Thursday News: China’s child lit market, new Reddit filters, advising Poldark, and black-footed ferrets
The Booming Rights Scene for Children’s Books in China – The Chinese publishing industry and literary marketplace is getting more and more interesting. Publishers Weekly continues to give the market good press, as this article on the growing number of children’s books, many from Western publishers, are being acquired and sold. Nonfiction picture books, especially, are in high demand, especially if they incorporate an educational element. Translation, of course, requires significant resources, especially since growing demand cannot yet be met by Chinese language authors and publishers.
Staggering numbers and unusual circumstances are converging to create a bubbling segment: 370 million children under the age of 18, a two-child policy predicted to add at least three million babies annually, and around 580 publishing companies jumping onto the children’s book bandwagon. Additionally, China’s fast-growing middle class—covering 70% of its urban population or roughly 200 million people based on a McKinsey survey—is exerting its market influence by becoming more demanding, discerning, sophisticated, and vocal.
Less statistical but nonetheless critical is the growing awareness—and impetus—among Chinese parents, teachers and policymakers to get children to read more, and to read for leisure as opposed to reading in order to pass their examinations. In fact, China’s 2020 education reform policy is pressurizing [sic] schools, teachers and parents to seek more reading, learning, and teaching materials to meet reform objectives, which are to reduce homework and standardized exams and move towards an employment-oriented education system. This has created new opportunities for direct imports, co-publishing deals, bilingual editions, and translations. – Publishers Weekly
Reddit CEO who altered comments apologizes, unveils subreddit filtering – The fallout from Reddit CEO Steve Huffman’s comment editing continues, moving the site more intentionally in the direction of filtering options for users and more stringent policing of “toxic users.” There is so much about the context here that is messed up, but there’s no way Reddit could continue on with so few community standards. And the ability to filter out communities a user does not want to see seems way long in coming. I wonder what Ellen Pao thinks about all this.
We have identified hundreds of the most toxic users and are taking action against them, ranging from warnings to timeouts to permanent bans. Posts stickied on r/the_donald will no longer appear in r/all. r/all is not our frontpage, but is a popular listing that our most engaged users frequent, including myself. The sticky feature was designed for moderators to make announcements or highlight specific posts. It was not meant to circumvent organic voting, which r/the_donald does to slingshot posts into r/all, often in a manner that is antagonistic to the rest of the community.
We will continue taking on the most troublesome users, and going forward, if we do not see the situation improve, we will continue to take privileges from communities whose users continually cross the line—up to an outright ban. – Ars Technica
Poldark adviser: how I stripped down history for the screen – University of York Historian Hannah Greig addresses the long-debated question of how a historical drama like Poldark should represent its historical moment. Greig says she focuses on the context for characters that are “highly fictionalised and romanticised,” attending to issues like how much money someone would have on their person or what book a character should be reading. What constitutes “perfection” is an open-ended conversation, but I do like Greig’s basic philosophy : “The role of the historical adviser is to ensure that those choices are well informed and that they are just that: choices, rather than mistakes.” Sounds like a good rule for historical novels, too.
For Poldark, I’ve settled into a fairly regular pattern of involvement that begins with reading drafts of the scripts prior to filming. The script is not just the story, it is the blueprint for the entire production. I try to read each episode as closely as possible, checking the historical content from every angle, looking not just for the occasional anachronistic term, but for character development, locations, scene and prop details and context. I send back to the production team all the historical commentary I can think of – however significant or potentially pedantic – and leave the judgement calls to them.
When the scripts are finished and the production prepares for filming, questions start to come in from the various departments as they prepare locations, sets and costumes. And once the cameras start rolling, attention turns to many of the smallest details: manuscripts seen on a desk or broadsides handed out in the street. During the filming of the second series, some of my favourite moments came from conversations with the graphic artist, Richard Wells, as we bounced emails around discussing the appearance of 18th-century pamphlets, advertisements, military commission letters, polling books and more. Many of these details might not be captured in the final shots, but each and every one was inspired by original artefacts and painstakingly recreated by the art department. – The Conversation
Rare Ferrets Settling in, Making Babies at New Colorado Home – Thanks to Jayne for sending me this story with a comment that “the ferrets are winning!” – which will probably only make sense if you remember the Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal (recap here). Anyway, the black-footed ferret became the focus of discussion when it came to light that some of the historical and natural research seemed to be imported wholesale into some of Edwards’s novels, including some research on black-footed ferrets. In danger of extinction, the small animals are making a comeback, thanks to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service breeding program. So a happy ending for the ferrets, at least.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 47 endangered black-footed ferrets last month at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. That includes 20 out of the original 28 captive-born ferrets that were released there in 2015, a survival rate of 71 percent. . . .
They’re native to the West, from Canada to Mexico, but their numbers plummeted as prairie dogs were exterminated or died from plague, and ferret habitat was reduced by development.
Black-footed ferrets were once thought to be extinct, but a small colony was discovered in Wyoming in 1981. Researchers have been trying to restore the population since then. They’re protected under the Endangered Species Act. – ABC News