Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 19, 2010


Penguin Press: Quiet Until the Thaw by Alexandra Fuller

St. Martin's Press: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

ReedPOP: BookExpo America (BEA)

Counterpoint: The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison

Soho Crime: Murder in Saint-Germain (Aimee Leduc Investigation #17) by Cara Black

Katherine Tegen Books: The Someday Suitcase by Corey Ann Haydu

Quotation of the Day

Quote Quartet: Four Booksellers Look to the Future

Front Porch interviewed four booksellers "to examine the many forces that shape literature, and to highlight the perceptive and passionate people to whom we owe the books on our shelves."

"Even with all of the so-called new media out there, books still have the potential to be the most powerful medium of them all. Complex ideas are explored over hundreds of pages and over several days, giving the ideas time to sink in and take root, changing a person. Being exposed to an idea or concept through social media or an article just doesn't have the same impact. Meeting authors who yield this power wisely is still a thrill."

--Don Allen, publications director, Busboys and Poets, Washington, D.C.


"We are a very word-based culture, probably to a fault, and words have become the primary source for interpreting our world. Reading for pleasure may be waning since it requires more patience than the immediate-gratification culture the Internet promotes. Still, there seems to be a large young audience that reads traditionally, so I think that it's still a central part of our culture, though definitely being pushed out of the main stream."

--Michel Candor, owner of Salamander Used Books, Baltimore, Md.


"Print on demand is already being embraced by publishers, and a couple independent stores have purchased the Espresso book machines. I would not be surprised to see backlist stock slowly erode from publishers' warehouses, until they outsource the printing at the moment of a retailer’s order. Currently that is cost-prohibitive, but the business model you describe is not sustainable. With a more targeted approach, I don't see why the printed book cannot survive alongside its digital companion."

--Carson Moss, book buyer, Strand Bookstore, New York, N.Y.


"Publishers produce less because of e-books, and we will have fewer printed copies to give away. There won't be as many books in people’s homes, and reading and literacy will be affected. You know, illiteracy breeds illiteracy. For our self-preservation, we need future readers, so the more people we can educate, the more future readers we'll have."

--Kathy Doyle Thomas, executive v-p, Half Price Books

 


Crooked Lane Books: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan


News

Image of the Day: Pat Cooper on Broadway!

Tuesday night at the Borders store on Columbus Circle in New York City Pat Cooper (c.), author of How Dare You Say How Dare Me! (Square One), appeared with co-author and promoter Steve Garrin (l.) and Rich Herschlag.

Photo: Todd Garrin.

 

 


KidsBuzz for the Week of 4.24.17


Notes: Amazon/Toby Press Deal; Lord of Misrule on Order

Amazon plans to acquire the publication rights to approximately 121 books, representing the works of 61 authors, currently published by the Toby Press. AmazonEncore and AmazonCrossing will re-publish the titles as both print and Kindle editions in the U.S. and globally in cases where authors choose to make their works available. Kindle editions will be available for Kindle devices and Kindle apps; print editions will be available on Amazon's websites worldwide, as well as in bookstores throughout the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

"Matthew Miller and his team at the Toby Press have done a wonderful job of building a first-class list of literary fiction. We're excited to expand the audience of these titles, some of which have never been published digitally before, and introduce them to readers everywhere," said Jeff Belle, v-p, Amazon.com Books.

Miller, founder of the Toby Press, added: "As we transition our business in a new direction, we're very excited to be able to work with Amazon to make sure every one of our authors continues to receive the attention they deserve."

---

The afterglow of winning a National Book Award for fiction hadn't had time to wear off before publisher Bruce McPherson of McPherson & Co. was dealing with the pleasant challenge of fielding "thousands of orders" for the surprise winner, Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon. The Wall Street Journal reported that the small publisher had "originally planned on printing 2,000 copies of Lord of Misrule. However, after the work was nominated for the National Book Award, he quadrupled his order with his printer. The book officially went on sale November 15."

"We hope to have another 10,000 to 20,000 available by December 3,” said McPherson. "This is one of those wished for events that you can’t imagine ever really happening. Jaimy herself was absolutely speechless."

