Wednesday News: Digital books, crossing genres, cover artists, and the “book lady”
Ebooks are not ‘stupid’ – they’re a revolution – I’ve been thinking a lot about the excellent comments to Monday’s news post, and in particular the interview with Hachette CEO Arnaud Nourry, and I think this response from author Erin Kelly echoes a lot of the points you all made on Monday (Tina’s comment resonated strongly with me). Despite a couple of stupid comments herself (can we please stop using the term “fake news”???), Kelly challenges Nourry’s insistence that the digital book isn’t an enhancement, and then goes on to reframe his comment about the lack of digital experience. Although I haven’t quoted it, she also makes the point about accessibility via digital books, and I would add that I think digital reading has actually extended accessibility to a very diverse population of readers for whom paper books are a challenge.
“It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience,” said Nourry. Fake news! The built-in, one-tap dictionary is a boon for Will Self fans. And as an author, I’m fascinated by the facility that shows you phrases other readers have highlighted; what is it about this sentence that resonated with dozens of humans? It’s an illicit glimpse into the one place even a writer’s imagination can never really go: readers’ minds. And Kindle’s Whispersync facility lets the reader fluidly alternate between reading a book and listening to it. What are these if not enhancements to the reading experience? . . . Finally, Nourry claims there is no digital experience. Isn’t that the point? If it’s got graphics, noise or animation, it’s no longer a book – it’s a computer game or a movie. – The Guardian
Oh, and I better mention that I am in bed with a nasty case of the flu and might not be very coherent right now.
Stuck in a Reading Rut? How to Create New Book Habits – We spend a fair amount of time rolling our eyes at all this reading advice, but what I liked about this piece is that it gets at one of the problems Romance readers often have in “converting” non-Romance-reading friends – that is, how to match a reader to a book in a different genre without disrupting their general taste and preferences. Of course, librarians and booksellers have been doing this forever, but I enjoyed hearing them talk about their process. For example, NYPL librarian Gwen Glazer talks about how to steer Romance readers to other genres:
“For people who read romance, it’s not that they only like love stories, it’s how it makes them feel,” Ms. Glazer says, noting that those books often evoke cozy or hopeful emotions. “There are lots of books outside that genre that will make you feel that way.”
Ms. Glazer, who trains her colleagues on improving their book recommendations, says she gets into a reader’s mind-set by using the “librarian party trick” of listening to whether a person focuses on language, story, character or setting when describing a favorite book. – Wall Street Journal
Meet the Designers behind Your Favorite Book Covers – Not sure if this is a subtle rejoinder to the Goodkind fiasco, but I’m going to read it that way. Five book designers briefly discuss their craft. Here is Janet Hansen:
The jacket for Anne Michaels’s All We Saw (2017) is equally thoughtful. Hansen illustrated the book of poems about existential quandaries with an image of a hand that holds a star-covered night sky. “As a result, we understand that this book of poems will tell the story of a universal human experience,” her peers at Strick&Williams have noted.
Hansen doesn’t shy away from books that deal in big, sensitive, or painful themes. “I love that my job is to create a visual for stories and ideas that are bigger than me,” she explained. In a cover for Anuk Arudpragasam’s The Story of a Brief Marriage (2016), for instance, two spindly, intersecting lines represent the fragility of the marriage explored in the book—one inspired then broken by the Sri Lankan Civil War. – Artsy
Dolly Parton likes to give away books. She just donated her 100 millionth. – I love this story. Yeah, I think Parton is a charming, witty, brilliant singer, songwriter, and actor, but she’s also someone committed to hands-on philanthropy, and is particularly focused on her “home” communities in the southern US, which are often ignored by other areas of the country. Parton is specifically known as “the book lady” for her literacy work.
Parton is the founder of Imagination Library, a nonprofit that started out donating books in Sevier County, Tenn., and grew into a million-book-a-month operation. Families who sign up receive a book per month from birth to kindergarten. The singer donated her organization’s 100 millionth book to the nation’s library on Tuesday. . . .
Robert Lee Parton Sr., who died in 2000, never attended school and couldn’t read or write, Parton explained. She didn’t grow up with any books in her childhood Tennessee home, save for the Bible. The Imagination Library, started in 1995, was a way for the singer to honor her father. – Washington Post