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Posts Tagged ‘curation’

On today’s #FollowReader Twittersation, we’ll be joined by Heather McCormack (@HMcCormack), Book Review Editor of Library Journal. Heather’s article (“Patrons Are Consumers, and Consumers Are Patrons; or, How Publishers Can Learn To Stop Worrying and Love Libraries Again”) on the Tools of Change blog has become a jumping off point for a larger discussion about how publishers and libraries can work together and create a win/win for everyone — including readers!

Among questions we will address:

  • Do libraries provide marketing opportunities for publishers, or are they siphoning away potential book buyers?
  • Should ebooks be treated differently than paper books when it comes to library lending?
  • Is it a good idea for U.S. libraries to go to a system such as that in the U.K., where micro-royalties are paid to publishers for each lent title?
  • Would the “Brigadoon Library,” (required reading! click on that link and go read Tim’s article – it’s chock full of interesting ideas and good information on the library/publisher relationship) as proposed by Tim Spalding (@librarythingTim) of Library Thing. Also go and read this handy list that Tim compiled.

I encourage everyone: readers, publishers, librarians, those who have an interest in the industry, to join in the conversation tomorrow. Should be interesting.

To join the #followreader conversation, here’s what to do:

  1. Just before 4pm ET today,  log in to Twitter or whatever interface you prefer. (We recommend Tweetchat, which refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.)
  2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
  3. I’ll start by asking a few questions, before opening up the discussion to the group.
  4. To post a comment to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet you write.

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Graphic Novels Need Marketing Lurve Too!

Oh time, you do have some major frequent flier miles, do you not?

Seems like only yesterday I was at ABA’S Winter Institute, but in fact, it was last month. In the whirlwind of activity that is the publishing conference circuit of late, I have fallen behind on posting my posties. And, that’s a shame – because I have some good stuff for you guys.

To go back a bit – last month I was privileged to take part in Wi5 in San Jose. It was awesome. A really grand group of indie booksellers gathered together to tackle the challenges and opportunities of book selling in the 21st century. I have a few overall reflections on the event that I will share posthaste (no, I will – I will), but first  I wanted to share something that came out of Wi5, but is not necessarily related to Wi5. It’s about graphic novels.

Graphic novels have been consistently increasing in popularity for years. Break out successes such as Persepolis, Watchmen, and Stitches have continued to put the graphic novel in front of mainstream audiences (in other words, they’re not just for comic stores anymore).  But, publishers don’t seem to have caught on to this. And, that’s what this post is about. Yes, this post originated due to a panel on the subject of Graphic Novels at Wi5, but the subject itself goes beyond Wi5 to a bigger issue of the need for publishers to work with their valued intermediaries (such as indie book sellers, librarians, etc) to help get the right books to the right readers.

At this point, I will shut my pie-hole and let some indie book sellers take it from here. Enjoy:

Dan Kusunoki (on left) from Skylight Books

Dan Kusunoki from Skylight Books: My name is Dan Kusunoki. I am the assistant manager and Graphic novel/ Manga monger at Skylight Books.  I was part of the Graphic Novel panel moderated by John Shableski of Diamond Comics.

The Winter Institute was an eye opening experience for me because of one main thing:

The realization that publishers carry graphic novels but don’t market them.

The need for them is clear. The panel had a full house with booksellers coming to me and Gina from Malaprops afterward asking a myriad of questions that just one panel could not cover.  I was even giving side meetings with booksellers during the author reception and couldn’t get a copy of The Passage (Darn it!) but I was happy to see so many wanting to sell graphic novels.

However, during the rep “speed dating” session, It dawned on me that none of the reps were pushing any graphic novels. So as an experiment, I asked a simple question: ” Does your Publisher carry any graphic novels?”

Have you read the graphic novel version of the book of the movie, yet?

One actually said that there is a graphic novel adaptation of a book called “SHUTTER ISLAND” ?!?
Here is a potential crossover sale with the novel when the movie comes out, AND NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT IT!

Oh sure, they’ll mention Stephanie Meyer’s manga in passing, but what about already existing titles that publishers either are sitting on  because they don’t know how to market them or, don’t realize they have them…

Graphic novels have been around for over 20 years and manga since World War II… And yet the courtship between graphic novels and booksellers is happening right now.

Graphic novel readers are a voracious and literary lot that are loyal to booksellers who curate and carry them.

Comics publishers still work on an ever changing collectors market and rarely backlist while Book publishers rely on backlist heavily.

This is a perfect opportunity for both publishers to reinvigorate not only the book seller market but also the ever shifting collectors comics market… These two parallel tracks  need to finally converge… A sort of symbiosis of sorts. Lets make it easier for booksellers to sell your graphic novels!!!

We need more panels for not only booksellers, but for reps as well as publishers so that we can be on the same page and make a helluva lotta money on these funny books. They will not go away. They are a fast growing market.

It’s time to really take graphic novels seriously–before the pulse ends.

If anyone has any questions on how to sell, market and curate graphic novels in their store, feel free to email me, or my partner in crime, Darren Clavadetscher, and we will be happy to help you out. The more we spread the word the better off Booksellers will be.

Thank you for your time.

Now can someone send me a galley of The Passage?

Emily Pullen from Skylight Books:

Emily Pullen from Skylight Books

Here is my 2cents (rather than Dan’s $2) worth:

Booksellers have clearly expressed an interest in Graphic Novels — every panel that the ABA has planned on the topic has been a huge success. And clearly booksellers are interested because they’ve recognized the ravenous consumer desire for graphic novels. My sense is that general trade publishers have also recognized this desire, but they aren’t putting their marketing dollars behind it and I can’t imagine why.

Maybe it has to do with the relatively recent invasion of graphic novels into general bookstores. Maybe publishers are limiting their perception of graphic novels as something that can “capture reluctant young readers” — something that is “for the kids.” Maybe it has to do with the fact that we as a culture are still learning how to talk about graphics — I sense that many publishers look at it as a format, and we really need to be looking at it as a medium unto itself.

Dan is a guru — I’m a relatively new convert. But, too, I can’t imagine why publishers wouldn’t be pushing these books more with the independent bookstore market.