---

Beginning the first week of December, Kobo will allow customers to purchase an e-book from its store and send it to a friend or family member electronically as a gift. The person sending a Kobo e-book as a gift won't be able to read the book; only the recipient will have access to the title. TechFlash reported that the company "beat its rivals Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in offering such a feature."

Todd Humphrey, Kobo's executive v-p, also noted that from Christmas Day through the end of December, "e-book sales are going to be unlike anything the industry has ever seen...  Those millions of devices are going to be fired up and we're going to see a ton of downloads."

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Congratulations to Emily Crowe, assistant manager and buyer at the Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass., and Shelly Plumb, owner of Harleysville Books, Harleysville, Pa., who were named scholarship winners to the sixth annual ABA Winter Institute, Bookselling This Week reported.

Crowe won the inaugural Joe Drabyak Frontline Fellowship, sponsored by Workman Publishing in honor of the respected bookseller who died in August.

"Odyssey's Emily Crowe embodies Joe's handselling spirit in so many terrific ways," said Craig Popelars, director of marketing for Algonquin Books. "Like an evangelical minister, Emily seems hell-bent on spreading the literary gospel and saving souls one good book at a time. Algonquin and many other publishing houses have had the good fortune of having Emily champion their books, and the community of South Hadley is incredibly blessed to have both a bookstore like Odyssey and a passionate bookseller like Emily cultivating their literary landscape. I can only imagine that Joe would greatly approve of Emily being selected as this year's winner."

Crowe said she was elated when informed of the award "and was even more so as he told me a bit about Mr. Drabyak (and his wife) and what he brought to the world of bookselling. I was honored and humbled and a little bit teary-eyed by the time I got off the phone with Craig."

Plumb won the second annual Avin Mark Domnitz Scholarship, which recognizes wide-ranging contributions to independent bookselling.

"We're very happy to once again award this scholarship in honor of Avin, his commitment to providing the best possible education for ABA members, and his many years of service to independent booksellers," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher.

Added Plumb: "Avin was so generous to share his knowledge with us when we opened our store almost five years ago.... It's because of Avin that we have been reporting to ABACUS since our store opened. The information we have gathered has been invaluable to us as our business has grown."

---

Here's a great idea for a new event: Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, to be held Saturday, December 4.

Organizer Jenny Milchman explained what she hopes will be an annual event this way: "We all know how much children love books. We've all heard them beg for a story, and seen their faces light up as they listen to one. But we think less about how a child would love the place so many books come from.

"A bookstore can lead a child to a book, with guidance and interest from booksellers, in a way that no website or digital device can. It's a place to read, dream, and play. A world of stimulation, and a refuge in a stimulating world.

"In order for bookstores to thrive and flourish in the future, children have to experience the unique pleasures they offer today."

Already, Milchman said, there are volunteers in 12 states--from California to Colorado to North Carolina--bringing posters to bookstores and otherwise spreading the word. Milchman herself will promote the holiday at Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J., where she co-coordinates the Writing Matters series.

Go to takeyourchildtoabookstore.org to learn more about Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.

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Barnes & Noble has launched NOOKbooks en español, a Spanish-language digital bookstore.

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Don Grover, CEO of Australia's Dymocks bookstore chain, said the company will consider moving its online business offshore because of the difficulty competing with online sellers due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

"Dymocks has been in the business for 130 years, and we're actually now having to make a decision about whether or not to move our online business offshore," he told the ABC. "It would actually make more sense for us to send books from an overseas location back into Australia and avoid the GST. To give a competitive advantage to overseas websites of 10% is just unsustainable."

---

Cool idea of the day: Reach Out and Read, a national nonprofit that promotes early literacy and school readiness by giving new books to children at pediatric checkups, is sponsoring a virtual book drive to support its Military Initiative. Participants can donate a book from a list of titles, including ones that address issues related to separation and deployment, or sponsor a child in the program. Books will be distributed by physicians on 44 military bases.

