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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, September 3, 2010 3:41 pm
Weeklings: E-Readers and Self-Publishers (The Usual Suspects)
Posted by: Keir Graff

From the Department of I’m Shocked, Shocked, NPR reports that the NYTRB is mostly by and about white males (“Are ‘The New York Times’ Book Reviews Fair?“).

Also on NPR.org (“Books Have Many Futures,” although I couldn’t find audio), Linton Weeks presents this amusing scenario:

Other types of books are not only meant to be read, but meant to be seen: Like when a New York subway rider whips out a copy of Going Rogue by Sarah Palin.

Too funny!

In a slightly trend-bucking piece for NYT (“E-Readers Make Readers Less Isolated“), Austin Considine is fortunate enough to quote Professor Paul Levinson as saying that “Buying literature has become cool again,” while dermatologist Debra Jaliman (an alliteration that simply rolls off the tongue) observes that reading on her iPad has helped combat the stigma of reading alone in public. Let the haters hate, I say.

Who is REALLY profiting from e-readers? Newspapers, apparently, who are filling endless columns with articles about the gadgets. Here’s…sigh…another one, also from the NYT (“Of Two Minds about Books“), a hard-hitting expose about couples, united in love but divided in choice of reading platform.

Seth Godin (Meatball Sundae, 2008) has boldly gone where few big-name authors have gone before — and, depending on your perspective, hastened the impending publishing apocalypse (“Author to Bypass Publisher for Fans,” by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, WSJ). If Stephen King and James Patterson and J. K. Rowling follow suit, we’re doomed…DOOMED, I tell ye. Colson Whitehead, as he often does, tweeted it best:

“Is he going to publish his books….WITH HIS MIND????”

Tim Ferriss writes a very long, very detailed rebuttal to the notion that traditional publishing is useless “How Authors Really Make Money: The Rebirth of Seth Godin and Death of Traditional Publishing“).

Paul Carr is a bit less diplomatic in his well-reasoned and very funny screed, “NSFW: A Modest Proposal for Authors Who Abandon Their Publishers — Give Me a Break.”

It’s a testimony to Godin’s genius that he’s now pulled the same stunt twice – the first being back in 2000, when he announced he was abandoning traditional publishing and instead self-publishing his book ‘Unleashing the Idea Virus” on Amazon.com and BN.com. A short while later, he changed his mind: the paperback was published by Hyperion. Maybe this time he really means it.

Oh, and PW is selling reviews now (“PW Announces Self-Published Books Supplement; Non-Traditional Works Remain Sticking Point for Libraries,” by Josh Hadro, and couldn’t they make the title just a little bit longer?), just like Kirkus and ForeWord. Wait a minute, it’s like them, except that they’re selling listings, and not reviews. So if you buy a listing for $149, you might get a review, you might not. I just want to know this one thing: who on earth is going to read a supplement of paid listings for self-published books?

I’d better wrap this up. So, in finishing — this is wickedly funny.

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