-Emily Pullen
Ordering Manager
Skylight Books

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BABY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year everybody!

Hope your holiday season has been lovely. I’ve been spending time with family and friends, traveling just the littlest bit, and relaxing in preparation for 2010 – a year, and the start of a brand new decade-both bound to be full of more challenges, excitement and wonderful opportunities for the world of book publishing and reading.

In honor of the occasion of a brand new year, #FollowReader tomorrow will be a very casual Twitter Open House. I’ll be hosting, and you can find me on Twitter from 4 pm to 5pm ET. (Truth be told, I’ll probably be there long before and long after, as well).

While there’s no official topic, our good friend and blogger, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind‘s Sarah Weinman (@SarahW) spurred a possible discussion thread: How can book blogs best help fill the void left by the loss of KIRKUS?

Hopefully, Sarah will be able to join us – and hopefully many of us will be around to chat in a casual and optimistic conversation about the year ahead for books!

If you can’t join the discussion, watch this space next week for a recap of the highlights.

To join the #followreader conversation on Friday, here’s what to do:

1. Just before 4pm ET, log in to Twitter or whatever interface you use (we recommend Tweetchat)
2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
3. I’ll start by asking a few questions.
4. To post to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet

NOTE: TweetChat refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.

Please feel free to suggest topics for upcoming #followreader chats below.

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This Friday, December 18, look back at 2009 with Salon book critic Laura Miller, who will join our weekly #FollowReader conversation from 4-5pm ET to talk about her favorite books of the year, how she discovered them, and how social media and other technology has influenced the process of finding, reading, and discussing books.  Laura is also the author of The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, published this year, so we’ll also hear about how being an author has affected her role as critic. 

Salon's Laura Miller

 Laura has been reviewing books for Salon since 1995, when she helped found the online publication. Recently, she revamped Salon‘s review strategy to highlight books her readers are likely to love, and to bring more transparency to the process, so readers can see what books didn’t make the cut and why. Find out more here

Also worth checking out are Salon’s Best Fiction Picks for 2009, its  Best Nonfiction Picks, and its Best Books of the Decade

If you can’t join the discussion, watch this space next week for a recap of the highlights. 

To join the #followreader conversation on Friday, here’s what to do: 

  1. Just before 4pm ET,  log in to Twitter or whatever interface you use (we recommend Tweetchat)
  2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
  3. I’ll start by asking Laura Miller (@magiciansbook) a few questions, before opening up the discussion to the group.
  4. To post to the discussion, make sure that the hashtag #followreader is in each tweet 

NOTE: TweetChat refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion. 

Please feel free to suggest topics for upcoming #followreader chats below.  

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As publishers and authors strive to connect with their audiences through more channels than ever, what can the latest trends in book advertising teach us about how readers are engaging with books on the web and beyond?

Denise Berthiaume

That was just one of the questions that prompted this interview with Verso Advertising’s President, Denise Berthiaume, and V-P, Group Director, Tom Thompson. Over the past 20 years, these two have worked with all the major houses, and many smaller ones, as well as one-on-one with many authors, both famous and not-so-famous. Their survival  in an industry that’s never been known for extravagent advertising budgets, at a time when rival agencies have closed or scaled down, speaks volumes about their resourcefulness and ability to stay ahead of the market.

Here’s the first part of our two-part interview with Bethiaume and Thompson about how readers are discovering books through ads, and some recent campaigns that reveal smart ways to allocate book advertising dollars. 

Look out for the second part of the interview this coming Thursday (December 3, 2009), with a discussion about how to measure an ad’s effectiveness and Verso’s vertical ad network, which reaches roughly 60% of the web and more than 110 million unique users a month. 

And on Friday (December 4, 2009), Bethiaume and Thompson will be the guests on our weekly #FollowReader conversation on Twitter, from 4-5pm ET. To follow to our discussion in real time and contribute your own comments, go to TweetChat and type in #followreader.

Q&A with Denise Berthiaume and Tom Thompson

What important new trends are you seeing in how readers discover books? 

Tom Thompson

Tom: Readers discover books now the way they always have: through friends, family and communities of interest. What’s new is how these groups are communicating and the unprecedented opportunities to reach them at a relevant moment in the conversation.

Denise: We feel the biggest potential for growth right now is with vertically-oriented sites or networks, whether that means an ad network like the Verso Reader Channels, or a site that caters to a particular enthusiast base, like Tor.com is becoming for Sci-Fi readers, or Harlequin’s new publishing venture, Harlequin Horizons. 

Tom: Also, Sourcebooks’ brand new PoetrySpeaks.com  is likely to become for poetry readers.

Do book ads influence readers as much as in the past? How are they maintaining their relevance in a world where people don’t trust ads and marketing as much as they used to?

Denise: People treat ads with the same amount of healthy skepticism they always have. As advertisers, we have to know our audience and speak to them in a way that respects who they are and what they want.

Tom: Trying to pull one over on your audience or talk down to them in some way is simply insulting, and a waste of everybody’s time and money.

Denise: The major difference in ad placement now versus ten years ago, is that you used to be able to reach booksellers, wholesalers, authors and agents with a single ad in the New York Times.  The Times is still the best place to reach a good portion of the book business. But you can’t count on reaching the majority of consumers that way anymore.

Tom: The mechanism [for reaching the book market] has splintered, and the consumer that publishers once simply left to the booksellers to worry about now needs to be every publisher’s focus. That means that the publisher has to reach out to a book’s readers wherever they are: whether it’s military history enthusiasts on military sites, sports fans on sports sites, or parents on parenting sites.  The web obviously makes this kind of targeting easier than ever.

Denise: The trick now is to target each book’s audience and yet also reach the kind of scale that we still enjoy on TV, radio, and, yes, print venues like the Times.

Do print, radio, TV or online ads give the most bang for the buck in terms of reach?  

Denise: The latest Nielsen stats on media reach offer some perspective: 95% of the adult population is reached via broadcast TV; 77% is reached via broadcast radio; 64% via web; and 62% via print.  

If an author or publisher has a limited advertising budget, where is the best place to spend the money?