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The Ohwow Book Club in New York City's West Village is "an art-book shop. It’s also a publisher’s outlet; the owners, Aaron Bondaroff and Al Moran, manufacture the books at Mr. Moran’s printing press in Miami. And now Ohwow will become a gallery, showing what the two men, who met about five years ago through friends, hope will be the next generation of downtown art and literature stars."

"It’s really a bookstore, but I call it a book club because every scene needs a clubhouse," Bondaroff told the New York Times.

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Starting today readers can friend Elizabeth Bennet or Mr. Darcy, follow Mrs. Bennet's blog, check out Lydia Bennet's dating profile on OkCupid, share books with proud Mr. Darcy on Good Reads: Quirk Books has launched a linked, interactive social media campaign for the characters in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, its 2009 bestseller. Fans can click through to related pages through any of the above pages.

Quirk is doing the Pride and Prejudice and (Internet) Zombies: A Social Media Experience in partnership with 160over90 and is asking retailers to participating by registering their stores on Foursquare. When customers check into their local bookstore, they receive a discount on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Retailers can e-mail Quirk at zombiesocial@gmail.com to learn more about participation in the Foursquare promotion.

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Also launching today is Nick Hornby's Ministry of Stories, which has a goal of getting Britain's kids writing again. The Guardian reported that Hornby "hopes that a fantastical shopfront will lure children into something rather less fantastical, if no less fun: literacy lessons. In the shop, Hornby will sell 'fang floss' and 'human snot,' while round the back novelists including Zadie Smith, Roddy Doyle and Michael Morpurgo might, on the right day, be found teaching children aged from eight to 18 to learn to write a little like they do."

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Random House publicist Sloane Crosley plans to leave her job next week to focus on her writing career. The author of I Was Told There’d Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number spent nine years at Vintage/Anchor Books, the New York Times reported. 

 


Silver Dolphin Books: Kisses for Kindergarten by Livingstone Crouse, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan


BAM Third Quarter: Sales Down, New Lines Up

Net sales during the third quarter ended October 30 fell 5.5% to $104.8 million at Books-A-Million. The net loss was $1.7 million, $105,000 more than the same period last year. Net sales at stores open at least a year fell 5.8%.

The drop in comp-store sales was attributable to "a tough comparison to last year's bestseller lineup and a cost conscious consumer buying fewer hardcover books," BAM CEO, chairman and president Clyde B. Anderson said. "We did see continued positive trends in bargain books and gifts. As we look forward to the fourth quarter, we are excited about our new toy, gift and electronics departments, our entry into the video game business, our expanded offering of DVDs and the introduction of the Nook range of e-readers including NookColor."

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: You Were Here by Gian Sardar



Media and Movies

Bringing Harry Potter's World to Life on the Screen

Stuart Craig, production designer for the Harry Potter movies, has spent the past decade designing "a sprawling gothic boarding-school campus, a busy London train station, a labyrinthine government building and a deluminator--a magical device that sucks all the light out of a room."

The Wall Street Journal profiled Craig and explored the challenges he faced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1: "None of the action takes place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the primary setting of the first six Harry Potter movies. Mr. Craig needed to create nearly 2½ hours' worth of new settings, and give the franchise a darker look. The film unfolds like a road movie, with the characters traveling through bleak, barren countryside and facing mortal dangers in burning houses and cobwebbed castles."

For the seventh Potter film, Craig "added a towering monument to the ministry's atrium. The Soviet-style sculpture shows wizards crushing cowering muggles--people without magic powers--and bears an engraving that says 'Magic Is Might.' The totalitarian aesthetic, Mr. Craig says, highlights the theme of a world dominated by evil. He used seemingly long, winding corridors to give the ministry a Kafkaesque feel. As the characters explore the building, including an upstairs office and a basement courtroom, viewers soon feel as if they know their way around the place."

The Journal noted that Craig's favorite scene in the movie "doesn't use elaborate visual effects. Harry's friend Hermione Granger leaves her family's middle-class home to join her companions on a dangerous journey. After erasing her parents' memories of her, she walks out of a cozy living room and onto a coldly lit street."

