Buzz Worthy News
In this week’s Buzz Worthy News: Harry Potter gets a reboot, pay as you read books, a director named for Smoke & Bones movie, and Kanye West thinks authors shouldn’t read.
Buzz Worthy News is Cuddlebuggery’s weekly news post bringing you all the best information about the book and blogging world, particularly for the venn diagram of people who overlap between the two. For new releases and cover reveals of all the best Young Adult fiction, check out our Sunday post: Hot New Titles.
It’s so hard to write Buzz when my brain is swimming with the fabulous fantasy tales of Cinda Williams Chima, but I’ll give it my best, readers.
Children’s Book Auction Is A Big Hit
So, let’s start off with good news! Remember that auction I told you about last week? The one with all the famous children’s book illustrators who donated their artwork? Well, it made a record high of $10,000 this year! And all that money goes straight to The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Imagine that, 80 pieces of artwork, sold to help defend the free speech rights of kids. There is good in the world! I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised by that.
Harry Potter Books Get Fully Awesome
Well, the books may be over and done with—heck so is the movie—but the Harry Potter news just keeps coming. So, somebody, somewhere decided that the old books weren’t spiffy enough. And in comes Jim Kay to help create a fully illustrated edition.
Illustrator Kay has reimagined Harry for a new generation of readers, in a style that nods to Daniel Radcliffe’s portrayal of the boy wizard in the film versions of the novels, and captures the character of Harry in the books.
Kay, who won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations of Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls in 2012, said “the commission of a lifetime” brought “an explosion of delight, followed instantly by an implosion of brain-freezing terror”.
Yeah, no kidding. This would pretty much be an utterly terrifying endeavor. I mean how do you create a whole world from scratch when there are so many fans around the world that are counting on you to make it exactly as they’ve always pictured it? Still, it would be so cool to be that person. Jim Kay seems to agree:
“To design the characters, the clothing, the architecture and landscapes to possibly the most expansive fantasy world in children’s literature, well let’s just say I’m extremely excited about it,” Kay said. “However, I am also mindful of the huge responsibility this represents. I want to make sure I do the best job I possibly can.”
The artist described picking a favourite character from Rowling’s universe as “like trying to choose the shiniest object in Aladdin’s Cave; you pick up one treasure, and another gem catches your eye”, adding that his imagination is captured at the moment by building a Hogwarts “supported by magic – it’s harder than you’d think”.
I think that I sense a very expensive set of purchases in my future. Seriously, how will I be able to resist?
The Interesting And Ancient In The Vatican
I may not be a fan of the Da Vinci Code, but that doesn’t mean I can’t like the occasional historical treasure hunt. And what better way to have your very own treasure hunt than to start with the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana as your main source of info? There is some amazing stuff to be had here:
A Gutenberg Bible from 1455, an autographed and annotated manuscript of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, and the oldest surviving Hebrew codex are among the ancient texts included in a new digitization project.
The project, funded by a $3.2 million grant from the Polonsky Foundation, will make a number of “Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts, and incunabula, or 15th-century printed books” available for free viewing by the public. According to the project’s website, “these groups have been chosen for their scholarly importance and for the strength of their collections in both libraries, and they will include both religious and secular texts.”
Well, this could be a writer’s best friend! Think of all the research you could do using these texts. Not to mention how great it will be for students, teachers, and anyone else whose general interest is cool historical stuff.
The digitization project will focus on three main groups of texts: Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts, and incunabula, or 15th-century printed books.
‘Twenty-first-century technology provides the opportunity for collaborations between cultural institutions in the way they manage, disseminate and make available for research the information, knowledge and expertise they hold…the Bodleian Libraries and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana will make important collections accessible to scholars and the general public worldwide.
The text, in the available total of 1.5 million pages worth, will become available over the next four years.
Pay For A Book As You Read It
Well, why not? I’ve heard just about everything else in the whole world related to books. We’ve got buy e-books, license e-books, subscribe to e-books and now there’s a service that lets you pay for (literally) every page you read. Sound interesting, but exactly how is that going to work? According to the website in question, Total Boox, you’ll put down money for “credits” and these credits will be deducted as you read.
