife at The Strand;
Month: March 2021
Well, it’s officially Year Two of the pandemic, and while we’re using less end-of-the-world imagery, it’s still kind of sucky out there, so take solace in the fact that you are accumulating a tiny fraction of the stories and cred your WWI and WWII / depression / Spanish flu / nuclear war fearing grandparents built up in their lifetime, so you may one day toothlessly afflict these upon your descendants as you fail to notice their eyerolling through your milky cataracts.
- Poetry in Voice, my fav time of year, comes round again… Go KIDS!;
- New “shop local” button to connect internet people to Canaidan bookstores;
- Quel surprise: University presses overwhelmingly white;
- Ralph Fiennes to direct and star in adaptation of Eliot’s Four Quartets;
- Updike knew how to swing an axe;
- What are your favourite literary review burns?;
- Judges announced for the NBAs in the States;
- Bunch of famous authors, including Peggy, to co-pen pandemic novel;
- Plenty of books ABOUT the pandemic, but which ones predicted it?;
- But will people want to read these books in the future?;
- Lucille Clifton doc looks good;
- On Berryman, Dream Songs, and race;
- I likes a Beowulf reissue, but I likes the idea that PBS knows how to use “stan” in a headline even better;
- Nom nom, mofos — it’s the Vagina Dentata award;
- As I’ve said for a while, it’s when the robots come for the artists that we have to really start worrying;
- Owlkids books launches call for BIPOC writers and illustrators;
- Tamaki2 to collab on new graphic novel for 2023;
- Translators speak out on Amanda Gorman book controversies;
- That young man who survived the horrific hockey bus crash in Saskatchewan is writing a memoir;
- Carnegie Medal shortlists;
- Ibram Kendi is resurrecting his country’s first abolishionist newspaper;
- JCO riles Twitter again with disparaging remarks about young people;
- I’m going to be honest with you, Captain America was already pretty homo-erotic… but now it’s “out” there;
- Disagreement on acceptable levels of racism among the racists;
- What makes for a good sex scene: readers speak out;
- Are you the sort who believes in a Muse? Well, here’s, purportedly, how to get them to visit;
Why does this week feel like it’s a year? Let’s try to focus on fun things. It is, after all, one of the several days a year we gleefully stereotype an entire people (in this case, a pack of drunken, violent, emotional Irish), so let’s lean into it. Toppa the marnin to yeh, eejit. Some fun youtubz below.
- At least get your Irish terminology down, if you’re gonna go kissing strangers and drinking food dye;
- Poet Jordan Scott pens kids book that normalizes stuttering;
- Lambda finalists includes Canadians Billy Rae Belcourt, Francesca Ekwuyasi, Vivek Shraya, and etc., as well as Ninja pal Eduardo Corral;
- Books for young activists;
- Dennis the Menace turns 70, retains youthful appearance and assholery;
- Lolita as a fashion-driver isn’t fun, but it is interesting and upsetting, like St Pat’s;
- Are you so hard up for motivation to read you’re willing to try anything?;
- Git em while theys yung: politicians and children’s books;
- Every now and then some heartwarming tale about library thieves turns up;
- Next Oprah book club pick is putting members to the test: all four Marilyn Robinson Gilead novels;
- Stephen King’s early novels are getting a makeover and rerelease from Hodder;
This guy gives some perspective on something lots of author profess to hate. I love a book tour. For me, it’s my once-every-3-or-4-years chance to see friends in person. I drink too much and eat only foods from the “Golden/Fried” branch of the Canadian Food Guide (it’s in the fine print, people), and occasionally I stay out late, forget I’m middle-aged, and dance with some young people.
Sadly, it’s highly doubtful I’ll be travelling this year when my Selected comes out in September. I’m already booked virtually at a few festivals and such, but the idea of traipsing about the continent to read in tight spaces to groups of people who may or may not have been vaccinated sort of weirds the Howard Hughes part of me out.
Too bad I won’t get my quota of hugging people I would normally never hug. But in a weird way, it also takes the pressure off. Getting dressed? Pfft. Forget it. Finding out my hot-guy shirts don’t fit me anymore? Put that off for another year. Watching people on TV fight over storage lockers in lonely hotel rooms? Well… yeah, that I’ll miss.
Now to convince the publisher to sink the money they’d have spent on plane tickets and such into some sort of e-thing or i-whosie that does the electro-commerce through the googles and u-tubez or whatever.
Okay, maybe nobody throws their panties onstage, and any publicity trek is admittedly fatiguing and economically barren, except for the hypothetical casting of bread upon the waters. But in my experience book tours aren’t that bad, and can even be fun — at least the kind I do. Mind, as a solidly “mid-range author,” I have never been called on to make the twenty cities in twenty days, sandwiched between Charlie Rose and Oprah, kind of glitz-blitz. Maybe those marathons really are as awful as the gripers make out. Yet taking a new book out into the world is not only a rare chance to air and share that which you’ve worked damned hard to create, but also to interact as a social creature in the complex ecology of bookselling after many months of solitary labor. At a long-ago awards banquet, Barry Lopez spoke of “the community of readers and writers.” I’ve never forgotten that lovely term, and I would add librarians and booksellers to this charmed assemblage. The book tour is the ecotone where all these mutually dependent organisms commingle: the magic terrain where the habitats of scribbler, peddler, and reader meet.
