Monday, August 17, 2009
They Let Me Taste the Milk and I Liked It So Much I Bought the Whole Cow
Craig Morgan Teicher over at Publisher’s Weekly talks to e-book pioneers Small Beer Press, run by husband and wife team Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, about how they’ve become a working model for other small presses and this scary business of offering e-books.
Woo hoo! Not just for the woo but for the who. I want a camera crew to interview me, so I can say, yes, I saw it with my own eyes! I was there. In my spontaneous interview, I’d have to say, “Dude, it’s true, I first saw a link to Kelly Link’s short story years ago on BoingBoing, which was interesting for the fact that she was offering a free audio MP3 of one of her short stories, that was also an actual physical book that existed in the world. Since then, she’s released entire books as free e-books.
After being exposed to her strange, funny, fabulous work, I’ve become a huge fan, and have purchased digital versions of some of her short stories, have bought all of her (actual physical) books, and attended her (actual physical) readings and signings, and gushed with all the adoration of a fan-girl as I watched her kindly write me yet another autograph.
Long story short, I am a free-downloader turned customer, just like Gavin J. Grant describes wooing in Teicher’s article. And because I’ve been treated so well, and with such generosity, I don’t mind saying so.
As for me and my iPod, I still listen to The Girl Detective, as read by Alex Wilson, quite a lot.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Recently I stuck in a note over on the right side of this page about having red hair when this current design was in its planning stage. My hair’s been black for very nearly four years now, so that’s pretty sad.
I’ve probably mentioned that I need to redesign this site 67 times since then. But I don’t just mean the look, I mean the information that’s in your face, the navigation and functionality. Lots needs to be sorted out when you do these things. There are considerations. Two SXSWs ago, I thought it would be worth waiting for Expression Engine 2.0, but now that seems as practical as waiting for HTML 5 to be officially adopted. Content and organization need lots of attention. And that’s before I can even think about what the design will actually look like.
Quick story: I just had to stand outside to let the cable guy get to something in the backyard, and immediately got at least four bug bites on my legs. Which will affect shaving. Which will affect what I wear if I go to a party tonight instead of blow it off to work. I know, my life is very glamorous. Somewhere in there is a metaphor for redesigning one’s site. Something about work that happens before you present anything, something about the need to get things in proper shape before you do anything else with them.
And I can’t do anything before I get this other site built, and can’t do anything before I get other work done. Or at least that’s how I think I need to prioritize.
In the mean time, if you have any suggestions or ideas for me I’d be super happy to hear them. Anything you like, or miss, or want, just let me know.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Brooklyn Book Festival and NYC Comic Con FTW
Brooklyn Book Festival — Now with more Win!
I should have guessed he had something cool in the works. Lance Festerman, whose article I gleefully responded to last week, announced on his blog MediumAtLarge, that this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival will include a whole pavilion dedicated to NYC ComicCon.
The official NYC ComicCon won’t happen again until October 8-10, 2010. I went to the last one in 2008, and it was indeed w00tworthy. I met the super nice Bill Plympton and attended Chip Kidd’s talk on Bat-Manga, as well as talked to many independent artists and comic book authors like The Bazzarium, Chemistry Set Comics, Chatterbox Comics, Hanaroda, and found lovingly made works by Yali Lin.
Last year’s Brooklyn Book Festival (BBF) was on a warm sunny day, and I wandered around Borough Hall where I ran into many friends, met author Kelly Link (j’adore!) listened to my then-professor Phillip Lopate give a reading of his new fiction, as well as talked to reps from small and large pub imprints, book makers like the Purgatory Pie Press and spent all my moneys on beautiful books.
If my guess is right, Comic Con might have the whole (or a nice chunk of) the outdoor pavilion where booths were set up last time. Or maybe they’ll have one of the cool history library type places that are nested in and among the buildings in that area. I used to live on State St., right around the corner; it’s a great spot. Sounds like it’s going to be extra fun this year: Sunday, September 13, 2009.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The Undomestic: 10 Questions on Feminism
I was interviewed by The Undomestic Goddess and told her all my secrets.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Death to All Who Oppose Us! Or Conversations on Health Care
I love the quote I used for the title of this post. It’s spoken by a newly mutated badguy in the original 1981 Heavy Metal animated movie.
