Monday News: The Air Force’s (not so) secret flying saucer; Jane Austen scholar fights; mass market still viable
This video is of the Ohio State Marching Band whose motto is “THE best damn band in the land” and from the videographic evidence, it’s hard to dispute this. The band does a classic video game tribute. You won’t regret watching it but if you are short on time, skip to the 6 minute mark and watch them do the horse. That was incredible.
Onto the news:
Cult leader – Richard Beck begins this article on Jane Austen talking about how thin skinned the lovers of Jane Austen are. “Austen lovers have not grown thicker skins. They accuse one another of “misreading” Austen, of failing to appreciate her subtle engagement with social history, or of twisting Austen’s own necessarily perfect novels to suit some selfish political or professional need.” The short anecdotes he provides are amusing but he ends the article concluding that Austen’s genius was in her self aware characters. I did like what he said here which could fit in a bit with the piece we ran last Tuesday on the placeholder heroine: Our cultural climate is dominated, in part, by two forms of entertainment which only make sense in the context of constant social judgement. One is the self-help book, which asks readers to judge themselves. The other is reality television, where the viewing pleasure comes from judging the people on screen. Jane Austen could not be a better fit.Prospect Magazine
What Is a ‘Human Flesh Search,’ and How Is It Changing China? – In China, internet denizens are taking action where the government refuses to by using shame and outing of individuals through the publication of personal details. This is called Human Flesh Search in China and it can be used for ill, but as we’ve seen as it relates to book reviewers, it can also be used to silence critics. It’s fairly important to remember the political culture under which the Chinese operate. When a chief of the Shaanxi Safety Supervision Bureau was caught appearing to act callously in the face of tragedy, Chinese citizens took to the internet and his predilection for expensive clothing and accoutrements on a meager government salary led to his dismissal.
“Although the term sounds ghoulish, this sleuthing process involves the probing and posting of personal details in pursuit of romance, kinship, justice, or vindication. Citizens and officials alike are equally exposed to the deluge of home and email addresses, bank statements, or gaming handles. Yang, a man with expensive tastes, was no exception.”
Those in favor Human Flesh Search say that it is a collaborative effort to expose corruption in government but acknowledge that innocent people are hurt. The proponents are wrong that this kind of thing only happens in deformed countries. I’m not certain what a deformed country is. It happens everywhere. Is internet vigilantism a good thing ever? In a place where government corruption is rife, is that the place for it? When does Human Flesh Search become necrotizing fasciitis as people begin to eat each other in great gulps in the chase to be the vigilante hero?
Do Mass Market Originals Still Work? – Publishers maintain that the mass market is still viable format for authors, even debut authors, although the article does not cite one debut author who has gone on to increased success. Instead, the examples given are of authors with established fan bases increasing their reach. “Publishers at HarperCollins’s Avon romance imprint and at Harlequin agreed. Liate Stehlik, senior v-p and publisher at Avon, said HarperCollins continues to be “enthusiastic” about mass market, contending that the decline in mass market unit sales is coming primarily in the reprint segment rather than from sale of mass market originals.” The mass market division hasn’t seen an increase (except for a couple of months) since 2006.
I’ve seen several publishing houses repackaging existing titles and repricing them at $3.99. Avon, Pocket and Hachette all have books releasing in December and January for $3.99. I have heard that these books are destined for special shelving in Wal-mart which is in line with the report in PW that publishers “pointed to the importance of pricing, “innovative” marketing, working closely with retailers, and digital support—both from e-books and digital marketing tools.”
I don’t think the mass market is dead at this time, but I do think its a little problematic to suggest that the only reduction in print sales comes from the reprint market. But I also see a lot of synchronicity between building an author in e and extending the reach in print which is what we’ve seen with self published authors or authors like Beth Kery who has benefited tremendously in building a new audience with her serial.
I see the future of building new authors starting in digital with innovative and platform building pricing and packaging and then extending her reach in print. Publishers Weekly
US Air Force’s flying saucer plans declassified – Declassified papers show that the US Air Force tried to build a flying saucer. I’m not sure why saucers are the shape of the future, but apparently in the 1950s the US Air Force really wanted one. What else is the government building in secret. I hope it is awesome and perhaps has one Avenger (I choose Thor) for each of us. The Verge
But the coolest marching band in the USA is the USC Trojans marching band:
I’ll take Captain America. I’ve always liked his manners. And the challenge of turning him absolutely beastly out of that uniform.
That Ohio video was AWESOME. I sat here, alone in my living room, clapping like a doofus.
@Gwen Hayes: But I WANT Captain America! My 6-year-old daughter is enamored by Thor. I asked her why. Her answer: “Because of all his muscles!”
@Lynne Connolly: FIGHT ON!