Download books or bookshelves of your interest via our website or the Android App and enjoy reading. Unlike with other services, you don’t need to pay for downloading a book. It is fast, easy and totally free.
As you read, the proportional value of the pages you read is deducted from your balance.
These pages are yours, you can access them anytime. Whatever happens, you never pay more than the full book price.
That is brilliant, you pay only for the pages you actually read.
My question would be, is there sampling? Because Amazon has sampling, so you don’t waste your money. And what about a return policy? Is this new method truly a bargain? Well, according to Total Boox’s CEO, Yoav Lorch, there is no question.
The current model harms the industry. People have to pay in advance for something they don’t know.
Our application monitors reading , and the moment text appears on screen for a few seconds, we assume that the reader is reading this page at the time,” says Lorch. He adds that it is possible to thumb through a book without paying. The price is set by the publisher on the basis of the number of words actually read, and the total price is equal to the average cost of a digital book bought in the usual way.
I don’t know. It’s an odd idea. And so far only one publisher has signed on. Still, I guess it’s good to keep your options open?
E-Readers In The Developing World
I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m pro e-reader. After this next story, I predict you will be, too. David Risher, former executive of Amazon, current head of Worldreader has a mission: to end illiteracy in the modern world. His non-profit organization, Worldreader, does this by bringing e-books to kids in developing countries.
Here’s a culture where reading has never really gotten a chance to take off because the access to books is so limited. So we make it easy for people to get access to books and we try to put books on the e-readers that are appealing to kids and interesting to teachers so that we can, over time, help people shift a little in their behavior and their mindset.”
Worldreader is currently in 9 African countries, and with its program has gifted more than 700,000 ebooks to about 12,000 kids. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. Still, it seems pretty crazy that places with hardly anyone above the poverty level would be carrying around devices that many middle class people in the US don’t have. Is that really conceivable? USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) has been doing a lot of research and observation on the subject:
…the USAID study found the program to be cost effective. It also found that kids who had never used a computer before learned to use e-readers quickly and it didn’t take them long to find games and music. But Bloome says that their excitement was contagious.
“Especially with the group that was able to take the e-readers home, basically the young people became rock stars in regards to being able to introduce their parents or other kids in the community to e-readers,” he says. “But really focused on content, which is really exciting. It’s about the provision of reading materials.”
Now that is cool. I’ve said it before, and I say it again. E-books are awesome!
Indie Books Pack A Punch
All bias aside (and yeah, I have a wee bit) indie authors (by which I mean self-published) are more successful than ever and Amazon has the numbers to back me up. In a recently released end of the year chart from Amazon(2012, as 2013 isn’t yet finished), indies were shown to have been responsible for at least a quarter of the books on their top 100 list.
A spokeswoman for Amazon.com said: “This figure is referring to Kindle books on Amazon.com in 2012, with ‘indie’ meaning books self-published via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). So a quarter of the top 100 bestselling Kindle books on Amazon.com in 2012 were self-published via KDP.”
Which is pretty cool. Say what you will about the indies (and believe me, I’ve said it, too) they have been a great source of change in this industry. More and more publishers are taking note of it, too. Heck, I just bought a Lauren DeStefano e-book for $1.99. It is a new world, people, and the indies are the forefront of those technology engineers. Orna Ross, director of the UK Alliance of Independent Authors, seems to agree:
“We are in the middle of a major change. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we reached a situation where the majority of the top books are author-published. I don’t see what would stop that,” Ross said.
Hey, Ross, it’s already happened. Anyone heard of a little old author named Jennifer Armentrout? She self-published Wait For You under an assumed name when it got rejected by publisher after publisher and it went on to be hugely successful. Authors have already figured out that they can have their cake and eat it, too. And you know what? Good for them!
On Amazon.co.uk, self-published works regularly show up in the top 100 bestselling books list, which this month includes The Girl Who Never Came Back by Amy Cross, a 30-year-old self-published writer of paranormal and fantasy, dystopia and erotica; and The One You Love by Paul Pilkington, the first in his Emma Holden suspense mystery trilogy.