The line is actually, “Death! Death! Death to all who oppose us!” and is what I think of whenever I hear monster-shouters* drumming up fear that health care reformation will involve some sort of “death panel” or will mean that old people will be placed in clearly labeled recycling bins.
There is no excuse for such ignorance. But it’s easier to shout what you’re told to show up and yell than to listen to long boring stories about unfair rates, practices, and working people left hanging out to dry. It’s easier than reading or educating yourself just a tad. Death Panels are more fun to think about.
The newest idiocrazy (they’re forcing me to invent words) is that according to Obama’s plan, which is argued to be (but is not at all like) the British plan, Stephen Hawking would “not be allowed to live.” The argument is detailed by Washington Monthly.
Hawking has been a UK citizen all his life. He is now 67 years old, and was even hospitalized last month.
Jay Bookman points out this disturbing (it would be funny, except it’s not) lack of intelligent argument in a publication that likes to think of itself as right-wing intelligentsia.
I wonder if any of those right-wing monster shouters lauding Hawking’s important contributions have actually read anything Stephen Hawking has written. Something tells me they have not.
Stephen Hawkings even updated his ideas in a new book This new one is called A Briefer History of Time, for those lazy people to whom his illustrated and digestible 182 page, glossaried and indexed original might not be accessible enough. Sorry if I sound haughty, but I LIKE Hawking and was super impressed by his original as a young lass.
He draws you friggin’ pictures and charts and pointy arrows! The least you could do is not use his name to spout fallacy.
*Anyone who can reference the book source of the phrase “monster shouter” wins a big, big prize.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Hopping Down the Bunny Trail
After years of unsubtle strategery, I’ve injected bunnies into the lexicon of professional journalism!
Behold, the NY Times review of Barnes and Noble’s eReader: “Yes, but it’s not all sunshine and bunnies.”
This is my bunny from a time in my life when I liked to play pretend (note the twine for pulling car-driving bunny).
I no longer play pretend, except when enjoying the notion that my usage of the word bunnies has infected the social web to the degree that David Pogue, New York Times Technology reporter, is speaking my language.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Book Expo America Needs to be Like Nerd Prom
Lance Fensterman, Vice President of Reed Exhibitions and the guy responsible for running BookExpo America, New York Comic Con, C2E2, and New York Anime Fest, posted a refreshing article on Publishing Perspectives about how cons challenge the status of industry insiders (via @R_Nash).
Fensterman compares these cons to the wildly popular and impressive San Diego Comic Con (aptly nicknamed “Nerd Prom"). Everyone has probably heard of San Diego Comic Con, even if they haven’t got the slightest interest in comics themselves. Comic Con has become a generative event. It moves individual interest and events far beyond the scope of the event and its insider attendees.
I think the article made its point, even though the first commenter does not. Maybe I understand this article because I fit the categories of someone who would attend BookExpo America (BEA), but also someone who would go to Fensterman’s other cons, as well as SDCC (ComicCon), as either a fan or an insider.
I can consider myself invited to attend ComicCon as nothing more than a fan of a tv show, book, movie, or comic. Panels often involve creators discussing production, or reveal a sneak peek of things to come. Industry professionals interact with each other while basking in feedback and interest from their audience. This seems to be very good for everyone both inside and outside.
But if I were merely a big fan of an author, or someone who just really liked reading, I wouldn’t feel invited to BEA, nor would I expect I’d be able to go find an author, interact with him or her, or have my photo taken, etc. I couldn’t expect there would be “stuff” at BEA “for me.”
The panels at BEA wouldn’t be “for me” unless I was, at the very least, a wanna-be writer. BEA tends to feel very much funded and fueled (on the floor) by wanna-be writers who are still held at arm’s length by an alternately smug and insecure in-crowd of publishers and the published. That’s not the part of high school an organizer should be echoing with these “proms.” I’m sure at both BEA and SDCC there are annoying fans who are tolerated until they’re intolerable, but still, that’s what customer service is about.
