Thursday News: Harlequin pursues women’s fiction, Amazon Prime Reading, the “Age of Entanglement,” and new celebrity book imprint
Harlequin Launches New Fiction Imprint – Harlequin announced yesterday that they have started a new imprint – Graydon House – that is focused on women’s fiction in trade and hardcover formats. It appears that the publisher wants to establish a clear home for those books that tackle relationship issues without being conventional Romance fiction. The first of six initial books will release in September 2017, and will be How To Be Happy by Eva Woods. The press release describes it this way: “Me Before You meets Beaches, the novel explores the unlikely friendship between two very different women—one has reached a crossroads after a shattering tragedy imploded her marriage and the other has just been given three months to live—who jointly embark on an unexpected journey toward redemption, love and happiness.” Although the name of the imprint comes across to me as a bit, uh, stodgy, I think this is a smart branding move.
The imprint’s titles will, Harlequin said, focus on titles that feature “a relationship element woven through.” Titles will be aimed at book club readers, and run the gamut from “lighthearted humor to emotional tearjerkers to edgier dramas.” . . .
Loriana Sacilotto, executive v-p, global publishing and strategy at Harlequin, said the launch of Graydon House marks “the next phase of a plan to significantly expand our hardcover and trade paperback fiction publishing program.” The company will do 12 to 14 titles annually under the new imprint. – Publishers Weekly & Harlequin
Amazon Prime Reading gives members even more e-books – Amazon is now doing for readers what it previously did for movie and television viewers – it’s providing access, through its Prime membership, to books (a “rotating library of over a thousand books,” as well as audiobooks) and magazines. Prime members are already eligible for Kindle First, which allows them to read one Amazon Publishing pre-release book a month (note: Victoria Dahl’s women’s fiction debut as Victoria Helen Stone is included in October’s selection of eligible books). CNET opines that the new program likely won’t be a new-member magnet:
However, all the additional reading sparked by Prime Reading could help drive more sales of e-books, a market Amazon helped birth and still dominates. Also, Prime Reading may serve as a gateway to get more of Amazon’s loyalest customers to sign up for Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s $10 monthly reading service that includes over 1 million books and thousands of audiobooks. Using a similar tactic, Amazon last month introduced a slimmed-down, free-for-Prime version of its paid audiobook services called Audible Channels. A full Audible membership costs $14.95 a month.
In addition to Prime Reading, Amazon will continue to provide the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. That Prime service lets people borrow one e-book a month from a much wider selection of hundreds of thousands of titles. Unlike Prime Reading — which can be used with Amazon, iOS and Android devices — the lending library is only available on Kindle and Fire devices. – CNET
Embedded beings: how we blended our minds with our devices – A very interesting article on the multi-layered relationship between technology and humanity, with the giant caveat that the perspective is decidedly one of Western humanism (central to the argument are Enlightenment philosophies). Within that context, though, Saskia Nagel and Peter Reiner look at how we have abdicated so much of our privacy to our devices and, consequently, to corporations and other entities that gather personal information to influence and persuade us, even, and perhaps especially, when we are unaware (e.g. the infamous Facebook experiment). From there they tackle questions about privacy of thought and the idea(l) of personal autonomy. I read the article in tandem with this piece from Scientific American titled “Device Can Read Emotions by Bouncing Wireless Signals off Your Body [Video]” and it was difficult not to see it as illustrative of Nagel and Reiner’s concerns.
These issues matter, and not just because they represent ethical quandaries. Rather, they highlight the profound implications that conceiving of our minds as an amalgam between brain and device have for our image of ourselves as humans. Andy Clark, the philosopher who more than anyone has advanced the concept of the extended mind, argues that humans are natural-born cyborgs. If that is the case, if we commonly incorporate external tools into our daily routines of thinking and being, then we might have overemphasised the exceptionalism of the human brain for the concept of mind. Perhaps the new, technologically extended mind is not so much something to fear as something to notice.
The fruits of the Enlightenment allowed us to consider ourselves as rugged individuals, navigating the world by our wits alone. This persistent cultural meme has weakened, particularly over the past decade as research in social neuroscience has emphasised our essentially social selves. Our relationship to our devices provides a new wrinkle: we have entered what the US engineer and inventor Danny Hillis has termed ‘the Age of Entanglement’. We are now technologically embedded beings, surrounded and influenced by the tools of modernity, seemingly without pause. – Aeon
Sarah Jessica Parker to launch book publishing imprint – Apparently a celebrity book imprint is the new vanity publishing, which is pretty ironic, all things considered. I have nothing against Sarah Jessica Parker, and I appreciate that the ALA is involved with Hogarth, but when your mother’s love of reading serves as the main justification (and qualification?) for getting your own imprint, well, it doesn’t seem like traditional publishing’s finest hour.
Sarah Jessica Parker is taking her love for the written word to the next level. The longtime actress moves beyond Hollywood and announced her new position as editorial director for SJP at Hogarth Publishing.
Parker will help discover and nurture upcoming writers. According to The New York Times, “she will help find, edit, and publish three to four new novels a year.” – Entertainment Weekly