Tuesday News: small press success, artistic freedom online, age and sex, and Star Wars spoilers
Surprise Laura Ingalls Wilder Bestseller Transforms a Small Press – This story is really about the success of two things: South Dakota Historical Society Press and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography. I’m actually not surprised at the success of Wilder’s book, but the impact of its success on this small publisher is interesting to witness. While the Press has certainly benefitted from the increased demand (and potential quality of publications), it has also struggled to keep up with demand, and has actually had to cut back on titles this year and next to catch up. It’s good to remember, though, that unexpected successes continue to persist, regardless of Amazon, the Big Five, and all the other publishing ’empires’ out there.
It has been a remarkable 12 months for South Dakota Historical Society Press. On Nov. 17, 2014, the 18-year-old publisher of regional titles about the Coyote State released Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill. It immediately shot up bestseller charts and, within days, sold out of its initial 15,000-copy print run. One year later, it has sold 140,000 copies, gone through eight print runs, and has transformed a small press whose previous top-selling title, Tatanka and the Lakota People, had sold 15,000 copies. – Publishers Weekly
Akala: ‘the internet has given me freedom’ – This interview with multimedia artist Akala, who is also founder of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company, not only reinforces the importance for publishing of NOT following the music industry’s disastrous rejection of the digital market, but also the value of producing work that does not just have one commercial or artistic thread (and, by extension, appeal). He has also used social media and the online marketplace as tools to maximize his success, and he has done so in a way that highlights the potential for artists with ingenuity, prescience, and the willingness to adapt to changing commercial and creative conditions:
Akala also stressed that there was a strong reading audience outside of the mainstream that would benefit from different approaches. “Publishers underestimate who is reading: I have a young inner-city multicultural fanbase, and I look at my friends, and they all read, but they are under-served and that is publishers’ loss. There is a way of servicing that audience in a wholly different way, not just in what you publish, but how you market, including what events you put on. And as the demographics change in the UK, if you don’t cultivate that demographic, then you are not going to have an audience in 30 years. That is a general challenge across a lot of industries.” – The Bookseller
Why are sex scenes for the over-60s such a taboo? – I think Romance authors and readers might have an answer to this question, as well, and it may have less to do with the idea that your grandparents didn’t have sex, and more to do with the fantasy aspects of sex in fiction and film. Except that the fantasy doesn’t seem to be one of ‘sex and romance will still be rockin’ in my 60s!’ It’s always been an interesting trend in Romance fiction, for example, that heroines, in particular, are often in their early 20s – just look at the success of New Adult books (I know a lot of people knock Kristen Ashley’s books, but her protagonists are routinely in their mid to late 40s, and they even have near-grown children. It’s refreshing to see full-grown adults working through complex romantic relationships). Does the prejudice persist that passionately romantic relationships are primarily for younger characters?
Mitchell calls the idea of later-life sex on screen “a taboo because it’s so rare” and Andrew Haigh has his own theory about why audiences can react with shock, and even disgust. “The warped view we have comes from when we are very young, I think, and our first relationships with older people are usually our grandparents. They just, for the most part, don’t ever talk about sex, so I think we just don’t understand the need or desire even existing.”
Even deeper than this, suggests Dr Rebecca Jones, a lecturer specialising in older sexuality at the Open University in the UK, is that humans have what she calls “a psychological glitch – which is almost always down to us thinking about our parents or grandparents having sex. We make the mental association and we can recoil from it. – BBC
Major Force Awakens Spoilers Were Found in a Leaked Children’s Book – To spoil or not to spoil – that is apparently the question around the leak of pages from a children’s book adapted from The Force Awakens, and it has pissed some folks off because it contains major movie spoilers, ripping the cloak of secrecy around the film. For those of you avoiding spoilers, you can read the Maxim article linked to above. For those of you who love and want the spoilers, check out this ComicBook.com article.
Some hateful cretin got his/her hands on an advance copy of a children’s book believed to be based on The Force Awakens and callously undid all the hard work J.J. Abrams and Disney have put into protecting the Star Wars sequel’s plot points. – Maxim and ComicBook.com