- I saw El Jones speak here in St. John’s a few years back: compelling and smart;
- Book adaptations up for Oscars;
- Dr. Seuss’s daughter says everyone needs to hide that frown, don’t be a clown and, for the love of Gizzerbooblebop, calm the fuck down;
- NEA handing out the cash to a gasping industry;
- Nebula finalists;
- The rare books of Saskatchewan;
- Cross-pollination: how reading mysteries can make you a better fantasy writer;
- WaPo looks at the state of the indie bookseller in 2021;
- Fluff: how to get out of a reading slump (people, we’re not big-league pitchers…);
- Idris Elba writing book inspired by his–oh, who am I kidding, it’s Idris Elba… I’ll buy it just have another picture of his sexy mug around the house;
- Average woman writes average one-hander for average women;
- Does your little fart-joke-machine like to draw comics? Dave Pilkey is giving a class;
- Book sales are up, but small stores struggle… Time to shop local;
- Joshua Whitehead on the honour of repping Indigenous and Two Spirit excellence;
- Look at all these gorgeous people grassrootsing the fuck out of the effort to save their local Montreal bookstore;
- Song of Solomon is getting the TV adaptation treatment;
- Inside the world of one man’s quest to be rejected by every publisher in Britain;
- Le Carré’s son dishes on how important mom was to the whole equation;
- Harlan Coben: ‘At the end of a book I’m crazy. I grow a beard, I don’t shower’… wait, you’re supposed to be writing when that happens?;
- B&N announces kidlit/YA shortlists;
- In the old days, you turned to writing books AFTER falling on hard times;
- Talk like a real academic, but clearer — literary devices jargon: a primer;
- Amazon pulls book that frames LBGTQ+ identity as a mental illness (cue the conservative shrieking… whenever they start with their “Won’t somebody think of the children???”, my answer is, “They did.”);
- Speaking of Amazon: inside a Kansas bookshop’s battle with them;
- I, myself, am waiting for people to die before I start writing about them;
- Percy Jackson author graduates university, where he studied Gaelic myths;
- Patrick Rothfuss disses JK Rowling saying she’s not an ethical storyteller, leaves self open for zinger from her supporters/his detractors: least she’s telling stories, dude;
There’s an ebook struggle going on. Amazon is making it difficult for libraries to get a hold of ebooks because, obviously, they want you to buy them instead. That said, some governments are starting to step in on behalf of the people. Let’s hope more and more follow suit. We are in a strange place here in this version of reality: plenty of non-infinity-stoned corporate supervillains, but no superheroes so far. So we’re left with government. It’s very Canadian.
First introduced in January, the bill (HB518 in the House of Delegates and SB0432 in the Senate) would require “a publisher who offers to license an electronic literary product to the public to also offer to license the product to public libraries in the State on reasonable terms that would enable public libraries to provide library users with access to the electronic literary product.”
If signed by Governor Larry Hogan—and it is hard to see how a governor would have grounds to veto a bill that passed unanimously in both chambers—the bill would take effect on July 1 of this year.
Two more states (New York and Rhode Island) have also introduced similar legislation to ensure libraries have the ability to license digital content offered to the general public under reasonable terms.
As of 2014, most publishers make their full catalogs available to libraries in some form—though whether or not that access is “reasonable” is an ongoing debate.
Amazon, however, is a different story, and the Maryland law comes as the pressure ramps up on Amazon to make its exclusive digital content available to libraries. Libraries have long complained about Amazon’s refusal to license its digital content to them but last month a public advocacy campaign was launched on the issue, and this week Washington Post reporter Geoffrey Fowler also weighed in in favor of libraries.
Don’t forget to turn your clocks ahead this weekend, ninjas. We’re closing in on spring, when everything will be renewed and we’ll no longer have to breathe the stuffy air of a home sealed against the weather and pandemic… yes, we’ll be able to open windows while locked in. Glorious.
- Hometown favourite Annabel Lyon makes Women’s Prize longlist (as does first transwoman);
- Booknet numbers analysis from Steven Beattie;
- Joshua Whitehead wins Canada Reads Prose! (Actually, I’ve heard great things about this book — will add to list after Gutter Child and Klara nd the Sun);
- “Lady librarians”… on horseback — why isn’t there a show about this?;
- On the inequality of school book fairs;
- UK book world going all-in on online events;
- Teen writers deserve better;
- BBC looks at the gothic classics that are currently best channelling our fears about living in the present day;
- Abuse of authors writing about racism skyrockets post BLM;
- African Publishing Innovation fund;
- Pep talk for “creatives” (what a barfer of a term): you’re doing it, just keep doing it;
BookRiot gets serious for a moment with this piece by a media studies type on whether books are being “cancelled” and why.
From a Media Studies perspective, the behavior of publishers that led up to this fracas is troubling as well. Every big publisher has a conservative imprint for Fox News hosts, self-described thought leaders, and former and current politicians to publish their books. The old guard of publishing (meaning most of the people in senior executive roles) believe they should publish a variety of voices.
But why write a book? It’s a product to sell. Why is a book different from any other commodity? It holds power, and who will publish your book proves how much power the knowledge you’re trying to convey in your book has. Books are still seen as important units of learning and knowledge collection — that’s why so many antiracist reading lists came out over the summer. A book published by a big publisher is seen as having a robust argument and valuable knowledge to contribute to your brain. The big publishers are valuable and the publishers confer value onto the authors they choose. Accumulating capital through power over knowledge is just as important to publishers as profit because their reputation allows them to position their books as necessary commodities.