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Tuesday News: Harper Collins funds booksellers, Tor for higher ed, Apple’s...

“We highly value the growing channel of Independent booksellers and recognize them as trusted partners in helping us connect our authors with their readers,” said Josh Marwell, president of sales for HC. “We know that Indies play a huge but sometimes under-valued role in local communities, and we want to support their extraordinary efforts in building buzz around books.” The fund is not limited to indie stores, but HC said it believes this program presents a great opportunity to support the types of marketing and promotion that work best for the Indies. –Publishers Weekly

Setting up a Tor node on campus can be a vital and exciting learning opportunity. It helps those who are new to Tor shift away from the demonization of a freedom-enhancing technology, and move towards an understanding rooted in reality. –Electronic Frontier Foundation

In a version of the class taught last year, Mr. Nelson showed a slide of “The Bull,” a series of 11 lithographs of a bull that Picasso created over about a month, starting in late 1945. In the early stages, the bull has a snout, shoulder shanks and hooves, but over the iterations, those details vanish. The last image is a curvy stick figure that is still unmistakably a bull.

“You go through more iterations until you can simply deliver your message in a very concise way, and that is true to the Apple brand and everything we do,” recalled one person who took the course. –New York Times

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

18 Comments

  1. hapax
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 09:48:13

    When I first saw the headlines, I was confused; I thought that it was the genre publisher Tor (erstwhile owner of Harlequin) that was moving onto campus!

    I admit that I’ve soured a bit on Tor routers. A while ago I helped moderate a website that suffered from a sustained troll attack (y’know, the usual, misogynistic abuse, death threats, rape threats, etc.) and EVERY SINGLE ONE of the really vile posters was using a Tor anonymizer.

    I know that there are very good reasons for needing anonymity online. (Hey, *I* use a pseudonym!) I just know have a reflexive cringe every time I see Tor championed.

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  2. Carolyne
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 09:48:51

    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover: All I can think when I see it is “mini-Lolita” and “ew.” It would drive me right away from the book if I didn’t already know the story.

    That said, I love Gene Wilder’s Wonka beyond all reason (but that’s how I feel about Gene Wilder in general).

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  3. SAO
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 10:03:15

    A great book with a boy hero and they stuck a girl on the cover. Way to convince my son he doesn’t want to read the book and any girl interested in a book about a girl who wears feather boas is going to find out she gets turned into a giant blueberry.

    Did the cover designer have the foggiest clue what the book’s about?

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  4. MrsJoseph
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 11:54:32

    That Chocolate Factory cover is…incredibly creepy. PASS.

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  5. Moriah Jovan
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 14:04:09

    @SAO:

    A great book with a boy hero and they stuck a girl on the cover. Way to convince my son he doesn’t want to read the book

    +1

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  6. Susan
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 14:36:35

    Other (spoof) book covers in the vein of CATCF: http://www.buzzfeed.com/danieldalton/you-know-for-kids

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  7. Cecilia
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 16:05:03

    @SAO: I gather the cover was targeting adult readers more. Sort of a “re-read your childhood favourite with a different lens.”

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  8. Elizabeth Cole
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 16:51:32

    I was on another site that posted about the Dahl book, and I was thrown by the intensity (and the mob mentality) of the hate for it. So yay for it being here! (i trust y’all to have thoughtful thoughts about it)

    Thoughts:
    1 This edition in the Modern Classic line, and as such, this edition will be marketed to adults, NOT kids. It won’t show up in a kids section of a store, and there’s no risk of being forced to buy this one. Honestly, there are ELEVENTY editions of CatCF out now, not counting used and OOP versions. A buyer can get whatever cover they want.

    2 The cover is striking and surprising, which makes you reconsider the whole book. As an adult reader, isn’t that a good thing? Despite all the cries of “I’ll never buy this”, Penguin sure as hell got everyone talking about a decades-old property. That’s smart marketing, whether you like the cover or not. Similar to the Harry Potter books, when Bloomsbury released b&w “Tube” editions so adults wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen reading HP on the morning commute (that was pre ebook!)

    3 The girl isn’t sexualized (IMHO). Yes, she’s glammed up. Yes, she’s princessified. But she’s covered head to toe. Frankly, you could assemble this outfit with stuff on sale at any Disney store right now. She looks like a spoiled little girl. So the creep factor stems from something else…her gaze? The wealth portrayed? The privilege, maybe? She’s not meant to be Veruca, but CatCF is a book all about the unhealthy dynamics between kids and adults, parents/offspring, rich kids vs poor kids, etc. This cover evokes all these notions without being too on the nose.

    4 The cover was approved by Roald Dahl’s estate. They have a financial interest in the books continuing to do well. They seem to think this one will be fine.

