Tweet Seats, and other 17th century trends now trending

The rise of Tweet Seats, where one can tweet an in-progress theatre or musical event with the sanction of venue management, is not disturbing in and of itself.  In the past, going to a theatre or concert was considered a social event (that could any moment become a brawl, political rally or . . . . you name it). People spoke, threw food, and generally thought of the entertainment (and entertainers) as “peripheral” to themselves and what they felt like doing.

With the rise of tweeting and other social media, we again see the rise of . . . well, it’s difficult to say what. Is it narcissistic to ignore a play to tweet?  Is it self-centered? Is it a case of I paid to be here, I can do what I want?  It’s quite difficult to tell.

And then of course there is the recordablity of the performance, in audio or video, violating copyright and artist’s right to make a living.  So there may also be an “I’ll get back to it” mentality at play (and with fractured attention spans, that’s too a growing trend.)

With a book, one can read  the story or not (by putting the book down) but one never has the option of mentally removing from the story while in fact reading it. One must read it (unless of course you listen to it, but most books are meant to be read privately not audibly — pity that, but a discussion for another day) and therefore focus all attention on it.

The rise of tweeting in real time at an event in actuality means that viewers/patrons consider something more important than paying attention– themselves. And if that’s so, why bother to be there?

It does make one question the future of live events, and of respect in general for the Arts. If we are going back to 17th century behavior at live events, then are we going back to 17th century levels of respect for the Arts, and for those who keep them alive? One can only hope not.

Published in: on December 6, 2011 at 12:52 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Banned book week


Beware of banned books road sign

In case you were unaware, Sept 23-Oct 1 is Banned Book Week, an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association. The Guardian has a nice article and interview with Stephenie Meyer (Twilight series, who claims the dubious honor this year of being author of the fifth most challenged book(s).

If you have a few minutes, check out the chart:

What we’d like you to see is that Parents & Schools, after the year 1990, initiate the most challenges, typically because a book has Sex, Swearing or Violence in it.  People often blame clergy and politicians for wanting books suppressed, but in reality, they almost never initiate challenges.  And it is rather odd, Parents & Schools are objecting to sex, swearing and violence, in a country where Go the F@k to Sleep is considered humour, and Two and Half Men is a top rated TV show, and violent video games are a billion dollar industry.

Anyway, here’s a list of  The top 10 titles most challenged titles of 2009. And yes, it is sad that some of these books are 60 years old, and universally lauded as classics, and still they are being objected to by people.

1. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (books written entirely in twitter messages) by Lauren Myracle

Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Reasons: Homosexuality — among Penguins.

3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group (published in 1960!)

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group (published in 1951)

7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group (pub 1982)

10. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group (pub. 1974)

Published in: on September 23, 2011 at 7:07 AM  Leave a Comment  
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If you don’t have or even want a website, don’t worry, create a BIG web presence for yourself instead!


The Book Publicity Blog is a pretty great place to hang out. We would suggest that you subscribe to the site, it will keep you up to date on . . . practically everything publishing publicity related, and allow you to help your (prospective, future) publisher, help yourself.  Most recently Yen’s put up a great post on DIY book promotion and publicity, with an awesome mention on what in-house publicity teams do for large houses.

However we are directing you to a post on  what to include on author websites, which though probably slightly dated at this point, is still excellent. And for a look at a very well known author’s website that hits all the key points, see Barbara Kingsolver’s site . In essence, a good website will

  • Increase book sales
  • Build and maintain a loyal fanbase
  • Attract agents and publishers
  • Interact with readers
  • Spread the word about book signings and speaking engagements
  • Sell your book online
  • Promote yourself and any services you offer
  • Highlight future books before they’re released
  • Get the word out about your book and your website

If you still can’t bring yourself to have a website, consider having a web presence without website. For more on how to that, check out the Wall Street Journal’s article on same.  But the short version is setting up static and active feeds that basically replace a website / blog.

For instance, if you are LinkedIN as an author, have  a Twitter account, that updates your Facebook account, that’s pretty much alive on the web.  Other options: write up a wikipedia entry  on yourself, start a tumblelog on Tumblr to which you can post just about anything, and give yourself an, page that’s the equivalent of a business card / promo.

