Posts tagged ‘Publishing’

December 19, 2010

December Thoughts from South Asia

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BY KULPREET YADAV

John Lennon – We Imagine you!

The two people who impacted me the most when I was teenager growing up in downtown Pune, a large city in India’s Midwest, were John Lennon and James Hadley Chase. John’s gone for thirty years now.

Why do crazy people spot and erase such geniuses? It’s a question that I have been wondering about recently. Imagine if we had John’s songs for a decade or two more. I can’t imagine, can you? I think only John could tell me how and with his untimely demise our right to vivid imagination has been stolen away. The BBC, in a specially aired show on the eve of the anniversary of his death, showed young college students singing his songs at campuses in America and other places. I guess the songs of John Lennon will continue to live forever – just like him. This I sure can imagine.

 

Publishing ruckus in India

Throughout India, there is a lack of publishers, surely not enough for the appetite of millions who have the aptitude to pen down their stories, poetries or observations. Understandably, many from foreign shores are queuing up, which leads to strong emotion here, but if you are alongside me here in India you will see the point. A recent article in a leading weekly has pegged the publishing industry in India growing at twenty percent, an enthusiasm that is slated to sustain for at least five more years. Recently, U.S.-based publisher Hachette set up their India office and more are rumored to follow.

The traditional Indian publishing industry, if they intend to survive this invasion, need to put their houses in order. Distribution and sieving through each submission that comes their way is the key. While the former might be easy to figure out, it is the latter that is the real problem. A publisher friend says he has time and resources to read only five percent of what he receives.

 

Winters at Port Blair

While my family is braving the chills in Delhi, I am all bandana, shorts and T-shirt clad here at Port Blair, an island city in the middle of the Bay of Bengal. It’s December and here the weather is as good as it can get. There are people – Indian tourists and irregular foreign ones – everywhere you see. It’s good fun to visit bars in the evenings and I do just that on most days. At the bars everyone wants to sing, most men can be heard boasting their stories at the tables with others around the table not necessarily listening, and the girls are their giggly best. But I still miss my family. Anyone who has stayed away from his wife and kids for over two months at a stretch can feel my pain.

 

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Kulpreet Yadav is a novelist, short fiction writer and a poet from India. You can visit his blog here.

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December 4, 2010

THIS Reads: e-Hoarding the Best Online Lit Mags

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BY JOHN COLEMAN

A couple of months ago I explained in THIS Reads how my library is home to an exhausted number of big-name titles and not so many lesser known, underdog books. Believe it or not, the problem is still troubling me. No, I haven’t been brainwashed by Penguin and Random House into zombie-walking to the nearest Chapters or some other chain store looking for the ex-president’s memoirs. And no, it’s not an odd catch-22 that I’d like to go out and pick up a copy of The Sentamentalists, the biggest small press book in a long time (although if you happen to miraculously find a copy, I’d love to borrow it once you’re finished).

No, the only problem troubling me is that I can’t find enough independent literature. I’ve become a bloodhound sniffing out anything under the radar. I thrive on the minnow-like, unheard author’s view of the sharks and whales in the rest of the sea. I obsess over the small press.

Lately, in order to feed my habit, I’ve taken on a risqué lifestyle quite frowned upon in the current reality TV age: hoarding. But my home isn’t billowing with pocketbooks and paperbacks. I want to avoid all the dirty stares. So, I’ve come up with the perfect little secret – the big “H” without any of the kickback – e-Hoarding. I’ve taken to spending many late nights turned early mornings searching the web for any sort of underground-lit I can find. And this month in THIS Reads, I’m going to let you in on some of the best online literature collectives I’ve found so far. I must say, in terms of niche writing, finding stuff that’s brand new and fresh is easiest through online journals. How ironic, you’re reading one right now.

Without further ado, I give you my e-picks of the month:

PANK – This is one of the best free literary magazines I’ve come across. They publish monthly with tonnes of new poetry and prose from writers worldwide. But that’s not saying much once you read a bit of PANK – the stuff they put out is very high calibre. Contemporary, relevant, cutting edge, the best adjectives represent what PANK is all about.

Abjective – Along the same lines as PANK, Abjective e-publishes great fictional prose and poetry, but there’s a catch. Abjective comes out weekly with only one piece of either poetry, prose, or creative non-fiction. It’s a stripped down literary ‘zine – the only thing on the site is the current piece and a minimalist description of the Abjective manifesto. If anything, it keeps you on your toes in anticipation for the next issue only every few days away.