"We wanted to show a place that's hard to leave," Craig said.

 


Movies: Brother Sam

HBO Films has tapped Tom Shadyac (Bruce Almighty) to direct a feature film adapted from the memoir Brother Sam: The Short, Spectacular Life of Sam Kinison by Bill Kinison and Steve Delson, Variety reported. Shadyac and David Permu, "who have been attempting for a decade to get the Kinison project going," will be executive producers.

 


Books & Authors

Awards: MWA's Grand Master & Raven; Kerlan

Mystery Writers of America chose Sara Paretsky for this year’s Grand Master Award, which honors a writer who represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality.

Bookstores Once Upon a Crime, Minneapolis, Minn, and Centuries & Sleuths, Chicago, Ill, were named co-winners of the 2011 Raven Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.  

The awards will be presented at next year's Edgar Awards Banquet in New York City on April 28.
                       
"The mystery genre took a seven-league stride thanks to Sara Paretsky, whose gutsy and dauntless protagonist showed that women can be tough guys, too," said Larry Light, MWA's executive v-p. "Before, in Sara's words, women in mysteries were either vamps or victims. Her heroine, private eye V.I. Warshawski, is whip-smart and two-fisted, capable of slugging back whiskey and wrecking cars, and afire to redress social injustice."
            
Augie Alesky, owner of Centuries & Sleuths, said, "I have always wanted a Raven. The mystery community is such a great place."

Added Pat Frovarp, co-owner (with Gary Schulze) of Once Upon a Crime: "What a wonderful, wonderful honor!"

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The 2011 Kerlan Award, recognizing "singular attainments in the creation of children's literature and in appreciation of the generous donation of unique resources to the Kerlan Collection for the study of children's literature" at the University of Minnesota, has been awarded to Jane Kurtz, whose titles include The Storyteller's Beads; River Friendly, River Wild; Do Kangaroos Wear Seat Belts? and Lanie's Real Adventures.  

The award ceremony will be held in April 2011.

 

 


Shelf Starter: The Sunny Top of California

The Sunny Top of California: Sierra Nevada Poems & a Story by Norman Schaefer (La Alameda Press/University of New Mexico Press, $14 trade paper, 9781888809589/1888809582, October 15, 2010)

A poem from a collection we want to read:

Already Old

I walked from Paradise Valley
as far as Upper Basin,
and wobbled in at dusk
ready to drop.
A twenty-mile day,
not bad for a body
already old with scoliosis,
arthritis in a hip,
and tendonitis
in the knee and shoulders.
I'm ready for the marble orchard
and I'm not even 54.
Darkness and all the stars,
the quiet lakes reflecting
the busy city in the sky.
I'll take two codeine
and sleep like a baby,
happy not yet
to wander with a cane. 

--selected by Marilyn Dahl


Book Brahmin: Tom Payne


Tom Payne read Classics at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. For four years he was deputy literary editor of the Daily Telegraph. He is the author of Fame: What the Classics Tell Us About Our Cult of Celebrity (Picador, October 26, 2010). He looks at fame through the lens of classical literature, and sees that throughout time, we have exalted the famous, only to cut them down, as if they were ritual sacrifice. Celebrity is perilous, and that's what we like.

 

On your nightstand now:

I teach in a school, and I write book reviews, so that I don't read much for myself. But David Renwick's The Bridge awaits me, and I've hinted that I want Neil Macgregor's A History of the World in 100 Objects for Christmas.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I read Richard Adams's bunny epic, Watership Down, three times as a boy. It really is an epic--the plot is straight from Virgil, with fluffier characters.

Your top five authors:

Georges Perec, Fyodor Dostoyevksy, Catullus, Euripides, Byron. (Shakespeare is implicit in everyone's answer, I'm sure, so he can give his spot to someone else.)

Book you've faked reading:

I have a big gap in my head where a lot of 19th-century novels should be. In discussions of Dickens, I look thoughtful, and most often have to confess.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Life, A User's Manual by Georges Perec. It's a novel that is based entirely around the objects in a condemned Paris apartment block, and looks rambling enough to give you a view of the whole world; and it has this extraordinary structure.

