Tuesday News: “Sing Lit,” ebook price drop alerts, and histories of the book
Country Spotlight: Singapore: Literary Publishing – There have been several pieces about Singapore’s growing literature scene recently, especially since New York City just hosted the second Singapore Lit Festival (here is an article from Lambda Lit, A Queer Look at the 2nd Singapore Literature Festival). Despite a tendency toward short fiction, as well as numerous challenges associated with an emerging global market, “Sing Lit” is gaining more influence and acclaim, both at home and abroad:
William Morrow executive editor Rachel Kahan says that Singapore writers “are unique in that they reflect the coexistence of Asian and Western cultures, and though their literary styles may differ, they invariably address the ways that colonialism, traditional Asian cultures, and the rise of ‘New Asia’ are felt in the lives of Singaporeans today.” . . .
There is “a need to establish collaborations with media producers and distributors to not just find, but also nurture, readers and reading habits,” says Ng Kah Gay, associate publisher of Ethos Books. “We call this the steal-time-away-from-Pokémon-hunting mission. Now that everybody can be a publisher and attention span is incredibly shrinking in this age of digital technology, quality content has become even more precious.”
For Marshall Cavendish associate publisher Lee Mei Lin, the greatest competition in Sing lit publishing “comes from big-name international authors who have mind share leads and enjoy prime book display spaces over local authors. Coupled with the perception that books with international acclaim are better, browsing customers are much more likely to choose such titles over locally published ones. Another issue is our small market of 5.7 million people, where the majority tends to gravitate towards nonfiction.” – Publishers Weekly
Get notified when e-book prices drop – Apparently I am not a “savvy Amazon shopper,” since I did not know about either of these tracking services, so perhaps I am not the only one…
Savvy Amazon shoppers know about price-tracking service CamelCamelCamel, which can alert you when prices drop. Sadly, it doesn’t support Kindle titles. For that you need a different service: eReaderIQ. It not only catalogs Kindle books that are free and on sale, but also lets you create alerts for tracking specific books. . . .
The site also offers some integration tools, including bookmarklets (1-Click Watcher) for quickly adding any Kindle title to your watch list and a Chrome extension that also lets you check price histories and watch non-Kindle books so you can get notified if they become available. – CNET
Pulp non-fiction – Although superficially a review of two recent books on the history of paper and paper books (and a commentary on our obsession with paper in general), this essay by Dennis Duncan provides a lot of historical detail on the subject itself, making it a very interesting read.
Credited as the invention of Cai Lun, an official of the Han dynasty, in 105 AD (though fragments have been found in China which predate Cai Lun by several centuries), paper made its way westwards, firstly through the Islamic world – the first paper mill in Baghdad opened at the end of the eighth century – before arriving, via Spain, in Christian Europe by the middle of the thirteenth. By 1495, Britain, a late adopter, was producing its own paper at John Tate’s mill at Sele in Hertfordshire. For the couple of decades before that, Caxton and the other early English printers had been relying on European imports. . . .
This is the standard version of the story, a linear tale moving from East to West. But Mark Kurlansky’s [Paper] is a global history, alert to the nuances that different locales bring to their paper. Papermaking travelled east to Korea and Japan long before it reached the Arabic world, for example, and Japanese washi paper, made from gampi or mulberry bark, has a low acidity which makes it far more enduring than, say, its nineteenth-century European counterparts. Meanwhile, the civilizations of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica produced books, but the bark they used was not fully disintegrated in the treatment process, making them a sort of halfway house between papyrus and paper. Kurlansky’s story ends up where it began, in China, with the People’s Republic as the world’s largest paper producer, a status it has pursued in spite of internal bans on deforestation. Once again, a significant proportion of the raw materials have to be imported, not only wood pulp but much of the paper that goes into recycling bins in the West. – Times Literary Supplement