“When I decided to self-publish it wasn’t a means to an end – I didn’t think I’d get a publishing deal,” said Pilkington, who will continue working full-time as a lecturer. “I have a view that publishing is very fragile,” he said.
Still, with all the publishers FINALLY getting on board with e-books and more reasonable pricing, is there any reason why we shouldn’t just focus on them? I’m sure there are many who would prefer we look to the vetting of the traditional publishing industry to weed out all the crap that now gets displayed on e-book sites.
Amazon has been careful not to ghettoise self-published works, instead listing them with equal ranking alongside those from traditional houses, in a move that has irked some established publishers and led to calls for self-published works to be categorized separately.
I have an idea. How bout we just let the readers decide for themselves? There is plenty of room for everyone on the internet.
50 Gazillionth New Imprint
And speaking of Amazon (because we always seem to, don’t we?), they’ve launched yet another imprint, this time for short fiction.
Amazon Publishing today announced the launch of StoryFront, a new imprint offering high-quality short fiction across genres and home of the digital literary journal Day One, a weekly publication dedicated to short fiction and poetry from emerging writers.
Well, that’s kinda cool. It doesn’t seem like any publisher is actively promoting poetry these days and let me tell you, it is an important facet of creative writing.
“Based on the continued success of short fiction on Kindle as well as the enthusiastic response to Day One–we received thousands of subscriptions in the first week–we know readers are hungry for short stories and excited about exploring new genres,” said Daphne Durham, Publisher of Adult Trade and Children’s Group. “With StoryFront, we’re feeding that enthusiasm by offering a wide range of stories curated by a team of editors who are committed to the craft.”
Firsts on the list? Sheila by Rebecca Adams Wright, A Bite of Strawberry by William Lashner, Museum of Literary Souls by John Connolly and Farmer One by Christian Cantrell. There will also be a series called The 12 Days of Christmas, created by authors Gemma Halliday, Kim Law, HP Mallory, Kathleen Bacus, Diane Kelly, Susan Donovan, Kyra Davis, Amanda Brice, Angie Fox, Robin Kaye, Jana DeLeon, and Leslie Langtry.
Isaac Asimov’s IP In Court
If you are a sci-fi fan like me, you’ve read Asimov. Heck, you’ve probably read a TON of Asimov. Unfortunately, Asimov’s wife and daughter (the owners of his estate) and Trident Media Group (the agency they hired to market and manage the estate) are on the outs, and no one can seem to decide what that should mean for Isaac Asimov’s intellectual property. And so now the courts become involved.
The relationship between the estate and TMG soured earlier this year, and the executors tried to officially sever ties earlier this month, the suit says.
On Nov. 4, the estate’s lawyer sent a letter to TMG telling it its “services were terminated as of the end of the original term of the agreement and that TMG was in breach of its duties and obligations,” and it was “to immediately cease and desist from holding themselves or any of its agents and employees out as representatives of the estate and/or the works.”
Seems pretty straightforward, but Trident Media Group didn’t take that one lying down.
Four days later, they got a letter from TMG’s lawyer, which “rejected the (estate’s) assertions” and “asserted that the agreement was not terminated.”
The agent noted that their representation agreement called for the two-year deal to be automatically renewed unless one side said it wanted to pull the plug 120 days before the next renewal date – which would be in September 2014.
The executors said that agreement should be null and void, because the agency never notified them of the renewals in writing, as it’s obligated to do by law.
So as of now, the case remains in court, with Asimov’s heirs asking for a judge to formally terminate the agreement and for some reason (deceptive business practices???) they want $1,000,000 on top of that.
There’s A Director For Smoke And Bone! (Squeeeeeeee)
I’d heard the rumors, but until Steph linked me this story, I didn’t know it was ACTUALLY HAPPENING. There will be a Daughter of Smoke and Bone movie, guys!! And they’ve already picked out their director.
Michael Gracey, a former animator turned commercials director, has closed a deal to direct Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Universal’s adaptation of the young-adult fantasy book by Laini Taylor. Joe Roth, the producer of Oz the Great and Powerful and Universal’s own Snow White and the Huntsman, is producing the project (which the studio picked up in December 2011) along with Palak Patel. Stuart Beattie (Collateral) adapted the screenplay, with additional rewrites by Taylor. (Taylor is also exec producing with her manager and producing partner, Jane Putch.)