My e-journeys in the past month have also brought me to Mel Bosworth’s Grease Stains, Kismet, and Eternal Wisdom available as a free e-book (yes, free!) at Brown Paper Publishing. The short novel of about one hundred pages is an interesting read, it definitely doesn’t bore with its parameters of lust, drugs and borderline insanity. But I won’t ruin it for you because you can, just as easily as I did, read it yourself.

Oh, and keep reading this, it’s also free, independent and full of great writing.

November 18, 2010

Small Book Wins Big Prize: Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists Snags the Giller

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BY JOHN COLEMAN

Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists winning the Giller Prize, Canada’s highest literary achievement, does more for CanLit than for Skibsrud. That’s taken lightly though, because the young, thirty-year-old author of a highly esteemed novel will feel the Giller effect of worldly recognition and mass sales in the ball park of 75,000 copies. But even that sounds miniscule compared to the real story behind The Sentimentalists. When this novel was first published in 2009 by Kentville, Nova Scotia micro-press Gaspereau Books, it was in a wiry run of 800 copies.

That’s what makes this year’s Giller so unique in the world of CanLit, and so groundbreaking. The Sentamentalists is the smallest book ever to win the prize, which pays a pleasant $50,000, and beat out two big commercial novels, David Bergen’s The Matter With Morris and Kathleen Winter’s Annabel. Winter’s novel was also nominated for the Writer’s Trust and Governor General’s awards. Last year’s Giller winner was long time CBC newscaster Lynden MacIntyre for his widely successful novel The Bishop’s Man. In its fifteen year existence, past Giller winners include Alice Munro, Joseph Boyden and Margaret Atwood. No one saw the major literary award centering in on something as obscure as Skibsrud‘s novel, an account of her father’s life as a soldier in the Vietnam War.

At the same time, The Sentamentalists contended with other underdogs, including Sarah Salecky’s This Cake Is For The Party and Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting, two considerably smaller books, thought their quantities were at least in the thousands when recommended by the jury.

Once the 2010 Giller longlist was announced, Gaspereau owner Andrew Steeves turned down commercial offers to mass produce copies of The Sentamentalists. “If you are going to buy a copy of that book in Canada, it’s damn well coming out of my shop,” Steeves proclaimed in an interview with the Globe and Mail. He’s since changed his tune, telling the press on Monday that Vancouver publishers Douglas & McIntyre will be producing 30,000 paperback copies by the end of the week, with an additional 20,000 lined up when demand bubbles again.

Also currently hitting the news is a dash of Giller controversy. Ali Smith, British author and one of the three Giller jurors this year, reportedly tipped off a publishing friend during the middle of deliberations about her love of Skibsrud’s novel. The National Post reported that Smith’s friend, Tracy Bohan of The Wiley Agency, may have taken the advice a little too seriously, because she sold foreign printing rights of the book to a UK Random House imprint with a release date set for next March. Giller president Jack Rabinovitch acknowledges the information sharing was out of line, but was done innocently.

Meanwhile, Steeves at Gaspereau in Kentville, Nova Scotia is trying to keep his head above water while pumping out 1,000 hand-printed and hand-bound copies a week, with enough on backorder to keep them in business until e-books really do take over the world. Oddly enough, The Sentamentalists is available online as an e-Book from Kobo. Since the announcement of Skibsrud’s win last week, Amazon.ca has her novel topping the bestseller list ahead of Keith Richard’s Life and George W. Bush’s Decision Points. Beating out famous names like that is no little feat.

April 8, 2010

PenguinGroupUSA’s Rap Video

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With cameos galore!!

March 24, 2010

YA Literature For Grown-ups

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Recently, a Los Angeles Times article mentioned that more adults are reading YA (young adult) novels than in previous years and sales of YA books are one of the few bright spots in a floundering publishing industry. Over at Flavorwire, the editors picked their selection of the ten best YA books for adults.

Adults loving YA literature is nothing new, of course, as the number of adult Harry Potter fans shows. However, outside of massively successful children’s and YA literature that is deemed acceptable for older audiences despite its younger targets, literature for the young is often received with disdain by “serious” readers.

Well, “serious” readers have no fun in life and probably spend their time drinking unsweetened tea and munching on rice cakes. The dividing line between adult and YA literature is a wavy, inconstant one and, despite the supposedly recent trend, not new. While there are plenty of trashy and terribly written young adult books, there are an equal if not larger number of trashy and terribly written adult books. However, just as The Catcher in the Rye is beloved by teenagers and adults alike, so The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime or The Book Thief can transcend the too often limiting label of “young adult” that prevents excellent books by fine writers from falling into adult hands.