Book you've bought for the cover:

If on a Winter's Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino. The edition I had had the first page on the cover, which is all about buying If on a Winter's Night a Traveller. And so I did.

Book that changed your life:

The Odyssey keeps on making me check how my life is going, so it's still doing its job. I remember hearing a line when a version was read to me in class: "Odysseus, always wanting to know all there was to know...." It ain't Homer, but it's beautiful.

Favorite line from a book:

At the moment it's from Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth says, "I expected at least that the pigs were got into the garden, and here is nothing but Lady Catherine and her daughter!" Her wit tends to be so elegant, but this insult is bracingly straightforward.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Probably Crime and Punishment. It's one of those stories with only one possible ending, and a world of responses on the way.

 


Book Review

Book Review: Unbearable Lightness

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia De Rossi (Atria Books, $25.99 Hardcover, 9781439177785, November 2010)

Karen Carpenter's tragic death in early 1983 called public attention to anorexia, at that time an illness about which little was known. Hundreds of books in every genre on the subject have been published since then, Marya Hornbacher's bestseller Wasted to name just one, and it has become a staple feature of many women's magazines. Despite such widespread coverage in print and other media, however, anorexia--difficult to treat and with the highest mortality rate of any mental illness--is still poorly understood. All of which is why Portia de Rossi's insightful, well-written memoir of her often public struggle with anorexia is such an important and timely book.

Part of what makes anorexia difficult to comprehend is that it seems to have such an obvious and simple cure--eating. The reality, as de Rossi illustrates, is far more complex. Shame, self-loathing and the obsessive desire for perfection were at the root of de Rossi's eating disorder. Embarking on a modeling career at the tender age of 12, diets were constant and severe. De Rossi's mother, a dieter herself, encouraged her daughter's need to stay slim and also, more importantly, the need to keep her sexuality a secret. De Rossi followed this advice to the letter, marrying a man, moving from her native Australia to Los Angeles, and eventually starving herself to under 90 pounds. The marriage ended--inevitably--just as her career began to take off. An initial costume fitting for her role on Ally McBeal (she was a size 6) caused a flood of anxiety and unleashed de Rossi's not-so-latent eating disorder full force. As her star rose, her weight fell and the shame she felt in hiding her sexuality grew more corrosive.

The details of de Rossi's near-fatal illness are not pretty and will be shocking for anyone not familiar with the trajectory of anorexia. What she does so well here, though, and what makes this book so compelling is the precision and clarity with which she presents exactly how her mind worked while in the throes of her illness--from the need to eat only microscopic amounts with chopsticks out of certain bowls, to traveling with suitcases full of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray, to sobbing out loud because that burned more calories. Throughout, her sense of utter loneliness and isolation is palpable and haunting.

Now healthy, happy and (famously) married to Ellen Degeneres, de Rossi's story has a happy ending, but it took many years and a tremendous amount of very hard work to get there. De Rossi's celebrity will garner this book enough attention to get it into the hands of the people who need it, but it is the strength of her narrative that will help them.--Debra Ginsberg

Shelf Talker: Portia de Rossi's insightful and well-written account of her battle with anorexia is compelling and timely.

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Indie Publishing & Dramatic Conclusions

Our story thus far... Once upon a time (September 23 at the MPIBA trade show in Denver, to be precise), there was a heated discussion during the panel, "Independent Publishers & Independent Booksellers, Can We Talk?"

And they all lived happily ever after.

The end.

Well, no, not quite. Tales of suspense, with complex plots and passionate characters, do not lend themselves to tidy, redemptive endings. For the past few weeks, we've heard from a variety of people with a stake in the future of independent publishing. No one harbored delusions we would solve anything here. Just talking shop.
    
