Thursday News: Book vending, diversity in publishing, National Jewish Book Awards, and Bowie’s Verbasizer
Want a book? Try a vending machine from O.C. libraries – We’re starting to see more book vending machines, but what’s especially cool about this one is that it’s a library vending machine inside the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center. So instead of having to buy a book for your bus or train ride, you can borrow one from the county library. Neat.
Type the number of the book you want and – with a thud – the book drops into a slot. The only difference between a candy machine and this one: Instead of trying to slide wrinkled dollars in, users just wave their library cards in front of a scanner.
Since it opened, patrons have checked out 768 books, from Jonathan Franzen’s to Danielle Steele’s, an average of more than 60 a month. – Orange County Register
The Beauty of Belonging? Diversity in UK Publishing – Bobby Nayyar, founder of Limehouse Books, is contributing what looks to be several posts on the lack of diversity in UK publishing, which perhaps should not be surprising given the lack of diversity in US publishing, as well. Ridiculous and frustrating, but not surprising. Nayyar is focused on both publishing professionals and authors, and his survey of the major publishing houses reveals head-shakingly poor representation.
Writers have been campaigning for greater diversity in the arts for over 40 years. Part of this activity can be pinpointed to Naseem Khan’s “The Art Britain Ignores” (1976), which was the first report in the UK to explore this topic. In 2006, the “In Full Colour” report spearheaded the return of the diversity publishing traineeships. The most recent report, “Writing the Future,” goes even further than “In Full Colour” by detailing how things are worse than they were ten years ago for BAME writers and workers trying to enter the industry. The accumulation of events and articles has left me wondering why we are still looking to the major trade publishing houses to resolve this issue? Especially when 40 years of reports and schemes have resulted in no progress. . . .
I’ve tried to write an article that is analytical rather than anecdotal, but statistics alone will not change the industry. People will, and for them it is personal. I spent years trying to get into publishing because I wanted to understand why British Asians like me weren’t getting published. I left mainstream publishing because I found out. The quick and easy answer is that it’s to do with the lack of movement and progression in editorial departments. Like everyone else who wants to work in publishing, I wanted to be an editor, but even when I started out I was told that I wasn’t an “editorial type” — was this euphemistic code to tell me that I wasn’t middle class and white? – Publishing Perspectives
The 2015 National Jewish Book Awards Winners – The full list of finalists and winners can be found here, but Tablet Magazine provides some of the highlights, as well as links to their reviews and podcast discussions on some of the wining books. I like the idea of a category on “Education and Jewish Identity,” especially when it produces a winning book titled Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli.
On Wednesday, the Jewish Book Council announced the winners of the 2015 National Jewish Book Awards. An awards ceremony will take place in New York City on March 9.
The Book of the Year is Bruce Hoffman’s Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947, which explores the history of pre-1947 Palestine, and the violent birth of the modern Jewish homeland. – Tablet Magazine
The Verbasizer was David Bowie’s 1995 Lyric-Writing Mac App – A chronicle of Bowie’s relationship with Ty Roberts, with whom he invented a digital application that would replicate the physical process of randomization Bowie used to produce some of his lyrics (it adds an interesting twist to the Romance novel title and character name randomizers). Techdirt’s Mike Masnick raises the question of whether this type of lyric is copyrightable (I would argue yes, because it still requires artistic judgment and creative decision-making), which, again, demonstrates Bowie’s innovation as an artist.
The Verbasizer was a digital version of an approach to lyrical writing that Bowie had been using for decades, called the cut-up technique. Popularized by writers William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, the technique relied on source literary material—a newspaper article or diary entry, perhaps—that had been cut up into words or phrases, and re-ordered into new, random, potentially significant meanings.. . .
“Roberts described Bowie as taking multiple word sources, from the newspaper to hand-written words, cutting them up, throwing them into a hat and then arranging the fragments on pieces of paper. He’d then cross out material that didn’t fit to create lines of lyrics,” Hypebot senior contributor Clyde Smith recounted.
“Roberts suggested he could create software for Bowie to speed up the process and did so for use on a Mac laptop.” – Motherboard/Vice