Posts Tagged ‘Author’

Fear Not, Garrison! iPad, Kindle and Company Seem to be Helping

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on May 29, 2010 at 9:41 am
Mr. Garrison Keillor

Image via Wikipedia

Garrison Keillor, whose words and voice have given me comfort in the years in his books, radio show and  his daily poem, is very worried.

In a piece for The New York Times, Keillor writes that he is worried “that book publishing is about to slide into the sea.”

He fears that e-books and self publishing will close the door on an era when “e became writers through the laying on of hands. Some teacher who we worshipped touched our shoulder, and this benediction saw us through a hundred defeats. And then an an editor smiled on us and wrote a check and our babies got shoes.”

He describes a future with “18 million authors in America, each with an average of 14 readers, eight of whom are blood relatives. Average annual earnings: $1.75.”

First off. As far as I can tell, the only real difference in Keillor’s future is that the average author will have six readers who are not blood relatives.


How many people do you know who have been slaving away, tinkering on, working at what they think could be the Great American Novel? Everybody’s a writer or thinks they are. People have been writing bad short stories, poems, sketches for hundreds of years.

And most of them haven’t made a dime.

Mr. Keillor — there’s really nothing new about that.

What’s great about self-publishing operations like Amazon’s BookSurge and Pubit from Barnes and Noble, is that it makes it easier for people to get out there and take a chance. Maybe they make nothing, maybe they made Keillor’s mythical average of $1.75.”

The important thing is that people are giving it a go.

Don’t we want a world where more people are trying to communicate? I mean, does he really he think that everyone who self-publishes thinks that they’ve really written the Great American Poem, Novel, Short Story? I’m sure some do. But I’m betting the majority are just people who feel they have something to say.

And let them say it, write it, shout it, blog it, self-publish and podcast it.

Let people dream and share those dreams.

The great writing will still find its way through.

In the meantime, grab a pen, pencil, typewriter, iPad, Kindle, whatever and write! And share what you’ve written.

There’s an audience of billions looking for something to read — the American Association of Publishers on Friday announced that book sales in March were up 16.6 percent, that they’re up eight percent for the year. Audiobook sales overall are up 14.7 percent for the year and the sales of downloaded audiobooks are up 29.3 percent.

AND e-book sales are up 251.9 percent for the year.

251.9 percent!

I would say that iPads and Kindles and Nooks and so forth are helping more people become readers and writers.

I mean, really. Does it get better? A nation where people are reading and writing? Maybe it’s not all good writing. Big deal. At least people are communicating!

Please relax, Mr. Keillor. It’s all going to be okay.

Dave Eggers and Forward to the Past

In Entertainment, Technology, Uncategorized on April 26, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Dave Eggers collects hyphens.


And then there’s


And, this past Friday, he reinforced one of them — prize-winner.

This time, it was the Los Angeles Times.

They honored Eggers at their Festival of Books with the  Innovators Award, which ‘recognizes the people and institutions that are doing cutting edge work to bring books, publishing and storytelling into the future, whether in terms of new business models, new technologies or new applications of narrative art.”

The award goes on to say that:

“He is exactly the kind of person the Innovator’s Award is intended to honor: a forward thinker who is not afraid of print, but also not afraid to look ahead to the future, and who is drawing a new generation of writers and readers to the written word.”

The funny thing is that what Eggers is being honored for — being “a forward thinker” —is actually less about forward thinking and more about mixing a commitment to the past with real business smarts.

It’s as the award says, his “refreshing disregard for conventional wisdom” that makes Eggers so important.

Because, while you have people like Michael Wolff who makes money stealing content from newspapers and then goes around predicting their death (here’s a story about one of his predictions of doom; I won’t link to his site because I don’t want to give him any traffic — even typing his name causes pain) it’s very refreshing to have Eggers.

In their coverage of the awards ceremony, the LA Times quotes Eggers offering what could be seen as a rebuke to Wolff.

“It’s the best time in the history of the printed word to be a publisher or a writer,” he said. “People want to declare the death of the printed word. It’s always our tendency to assume something is dying. It’s a fun thing to do, but it doesn’t always make sense.”

In the article, Eggers offers up part of his philosophy as a publisher.

“I’m actually quite a traditionalist,” he says. “We’re trying to make the business model rational, scalable, reasonable.”

And that really may be the key — not every media outlet has to be everything to everybody. You don’t need to own a chain of papers, or a baseball team, or television stations and real estate holding; to be a successful publisher, maybe you just need to keep things in perspective.