Tom: Well, it depends how much money we’re talking about! Certainly for the most limited ad budgets — $5-$10,000 — online is the way to go. But in terms of number of people reached for each dollar spent, radio is often the most efficient way for publishers to reach large numbers of people – as long as you have $20k plus. For the biggest budgets, however, TV still provides the most significant mass reach.

Denise: But there’s a good reason the bulk of our business remains in print. Even though print circulations are precipitously declining, newspapers and magazines are still (for now) a great place to reach the older (40+) wealthier segment of the population, the people who buy print books.  The New York Times circulation is now under million. But it’s still reaching more than 900,000 readers every day.

How should online advertising fit into an overall advertising strategy for publishers and authors?

Denise:  Online advertising is best used in concert with everything else that’s working for a book: publicity, promotion, community outreach, reviews, building bookseller enthusiasm. With nothing else happening—no publicity, no author platform, no news tie-in—an ad isn’t going to go very far working on its own.

Tom:  But if an ad offers something of value to a relevant audience, and happens at the same time as word is building in other media, it will make a difference.

What kinds of online book ads are readers most actively responding to now? Is it necessary to have a video ad rather than a flash ad to make an impact?

Denise: Readers respond to any message or offer, however high or low tech, that’s relevant to their interest or need. Generally, rich media (including video) performs better, but that’s often because the immediate value-offer is more apparent. But rich media requires a bigger budget, since third party servers like DoubleClick or Point Roll are crucial for optimum serving and reporting.

How necessary is it to run a contest or give something away in your ad, like an audio download or keychains or other gizmos?

Tom:  These days, a free excerpt alone isn’t enough to elicit a click– unless it’s a highly newsworthy person or spectacularly timely piece of information. FSG, for example, ran a highly successful campaign that featured an interesting twist on the free excerpt model for Thomas L. Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded.  Over a month before the hardcover’s on sale date, FSG offered free audio downloads of his entire last book as well as an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming title. This ten day pre-pub online ad campaign led to nearly 100,000 downloads (and tens of thousands of email addresses). You can read more about the campaign on our site.

Denise:  Another successful campaign was for the Vanguard Press title Bad Dogs Have More Fun. Taking advantage of the author’s previous success with Marley and Me, Vanguard ran a simple promotion offering a free keychain to the first respondents across hundreds of pop culture websites on Verso’s Pop Culture Reader Channel. The book’s website was deluged with over 100,000 people registering to win. (You can see Bad Dog creative at http://www.versoadvertising.com/online/).

Tom:  In both cases, the publishers did more than create a promotion that offered the audience something it wanted. They let the potential  audience know the promotion existed! The “Build it and they will come” theory of online marketing is pure fantasy.

NOTE: Look out for the second part of the interview this coming Wednesday (December 2, 2009), with a discussion about how to measure an ad’s effectiveness and Verso’s vertical ad network, which reaches roughly 60% of the web and more than 110 million unique users a month.

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The long-simmering question of how to elevate the status of women writers when it comes to major review coverage and awards drew scores of smart comments and many new faces in a rousing discussion on November 13, 2009, with the #followreader and #fembook hashtags on Twitter.

Intially prompted by the sidelining of important books by women from various year-end “best books” lists and awards, the #followreader #fembook conversation explored some reasons why women writers may be judged differently from men; which books by women rightly deserved major attention this year; and whether or not a women-only literary award might help draw greater attention to the best women writers in the U.S.

Tweets came fast and furious, leaving my guest, Bethanne Patrick (@thebookmaven), host of WETA’s The Book Studio and a National Book Critic’s Circle member, and me (@charabbott) — doing our best to keep up. By the end, many participants said they would like to revisit the topic, in a discussion focused on possible solutions to the problem…and not just for women’s history month!

For highlights from the #followreader #fembook conversation, keep scrolling.

Keeping Score on Women Writers

For those who are curious about the how women writers have been faring in the weeks since the #fembook discussion was first sparked by announcement of Publishers Weekly’s all-male Top Ten Best Books of 2009 and Amazon’s male-dominated Best Books for 2009, here are some updates.

No women writers won a National Book Award this year, but there were a number of very strong female finalists, including Bonnie Jo Campbell, who talks here about her novel American Salvage, and  Jayne Anne Phillips, who talks here about her novel Lark and Termite. In nonfiction, there was also Adrienne Mayor, who talks here about The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy.

On a much more encouraging note, four of the five novelists on the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35″ were women: Ceridwen Dovey, author of Blood Kin; C.E. Morgan, author of All the Living; Lydia Peele, author of The Reasons For and Advantages of Breathing; and Karen Russell, author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.

On Library Journal’s list of 31 Best Books, 11 were by women, or about one third of the list. That’s marginally higher than on the PW and Amazon long lists, where women were 30% and 25% of the total, respectively, as EarlyWord.com pointed out.

On the Atlantic magazine’s Best Books list, two women were on the list of the year’s top five writers (A.S. Byatt with The Children’s Book and Alison Light with Mrs. Woolf and the Servants: An Intimate History of Domestic Life in Bloomsbury).  Nine women were on the Atlantic‘s long list of 25 authors, which amounts to a 36% showing for women. That’s the highest percentage of women on the Best Books lists we’ve seen.

EarlyWord also noted that there was little consensus between the “best books” on the Atlantic, PW and Amazon lists, except when it came to women. Interestingly, four books by women got the nod from two of the three lists – making them slightly more critically acclaimed than the books by men that appeared on only one list.  Here are the favored women:

  • Byatt, A.S., The Childrens Book — Amazon #88 and Atlantic Top Five
  • Davis, Lydia, Collected Stories — Amazon #56 and Atlantic Runner Up
  • Mantel, Hilary, Wolf Hall — Amazon #3 and Atlantic Runner Up
  • Munro, Alice, Too Much Happiness — Amazon #30 and Atlantic Runner Up

Highlights of the #Followreader #Fembook Discussion

 Why Do Men Get the Lion’s Share of the Critical Attention?

