Monday News: Comic artistry, library stories, publisher acquisitions, the lack of professional reviewers, and a movie trailer mashup
Comic Artist Yumi Sakugawa On Friend-Love, Identity And Art – Although not publishing news, per se, this is a really lovely interview with Yumi Sakugawa, whose work investigates, among other things, the kinds of relationships we have with people who are not romantic partners, but who, nonetheless, contribute substantially to our sense of wholeness and connectedness in the world. Sakugawa also talks about how her own cultural identity contributes to her artistic sensibility:
“When my stories aren’t so based on monsters or fantastical creatures, my characters do tend to be Asian-American, even if they don’t explicitly deal with Asian-American issues. There are always going to be little details that signify that they’re Japanese-American or Asian-American, whether it’s their names or the food that they eat or the things they talk about. I think it has a significant role in how I make my artwork and how I tell my stories.” NPR
The Top 10 Library Stories of 2013 – Test your knowledge with this comprehensive and well-chronicled list of the top ten library stories from 2013. From the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz, who designed the code layer for the Creative Commons licenses and had helped develop the RSS feed, to a preview of the Common Core state education standards, it was an eventful year. The Digital Public Library of America was one significant event:
“The DPLA has its roots in the controversial Google library scanning program. Alarmed that one for-profit company might soon enjoy a lock on a large part of our cultural heritage, a coalition of library leaders, technologists, and archivists in 2010 created the blueprint for what would become the nonprofit Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)—an “open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources” that would draw on collections from the nation’s libraries, universities, archives, and museums.” Publishers Weekly
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. AQUIRES DIGITAL PUBLISHING COMPANY LYRICAL PRESS – I think this is one of the more interesting pieces of publishing news, in part because Lyrical Press seems to be a big part of Renee Rocco’s own comeback story. I’m not sure what it’s going to mean for Kensington, but it is a reminder that the publishing industry in the broadest sense is a symbiotic ecosystem.
“The acquisition includes approximately 250 romance, YA, and genre fiction titles in the Lyrical Press backlist. Kensington will immediately begin acquiring new titles for Lyrical Press, as well as expanding its publicity, marketing, and editorial departments in order to dedicate the resources necessary to support and grow the new imprint. All eBooks published under the Lyrical Press imprint will be DRM-free, and books over 60,000 words will be available as print-on-demand editions.” Kensington Publishing
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader – Otherwise known as The Ballad of the Disappearing Professional Book Reviewer. How is it that these pieces always seem to be aimed at the rise in amateur book reviewing, as if the unwashed masses are on their riotous way to the cultural capitol(al)? The disinvestment of mainstream journalism in books is a serious issue, not because intelligent book discourse is in peril, but because there is a larger crisis around independent journalism (and all of the social arenas it treats) and a shift in values, reflected in part in the monetization of the news cycle and the profitability of the sound byte.
“THERE are many who will not mourn the displacement of literary culture’s traditional elite, dominated as it was by white, middle-aged men of comfortable means and conservative taste. Jeff Bezos, the C.E.O. of Amazon, aimed to exploit such disillusion with the old ways when announcing the launch of Kindle Direct. The self-publishing e-book program would, he claimed, produce “a more diverse book culture” with “no expert gatekeepers saying ‘sorry, that will never work.’ ” But to express discomfort at the attrition of expert opinion is not to defend the previous order’s prerogatives. Nor is it elitist to suggest that making the values and personnel of such professional hierarchies more representative is preferable to dispensing with them” The New York Times
The 2013 Movie Trailer Mashup – Virals – The mashup is a very interesting creative product, and in this case it becomes a kind of extreme intertextuality that may not be entirely transformative, but sure is interesting, if for no other reason than both the uniqueness and the overlap of the original sources are on display. And, as the commentary notes, it’s a challenge to see if you can name all the movies represented. Short List Magazine
RE: book critics, I don’t like when it’s either/or–non-professional reviewer and bloggers versus “legitimate” critical reviewers. If books are focused on less by big media, it’s more a result of traditional news outlets collapsing rather than the rise of independent blogs and news outlets. I agree, more diverse-in-background (gender, ethnicity) critics would lend a needed voice. It’s what we see more of in the indie realm. Probably why we seek out alternative news sources to begin with–the books I read aren’t covered by the major outlets. Blogs do cover them.
I’m also interested in small presses getting picked up by larger pub houses. I’m rather new t the industry so I tend to sit back and watch it unfold.