Wednesday News: Sunil Patel’s fall from grace, Penguin loves print, Lichtenstein’s inspiration, and is all publicity good?
Sunil Patel responds to allegations of inappropriate behavior – So over the weekend, accusations emerged on Twitter that SFF writer Sunil Patel was engaging in behavior toward women, especially those in the SFF community, that would fall under the general umbrella of sexual harassment — using women for his professional advantage, degrading them (apparently he used the promise of Twitter follows to keep women hooked in?), and other unsavory behaviors. You can read some of the accusations at the link above (Patel has since made his Twitter private, but the links in the Reddit post are to archived material). In general, these kinds of behaviors are often not perceived as sexual harassment, because they do not necessarily conform to obvious patterns of harassment (groping, overt threats, etc.). However, it is precisely their more subtle nature that can make them particularly damaging and persistent. Patel publicly apologized on Twitter, but at least two publishers, Fantastic Stories and Book Smugglers, have dropped him:
This past weekend, several women put forward their encounters with a well-known male SFF author, citing his history of manipulation, gaslighting, grooming behavior, and objectification of women in the speculative fiction community. We have read all of the accounts. We are listening to the stories. We stand with the women who have been the subject of this author’s behavior.In light of these revelations, we have made the decision to no longer publish Sunil Patel’s work. We have removed The Merger from sale, and have canceled all forthcoming short stories and essays with the author. – Book Smugglers & Reddit
Penguin boss admits the company read too much into the eBook hype – Oh, Penguin, what happened to you? The UK branch of the publisher insists that it made an error by putting its money and energy “unwisely” into digital books, with the implication that they acted impulsively and incorrectly. Because print is where it’s at, and digital declined a whole 2.4% last year according to UK publishers. So what is the publisher investing in these days?
Penguin is now focusing on providing app developments for picture books aimed at pre-school children, which [Managing Editor Joanna] Prior believes can make money.
“There is beginning to emerge a financial model for that, I think it is an exciting way of getting very young children into reading,” she said.
During the talk, [Prior and literary agent Clare Alexander] also suggested it was a good time to be a debut novelist, as publishers were looking for writers with “no track record”. – The Telegraph
How Jewish Comic Book Heroes Inspired Roy Lichtenstein’s Pop Art – I wish this article were longer, because it traces a fascinating relationship between Roy Lichtenstein’s artistic evolution and the work by Jewish comic book artists he was introduced to as a GI in the 1940’s. While the artist did not openly promote himself as a Jewish artist, his identity sometimes made him feel like an outsider, and the argument goes that he was more inclined to challenge artistic and cultural barriers and boundaries:
Ultimately, [Los Angeles curator Bethany] Montagano said, “Pop for the People” is about Lichtenstein’s “relevant, simple belief that there’s much more in the human experience that connects rather than divides us. Elevating common sources to fine art — comic books, childrens books, advertising, things from America’s living rooms – was unheard of at the time. At the same time, he reinterpreted the work of artists like Van Gogh and Dali. He leveled the playing field between Jewish-American comics artists and Picasso. And his identity and upbringing gave him the resourcefulness, worldview, and passion to break down barriers.” – Forward
Long feud between men with gang ties sparked shooting outside Chelsea erotic book party – So if a guy gets shot outside your book launch party, is that considered “good publicity”? Because that’s what happened to Tania Marie, who is probably wincing every time the New York Post or Daily News writes another gleeful story about the shooting that took place outside the building where she was signing and celebrating publication of her latest book, She’s Dickmatized. I really want to know whether the stories have sold more books, though.
[Tania] Marie, the author, told the Daily News that she doesn’t know Lowman or if he was at her book party. But she said there was no argument there that precipitated the gunplay.
“It was open to the public, but I can assure you that such incident did not stem from my event,” she said. “There were absolutely no problems or any commotions. Whatever happened a block away from Auxiliary had nothing to do with my event.”
Marie’s novella, sold as a Kindle e-book, tells the story about a millionaire who wonders if her handsome new lover is actually a con artist. – New York Daily News
Oh, Penguin. Explain the logic of getting little kids into reading digitally and then telling them they’ve outgrown technology and must now read a block of paper.
Also, “writer with no track record” to publishers is the equivalent of “virgin” to a lousy lover. The appeal is that neither knows how badly they’re being screwed.
In other news, Highlights for Children is uncomfortable with the LGBT “situation” and when called out, issues the standard non-apology to get big meanies to leave them alone.
I like the idea of moving kids toward digital publishing I think there’s a lot that could be done there to engage young readers but moving out of adult ebooks and back to paper? You have to wonder what the Penguin people are smoking. And I’m sorry someone got shot outside a book release party but OMG can we just focus on the book title? That’s the part that’s gonna stick with me. (yes I’m that immature).
And by “read too much into the ebook hype”, what Penguin actually means is “we tried jacking the ebook prices back up with the return of agency pricing, but OH HEY SURPRISE nobody wants to buy ebooks at those prices!”
Ooh, thank you so much for mentioning the Roy Lichtenstein exhibit! I’m planning a visit to The Skirball Center to see it thanks to that.