If you really don’t want to do the whole blog thing, it’s ok.  But free blogs (traditional: WordPress or nontraditional: Tumbelog) can serve as websites with benefits, hooking up your facebook, twitter, and other things. This makes posting across the spectrum a one and done deal.

The act formerly known as Blogging, or the e-world may be drastically overhyped

A recent report from Britain said 95% of books sold last year were physical books. It puts in perspective all the ebook hype. Most ebooks are given away, those that are sold, don’t make up the majority of the market.

A Pew Internet & American Life Project report released this month found that just 8%of the American adults who use the Internet use Twitter. Again, that’s a pretty remarkable conclusion given all the hype about social media. We’re talking here about a subset of a subset being users.

A recent report about Wii said sales had fallen off to the tune of 37% in the US, leading people to think perhaps US-based first adopters, the most interested in electronics among us, had found other things to occupy their time such as Kinect.

A big trend in sales over Christmas was old toys and games from 1960s and 1970s, colorful and interactive on a face to face level. Parents were shunning technology, and specifically technology that was dark, or moved their kids out of an immediate family / community interaction group.

It makes you wonder about all the sales of Kindles, Sony eReaders, and other dedicated devices.  The sales are real, but how does that translate into book sales. Are eReaders being adopted by readers, who might use them, or tech junkies, who simply think they’re cool must-haves of the moment?

Only time will tell.

Oh and for anyone blogging? The Pew reports: “blogging for all online adults rose slightly overall from 11% in late 2008 to 14% in 2010. Yet while the act formally known as blogging seems to have peaked, internet users are doing blog-like things in other online spaces as they post updates about their lives, musings about the world, jokes, and links on social networking sites and micro-blogging sites such as Twitter.”

Published in: on January 11, 2011 at 8:31 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Love — between the covers

Moving away from the exciting Amazon v Apple contest over publishing for a moment —

We’d like to mention Feb is I Love to Read Month.  This is something every bookstore should be promoting, if not . . . lost opportunity!

For those of you that hardly ever read, this is your moment to show your kids you think reading can be fun.  For big readers, go really big and attempt to complete several books! And for those of you that lack the means to read in the LA basin area . . .

Check out Jane Austen’s Emma from the local library, or download a freebie copy off the web.

LA’s favorite public television station, KCET, is currently doing a new version of Emma on Masterpiece Theatre.

For anyone that hasn’t had the opportunity, it’s brilliantly done, and you can view episode 1 online here.

We almost didn’t watch, thinking “Oh, again?!” But this version is so well executed it has become our all time favorite version. It’s a must see.

As a companion to Emma’s airing, KCET’s created an online Book Club Here, readers can “gather” at set times to to share their thoughts.

Local bookstores should be embracing the idea of online book clubs (via twitter, facebook, and other social media). As well as the cross-marketing, but if you don’t know where to begin or what it should look like, check out what KCET has already created.

And fall in love with reading all over again!

Published in: on February 2, 2010 at 8:40 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Yes, Virginia, there are stupid questions!

In an effort to avoid doing Board of Equalization tax paperwork — due in by Jan 31, we played around with Twitter today.

Nothing dramatic, we just created a new background that ties in more closely with our CSS website. Someday we’ll do the same with WP, maybe. Actually we should integrate our blog and do something about Facebook, but there’s always so much else to do, like get books to press!

Back to Twitter. There are a few publishers on Twitter. Little, Brown & Co or Yale Press probably being the most notable. It will probably go full blown commercial as Facebook did, smart publishers are staking their claim already. Nothing worse than pseudo twitterers tweeting under your name. Ask David Tennant. Yikes.

We didn’t know tweet about Twitter 6 months ago. And not being Chuck, we were thus forced to go to the local library and request a helpful book. Online help was useless.  We need books to learn this.  Sadly all the ones that were available didn’t make much sense. We were then forced to go the reference desk and ask if they could put a hold on “Twitter for Dummies” for us.

There is nothing worse than a diminutive reference librarian, 20 years older than us, giving us that hawkish gaze and saying in tightly wound tones “You need a book? To explain Twitter?” She then sighed while shaking her head in dismay at the state of the stupidity she’s forced to deal with and tapped the request in to her keyboard.

We made no reply. Wasn’t the title self-explanatory? Twitter for Dummies. Duh.

Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 5:32 PM  Comments (2)  
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