@thebookmaven: I interviewed Mary Gordon today, and she said “Notice WHO REVIEWS.” #fembook #followreader

@jenwgilmore I had a prof-and this was grad school-tell me women didn’t write big books. except ship of fools,and that was a mess! #followreader #fembook

@thebookmaven See? That prof and others like him are why I think we need to keep talking about this. #fembook #followreader

@CapitolClio No “domestic details” and the home = no 19th century literature. No Austen, Trollope, Thackeray. #fembook #followreader

@bookladysblog Reactions to work by Wally Lamb if he = female? #followreader #fembook

@charabbott When Roth and Updike write domestic novels, they are praised for their versatility! #fembook #followreader

@toofondofbooks Yeah, THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU by Jon. Tropper is totally “family fiction!” #fembook #followreader

@bookladysblog What about THE CORRECTIONS. If that’s not family fiction… #fembook #followreader

@Wordlily Robert Morgan writes some family/domestic fic too. #fembook #followreader

@words_lover: The Corrections, East of Eden, Faulkner, Cheever – all “family fiction” #fembook #followreader

@Eugenia_Kim MEMOIRS GEISHA also interestngly compounded as Asian female story by White Male #fembook #followreader

@hmccormack Would be interesting to do male/female writer book pairings in book groups. See how common themes are handled #fembook #followreader

@hmccormack I, for instance, would pair Carson McCullers’ Heart Is a Lonely Hunter w/Lester Bangs’s Psychotic Reactions & C Dung #fembook #followreader

Women and Awards

@charabbott Three women won the Nobel in last 6 years, but there were v. few U.S. reviews of Elfrede Jelenik’s work #fembook #followreader

@charabbott Also, I don’t see male critics and readers putting Jelenik, Lessing and Muller on their must-read lists. #fembook #followreader

@bostonbibliophl I’ve heard more ppl say Muller didn’t deserve to win than say kudos. #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven Those big wins…NOT IN THE U.S. — which is kind of why I’m here today. We need to woman up! #fembook #followreader

@charabbott Yes, the U.S. is far behind the UK and Canada, where many women contend for major awards every year. #fembook #followreader

@DavidRozansky: Many prize juries read manuscripts without names, race or gender, though. #fembook #followreader

@charabbott Awards comms are mixed & still pick male aus -deeper issue is assumption that men are more important #fembook #followreader

@charabbott It’s the same on Twitter: men have more followers and RTs, even though Twitter is female-dominated. #fembook #followreader

@DavidRozansky Prize submissions should be stripped of author ID. #fembook #followreader

@charabbott Elaine Showalter says that since 1850s, women have dominated US book market & men have had more literary esteem. #fembook #followreader

@Bookgirl96 I think it’s interesting, all this focus on prizes. They don’t seem to help book sales. #fembook #followreader

@batpoet What a great #followreader #fembook disc.! More women reviewers, bloggers, booksellers will help equalize too.

Would a Women’s Award Help?

@charabbott Would a prize for women writers like the Orange Prize in the UK help address this problem? #fembook #followreader

@charabbott I believe that this is part of the solution. #fembook #followreader

@Wordlily I’m loathe to think separate prizes are the best answer. #fembook #followreader

@charabbott I am genuinely surprised that we don’t have a national prize for women’s lit already. #fembook #followreader

@FlossieTeacake: Continuity now noticeable between Orange lists & other prizes later in the year (cough, Booker) #fembook #followreader

@charabbott But some worry that an award for women only, will ghettoize women’s writing #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven I have thought about that, about separate prizes reinforcing this gender gap. BUT! #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven I think in order to get past the gap, to jump over it for good, we may need a US women’s lit prize. #fembook #followreader

@charabbott Let’s hear from those who don’t like the idea of a prize for women – why?

@Wordlily It could ghettoize female writers, & assumes they won’t win major prizes. May keep from winning “majors”? #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven It hasn’t done so for women in UK. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a point. Need to keep discussing. #fembook #followreader

@Wordlily Just that it’s separate, in some ways means not equal. #fembook #followreader

@jenwgilmore yet there’s a Jewish Book Award, Asian Book Award,etc. You think these bad? Anything to get bk noticed. #followreader #fembook

@Wordlily  I can def see US women’s lit prize as a potential part of the solution, but it can’t be the only thing. #fembook #followreader

@jenwgilmore although: I have felt ghettoized by the Jewish book stuff, but that’s a whole other thing. #fembook #followreader

@charabbott Why can’t the two co-exist – effort to make existing awards more fair, and also prize for great women? #fembook #followreader

@myfriendamy Maybe separate prizes says….we realize you won’t acknowledge us but we aren’t going to be quiet #fembook #followreader

@charabbott Wouldn’t a women’s lit prize draw more attention to excellent women’s work, if judged by high standard? #fembook #followreader

@rosewhite22  ideally yes, but i think there’s the danger of it not being taken seriously, like we can’t compete #fembook #followreader

@charabbott If women’s writing is as good as men’s, why wouldn’t women’s award use same standards? #fembook #followreader

@Wordlily Hopefully the two efforts (natl women’s prize + changing system) can coexist. Just a danger, I think. #fembook #followreader

@charabbott Would look pretty bad if other prizes said, “Women have their own award now, we can ignore them!” #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven With prizes, we enhance visibility. Must know that a prize is simply that. More to be done. #fembook #followreader

@hollowaymcc: Wouldn’t a women’s prize be a natural step in “vertical” marketing? #fembook #followreader

Women to Read

Bookgirl96  Who would you pick as top 5 women writers today? #fembook #followreader

thebookmaven Thanks for asking! GREAT question. World, or US? #fembook #followreader

thebookmaven US: Toni Morrison, Lorrie Moore, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jane Smiley, Annie Proulx…that’s five, but NOT all!! #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven World: Hilary Mantel, Kiran Desai, A.S. Byatt, Elfriede Jelinek, Sarah Waters. #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven Also: I heart A.L. Kennedy. #fembook #followreader

@jillmwo Consider reading Joanna Russ’ excell work, How to Suppress Women’s Writing (http://bit.ly/20pR7l); #fembook #followreader [Changed my life]

@Bookgirl96 Two of my favorite female writers: Carol Shields and Susan Minot. #fembook #followreader