Thanks for the link to the article on “Janeism”. I’ve been looking at all the Jane Austen fan fiction with amazement. Never realized there was so much controversy about the books.
@Lynne Connolly: Sorry but no. They’re not marching. Marching is what makes it difficult.
@Wahoo Suze: I was too. That was outstanding!
@Jayne: Yeah, I don’t think the Radiohead thing compares in the least to the amazing galloping horse.
@jane_l: That horse is the bomb. It had me cheering.
At least when the USC band played backup on Fleetwood Mac ‘s “Tusk,” they were marching.
@Jayne: oh, you get the best on that performance, no question (apart from the Chinese display at the 2008 opening ceremony for the Olympics – does that count?) – but the coolest? nuh-uh. Thom’s swagger in this, and playing with omg Radiohead = coolest.
@Lynne Connolly: I will leave you to your opinion on this but for me, nope, still no. Standing there as a backup, in the shadows? Any competent musicians could do that. They are not doing what a Marching Band is supposed to do – and which I’ve seen them do very well – march.
@Lynne Connolly: This may be the wrongest you’ve been and ever will be. Sorry hun.
@Ridley: Couldn’t be more right. I did say cooler, not better.
The USC Trojans are a pretty good marching band, too, but to work with those complex rhythms and counterpoint, not to mention using a 5/4 time signature is a brilliant achievement, especially in the short time they had.
The other is all precision and clever references, but they’re working on known territory, with a system they know well with timescales and rhythms they know well. They had something to build on instead of having to work from scratch. Great to watch, though. Loved the video. It does remind me strongly of the Chinese Olympics opening ceremony.
So if this is the wrongest I’ll ever get, I’ll take it and be grateful.
All I know is that I bought several books by Lynne Connolly today.
Because she is, and always will be, completely right about the USC Trojan Marching Band.
@AlexaB: I hope you enjoy her writing as much as I have. I strongly recommend her “Richard and Rose” series – great stuff there.
If her writing is as perceptive as her taste in American university marching bands, then I’m sure I’m in for a great reading experience. (Not that I didn’t appreciate the Ohio State video; I just happen to agree wholeheartedly with Lynne.)
And it helps to have your recommendation as well – many thanks!
@Lynne Connolly: If marching to 5/4 time makes a band cool, then many, many marching bands (great and otherwise) have been doing it for years. Also to 3/4, 7/4, and combinations thereof. While marching.
If marching to Radiohead makes a band cool, then the University of Arizona marching band did it years before USC. They have not one but at least two routines set to Radiohead music (including 15 Steps in a recent routine). All the routines involve, you know, marching.
The Ohio State marching band has been better than USC’s band for most if not all of the Trojans’ existence. And I say that reluctantly, as the daughter of Purdue grads, but honestly, as someone who spent her high school years in a competitive marching band.
The best marching bands, pound for pound, note for note, and most definitely dollar for dollar, come out of the HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).
the Air Force was working on a flying saucer? How did I now know this? That is the US Air Force, right?
The Austen thing sounds like the early formation of a new religion– sects forming, different interpretations of the gospels. Next thing you know they will start wars with each other. -)
And that video was amazing! That band is a living illustration of what teamwork can accomplish!
I rarely wave The Ohio State University flag (my MA alma mater), but that marching routine is pretty darn cool.
I’m trying to remember the last mass market paperback I bought. It was probably in a series where I had all the earlier books in that format, but I couldn’t say which. Still, I’m all for creative marketing, experimenting with price, releasing older titles (as long as that’s clearly indicated!) or whatever else works to get books into the hands of readers in the formats they prefer.
@Sunita: It’s playing with Radiohead that makes them cool. I’ve spent the time I should have spent writing looking up marching bands now! They’re pretty good. When I was little my Mum used to drag me to the nearest military band, and damn bagpipe bands, and the brass bands that used to play concerts, but the brass bands tend to play sitting down! Perhaps her obsession meant I avoided them. This is what we get – all these guys are enlisted soldiers. A bit stuffier!
And on the other subject, mass market paperbacks – I haven’t bought one for three years that I can remember. I’ve bought text books and travel guides, and biographies, but not mmpb’s. I was an early adopter of ebooks, admittedly. I’ve been writing them for ten years and I thought it was a bit hypocritical to write for that format and not read in it, too, but I bought mmpb’s alongside the ebooks I bought until about 3 years ago. Partly because most books are now available in ebook format, partly because the reading experience for me is preferable now in e-format.
I’m just a fascinated bystander clapping everyone’s enthusiasm, interest and knowledge on marching bands. Go all of you! Already bought the last Richard & Rose even before this thread ^^
Re MMP: I buy non-digitized OOP books used, then promptly send them off to 1dollarscan.