As Eggers told The Onion’s AV Club earlier this year:

“The paper-based media really has to work within a rational scale, and if they do, they’ll be fine. There’s plenty of room, people really care, there are magazines that people will fight to hold onto. You might not be able to operate your own LearJet and have an unlimited expense account, but if you have a reasonable expectation for a print-based product, whether it’s a newspaper or a magazine, you can certainly exist.

“Your readers will make sure you exist.”


Tom Clancy and the 'Long-Awaited' Novel

In Entertainment, Uncategorized on April 8, 2010 at 7:50 am

There’s already a lot of hype about Wednesday’s announcement that Penguin will publish Dead or Alive, a new Tom Clancy novel on December 7th.

The New York Times cleverly points out that this novel — which promises most, if not all, of Clancy’s best known characters, is a lot like the rock super-groups of the 70s and super-hero groups like the Avengers.

Much of the coverage, though, focuses on how this is Clancy’s first novel in seven years:

as The Bookseller said in their headline, “Penguin to publish first Clancy in seven years”

or as Crain’s New York Business put it: “Tom Clancy to write again.”

Not say that Clancy doesn’t deserve the attention. He is, after all, the author of 13 New York Times Bestsellers and Penguin plans an initial press run of 1.8 million copies.

What I find curious is how Clancy is suddenly the author of a long-awaited new novel, a characterization that would put him in the category of the acclaimed Lorrie Moore, whose new novel A Gate at the Stairs came out last year — 15 years after her previous novel


Joseph Heller, who waited more than a decade to follow up Catch-22 with Something Happened

or people like Ralph Ellison and JD Salinger, who never published second novels.

He’s not even really like Dan Brown, who waited six years after The Da Vinci Code to publish a follow-up.


Because while Clancy hasn’t technically written a new novel in seven years, he has become a virtual publishing industry, overseeing dozens of books and vidogames by other writers with characters he’s created.

There’s Tom Clancy’s Op-Center books, Tom Clancy’s Net Force books and, of course, Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers and the Tom Clancy’s Power Plays books.

And, let’s not forget the dozens of  Tom Clancy-driven videogames including the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six series, , the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Reecon Series and the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series.

While I have no doubt that the CEO of Penguin UK Tom Weldon was right when he said “We can’t think of a better Christmas present than the return of one of the world’s greatest thriller writers, Tom Clancy. This will be a huge piece of event publishing,” let’s be clear that this isn’t the return of say, Donna Tartt or Henry Roth.

I’m sure he won’t have an trouble selling the 1.8 million-copy first run and probably more and maybe he’ll be able to buy another baseball team

I’m jut saying you really have to be gone for us to have really missed you.

Surfing the Wake

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Image by eduardomineo via Flickr

I’ve read every word of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake but can safely say that I’m not sure that I’ve actually read the book.

Filled with beautiful language but written in a series of dreamlike streams of consciousness, the book has been imposing when it first came out in 1939.

Reviewing it for The New York Times, Padraic Collum wrote:

“How, in two thousand words or less, is one to review a book which even a cursory examination shows to be unprecedented, a book of considerable length by a thoughtful and tremendously equipped man who has spent sixteen years writing it? The only thing one can do is to indicate the value of the work and to show a way of approaching it with lessened perplexity. I say lessenedperplexity, for a certain perplexity cannot wholly be removed from a reading of it and the present reviewer freely acknowledges that there is much in the book that he is still seeking explanation for.”

The book — while not quite as much a part of popular culture as Ulysses — has spawned a veritable culture of its own.

There’s a Finnegans Wake Society in New York, which was the subject of a New York Times story and numerous websites devoted to the book.

And now comes word that a new edition is about to come out — an edition that makes more than 9,000 changes to the text.

Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon have spent the better part of 30 years going through the more than 60 notebooks that Joyce used to write the novel as well as the more than 20,000 pages of manuscrupt from various drafts.

The result is what they call 9,000 “minor yet crucial” corrections, covering everything from typos to misplaced phrases.

The Irish Independent recently referred to it as “Finnegans second wake… the greatest publishing event in Irish literature since James Joyce’s Ulysses appeared.”

Hopefully the reception will be less rocky than when the “Corrected” version of Ulysses was published in 1988

The new edition, published by Houyhnhnm,, is expected to be unveiled Thursday at Dublin Castle