@janiceharayda Top 5 female writers not mentioned by others? Joan Didion, Nadine Gordimer, Wislawa Szymborska #fembook #followreader

@nicholemcgill Other female writers who rock: PD James, Marie Helene Poitras, Lynn Crosbie, Evelyn Lau… #fembook #followreader

@nicholemcgill More female writers who rock: @halseanderson, @pinkmeringue, @zoewhittall, Claudia Dey, Elina Hirvonen…#fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven I’d also like to recommend Kristoff/WuDunn HALF THE SKY to all of us here today. Great book about women. #fembook #followreader

Women’s Writing Stuffed in a Nutshell

@charabbott  I was an avid reader, but never read a black woman novelist until I got to college. #fembook #followreader

@jenwgilmore right,but I bet you’d read the Bell Jar. (great book, but reinforces women as crazy!) #followreader #fembook

@jenwgilmore The Bell Jar is totally great. But it’s an unstable woman story, that was my point.I’m a big Plath-head. #followreader #fembook

@SarahABA Today’s #followreader makes me appreciate all-female (by chance) AP Lit class and all-female (on purpose) college #fembook

@nicholemcgill I went to school post-sexual revolution and believe me, I am thankful! So all should be. #fembook #followreader

@Bookladysblog I think 1 problem is women’s fiction is automatically considered commercial. #fembook #followreader

@Bookgirl96 Very true. Hard to market a woman who writes literary fiction. #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven We shouldn’t! I think women are sometimes PUSHED towards those genres, consc or unconsc #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven  I think that in US, women often get diverted from developing as fiction writers. #fembook #followreader

@thebookmaven We are a Puritan nation; woman “taught” to do industrious things. Fiction can be cast as frivolous. #fembook #followreader

@adevries18 When do we get to blame (or praise) Oprah? #fembook #followreader

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Last Monday’s news that Publishers Weekly had excluded women from its Top Ten Best Books of 2009, and included only 29 women in its list of top 100 books of the year, met with incredulity, groans and outrage. On Twitter, the conversation quickly morphed into the #fembook hashtag, where participants suggested ways to challenge what some called a pervasive bias against women when it comes to major reviews and literary awards, particularly in a year that many consider a great year for books by women. 
Bethanne Patrick

@thebookmaven

For more on where the #fembook conversation led, keep scrolling.  Where will the conversation go next? That’s up to you!

Join me, Charlotte Abbott,  on Friday, November 13, from 4-5pm ET,  for a joint session of #FollowReader and #fembook, where we’ll discuss what can be done to elevate the status of women writers and books by women in a world where most authors, readers, book buyers and publishing staffers are women.

Our guest will be Bethanne Patrick (a.k.a. @thebookmaven), host of the Book Studio at WETA.org and moderator of #FridayReads (who we profiled here earlier this year).

#Fembook: A Hashtag is Born

Early last week on #fembook, book bloggers, critics, authors, publishing professionals and readers shared links to the Guardian (UK) story about how a new group called Women in Letters and Literary Arts  (WILLA) had confronted the PW announcement with an open letter of complaint and a wiki of great books published by women in 2009, and invited sympathizers to join its Facebook group (created when the group called itself WILA). Others noted that, lest we unfairly vilify PW, the magazine’s long list did include categories that are overlooked elsewhere, such as graphic format and mass market titles, as well as a number of writers of color.

Still others observed that the year-end picks by Amazon’s editors were also heavily weighted toward men, and that Fox TV host Glen Beck, an enthusiastic propnent of thrillers, rarely mentions any written by women. 

By last Wednesday, several book critics had weighed in on the #fembooks debate, including Politico’s Lizzie Skurnick and Salon’s Laura Miller, along with author Susan Steinberg, writing in the The Rumpus. The librarian blog Earlyword.com offered a helpful breakdown of the representation of women among the National Book Award finalists, as well as on Publishers Weekly‘s Best Children’s Books list, and among the year’s most popular books on Amazon. (Guess what? Women get more prizes for children’s books than adult books!)

By the end of the week, #fembook had become a fast-flowing conversation about great books by women published in 2009 – thanks to the announcement by #FridayReads moderator Bethanne Patrick that the two hashtags would join forces for an all-women’s edition of  the weekly #FridayReads book recommendation discussion.

For those interested in the #fembook discussion and title recommendations, here’s an archive of the complete conversation between November 5 and November 10.

And here are a few other commentaries, and efforts to elevate the status of women writers, that cropped up this week  – please let us know about any we’ve missed!

  • SheWrites Day of Action calls for women to write a blog post about PW’s exclusion of women from its Top 10 list, buy a book by a woman and take a photo of yourself holding it, and tell five women to do the same – by Friday, November 13, 2009.
  • Women Unbound Reading Challenge encourages people to read fiction and nonfiction by women. The challenge runs for a year, from November 1, 2009 to November 30, 2010.
  • In the latest podcast from Books on the Nightstand, Random House sales reps Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness present a lively examination of the books by women writers on their own shelves, and talk passionately about their all-time favorite woman-authored books.
  • In the Guardian, editor-turned-author Harriet Evans writes, “I’m fed up with seeing some of our best novelists written off as ‘chick lit’.”

To join the #followreader conversation on Friday, here’s what to do:

  1. Just before 4pm ET,  log in to Twitter or whatever interface you use (e.g. Tweetchat, Tweetdeck, Twitterific, etc.)
  2. To follow the discussion, run a search for #followreader
  3. I’ll start by asking Bethanne Patrick (@thebookmaven) a few questions, before opening up the discussion to the group.
  4. To post to the discussion, type #followreader in each tweet 

NOTE: You might want to experiment with TweetChat, which refreshes quickly and automatically loads your hashtag when you are in the discussion.

Looking forward to tweeting with you on Friday! 

Watch this space next week for a recap of the highlights. And please feel free to suggest topics for upcoming #followreader chats below.

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How do major book reviewers select books, and how much has social media and other technology changed the way they discover new titles?  Do print galleys, pre-pub reviews and trade shows matter any more, as digital tools expand and print review outlets continue to shrink? 