Shortly before Halloween, I spoke of hearing voices, and that's how I'd like to close this series, with some last--if not final--thoughts from a few of the people I started the conversation with in Denver... a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

"It’s easier for people-who-would-write to make their work available to people-who-would-read-what-others-write," observed Fred Ramey, co-publisher of Unbridled Books, "As a result, more people are writing. But of course, this does not imply that more people are reading. I’m not at all sure to what extent the growth of self-publishing in all its forms will impact the behaviors of that steady percentage of people who would read; certainly some of them will find some books that have risen from the self-publishing authors’ faith in their own work. That’s wonderful. I picked up a self-published book I much admire in a small Colorado mountain town recently--a perfect-bound POD title. Good reading can come from this. People will connect.
 
"If traditional publishing dissolves from these pressures, as so many folks are asserting, I believe it will reform itself in ways that are not unfamiliar, because people still will read. It doesn’t strike me that the continued existence of houses in the position of 'publisher' will be a matter of 'professionalism' in presentation or business practice. It strikes me that the basis for the business of publishing is, as it always was, a confident assertion of value. The best publishers in this and in the new Bookworld are and will be the publishers who publish what is good--entertaining, well turned, involving, accurate, informative, moving, rewarding--to read."

Teresa Funke, author and president of Teresa Funke & Co., responded to my question regarding whether "we need some new titles for the different types of authors out there now, especially now that anyone can 'publish' a book. On the one hand, I wonder why our industry should be different from the other arts. I know people who only play the local bars and call themselves 'musicians,' which is the same name someone uses who travels and plays to large audiences. I know painters who sell their paintings out of their house only and painters who exhibit in multiple galleries and each calls herself 'an artist.'  

"The publishing industry is changing. Unlike a painter, who can sell her paintings anywhere she wants, a writer used to be stuck with only one solution to see her work in print--she had to get a traditional publisher. Now she, like the painter or the musician, can produce and sell her work anywhere. It's true that the term 'self-published' has gained a negative connotation, though, but I think those writers who go beyond and start their own presses are showing their commitment to treating their book as a business and it is a step up from self-publishing. For me, I'm proud to be called an independent publisher. I think it says it all."

Arielle Eckstut, agent and the co-author of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It... Successfully! (Workman), offered some practical questions that writers considering the self-/indie publishing route should ask themselves:

Is there a product like mine already out there? If so, how is mine different? Being able to compare and contrast your book with other successful products will be one of the keys to actually getting onto bookstore shelves.

Is there an audience for a product like mine? If so, how big is this audience? Where are they? An audience of 10,000 people may seem like a lot until you try to sell them a book. In order to reach any significant sales level--say 5,000 copies of more--you're going to need big numbers. The only exception here are die-hard enthusiasts of short-tail subjects.

Can I produce this product on my own and still make it the best professional product possible? Or do I need to hire other experts to help? For example, if you're self-publishing, you must hire an editor/copyeditor. We got sent a book recently. On the first page, in the acknowledgement section, it said, "I'd like to thank my morther." We found it very hard to take that book seriously.

Can I sell this product on my own? Where does my audience shop? How do they shop? How can I reach them? Who can help me reach my audience? There's no point trying to sell your book to bookstores if your audience lives and buys solely on the Internet, or in flower stores, or at conventions.

How will I garner publicity for my product? Will I need to hire a publicist? It's getting harder and harder to attract the media's attention because there are fewer and fewer outlets.

Can I create professional packaging for my product? If you aren't a professional graphic designer, you're probably kidding yourself if you think you can. For those who are honest, you're most certainly going to need to hire someone not only to design your cover, but also to design the interior of your book.  


Finally, in an age where chaos sometimes seems just on the verge of reigning supreme in the book trade, Nancy Mills--publisher of Pie in the Sky Publishing and president of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association--envisioned a more cohesive future: "Writers, publishers, booksellers and independent publishers, up until just a year or so ago, were all working independently, frequently divisively and with contempt for each other. The lines have been blurred so, now, more than ever before, it’s critical that each component work together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts so it is my opinion that, finally, we can all play together, nicely, as opposed to separately and divisively. What benefits one, benefits all and working together, harmoniously instead of contentiously, will make the entire industry better, stronger and more vital."

The end.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


KidsBuzz for the Week of 04.24.17
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