Tuesday News: “real books,” social function of gossip, realities of book touring, and comic book ninjas
Real books are back. E-book sales plunge nearly 20% – Objective reporting is so wonderful, isn’t it? How about accurate reporting? Just check out the comparison between the so-called “plunge” in digital book sales and the rise of print book sales. And then there’s the fine print: certain types of print books sell better, and publishers are pushing those. Like children’s books, cookbooks, adult coloring books. Not that it matters, I guess, to someone who views print books as “real books.” Given the general rate of book buying in the U.S. at least, why anyone would — directly or indirectly — disparage digital books and their readers is baffling to me. Is this more publisher propaganda? Buy a print cookbook but forget that digital novel?
Sales of consumer e-books plunged 17% in the U.K. in 2016, according to the Publishers Association. Sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children’s books surged 16%.
The same trend is on display in the U.S., where e-book sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%.
“The print format is appealing to many and publishers are finding that some genres lend themselves more to print than others and are using them to drive sales of print books,” said Phil Stokes, head of PwC’s entertainment and media division in the U.K. – CNN
The Company Behind “The National Enquirer” Just Bought “Us Weekly” — Here’s Why That Matters – I have, of late, had to roll back my unequivocal disdain for Buzzfeed, because they’ve been posting some sound think pieces, including this discussion on tabloid journalism by Anne Helen Petersen. Us Weekly was recently sold to American Media for $100 million dollars, and the magazine will now be run by Dylan Howard, who also manages the National Enquirer. If you think this transaction is trivial or unimportant, I strongly encourage you to read Petersen’s piece, which contemplates the political, social, and cultural influences (and reflections) tabloid journalism represents, especially the Enquirer, which, according to Dominic Dunne, was must-read news source for reporters covering the OJ Simpson trial. Us also used to be a significant publication, although under Jann Wenner it apparently became the red-headed step-sibling of boy-branded Rolling Stone. Apparently Us also has a very strong digital presence. I think both publications have declined substantially over the past decade, at least, but maybe things are changing.
Unlike traditional journalism, which often serves as an arbiter for what people should care about, [70s Enquirer owner Generoso] Pope refined the art of figuring out what people already cared about, or were scared of — and focused on feeding, assuaging, or fanning those emotions. Some of those topics were related to movie stars and celebrities, but such stories were intermingled with ones that cultivated fear or anxiety over looming disaster, whether medical, natural, or financial: “The U.S. Will Almost Certainly Have a Nuclear Disaster Within 10 Years,” one 1972 Enquirer headline read; “98-Year-Old Who Got First Social Security Check Still Complains Payments Too Small,” declared another.
Whether rooted in scientific findings, dabbling with the occult, or recounting celebrity mishaps, these stories invoked feelings of contempt, sympathy, fear, heartbreak, and joy. The Enquirer’s primary skill wasn’t reporting; it was storytelling — its ability to create small melodramas with each article, whether it be photos of wild animals “kissing” or Elvis in his coffin. . . .
There’s a tremendous body of research, spanning the fields of anthropology, sociology, psychology, and media studies, that suggests that gossip performs a crucial societal function. Whether published or spoken, gossip sustains and interrogates values in flux or under threat: The things we can’t shut up about are the things that point to larger fissures and growing fractures in society. That’s why the Enquirer couldn’t shut up about O.J. Simpson or Monica Lewinsky in the ’90s, and why it can’t shut up about Trump today. Those ’90s stories were rooted, respectively, in societal traumas of race (buttressed by murder) and sex (and how our president should be expected to behave). – Buzzfeed
10 things you don’t know about authors on book tour – John Scalzi’s Q&A on the glamorous life of book touring. I have a lot of opinions on the whole thing I’m not going to share, but if you’re a Scalzi fan, you’ll likely enjoy this.
5. Many authors are also working while they tour
The touring itself is actual work, mind you. But I mean that many if not most are also trying to do their “regular” work — writing or editing what they’ve written. Whether they succeed is another question. My friend Cory Doctorow (with whom I am doing several events on tour) has mastered the habit of popping open his laptop in airports and on planes and writing in his next novel; I myself usually can only manage emails and short pieces. The point is that life doesn’t stop and most authors are looking toward their next work, even as they’re presenting their current one on tour. – LA Times
15 Greatest Comic Book Ninjas Ever, Ranked – For some reason, ninjas remind me of Candy Tan. Which makes me feel kind of sad. Although the number of female ninjas on this list makes me pretty happy. What do you think of the list?
Occasionally, a ninja comes along and breaks the mold. A great comic book ninja isn’t just a great warrior; they’re a great character who so happens to be a ninja. This legion of legendary warriors may be easily identified by their ninja moves, ninja looks, and ninja mindset, but it what truly separates them from is the way that their brilliance isn’t dependent upon their ninja status. Yes, ninjas are inherently awesome to a degree, but characters like these remind us of why that is. – Screen Rant
I read that the numbers indicating a drop in ebook sales came mostly from the major publishers (on another blog). As a rabid ebook reader, I know I stopped buying ebooks from the major publishers as soon as the Agency Model kicked back in. But that doesn’t mean I’m not still buying ebooks. I’m just buying non-Agency Model ebooks from indies and small publishing houses. I only buy from the majors if an ebook is on sale. I boycotted the big 6 publishers (now the big 5) up until they settled with the DOJ and prices temporarily came down. The only print books I buy are cookbooks. I’m really astonished that these publishers don’t connect the dots that the drop in ebooks sales correlated with the jump in prices after Amazon caved to Hachette. Agency Model ebooks are often more expensive than paperbacks and sometimes even hardcovers, even though you have a lot fewer rights with ebooks and publishers don’t incur printing, warehousing or shipping costs with ebooks. I have felt discriminated against by the major publishers ever since the Agency Model first kicked in about a month after I paid $300 for my first Kindle, which I only bought because I thought that it would pay for itself after a year or two because ebook prices were lower than paperback prices at the time. Those “lower prices” disappeared shortly after I bought it thanks to the Agency Model. I think the big publishers think they can force us back into buying paperbacks by forcing high ebook prices, but that’s not true. As much as I love so many authors with major publishers, I can live without their books. I would rather not read them than buy them in paperback.