Monday, March 26, 2007

Roundup

Herewith a collection of short notes and links:

Longer tails

If you hope to sell books, even on a small scale, in the digital era, you really need to keep on eye on what Chris Anderson is saying. Anderson is the author of The Long Tail, which you really ought to be reading, or, better still, to have read, too.

Recently, Anderson had things to say about vertical aggregators. Now you may not know what they are (any more than I do), but you will get the general idea. What he is saying is that small niche operators will spring up which cater for minority interests on a worldwide basis. Therein lies profit for retailers who know what they're up to, and there can be found (or will soon be found) readers (and possibly even buyers) for writers with a book to sell.

Link from Michael Cader of Publishers Lunch, who says of the Anderson piece: '[This] points the way to abundant opportunities in publishing, too; ones that could finally favor publishers with natural specialties and a deep understanding of particular types of content and their readers.'

Nadine's biz card

Speaking of new-fangled ways of doing things, Nadine Laman sent me a copy of her Biz Card; this is a digital business card, made for her by 5-Pints Productions. It's in the form of a miniature, odd-shaped CD disc, a really fancy piece of gear, and it features her own home-made video about her trilogy of books, backed up with original music written by her son.

Happily, if you want to see how Nadine has gone about publicising her books, you can find the same video on her web site, and, I gather, in other places such as YouTube.

Dr Taleb critiqued

Longer-standing readers will recall that I wrote an extended essay, On the Survival of Rats in the Slush Pile (available free online), which drew on the ideas of Nassim Nicholas Taleb and applied them to the world of books.

Taleb's ideas were principally expounded in his book Fooled by Randomness, discussed here in 2004 and mentioned several times since. And now Dave Lull has kindly drawn my attention to a critique of Taleb's ideas which has been published by Gary North.

Now I am quite sure that, as with all thinkers, Taleb's ideas are open to criticism on any number of grounds. However, without wishing to be unkind, I have to say that I found Gary North's critique profoundly unimpressive. North writes as a committed Christian and seems to believe that, thanks to the providence of God, there is a firm link between hard work and success. I am unconvinced, particularly where the book world is concerned; not to mention the stage, television, film, music, and, I dare say, the selling of double-glazing units.

Meanwhile, Taleb's latest book, The Black Swan -- the Impact of the Highly Improbable, is due out on 17 April. I have an advance copy and will report in due course.

One-liners (more or less)

If you like dogs, Charles Emery has a book for you.

Kevin Kim, a slightly mad blogger who resides in South Korea, has a piece about getting his book printed in two different ways from the same data. All did not go smoothly. He provides pictures to prove it. Link from Jon.

Martin Rundkvist found a book on parenting for Richard Dawkins fans.

Josh Gidding is a writer whose subject is failure; and it found him a publisher. There's irony. The first chapter can be found on his blog.

Angie's Dad tells of Angie's unhappy experience with Aultbea in a comment on my post of 23 November 2006.

Manybooks.net offers all sorts of free books online, including a couple of mine.

Andy O'Hara of the Jimston Journal was disturbed by all those books that British readers started to read but then couldn't finish; just goes to show, in my view, that you shouldn't bother trying to read stuff that people tell you is good for you. Concentrate on the trash is my motto.

The shortlist for the 2007 Blooker Prize has been announced, and Slim Palmer is well pleased; he thinks he's the only Brit on it. My favourite is The Doorbells of Florence. I wish I'd been clever enough to think of that idea. (Poddy liked it too.)

The new issue of Bookforum is nearly all available online, free of charge. It's highbrow stuff, from distinguished contributors. Included is a profile of agent Ira Silverberg, dealing with his collection of books: one of these is an early chapbook by Andrew Wylie, which reveals (surprise!) that as a young man he was interested in sex.

And there's a new arts and literature online review, Open Letters. It opens with an assessment of all twentieth-century literature, which, you've got to admit, is ambitious.

Andrew Feder has written a novel, When the Angels Have Risen, about the dangerous liaison between politics and religion.

On YouTube there's a trailer for Alex Scarrow's 'apocalyptic new thriller' (Last Light, Orion, 25 July).

