Friday News: Book sales, bad behavior, writing awards, and historical research
The Secret of Nigerian Book Sales – It is so difficult to sell books in Nigeria that publishers say it can take years to sell off a couple thousand print copies. Programs have been established to encourage reading and assuage the challenges associated with book sales in Nigeria. And yet, one man, who buys used books from the U.S. and then has them shipped back to Nigeria in large containers, cannot keep enough titles in stock. A fascinating story about, among other things, a disconnect between the reading population and what is being published and sold within the country:
But amid these efforts, one Nigerian bookseller, who has been in the business since 1999, says he cannot meet his customers’ demands. Without any formal advertisements or other marketing efforts, forty-two-year-old Wale Rasaki, the C.E.O. of Book Liquidator Ventures, has been selling thousands of secondhand books from a warehouse in Alausa, Lagos, for the past sixteen years.
“The most popular titles are books by John Grisham, Sidney Sheldon, Frederick Forsyth, Jackie Collins, Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey,” Rasaki told me. “People also like to buy motivational books by authors like Brian Tracy, Jack Welch, Napoleon Hill.”
Every three months, Rasaki travels to Atlanta, where he stays with family and drives as far as ten hours to buy books from secondhand suppliers, such as libraries selling off their old stock, Goodwill, and the Salvation Army. He prefers going in search of books himself so that he can find the titles customers have been requesting. He said that it can take months, or more, for an American blockbuster title to catch on in Nigeria.- The New Yorker
DARK HORSE EDITOR SCOTT ALLIE APOLOGIZES AMID ACCUSATIONS OF MISCONDUCT – Yet another tale of harassment at a convention, this time ComicCon, by an editor of Dark Horse Comics. Company president Mike Richardson writes that “In cases such as these, we have been proactive in our response, with a variety of professional services involved, all with the goal of changing behavior,” although reports have surfaced that Scott Allie has been acting inappropriately for years. It’s particularly frustrating when a company head claims to support efforts to stop harassment, but then says something like, “In this particular case, action was taken immediately, though we did not, and cannot, perform a public flogging, as some might wish,” which seems to miss the point pretty broadly.
Widely known for editing such high-profile Dark Horse titles as “Hellboy,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “B.P.R.D.,” Allie was promoted in 2012 from Senior Editor to Editor-in-Chief. He served in that position until Sept. 11 of this year, when Dave Marshall was announced as the publisher’s new Editor-in-Chief and Allie moved to the new position of Executive Senior Editor. When asked by CBR News, Allie declined to answer whether that change in position was related to the incident at Comic-Con.
Asselin’s article frames the incident at Comic-Con as part of a pattern of misbehavior that a former Dark Horse employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity, contends “goes back decades,” with inappropriate behavior said to happen both while drunk and sober. “For a long time he was called Bitey the Clown because he would get black out drunk and bite people,” the ex-employee stated. “He’s punched coworkers. He’s been inappropriate.” Another stated that Allie had been known to “say terrible things about people” when drunk, and “become flirtatious and put his hands on women’s legs.” – Comic Book Resources
Kirkus Announces Finalists for 2015 Book Prizes – On the heels of the announcement of the 2015 MacArthur Genius Grants , Kirkus has announced the finalists for their $50,000 awards, in categories including fiction, non-fiction, and young readers’ literature. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a MacArthur awardee this year, is also up for a Kirkus nonfiction award for his memoir, Between the World and Me.
The six fiction finalists are “The Incarnations” by Susan Barker; “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” a posthumous collection of selected short stories by Lucia Berlin; Lauren Groff’s third novel, “Fates and Furies,”which tells the story of a marriage twice, from each spouse’s perspective; “The Story of My Teeth,” by Valeria Luiselli, which was translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney; “The Book of Aron” by Jim Shepard; and Hanya Yanagihara’s second novel, “A Little Life,” which has also been nominated for the National Book Award and the Man Booker Prize. – The New York Times
You Become the Character: On Writing Historical Fiction – As much as I understand that Gavin McCrea’s essay in Publishers Weekly is its own form of promotion for his first work of historical fiction, Mrs. Engels, it’s still a provocative little piece of prose itself. Written about the romantic relationship between Lizzie Burns, who was illiterate, and therefore left no writings of her own, and Frederich Engels, the book is, according to McCrea, also a performance of himself as Lizzie. Do writers become their characters and vice versa? That can be a frightening notion to contemplate. However, because of Lizzie Burns’s substantive absence from the historical record, McCrea insists that he had to “build a personality for her,” which, of necessity, involved exporting much of his own to the character:
Marguerite Yourcenar writes that, having spent so much time researching and imagining her characters’ lives, their memories are no more and no less than her own memories—and I know what she means. As much as I tried to create the illusion of otherness; as much as I laboured to keep out everything that I thought readers might recognise as coming from my own personality, ultimately if Lizzie can be said to be someone, that someone can only be ‘me’. When writing from Lizzie’s perspective, I wasn’t feigning to be Lizzie. Rather, I was Lizzie, the only Lizzie I could imagine being. To say I was pretending to be her suggests that, the rest of time, I’m not pretending to be me, that there exists an authentic non-performative ‘Gavin’, which is nonsense. I don’t know what ‘me’ is, if not a performance. I don’t know who ‘I’ am if not an act. To construct Lizzie, I simply switched from what I imagined my self to be in one moment to what I imagined her self to be in another moment. And it wasn’t such a big leap. I’d be unable to distinguish between what is me and what is Lizzie in the book; Lizzie’s memories appear in my mind as vaguely and as vividly as my own. She and I are both the fiction of my self. – Publishers Weekly