Those were some of the questions we explored with Lev Grossman, Time magazine’s book critic, technology writer and Nerd World blogger, and Carolyn Kellogg, who reviews for the Los Angeles Times and writes the Jacket Copy blog, last Friday our #followreader discussion on Twitter (October 30, 2009).

Among the highlights:

  • Social media buzz is gaining importance, but it can’t make up for a book that doesn’t deliver
  • Paper galleys are most desireable because taking notes in them is easy
  • Standalone e-readers are still too expensive for these professional readers
  • Some reviewers pay more attention to publisher marketing efforts than others
  • Small houses do have a shot at getting reviewed
  • Becoming the author of three novels has made Grossman wince at what he used to say in his reviews
  • Reviewers do regret it when they miss the chance to review good books

Here’s the full conversation:

What makes you sit up & decide to review a book?

Lev Grossman@leverus: Have your publicist tuck a $50 right around page 100. Works like a charm. Not many people know this. #followreader

@Corb21: we tucked 1,000,000 dollar bills in our books once…funny, but not necessarily more reviews. #followreader

@leverus: My antennae start to crackle when I see somebody doing something genuinely risky or genuinely new. #followreader

@leverus: Doesn’t happen very often. For example: I skipped the Doctorow this fall. It’s a great book. But not a new book. #followreader

@leverus: Formally, stylistically, thematically: I had seen Doctorow do these things before. No one does them better. But: not new. #followreader

@paperhaus: Well I nearly fell over dead when my editor showed me the new Thomas Pynchon. Having a recognizable name helps. Esp. Pynchon. #followreader@paperhaus

@leverus: Counterexample: Jess Walters’ FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS. Nothing else I’ve read this year felt that utterly contemporary. #followreader

@leverus: (Except Cory Doctorow’s MAKERS) #followreader

@leverus: The more I review, the less I’m interested in names. The writing has to deliver. #followreader

@paperhaus: Since advance copies of books don’t have art, we rarely judge by the cover. #followreader

@charabbott: Does this mean you read 10x more books than you review? #followreader

@leverus: I wouldn’t put it as high as 10X. But I read a lot more books than I review. And I read a HELL of a lot of first chapters. #followreader

@bnreviewer: Curious to know what books over past year you passed on and now wish you’d covered (assuming any). #followreader

@leverus: There are so many worthy books I regret skipping. The Dan Chaon comes to mind. #followreader

@CollectedMisc: Is there a place for audacious failures? Works that tried something big but failed or did so in an interesting way? #followreader

@paperhaus: Yes, one of the great things about Jacket Copy (the LA Times book blog) is that we can cover so much #followreader

@leverus: Give an example of an audacious failure! I want names named. #followreader

@paperhaus: There was an intentionally failed book, @leverus, called B is for Bad Poetry – genuinely terrible poems, cute blog post. #followreader

@leverus: I would call KINDLY ONES an audacious failure. I was truly blown away by its ambition. #followreader

Where do you pick up buzz about new books and authors?

@charabbott: Do you just read the books on your desk? What else influences you? #followreader

@leverus: I read the trades. But I don’t trust them. I talk to editors and publicists and agents, a lot. And other writers. #followreader

@charabbott: Why not trust the trades? #followreader

@leverus: in the case of PW: no bylines. I need to know who the reviewers are, so I can understand their context, biases,etc #followreader

@Corb21: What chance does a smaller publishing house have at getting reviewed? What ups their ante? #followreader

@paperhaus: Indie houses have a good chance of getting attention around here. We review New Directions, Two Dollar Radio… #followreader

@charabbott: What’s the most offbeat book you’ve covered lately? #followreader

@paperhaus: Offbeat: probably LA BIZARRO, an updated list of wildly eclectic restaurants & places around LA. #followreader

@charabbott: How did you find out about LA BIZARRO. Sounds like a local publisher? #followreader

@paperhaus: LA BIZARRO was pubbed by Chronicle Books. #followreader

Do you use digital Galleys and e-Readers?

@NetGalley: Does having a printed galley on your desk influence you or will you track down a book if you want it? #followreader

@leverus: It never hurts to have a paper galley kicking around. But yes, I’ll hunt down a book if I know I want it. #followreader

@Corb21: how do you feel about a digital copy? Does it HAVE to be paper for you? #followreader

@leverus: No digital ARCs here. I don’t think e-reader tech is mature yet. and I need to take notes as I read. #followreader

@paperhaus: No digi ARCs here, either. Until a free reader shows up on my doorstep, I can’t afford to switch. #followreader

@leverus: It’s really about the note-taking functionality. Though also, yes, the $$$. Kindles are expensive. #followreader

@CollectedMisc: Just thought I would note that you can highlight and take notes on the Kindle and export as a text file. #followreader

@leverus Exporting from Kindle = possible but cumbersome. I’m a technophilic guy, but it has to outperform paper. to me, it doesn’t yet #followreader

@Corb21: if you got something digital would you ignore it or request the paper? #followreader

@leverus: I would request paper. Though if the pitch was v off-base, I would (to my lasting shame) probably ignore. #followreader

@paperhaus: I do not own an ebook reader, other than my iphone, on which I’ve installed several e-reader apps. #followreader

charabbott: Do you read for work on your iPhone? and if so, how does it affect the reviewing experience? #followreader

@paperhaus: I read on my iphone to compare apps for a blog post. But now it’s recreational; haven’t finished Moby Dick yet. #followreader

How Important is Publisher Marketing?

@jenwgilmore: Can we pls address the importance/influence of marketing? #followreader

@leverus: Re: marketing, I agree it is relevant. If a publisher is really investing $$$ in a book, that interests me. #followreader

@paperhaus: Wow, I’m really different than @leverus on this. I don’t care how much $ a pub house spends. This may be an east/west thing. #followreader

@leverus: I feel like I should clarify: marketing interests me b/c somebody at the house is willing to bet money on a book #followreader

@jenwgilmore: With so little marketing on “non-brand” names, what are the signals you respond to? The same as old days? #followreader

@leverus: Same as old days — “buzz,” whatever that means. gossip, good trades. but also blogs and twitter. #followreader

@paperhaus: My creaky old punk self distrusts marketing. Too much push and … I feel pushed. #followreader

@paperhaus: That said, it means a lot to have a genuine publisher or trusted publicist promoting your work. #followreader

@mattbucher: Should books be marketed at all? The cream will rise to the top?? #followreader

@leverus: I wish I believed that. I just don’t see the literary world as reliably meritocratic. sometimes cream sinks! #followreader

How Much Are Your Influenced by Social Media?

