Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view


Wednesday News: Women keeping boys from reading, men reading Romance, Comcast growing again, and Amazon planning Kindlephone

Wednesday News: Women keeping boys from reading, men reading Romance, Comcast...

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Are Boys Not Reading Because of All Those Women in Publishing? – Forgive my bad pun, but oh boy. Despite the fact that VIDA’s figures don’t support the premise that women control the children’s lit publishing industry, children’s writer and illustrator Jonathan Emmett claims that women are keeping boys from finding appropriate reading material, thereby deterring their acquisition of reading skills and enthusiasm.

Writing for The Times of London, David Sanderson and Fiona Wilson report that author and illustrator Jonathan Emmett believes that “boys are being deterred from reading because the ‘gatekeepers’ to children’s literature are mostly women.” –Publishing Perspectives

I’m a guy who loves romance novels — and Jennifer Weiner is right about reviews – I wasn’t planning on mentioning this article written by Noah Berlatsky on Romance and the idea of a genre canon, but it’s generated so much discussion, both on Twitter and on blogs like Love in the Margins and The Misadventures of Super Librarian, that I decided to mention it, if only because I think the idea that Romance doesn’t have canonical works is curious (and untrue). I think Berlatsky is conflating his own taste with the concept of canon, which ends up placing him — a guy who’s read very little in the genre — in the position of Romance tastemaker. And, not surprisingly, that alienated a lot of female Romance readers. I have, by the way, included the version of the Salon piece, so don’t feel that clicking will send traffic to the site. However, whether or not you do read the article, definitely check out Super Librarian Wendy’s fantastic response, which includes some IMO indisputably canonical Romance works.

Oh, there are rafts and rafts of romance novels out there; teetering drifts of Harlequins and historicals and contemporaries, filled with plucky heroines and dashing or dastardly young men. I know that. But the question was, where to start? A friend recommended Nora Roberts at one point, and I gave that a try … but I couldn’t hack the dreadful prose — and this is from someone who rather enjoys “Twilight” and can even manage the occasional Robert Ludlum thriller. I’ve poked around online to find “best of” lists or other recommendations, but it soon became clear that there wasn’t even a provisional consensus on which books were the best or essential romance novels. Jane Austen showed up consistently, as did “Gone With the Wind,” but there was nothing that gave me a sense that certain books were clearly central, or respected, or worth reading. The genre is so culturally maligned that there has been no concerted effort to codify it. There is, in short, no romance canon. –Salon

Comcast earnings up 30% as it adds video subscribers – This Comcast thing is really starting to scare me. In their attempt to take over Time Warner (over whom they’re competing with Charter, and that’s a whole other set of problematic issues), Comcast is positioning itself to become so large that the question of whether consumers will actually have choice when it comes to cable providers is seriously imperiled. There’s just a lot of stuff here about which to be very concerned.

On a conference call, Chief Executive Brian Roberts said Comcast is studying the wireless market and is “encouraged by it.” With the wireless assets Comcast has, long term “we are in a position to think about where wireless is going and how we can participate in a way to build value and whether that is through our existing products or it’s a new product,” Roberts said.

By adding video subscribers in the past two quarters, Comcast is bucking a trend. In recent years most cable operators have been losing video subscribers to phone and satellite-TV companies. –Market Watch

Amazon smartphone could be controlled by tilting this way and that – Speaking of monopolies and competition, here’s more news on Amazon’s purported smartphone (Kindlephone). You can click on another link for a “roundup” of news related to the Kindlephone more generally, but this article focuses on the rumor that the phone will be controllable by physically manipulating it in a tipping or tilting motion. CNET is not enamored by this idea.

Is it just me, or does this sound like a terrible idea? Very novel, certainly, and an interesting way of clawing back screen space so the interface isn’t cluttered with menus or icons. But it would require the phone to be very, very good at tracking which movements are intentional gestures and which are cack-handed wobbles of the wrists — or there’ll be menus sliding in left, right and centre when you’re just trying to send a text. –CNET

Tuesday News: Hugo Nominees, Tencent’s global ambition, summer reads, and hilarious take on the Newlywed Game

Tuesday News: Hugo Nominees, Tencent’s global ambition, summer reads, and hilarious...

Announcing the 2014 Hugo Award Nominees – So the Hugo Award nominees have been announced. First of all, a HUGE congratulations to The Book Smugglers, which has been nominated for Best Fanzine. So well deserved! It’s also interesting to see the way the Hugo’s fiction categories are conceptualized, especially in comparison to an award like the RITA. I’m particularly intrigued by the “related work” category, which contains a piece by Kameron Hurley, called “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle, and Slaves Narrative,” which got a lot of (deserved) attention last year for the way it takes on the habitual marginalization of women in the writing of fiction and history.

BEST NOVEL (1595 ballots)

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books) –i09

China’s Tencent looking to expand globally to take on Facebook, Amazon and more – Although this article is refers to a longer piece in Fast Company, it’s a nice summary of a) what everyone seems to be looking for, namely a challenger to Amazon’s ever-growing empire, and b) the possibility that Tencent, a Chinese conglomerate that is currently worth $139 billion and serves almost a billion users, may be eyeing a number of US markets, from commerce to media to communications.

Similar to Alibaba, which is expected to IPO in the U.S. this week, Tencent is another tech conglomerate out of China that is hard to understand because it does so much. Just as Alibaba is considered Amazon, eBay and PayPal in one, Tencent offers an overwhelming mix of services, making it a serious threat to many U.S.-based companies. –Geek Wire

Best Summer Books 2014 – Not a Romance in sight, but PW’s recommended reads for the summer months is still an interesting mix. I’m intrigued by John Waters’s memoir based on his cross-country US hitchhiking experiment a couple of years ago, which resulted in some pretty hilarious sightings. –Publishers Weekly

Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart Play the Newlywed Game – Possibly the best version of the Newlywed Game ever, and definitely the best bromance ever. –E! Online