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...

Note from Jane: We’ve been having a number of server issues for the past few months related to spambots. At the advice of our host, I’ve installed a simple math captcha. If you want to bypass the captcha, you can register with DA using this link here. I’ll add these links to the footer so when you return (and if the system has logged you out) you can easily log back in.

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

Monday News: How people use their tablets, the trouble with Indiegogo, NPR’s tricks its readers, and amusing YA quiz

Monday News: How people use their tablets, the trouble with Indiegogo,...

Data Point: People Really Like to Read on Their Kindle Fires – A very interesting graphic comparing the iPad, the Galaxy, and the Fire. The statistic for e-reading on the Kindle Fire is a clear stand-out, but I’m not really sure what — if anything — that means. My first response was thinking that I hardly ever read on my Kindle Fire. However, there’s no category for “watching media,” which is what I do most on my Fire. And, if that was the only Kindle I had, I might read more on it — and reading might also be an indicator of general visual media consumption on the device. But it’s still interesting that e-reading on the Fire registered at double the rates for the iPad and the Galaxy (67% to 33% and 33%). –The Wall Street Journal

How Does Indiegogo Deal with Fraudulent Campaigns? – I don’t know if you’ve been following the Healbe crowdsourced funding scandal at Indiegogo, but Pando has, and they’ve found some extremely disturbing evidence that the diet watch device the company is claiming to manufacture (and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars toward), is not what it seems. And now, where crowdsource platform Indiegogo used to have a very strong fraud guarantee in its support/terms of service language, it only has a vague reference to fraud-checking. Needless to say, that does not instill confidence in either Healbe or Indiegogo — or it shouldn’t, at least.

In my last update — where Healbe’s founders explained that their innovation method was inspired by Russian science fiction, and released a ludicrous “demo” video — I wrote that the Healbe story had gone from scam to farce. Today Indiegogo has made clear that they’d rather be complicit in that farce, and in a million dollar scam, than be forced to take responsibility for what happens on their platform. –Pando Daily

Masterful NPR Prank Asks Why People Comment Without Reading – Although I think NPR is far from perfect (although no online venue meets that bar for me), what they pulled off with this slightly early April Fools’ Facebook joke is nothing short of brilliant. They posted a story titled “Why Doesn’t America Read Anymore?,” and instead of clicking on the link — which would have exposed the gag — people went ahead and commented anyway, descrying the fact that people aren’t reading before they comment.

The lesson here? It’s either that NPR is wasting your tax dollars on denigrating the American character, or that this is exactly why we need services like NPR in the first place. But you were probably already thinking that anyway long before you read this story. –Mediaite

Quiz: Can You Tell These YA Stories Apart? – Many of you have probably seen this already (sorry – I’ve got a backlog of stories that aren’t time-sensitive), but if you haven’t it’s a pretty amusing little quiz on five of the most popular YA series (Divergent, Hunger Games, Twilight, The Fault in Our Stars, Harry Potter). Definitely seems to add weight to the argument that from a distance all genre stories can look alike (aka it’s not the story, but how it’s executed that counts). –The Vulture