Chris Hamilton-Emery, of Salt Publishing, is one of several people who mentioned to me the thoughts of Stephen Page, head of Faber. At first sight Page might appear to be a go-ahead type of chap. But, as Publishers Lunch pointed out, at Faber you can look commercial if you don't actually wear a monocle.

Someone is keeping a very close eye on my piece about Kathy O'Beirne (20 September 2006). Whenever someone suggests that Kathy might, just conceivably, have exaggerated a little here and there, someone else jumps in and defends her. Interesting, no? Blogger doesn't date these comments -- just gives the time of day at which they were posted, which isn't very helpful -- but they have cropped up fairly regularly over the last six months.

If you're an author living in New York, or a publisher, or just a book lover, you may want to arrange for someone to sell books at your reading, lecture, book launch, or just plain party. If so, Levi McConnell Multimedia can help you.

ViaLibri is an internet resource for book collectors and bibliophiles. If you can't find it here, it's very obscure indeed. I found what I wanted, at about 300 sterling. So I passed.

New Orleans has inspired many books, including The Beatitudes, a new novel (a planned trilogy) by Lyn Lejeune.

Farewell to a wonderful contributor to the gift economy

And finally, Poddy Girl (mentioned above) has called it a day. If you never met her, go take a look and read her last post (13 March).

Poddy has spent the last two years reading books printed via print on demand (POD), sorting out the brilliant from the unspeakable, and writing about them for the enlightenment of the world. In doing so, she went through 1,600 books a year (or thereabouts), on top of a day job, writing books of her own, doing a couple of book tours, and having a miscarriage. She dealt with -- or tried to -- 500 emails a day. Not surprisingly, she is now burnt out.

In the right-hand column of her blog is her list of the top POD books of 2005 and 2006. You could do a lot worse than take a look through it. And on 7 March she offered the judges' selection of the very best of 2006.

And while you're there, take a look at her stats. Here are just a few:

Total number of books not read past first page: 217
Total number of books not read past first paragraph: 23
Total number of books not read past first sentence: 8
Total number of books I read in one sitting, despite hunger, daybreak, and bathroom needs: 5
Total number of times I was harassed for not reviewing a submitted novel: 8
Most times a single author submitted a single book: 6
Total number of times an author asked me to purchase his or her book to garner a review: 6

And so on. Ah Poddy, there's a moral here somewhere. A blog which offers a true service to others, for no monetary reward, can become an impossible burden. But we are grateful.

9 comments:

Paul said...

As a writer and a sufferer of "emotional deficit" I urge everyone to read "On the Survival of Rats in the Slush Pile" (above). It's a true "Black Swan."

SAND STORM said...

A Tsunami of a post Michael! Much to read and I too will miss Poddy.

Andrew O'Hara said...

The postings on your old O'Beirne entry are interesting, particularly in that Anonymous is so prolific on the subject. I googled him/her by name and found 207 million references, but only 8 million for John Doe. Which perhaps explains why John Doe has not posted about O'Beirne yet. Or something.

North's critique does go over the edge and waxes a bit hysterical with his "undermining the foundations of western civilization" and "press agent for the Dark Side." Breathe deeply, now, exhale...Your 'Survival of Rats in the Slush Pile' remains a classic in its own right.

I haven't followed Poddy as I have His Grumpiness, but I'm familiar enough to know how much she'll be missed.

Nadine Laman said...

Michael,

You are a Prince. That was a very nice tribute to "girl". She will be missed.

Nadine

Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You might want to take a look at Contemporary Nomad. My recommendation, not my own site.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

Snook said...

I want to say "Thank You" for the mention of my humor dog book. It is MUCH appreciated.

Regards,

Charles Emery

Peter L. Winkler said...

In his essay about Taleb, North misrepresents Einstein's and Darwin's theory by claiming that they believe that all physical processes are inherently random.

North's essay - more like a rant - is an incoherent mess powered by an intellectually dishonest approach.

Susan Abraham said...

Thank you for that helpful Chris Anderson bit, Michael. Much appreciated. :-)

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