I am so glad to see that Laini Taylor is taking an active role. I hope I like the movie version of this as well as I like the Hunger Games series. So now all that remains is to discuss casting. Who are we all picking for our Karou, Brimstone, and Akiva?? I can’t decide if it would be better to have name actors or newbies. What do you think?
Kanye West Does What?!
I think we’re all used to hearing about some of the more interesting things Kanye West has done over the years. There was the time he interrupted Taylor Swift’s award speech to promote Beyonce. Then he discovered Twitter and we were all like, “???” Well, there’s a new reason to scratch your head over Kanye West. He’s writing a book! But wait, as if that weren’t odd enough, let’s hear what the self-proclaimed “best rapper of all time” has to say about his book, entitled, Thank You and You’re Welcome.
His book is 52 pages — some blank, others with just a few words — and offers his optimistic philosophy on life. One two-page section reads, “Life is 5% what happens and 95% how you react!” Another page reads “I hate the word hate!”
“This is a collection of thoughts and theories,” West, 31, said in an interview about his spiral-bound volume, which was written with J. Sakiya Sandifer.
West said he put his thoughts in a book because “I get paraphrased and misquoted all the time.” He calls his wisdom “Kanye-isms.”
“My favorite one is ‘Get used to being used,’” he said.
“I feel like to misuse, overuse or abuse someone is negative. To use is necessary and if you can’t be used, then you are useless.”
And yeah, that’s weird enough for anyone, true, but here’s the oddest part of all. Kanye West doesn’t read books and he doesn’t like them. Period.
West’s derision of books comes despite the fact that his late mother, Donda West, was a university English professor before she retired to manage his music career. She died in 2007 of complications following cosmetic surgery.
“Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed,” West said. “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph.
“I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life,” he said.
West, a college dropout, said being a non-reader was helpful when he wrote his book because it gave him “a childlike purity.”
Seriously? I don’t have the energy for this one. Gawd. Anyway, I’m sure this book will you know, have letters and stuff. I dare you to read it, because if I do, I’m pretty sure my brain will explode from the stupidity.
BuzzFeed Bans Negative Reviews
When you read a negative review of a book you love, it can hit you like a kick to the stomach. Still, I don’t think any of us would want valuable critical commentary of books to end! It’s good to hear dissenting opinions, right? Apparently, BuzzFeed (and its new editor Isaac Fitzgerald) disagrees.
BuzzFeed will do book reviews, Fitzgerald said, but he hasn’t figured out yet what form they’ll take. It won’t do negative reviews: “Why waste breath talking smack about something?” he said. “You see it in so many old media-type places, the scathing takedown rip.” Fitzgerald said people in the online books community “understand that about books, that it is something that people have worked incredibly hard on, and they respect that. The overwhelming online books community is a positive place.”
He will follow what he calls the “Bambi Rule” (though he acknowledges the quote in fact comes from Thumper): “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
Has the world stopped turning? Did I not notice everything in my house had tilted over onto its head? I mean, let’s be honest, sometimes crap is just crap. And taking the policy of “I’m only going to promote nice things,” doesn’t leave room for the times when more NEEDS to be said. What about Mein Kampf? If another one of those suckers comes along will you just sit idly by, twiddling your thumbs and telling your reviewers, “Ah, ah, ah… if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Please.
Parallel written by Lauren Miller, reviewed by The Bookish Daydreamer
My mind was completely blown away by PARALLEL. Completely. The premise seems simple enough: one minute Abby is sleeping in a hotel room in LA after a long day of shooting a movie, the next morning she is in a college dorm room with no idea how she got there. She slowly figures out that she is now living her parallel’s life and she can’t control anything. Her parallel is living one year in the past. Parallel Abby can do or say something that will ultimately affect Abby’s life. Okay, so it doesn’t seem simple enough. Silly me. No, this book’s premise is complicated and but somehow, it was executed perfectly.