Monday News: Indie audiobooks, kids’ subscription services, Harlem Hellfighters, and book art
Libro.fm Launches Audiobook Subscriptions – Libro.fm is now offering a DRM-free audiobook subscription service for the same price as Audible’s Gold level ($15 a month). With more than 70,000 books and the possibility of listening on iOS and Android, let’s hope we see a viable alternative to the current DRM-ed audio monopoly.
“The Libro.fm membership now gives audiobook listeners the opportunity to support their local bookstore every month and discover great audiobooks hand picked by expert indie booksellers,” said Mark Pearson, CEO of Libro.fm, in a statement. – The Digital Reader
Kids’ Subscription Services Take Off – We’ve seen a number of YA and kid lit book subscription boxes, but these services are specifically tied to bookstores, which are basically hand-selling books to kids and teens through personalized (often) monthly book shipments. I really like this idea, because it carries with it the possibility of building a relationship between kids and independent booksellers, although I wonder how broad the access is (e.g. are these literacy-rich communities to begin with?).
At nearly 16 years old, the children and teen Book-a-Month Gift Program at the D.C. bookstore is one of the oldest and largest book-subscription clubs for children. And though, like the other stores, it advertises the program both online and in-store, coordinator Marc Villa points out that, these days, most of those who purchase memberships are discovering the program through word of mouth. The club caters to approximately 300 members around the country, predominantly young readers, with a smattering of teens and adults interested in YA literature. The cost for each annual membership is the price of the books plus shipping and handling. Each package includes a hardcover or two paperbacks. Book selections are based on information provided by parents and children: all recipients’ age, gender, and interests are collected, as well as the titles of a few books they’ve recently read and enjoyed. The store also contacts each member twice a year to solicit feedback on whether the selections have been satisfactory. – Publishers Weekly
Even History Channel Is Doing Comic Book Adaptations with Harlem Hellfighters – Will and Jada Pinkett Smith are co-producing this six-hour adaptation of Harlem Hellfighters, a graphic novel focused on the success of the U.S. Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment during World War I. It will be interesting to see whether a series like this will reach a younger demographic and whether the History Channel is seriously looking at ways to both demographically diversify and enrich their programming, or whether they are simply caught up in the current comic-book/graphic novel trend.
The graphic novel, penned by World War Z author Max Brooks, is about the first-ever African American regiment. They were assigned to the French forces during World War I as an insult, largely because many white American soldiers refused to serve with them. They were nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters” by the Germans because none of their soldiers were captured, and they never lost a trench or a foot of ground to the enemy. They returned to the U.S. as one of the most successful regiments of World War I, including receiving America’s first Croix de Guerre from the French government, but they still faced decades of discrimination and hatred. – Gizmodo
Ridgefield’s Chris Perry a master of book art – There are only three images in the gallery to this article, so once you’ve read the profile of Perry, check out his actual website for more installations. Because holy smoke, his pieces are stunning. He’s currently working on plans for a “storm front,” consisting of a “rolling wave of 100,000 volumes coming at you,” and a 4,500-book “cloud bank.” He uses both discarded books and “virgin paper,” and he has a fundamentally reverent appreciation of the physical book:
He considers every piece part of the same water-themed series. He numbers them in sequence, but may or may not give them descriptive names like droplets or icicle. No. 1 was a small, square very book-like book with semi-transparent vellum pages of over-laid drawings. By No. 25, he was more or less sculpting books with hollowed out interiors, trying to imbue their layers with a sense of movement. . . .
Perry has always loved books, though. “He’s a lean, mean reading machine,” his wife called out from her studio next to his. He says in New York he mastered the skill of reading while walking to work and still reads 70 to 100 books a year.
Yet the steady dilution of the value of the bond between reading and books, first by mass production and now by digitization, is part of what has given rise to book art. Perry’s “Droplet” happened to appear in a section of the “Odd Volumes” catalog with an essay, “The Book under Pressure,” that argued:
“Relieved of its duty to inform, the book became precious not because of its content, but rather because of its status as an object. Book art addresses and amplifies this materiality.” – CT Post