@charabbott: In the past year, have you heard more about books through social media or other online sources before publication? #followreader

@leverus: Yes, info about new books is definitely reaching me thru social media. Twitter especially, it’s amazing tool. #followreader

@paperhaus: I love hearing about books thru new channels (Twitter, Facebook) but also standing in the book room and reading #followreader

@paperhaus: But all the buzz in the world can’t save a book that doesn’t have that zing. #followreader

@Corb21: Who do reviewers trust on social media? Authors, Publishers, Publicists? Readers? #followreader

@paperhaus: Reviewers trust all of the above on social media: Authors, Publishers, Publicists, Readers #followreader

@michellekerns: I’d like to know what you both think about the explosion of blogs, etc. reviewing books. Does it drag the art down? #followreader

@paperhaus: I was an indie blogger before coming to the LATimes, so I’m a big fan of book blogging. More conversations! #followreader

@leverus: What a perilous question.More reviewers=more good reviewers, but I think there are irresponsible voices out there #followreader

@leverus: I think good reviewing rests on solid scholarship. must have read the precedents #followreader

@charabbott: Has direct feedback from readers via your blog prompted you to change any of your reviewing practices? #followreader

@paperhaus: re: direct feedback via the blog – never change practices. But my feelings have been hurt once or twice :) #followreader

@ClaudiaC: I’ve read that people are more inteested in ‘people like me’ reviews (Amazon) vs. ‘expert’ reviews. Thoughts? #followreader

@leverus:it’s a huge question. too big for a tweet. shifting from top-down to bottom-up culture. will change everything! #followreader

@ClaudiaC: fascinating change! Do you see bottom-up culture happening? #followreader

@leverus: I really do. See my much maligned WSJ piece “Good Books Don’t Have to Be Hard” for extended-play version. #followreader

How much attention to you pay to trade shows?

@charabbott: What about trade shows? Do you rely on buzz from Book Expo as much as ever? #followreader

@paperhaus: I’ve been to 4 or 5 Book Expos and I think it’s changed a lot.

@leverus, you’ve been to lots more, right? #followreader

@leverus: I’ve been to a grand total of 3 book expos! #followreader

@leverus: I listen to trade show buzz. I’m looking for info everywhere, even if it’s not top quality info. more = more. #followreader

@leverus: But with Book Expo in New York now, I’ll never be able to escape it again. #followreader

How much does your readership, and being an author yourself influence you?

@susanmpls: does your reader demographic influence picks? Or are you selecting what peaks your interest? #followreader

@leverus: reader demo does affect what I cover. I’m paid to serve Time readers. They skew older, and female.I keep it in mind #followreader

@charabbott: How has yr experience as an author changed your approach to reviewing? #followreader

@leverus: Being an author has definitely made me a gentler reviewer. I realize it’s partly a conversation w/ the author. #followreader

@charabbott: It sounds like you don’t review books you hate – so that should help with author relations! #followreader

@leverus: I don’t do hatchet jobs anymore. I used to. I wince when I think about it. #followreader Future of reviews?

@NetGalley: Do you worry about disappearance of standalone book review sections? or trust reviews will be elsewhere? #followreader

@leverus: I worry about disappearing book sections. but at the same time I wonder if they couldn’t do more to save themselves #followreader

@paperhaus: It’s OK for books not to have a stand-alone section; the real challenge today is to newspapers as a whole. #followreader

@paperhaus: I worry that professional reviewing is shrinking – anyone who wants in has to work xtra hard, bloggers or not

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Delivering books to readers in new, more accessible ways is the book industry’s new challenge. Yet few publishing insiders can claim to have pioneered new delivery systems the way Susan Danziger has with DailyLit, which offers subscriptions to regular book installments that can be read in 5 minutes or less via email or RSS.  Fewer still have devoted themselves to introducing publishing’s rank and file to today’s digital leaders. Yet that’s what Danziger has done with the free monthly speaker series The Publishing Point (formerly known as the Digital Publishing Group).
Susan Danziger

Susan Danziger

Danziger is used to looking at the industry from fresh vantage points. Trained as a lawyer, she began her career negotiating licenses at a children’s media company, before moving to Random House, where she headed up legal and business affairs in the children’s division. After spearheading a project to digitize thousands of the company’s backlist titles in the early ‘90s, she left Random to start her own literary agency, Fox Meadow Media, and then, six years later, DailyLit.

In this installment in our series on publishing professionals who are helping change the way we read, we talk with Danziger about the future of digital reading. For more background about DailyLit and the Publishing Point, keep scrolling.

What reading habits are emerging among your subscribers?
They’re all over the map. More than 60% of our subscribers change the default day and time that our e-mails arrive  – compared to 90% of people who accept the default with other subscription media. Commuters may start their day with an installment of DailyLit, or read it when they get to work; there are also people who read it on their lunchtime break, or tell us, “this is my 5pm martini”.

How do most people access DailyLit?
The iPhone is getting bigger, but last survey showed that most people were reading on PCs or laptops.

Do your readers seem to have different reading tastes, based on the device they are using?
We’ve been conducting a survey and people say that when they’re reading on the computer, it’s more for information than relaxation. I’m also hearing that younger people actually read blogs for relaxation on the computer. But DailyLit readers are  definitely reading serious books. They are reading and finishing Anna Karenina on DailyLit, saying things like “this is the first tool that’s allowing me to read the classics I want to read.” We have more fiction available, but nonfiction is doing well too.

How do you see the future of digital reading, based on the feedback you’re getting to Daily Lit?
It’s all about consumer choice and giving readers what they want. We’re just at the tip of the iceberg now. The whole industry will be completely transformed, and not very far in the future. I think there will be lots of options for people to read. Some will read a book in bed, or an iPhone app at the beach. DailyLit is one way for people to integrate books into their lives. As content is created for different mediums, the market for reading will only get bigger, and that’s where the fun begins.