BEA currently reflects an industry really, really interested in maintaining its control on the input and output, and is not conducive to the gush of consumer interest and response (especially online) that benefits and informs the industries represented at SDCC. At BEA all the panels are about what publishers want: How to pitch a story. What agents are looking for. But what about what the actual reading public wants? The industry needs to stop complaining about how few people read, stop milking a model that seems to rely on Oprah’s book club, and those who buy whatever book is on sale at Sam’s Club (the Dave Matthews of literature—do people who like Dave Matthews really even like music? Debatable.) and think about people devoted to reading, to books, and to all things even slightly related.
At future BEAs, what about answering questions the reading public is interested in: Where can I meet other people who share my interests? When will my favorite titles fiiiinally become available on an eReader, and why is it taking so long to have a good selection? What is an eReader anyway? Is my favorite publishing imprint in trouble? How long is that line to get my picture taken with Nora Roberts, and where did those people in the Harry Potter costumes find such fabulous robes? Let’s also be sure to attend a presentation honoring the life of Frank McCourt.
The experience should share the proximity and wonderment enjoyed at SDCC. Except instead of Stan Lee and Dave Gibbons, it would be, “Holy cow I just walked past Salman Rushdie, and there’s Maya Angelou!” BEA should include everyone from the masters of literature to the kindergarten reader, the librarian, poets of every kind, and the memoir writer who lived to tell the tale.
Two seconds ago, mdash tweeted, “The trailer for adaptation of The Lovely Bones is up http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/thelovelybones/" and I will click that link. Why is this not an event at BEA? The big thrills of any SDCC are the movie previews of comic book adaptations and new seasons of television shows. The book industry has been helping the movie industry long enough, why not take credit? The fans are here. I fear the publishing industry might not recognize them until the fans show up at the BEA “con.” And then, would they be made to feel welcome?
BEA could be so much more, and I think that’s Fensterman’s whole point: the biggest challenge is in the publishing industry’s willingness to open up and listen to its audience.
One last anecdote: The book I am currently reading was obtained by a book designer who was at SDCC last year (they were on a panel) who happened to be in a booth next to Knopf, who gave him an “early reader edition” of Nick Harkaway’s The Gone Away World (which I’ve already championed on twitter more than once). I can’t stress enough that this happened at Comic Con. Comic Con! When I tweeted my love for the book, guess who replied — the author himself. Wow! See!
Do you see? I’m having the Comic Con experience, not the BEA experience.
I hope they see.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
The Cult of Done
Back when I was neck deep in thesis outlines, additions, and revisions, Bre Pettis (co-founder of MakerBot) and Kio Stark (writer, do-er, educator, interactorator) co-wrote The Cult of Done Manifesto.
Their pragmatic and seemingly merciless list of rules for getting things done redefines what done is, and how to think about drafts. The manifesto addresses things that I’d had grey gobs of anxiety over — why would publishing an idea on the internet feel like a jinx (see #12)? Why do I feel pride rather than the embarrassment expected when women in offices and elevators tell me I need to get my nails done? Ah yes… (see #9).
Is what I’m doing incubation, or procrastination?
Is it Tuesday already and I forgot to post yesterday? Um, yes. This I realized while logging in to finish coding a lovely client site, while fantasizing about the books I’ll read after I finish the book I’m reading. This is actually a pretty chill day for me. Feels like a Saturday, which contributes to that whole forgetting it’s Tuesday thing.
The Done Manifesto haunts and inspires me, reminds me that all these constant internal whirrings, the ones that propel thought and action, are also responsible for the sense of being pulled in too many directions at once.
With these ideas and rules put into words — a comforting list, no less — the whirring of ideas and projects and responsibilities can be set in alignment, so that the done of one feeds the engine of more.
Unlike the sentence that got stuck in my head yesterday “my lack of caffeine is making it difficult to address my lack of caffeine” the statement (see #13) “Done is the engine of more” provides motivation at any stage of doneness.
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