    That’s all. I looked at this cover through my bookseller eyes, my reader eyes, my author eyes, and my extra pair of eyes that just look at all the other eyes to get that metaview. I think most of my eyes like it pretty well.

    Thoughts?

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  9. cleo
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 17:08:23

    @Elizabeth Cole – good point about the target audience being adults. I missed that.

    I think part of what makes it creepy for me is how expressionless and doll like she looks. And the cut off mother figure next to her, in the matching outfit. And the mother’s shadow on the other side of her. It certainly fits with the themes you mention.

    I’m not sure if I like it, and I can’t say if it fits the book, since I haven’t read it, but I think it’s a beautifully designed cover.

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  10. Elizabeth Cole
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 18:56:21

    @cleo: The photo came from a 60s French Vogue photoshoot, which should explain the outfits and general tone. (Soooo cold and stylish!)

    I love the camera angle on this shot, and the cut-off mother. It’s very intentional, and effective. And yes, hella creepy.

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  11. Ros
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 19:08:13

    @Elizabeth Cole: I don’t really think the outrage is about protecting today’s children – as you say, there are kid-friendly editions of the book all over the place. I actually think this comment from @Cecilia sums up why the outrage: “re-read your childhood favourite with a different lens.” People who are outraged are the ones who read the book as children when they didn’t think about the themes or the creepiness or any of the things we might see in it as adults. And, crucially, many of us don’t want to. Because we quite liked being children and seeing things as children do. We liked the weird sweets and the chocolate river and the idea that being a normal, well-behaved child might win you a huge chocolate factory to inherit. I think it’s fine, of course, for people who do want to revisit the book from an adult perspective. But that cover makes it hard for those of us who would rather not be forced to do that.

    I do think the gender choice is odd as well. And to my eyes the girl is sexualised. Not highly sexualised, but there’s something there beyond just a little girl in a party dress. But you’re spot on about the effectiveness of the cover as a marketing strategy.

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  12. Sunita
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 19:18:42

    @Elizabeth Cole: I think the creepiness is a big part of the turnoff. Not just because I don’t want a creepy cover on this book, but because one of my enduring memories of the book is Charlie’s sweetness (no pun intended). Yes Dahl was a complex adult and much of that showed up in his children’s writings. But I still remember hearing this book read to me in school (I think I was 10 or 11) and being struck by Charlie’s family and how cheerful they were in their poverty. At that point I had just moved to the US and we were living in a run-down apartment in a barrio neighborhood. I and most of my schoolmates did not have money for luxuries, and we could totally identify with the Golden Ticket.

    I get that times have changed. And I get that marketing is important. But this cover removes not just Charlie, but the kind of person Charlie represented in the book.

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  13. Elizabeth Cole
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 19:18:54

    @Ros: Great point about people wanting to keep the childhood lens on. I hadn’t considered that as a cause of some people’s discomfort with the image.

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  14. Elizabeth Cole
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 19:21:33

    @Sunita: I just got a mental image of the golden ticket being the cover image: no characters, just that single object. The Golden Ticket was SUPERcool. I’d want one!

    Makes you wonder if they did a cover like that and people would buy the book hoping it was like getting the Golden Ticket itself….

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  15. SAO
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 20:00:18

    I reread a lot of books I liked as a child when my kids read them. Of course my lens was different, although I must say, as an adult, I saw Dahl’s books as more reflective of Dahl’s idiosyncrasies than a commentary on society. If anything, my adult take away was the extent to which adult decisions seem arbitrary to kids, even if they were decent decisions.

    However, Charlie is the hero of the book and Verruca and Violet are secondary chars, basically cannon fodder or like the red shirts in Star Trek. You don’t put red shirts on the cover.

    I’ll also note that none of the adults, including Wonka, are particularly admirable characters. Grandpa Joe lives in bed, letting Charlie’s mother slave to support him and the other elderly layabouts. He only gets out of bed (and turns out to be able-bodied and spry) at the once-in-a-lifetime chocolate factory tour.

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  16. Kaetrin
    Aug 12, 2014 @ 23:06:08

    I think the CATC cover is creepy because the little girl looks like a vacant doll. My husband would HATE it – he has a thing about manniquins and that’s what she looks like to me – a manniquin.

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  17. Mzcue
    Aug 13, 2014 @ 00:54:52

    @Kaetrin: I had the same reaction. It may be the phenomenon called the uncanny valley: “(…)a hypothesis in the field of human aesthetics which holds that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like natural human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some human observers.” (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley)

    I learned about it only recently from following Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter.

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  18. Lada
    Aug 13, 2014 @ 09:40:26

    If that cover is meant to be a marketing strategy to get us talking about the book: win. If it’s meant to get people to actually buy the book…at least for me, that would be a huge fail. There’s nothing about that cover that would entice me to pick up that book.

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