A smart bookstore will have YA books adults can enjoy and adult novels that adolescents can enjoy in both sections of their store. Further, a smart bookstore will have a well-read staff that isn’t limited by the demarcation lines of publishing house imprints. The same goes for smart libraries and librarians. Reading is for pleasure, not shame. Much of what prevents adult readers from seeking out and reading books otherwise categorized as “young adult” is the belief that if “it’s intended for someone younger than me, it must be beneath me.” Adult readers need to get over this limiting and fallacious belief because, not only is it silly, but it also shows a lack of sophistication about writing and books.

This is one of the reasons why this actively encourages book reviews about YA books. We understand that, while not all YA literature is superb and not all of it will engage or interest adult readers, there are plenty of YA titles that adults can and should enjoy without feeling ashamed, idiotic, or a less serious reader.

In this Issue #2, Rachel Heston Davis reviews Alison Croggon’s The Naming. In future issues, we look forward to bring our readers thoughtful reviews of adult and young adult literature. We feel it’s important to recognize writers outside of whatever publishing house imprints their books come from and without much regard to the average age of the target audience.

March 4, 2010

Macmillan E-book: Update

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Macmillan (of the Amazon vs. Macmillan fame), will begin to publish e-books as a simultaneous release to newly published titles, says CEO John Sargent in a press release on the publisher’s website. Sargent states that the e-books will be available at a variety of prices.

In related news, The Atlantic online gets snippy about the “expenses” of publishing a hardcover book.

February 4, 2010

Amazon vs. Macmillan & The Future of Book Publishing

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From a blog post by author Caleb Crain on the Amazon vs. Macmillan debacle:

“What’s perhaps most breathtaking about the Amazon-Macmillan dispute is how little, finally, is at stake: should the highest price of an e-book be $9.95 or $14.95? No one dreams any more that it’s going to be $28. What’s being fought over is control, and the reason control is being fought over so viciously is that the only way such massive cost savings are going to be achieved is by consolidation–by collapsing a few of the intermediary steps somewhere between the creation of a book and the reading of it. Will you some day download your e-books directly from Farrar, Straus & Giroux’s website? Will Amazon some day be the publisher of Jonathan Franzen’s novels? Some future between these two outcomes is more likely to happen, but precisely where the division will fall remains to be seen. Authors, in the meantime, had better ask their agents to negotiate their e-book royalties very carefully, seeing as how, while the titans rage, the financial analysts have already factored into their bottom lines the expectation that someone else will be eating our slice of the pie.”

January 31, 2010

Amazon vs. Macmillan: Resolution?

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On Saturday, the New York Times reported on a dispute between online bookseller Amazon and one of the big six publishing houses, Macmillan. The long running dispute centers around the price Amazon would offer electronic copies of Macmillan titles, including the 2009 Man Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and Jeffrey Eugenides’ Pulitzer Prize winning Middlesex, among other great literature and hot hits. The disagreement turned to fiasco this week when Macmillan stated they would not distribute newly published titles to Amazon unless the price for electronic books was negotiable. Amazon retaliated by removing all Macmillan titles for purchase from their database (consumers could still purchase the books through any of the third party sellers linked to Amazon).

Amazon’s attempts to use its leverage as the largest online seller of books failed, The Washington Post reports this evening. An article picked up from TechCrunch.com says that Amazon will sell the Macmillan titles for $14.99 at the publisher’s request and let consumers decide if the price is worth the purchase.

January 28, 2010

The Color of Reading

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The blog, White Readers, Meet Black Authors (whose subtitle is Your Official Invitation Into the African American Section of the Bookstore) is a resource for promoting black authors and the challenges authors of color face in the publishing industry. Speaking of…..

Bloomsbury Publishing is in trouble for a second time for placing a white woman on the cover of a book about an African-American girl. Justine Larbalestier, an author whose book Bloomsbury also whitewashed, is quoted on her blog as saying the jacket debacle isn’t merely an oops, but “is part of a long history of marginalisaton and misrepresentation. Publishers don’t randomly pick white models. It happens within a context of racism.” Third time’s the charm?

January 20, 2010

A New (Old) Way of Publishing Books

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Check out this video from the Espresso Book Machine, a print-on-demand bookmaking invention recently released to the market.

 

 

At a cost of $100,000 or more, I am dubious that the Espresso Book Machine is going to save the book publishing industry by providing a quick and easy solution to consumer demands. Also, the quality of print-on-demand books is significantly less than typical books with no option for hardcover. While Time Magazine may have hailed the Espresso Book Machine as the “invention of the year” I think the reality of longevity for the machine is limited.