Tuesday News: Marlon James to write epic fantasy, paper v (?) digital, the rise of audiobooks, and Tinder + organ donation
Marlon James’s Next Book Will Be an ‘African Game of Thrones’ – Marlon James, who recently won the Man Booker Prize for A Brief History of Seven Killings, is planning a high fantasy series, beginning with Black Leopard, Red Wolf. James jokes that he will have no problem including “big appendix on magic techniques” and “hundred pages on a mysterious dwarf race that lives underground,” but says he is serious about the project. As others pointed out, this would not be the first series to avoid Anglo-centric world building, but it’s always great to see this kind of crossover to genre fiction, especially when it coincides with greater diversity.
As James puts it, “I realized how sick and tired I was of arguing about whether there should be a black hobbit in Lord of the Rings. African folklore is just as rich, and just as perverse as that shit. We have witches, we have demons, we have goblins, and mad kings. We have stories of royal succession that would put Wolf Hall to shame. We beat the Tudors two times over.” – Vulture
Books vs. e-books: The science behind the best way to read – Oh when will we get to the point where digital books and print books are not placed in head to had battle?!? And is it really a fair “fight” when almost all the “research” on digital books points out eye strain (do these folks not have access to a Kindle Paperwhite, because that thing has less glare than paper, as far as I’m concerned) and lack of retention. *sigh* Amazingly enough, human beings are often adaptable creatures and can actually read in TWO formats. Or maybe THREE, if you consider audiobooks! This seems like sensible advice, though:
“First and foremost, consider the person and their lifelong preferences,” Dr. Matthew H. Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning, a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Boston and MIT, told CBS News in an email. “Some people absolutely love the look, smell, and feel of the classical book held in the hand, and such people may not want to give up the sensory experience of reading from a paper book. If the recipient of your gift is someone who is adventurous when it comes to gadgets, but otherwise doesn’t read much using traditional books, giving the gift of an e-reader can be a life-changing experience for them.” – CBS News
Forget e-books, this may be the real future of reading – And ditto with the ‘audiobooks are going to replace digital books’ forecasting. Trends are thus named for a reason. They trend. And are replaced by new trends. Anyway, we’ve been witnessing the (re?) rise of audio for a while now, although one of my favorite features of the format is absent from this article: the fact that I can switch back and forth between audio and digital seamlessly, picking the story right back up in either format. It truly means that I can read almost anywhere now, and I can pore over a passage in print if I want or listen to a great narrator act out a scene that just works better for me as an aural experience.
The fact that audiobook narrators have developed the followings and star power to drive sales represents a seismic shift in the way books are sold and consumed, said Donald Katz, Audible’s CEO. “This is a completely different phenomenon — a cultural and, frankly, aesthetic change in people’s habits,” Katz said.
It’s also a major reason Audible has been bringing in big-name stars as narrators: Jake Gyllenhaal reading “The Great Gatsby” and Tim Robbins reading “Fahrenheit 451,” for instance. – MarketWatch
Swipe Right for Kidney: Tinder Works to Support Organ Donation in UK – Horrible story title, but a pretty clever partnership between the National Health Service and Tinder, allowing people to indicate their support for organ donation in their Tinder profile and to ‘swipe right’ if they want to discuss the need for organ donors on their first date. The swipe will, among other things, direct them to NHS to sign up as an organ donor:
“Educating and encouraging people to sign up for organ donation — that’s what our partnership with Tinder is all about,” Johnson said in a statement today. “While a third of the U.K. population have registered their intention to donate on the NHS Organ Donor Register, millions more support donation but haven’t taken the final step to sign up. With the help of these bespoke profiles on Tinder, we’ll grab people’s attention and throw a spotlight on the importance of organ donation.” – ABC News
The way we came across the organ donation thing was that a minor celebrity came up on my daughter’s Tinder, which was a bit exciting and somewhat baffling – and after a little “This can’t be real” she swiped – right, is it? – just to see, and the app said they’d matched, and then she got a message “Hey. we’ve matched”. By which time her sister had googled the celebrity, found out what the deal was, and she deleted the contact. Presumably if you don’t delete, you then get some kind of organ donation spiel. (The celebrity though – his public persona is not such that you’d necessarily want to take moral leadership from him.)
Our consensus was (and we’re on the organ donor register) that it was all a bit manipulative – something about it didn’t sit well. I’m not sure Tinder should use fake profiles even for a really good cause. (Fake because even if he created it – and it was a verified profile – he almost certainly wasn’t ‘2m’ away at the time.) And if they do it for a good cause, who’s to say next week it won’t be for a commercial cause.