How do you think the reading tastes of people who are in their 20s now will evolve in the next few decades?
My gut instinct is that books will be evolving in terms of content, and will emerge in different media. There will still be paperbacks, but there will also be a whole world of books that merge text with video and social media. We’re starting to see projects now that make use of the tools that are out there. But at end of day, it’s all about story and storytelling. Words will still play a big role, but they will be supported with visual and audio tools. Books as we know them will continue, and the great ones will live on.

Do you think Japanese-style cell phone novels have a chance in the U.S.?
We really want to keep DailyLit about high quality work. We want to make sure that we have content people can trust. We might open DailyLit up to previously unpublished work down the road, I’m definitely thinking about that, but it’s not currently a site where people can automatically add content they’ve created.

How will DailyLit keep up with reader tastes?
We’re in the process of adding more titles created specifically for DailyLit, and are allowing authors and publishers to create content that work well in the serialized format. We’re also developing lots of interesting technology to help market books and expand our reach to additional readers. For instance, we recently launched a virtual book club on Twitter, so that folks can read books on to the same schedule.

DAILYLIT Vital Stats

Laurels: Chosen by the Sunday Times (UK) as the # 1 best book website in August, 2009

Number of Daily Lit subscribers: “Hundreds of thousands,” says Danziger.

Number of titles read to date: More than 500,000 books in more than 25 million installments.

Number of titles available: about 1500 – including newly released and public domain fiction and nonfiction titles, language lessons, SAT prep, and original series, such as a “Wikipedia tour” of Greek gods and goddesses, and a fashion series, Shoes, Bags and Tiaras, which draws on book content published by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Price range: About half the available titles are free, including classics and some new titles sponsored by their publishers. Short stories cost 99 cents. Full length books range from $4.99 to $9.99.

Partners: Publisher partners include Harper Studio, which entered a sponsorship making all of their fall titles available for free, and Macmillan, which is sponsoring a backlist push for suspense author Joe Finder. Non-book title sponsors have included H. Stern Jewelers and Gallery Collection.

Promotion: Users can link their DailyLit profile to Twitter, to automatically tweet about when they start and finish a book

Extern program: Publishing people who want to learn about digital world can join this program, which requires starting your own blog, usingTwitter and Ning to engage a community, and eventually presenting project results to Daily Lit.

THE PUBLISHING POINT Vital Stats

Launched: Spring 2009 as the Digital Publishing Group; Relaunched October 2009 as The Publishing Point

Mission: “The group is a way to educate and empower and inspire people in publishing to move to the next level in publishing’s industrial revolution, and to help publishers become more comfortable in this space.”

Features: Free monthly speaker series typically meets in conference rooms at the Random House building, 1745 Broadway at 55th St., New York City. New website includes community forums, a listserv, and a video interview series (first up: Cory Doctorow).

Members to date: 304

Next meeting: Michael Healy, Executive Director of the Book Rights Registry, to speak on The Google Book Settlement: What You Really Need to Know (November 18, 2009 at 12:30pm). Details here.

Speakers to Date:

  • Hanny Hindi, from Clickable, on Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimizaton
  • Seth Godin, author of Tribes, etc., on Rethinking the Publishing Industry
  • Andrew Savakas, from O’Reilly Publishing, on Why Mobile Matters
  • Gail Harwood, from Martha Stewart Omnimedia,  on What Is a Publisher?
  • David Karp, from Tumblr.com, on developing books ideas via social media
  • Neilan Choksi, from Lexcycle/Stanza, on mobile e-publishing
  • Debbie Stier, from HarperStudio, on the future of publishing

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OK, it’s now officially #followreader catch up week, with the third of three recaps from our weekly Twitter discussions.

This discussion took place July 30, after we posted a dialogue with Random House sales reps and bloggers Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness, and then invited the two of them to join our friends on Twitter in a #followreader conversation. 

Working from the premise that “the entire book business culture and tradition is up for grabs now,”  Ann and Michael proved fearless in their willingness to reassess the business and where it can go in these digital times. The result was the best kind of Twittersation – a long riff on fresh ideas with scores of improvisationalists, that turned into one of our most intense and creative #followreader conversations to date. Many thanks to Michael and especially Ann, who was able to stay for a full hour!

[NOTE: Due to technical constraints, I've reconstructed the conversation primarily from the Twitterfeeds of @annkingman and @mkindness, in addition to my own. Apologies to the many other participants in this conversation whose smart comments I was not able to retreive.]

Here are some of the highlights:

How can we keep books high on the cultural radar?

@AnnKingman: I’d love to see more salons, where people talk about book they’re reading or love, not a traditional book club

@charabbott: You could say that #followreader, #litchat, #tbc, #editorchat and #TuesBookTalk are all newfangled book salons.

@AnnKingman: I think the salon can work online and off – Twitter, blogs, Goodreads, etc. are all kind of online salons

@AnnKingman: Offline book salons are not as popular as online, but there’s potential

@charabbott: Maybe the key is creating offline parlor games with books. I once invited eight friends over on Oscar Wilde’s birthday to read one of his plays aloud.

@jnyrose: Free books are nice. But hanging out with large groups of book-obsessed people is fantastic.

Who might be the tastemakers in these emerging book salons?

@annkingman: Indie e-mail newsletters are great, and we are starting to see more indies with blogs, which thrills me.

@mkindess: There are customers who look to booksellers for recommendations, why not editors too?

@annkingman: If you read a book you love, would you want to read another acquired by that editor?

@annkingman: Last three non-brand-name books I loved were all acquired by same editor, but I didn’t know it at the time. Now I’ll read anything she buys.

@mkindness: I think readers would be interested ito hear from the editor who brought them The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

@charabbott: Yes, I watch some editors and agents, like Susan Kamil and Nicole Aragi for fiction, and Eamon Dolan for nonfiction.

@annkingman: Publisher and editor extremely important for bookstore buyers because they’ve learned who to trust. Why can’t that carry over?
(more…)

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