Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week in Review (Mar.11-17)

A more varied selection of links this week, as I venture outside of the speculative genre blogosphere (a pilgrim in a foreign, unknowable wilderness: one that featured only token mentions of Game of Thrones, Hunger Games and lots of literary fiction…). I was able to find some very interesting articles this week.

Bastard Books: Interview with Myke Cole

Does this really need an explanation? Needless to say, Myke’s debut novel is a favourite of mine, so I’d recommend you read it if you haven’t yet. Here’s my review, another interview, and a guest post Myke wrote about Peter V. Brett’s novels.

Slate: “Leave Penguin Alone: Who cares if book publishers are colluding with Apple to raise e-book prices?” by Matthew Yglesias [Article]

Yglesias (an MSNBC political analyst and contributor) takes a look at the pending DoJ case that has been brought against Apple and a number of big-name publishing houses. A couple of interesting comments (of which there are many):

- “If there’s a case against the government’s actions it’s that the forces of disruption buffeting traditional publishing are much too large to be blocked by any cartel. The good news is that literary culture should survive either way.”

- “In bookstores,” Turow writes, “readers are open to trying new genres and new authors: It’s by far the best way for new works to be discovered.” – This I agree with, although it’s also possible that an eBook store could offer a similar function.

- “the Justice Department’s notion that we should fear a book publishers’ cartel is borderline absurd, on par with worrying about price-fixing in the horse-and-buggy market.”

- “the only way for these firms to stay viable is to publish books people like and to sell them at a price readers want to pay”

Yglesias’s article also has a link to… “Don’t Support Your Local Bookstore: Buying Books on Amazon is better for authors, better for the economy, and better for you” by Farhad Manjoo [Article]

This is a very well-written, thought-provoking article. That I imagine a lot of readers of this blog might take issue with. That being said, I think he makes a lot of good points, despite how much we may wish he was wrong. [Please come back and leave comments here, if you have any! Same goes for any of these linked-articles.]

The author takes an alternative stance on the indie bookstores-vs.-Amazon debate to what you might expect from most (if not all) book-related blogs and news-sites. He is also even-handed in his position. For one, Manjoo is not blind to Amazon’s “wantonly callous” tactics that end up “destroying its competitors”. Nor, however, is he blind to Amazon’s strengths and positive aspects of its existence:

- “As much as I despise some of its recent tactics, no company in recent years has done more than Amazon to ignite a national passion for buying, reading, and even writing new books.”

- An interesting factoid (one that my own book-buying practices support): “Amazon has said that after people buy a Kindle reader, they begin purchasing e-books at twice the rate they’d previously purchased print titles. (And they keep buying print titles.)”

This article also has a number of interesting links embedded within. I spent a pleasant while clicking through the links in this and Yglesias’s article. It also reminded me of a conversation I had with Myke Cole and Peter V. Brett back in December (and it actually was a dark and stormy night, too, which added a pleasant pathetic fallacy to proceedings…).

Orbit Books: “R. Scott Bakker on A Game of Thrones and deconstructing the epic fantasy genre” by James Long, Adam Whitehead & R. Scott Bakker [Interview]

An author I’ve never had a chance to read, but a lot of people seem to think he’s the bee’s knees. An interesting interview with some good commentary.

American Prospect: “Hell’s Bells” by Abby McGanney Nolan [Article]

An interesting look at the rise of teen heroines in dystopian future fiction (Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, Blood Red Road). In each of the novels looked at, Nolan explains and examines a common theme: “the teenage-girl narrator has grown up sheltered in a zone of relative comfort. Her troubles multiply as society’s flaws are revealed to her and she must fight for survival and the safety of her family.” The author also goes on about the presence of an “ideal young man” in each novel, all of whom seem perfect in every way (I haven’t read any of the novels, but do hope to read Hunger Games in the very near future, in my new-found interest in YA).

“In this recession-battered age, these four authors (including two in their mid-20s) present the wild possibility of love and social change amid the ruins. If there’s hope in dystopias, what’s impossible in our world?”

Staffer’s Musings: Interview with Anne Lyle

Again, pretty self-explanatory what this is. If you want more from Anne Lyle, check out my interview with her for this site, too. I hope to get to her debut, Alchemist of Souls, within the next week or so, depending on whether or not I get better and can start reading at a decent pace again.

LA Times, Hero Complex: “WonderCon 2012 – Mark Waid buys into digital, sells off his comics” by Noelene Clark [Article]

I’m a huge fan of Waid’s work, as can be seen from the amount of coverage I’ve given Irredeemable and Incorruptible, not to mention a couple of his other series. I recently also bought the first volume of his run on Daredevil (volume two is released in a couple months), which I hope to read and review in the next week or so.

“Waid announced [at WorldCon] that he is selling his extensive comic book collection to fund a weekly online comic series, which will launch in May.”

Quite a surprising move, but one that sort-of makes sense in a market that is slowly coming around to embracing the digital medium (see, for example, Marvel’s decision to start packaging a free digital copy with their $3.99 comics).

Waid said: “They don’t want to undercut the 1,800 Diamond retailers out there in the world, and I get it… I don’t want to undercut them either. But we’re playing a different game. The more of us that know how to do this for the Web, the better off the medium is.”

I also learned that both Incorruptible and Irredeemable will come to an end in May! Even though I had a feeling it was bound to happen, this still makes me a little sad.


On Civilian Reader this week, in case you’ve not been reading, we’ve had two interviews – with Gail Carriger and Gaie Sebold; a wealth of comic reviews (I’ve been rather under the weather this week, and they are easier to read and review), including my New 52 Catch-Ups (Batman and Bat-Family); and a review of a fun political thriller, The Run by Stuart Woods (first published in 2000). Sadly, as I was struck down in the “pribe ob libe” (as I seem to be writing everywhere)* by man-flu, my review of Kingdoms of Dust, the gothic third novel in Amanda Downum’s Necromancer Chronicles, will be postponed until Monday afternoon.

Next week, I hope to bring you more fiction reviews: a short guest review for Brandon Sanderson’s first Mistborn novel, Final Empire (on Monday morning), as well as a couple of short-story and audio-drama reviews. And maybe another thriller. Oh, and an interview with Aidan Harte, a debut author whose novel Irenicon will be published later this year by Jo Fletcher Books (and I’ll be reading and reviewing it at some point soon, too. I’m sure there will be more, but if I told you all of it, then it wouldn’t be a surprise.

* Sometimes I’m like a terrier with a joke – I keep using it and worrying at it until I think of some better quip to inflict on people across my various social media.

1 comment:

  1. You really do like Mark Waid don't you? lol
    Interesting Slate articles. Didn't really follow Yglesias' point - was he pro or anti eBooks and publishers? He seemed to try to take every side of the issue.

    Manjoo's article was much better - voicing a painful truth for some of the indie-bookstore-cultists. I don't have a problem with Amazon, but that's because I can't afford to pay $25 or $30 for a hardback. The *idea* of supporting independent bookstores is one of those feel-good ideas - it's the little guy vs the corporation. But, the truth is that Amazon provides much of what consumers want - and, as Manjoo states, they've probably done more for general levels of readership than many literacy programs.

    As for the price of eBooks-vs-physical books? I don't know. I don't think they should be as expensive as hardbacks or even paperbacks. They don't feel like as much of a *product*. Also, nobody wants to pay the same or more for an electronic product that also requires a couple hundred bucks for a device to read it on. Just sayin'.