Wednesday News: Canadian book sales, content moderation, Blackbeard’s reading list, and book of love
Print book sales declined in 2017 – Some very interesting numbers and trends here. More than 51 million print books sold (more than $1B Canadian), with the highest sales in YA/Juvenile (40%) and non-fiction (32%). Interestingly, though, two of the top five bestsellers of 2017 were both backlist titles – The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Milk and Honey. So no blockbuster/breakout novels in 2017? I love, though, the huge jump in poetry (I personally think this is where we’re seeing a lot of experimentation right now).
Though Juvenile as a category once again reigned supreme, the five bestselling print books of the year were adult titles. Looking at unit sales in SalesData, which tracks 85% of the print market in Canada, the top seller of the year was the trade paperback edition of the self-help juggernaut The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, followed by The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, Origin by Dan Brown, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, and Milk and Honey also by Kaur. In 2016, the Poetry category saw a 79% spike in sales that was largely due to Milk and Honey, and the debut has continued to see strong sales in 2017. In the Juvenile category, the top seller for 2017 was The Getaway by Jeff Kinney, which was released in early November, followed by Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Dog Man Unleashed by Dav Pilkey. – BookNet Canada
Content moderation is not a panacea: Logan Paul, YouTube, and what we should expect from platforms – An interesting consideration of the Logan Paul scandal and the calls for stricter content moderation. Tarleton Gillespie also discusses issues of accountability (societal, platform, creator) and transparency, and even touches on “this genre of boffo, entitled, show-off masculinity,” a great phrase. When a video like Paul’s hits, it can trigger a sharp counterpunch in the form of closing up/down, when what we really need is more open discussion and debate. In many ways, these instances help distill and clarify norms and lines that are otherwise unnoticed and unheeded.
Some critics are doing the important work of putting platforms under scrutiny, to better understand the way producers and platforms are intertwined. But it is awfully tempting to draw too simple a line between the phenomenon and the provider, to paint platforms with too broad a brush. The press loves villains, and YouTube is one right now. But we err when we draw these lines of complicity too cleanly. Yes, YouTube benefits financially from Logan Paul’s success. That by itself does not prove complicity; it needs to be a feature of our discussion about complicity. We might want revenue sharing to come with greater obligations on the part of the platform; or, we might want platforms to be shielded from liability or obligation no matter what the financial arrangement; or, we might want equal obligations whether there is revenue shared or not; or we might want obligations to attend to popularity rather than revenue. These are all possible structures of accountability. – Data & Society: Points
Found: Scraps of a Book From the Wreck of Blackbeard’s Flagship – Okay, before I get to the article, can I request a resurgence of the pirate romance? In the meantime I need to go read some Meljean Brook. Anyway, scraps of paper were recently discovered in the canons of Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, which ran aground in the early 18th C in the waters off what is now North Carolina. Conservators are now in the process of identifying the text that was still visible on some of the paper scraps.
The “Hilo” fragment—and indeed all of the ones with legible text—belong to a 1712 first edition of A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World by Captain Edward Cooke, a British naval officer. Among the notable adventures mentioned by Cooke in the travelogue is the rescue of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor marooned on an island in the South Pacific for four years, who probably helped inspire Daniel Defoe’s 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. Apparently reading stories about sea voyages—and then stuffing them into breech-loading cannons—was part of the pirate lifestyle. – Atlas Obscura
New Picture Book Illustrates How ‘Love’ Is Always Around – Matt de la Peña’s Love, illustrated by Loren Long, is the result of de la Peña’s desire to “read [his daughter] a book about love.” But he didn’t want to just write about the positive aspects of love; he wanted to incorporate “adversity,” since that was “real” and “honest.” Can we send a copy of this book to every single person in the US government right now?
DE LA PENA: (Reading) A cab driver plays love softly on his radio while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city. And everything smells new. And it smells like life. In a crowded concrete park, you toddle toward summer sprinklers while older kids skip rope and run up the slide. And soon you are running among them. And the echo of your laughter is love. On the night the fire alarm blares, you’re pulled from sleep and whisked into the street where a quiet old lady is pointing to the sky. Stars shine long after they’ve flamed out, she tells you, and the shine they shine with is love. But it’s not only stars that flame out, you discover. It’s summers, too, and friendships and people. – NPR