Friday, February 12, 2010

Book-a-palooza; Makin' Da Books; Takin' Da Books Away; Google-gobble; Douchy Ads

I know I keep saying this in almost every post, but dang, has it been busy lately!
That's a good thing, though. Unfortunately, it means less blog posts...
Or at least posts with the kitchen sink thrown in.

A wrap up of the steady flow of database books: French-language "Dangerous Liasons", a paranormal thriller "Blue Moon", the Libertarian classic from the 1990s "From Freedom to Slavery", "Studies on Fermentation" by Louis Pasteur (Beer is the mind-killer!), "The Charles Fort Reader" (the Fox Mulder of his day), "William Tyndale's Five Books of Moses" (big, big book... Moses apparently had a lot to say), "The Collected Articles of Frederic Douglass" (plus a second work)... The couple that I wrote about in December, came back for a massive Google order, Some Books on Boxing, theatre, "A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon, and Cant: Embracing English, American, and Anglo-Indian Slang, Pidgin English, Tinker's Jargon , and Other Irregular Phraseology" (2 Volumes), and several more.
My co-workers are also contributing to the variety of books discovered on Google: "Observations of Sir Richard Hawkins" was ordered by a Greg, who is a descendant of the Hawkins line and has of late discovered that his family history is littered with the fingerprints of adventurers and explorers. Lucky Sod. Mine were con-men and farmers... Adam, who lead me to write about the fate of an Alan Lomax book and the state of copyright, has been ordering books on early American Folk and Minstrelry, books buried in time, with vital clues for musicians like Adam (who plays in a duo called The Whiskey Swillers) who want to revive these songs. So much to discover yet!

I've been working furiously on several book designs for clients; a few are about to be finalized, while some are queued up next. I won't talk specifics but I will mention the dazzling variety in just these handful of authors: an Alternate History novel; a fiction about being a nurse and appreciating the fullness of life in middle age; a book on knife collecting with dozens of photos; a collection of hunting escapades; a fictionalized biography of a favored and adventurous family Aunt... Each one brings a unique design challenge, and I love working on each one equally... And as of this writing, I've done layout for 2 books (totaling 800 pages) just this week. Phew. And they keep coming.

I've been on Twitter several weeks now, and I find that while my time has been busy with running the press, Twitter offers me that brief moment to cast a thought, a link, into the universe. So while I may be silent on the blog, Twitter has a steady drizzle of errant thoughts flowing through it @3rdplacepress...

Amazon and Macmillan. That happened since my last post... The meeting between the two industry giants took place on the day Apple debuted its Unicorn. Amazon and Macmillan were at a stalemate over e-book pricing and the publisher walked away from the meeting feeling at an impasse. Amazon on the other hand, walked over to its wizz-bang-doodle Oz machine and hit a button (well, actually took it away) effectively neutering Macmillan's titles on the Amazon site. Such a sulky, bully thing to do. And John Scalzi had the best summary of the events and why Amazon was in the wrong, and why, even after events spun out of control, their media department's reaction was brutish at best. I certainly have my opinions of Amazon (which go waaaay back to 1996-7), so I won't rehash them here. Essentially, I know Amazon feels the heat over the announcement of Apples ibookstore in tandem with the Unicorn; I don't pity them, since, from day one, their Kindle strategy has been to be as proprietary as possible and totally dominate the emerging e-book market-- a Reader (Kindle) that only reads one format (Kindle format). Months later, people were still reading e-books (in various formats) on the iPhone, so a Kindle App was grudgingly released to the public. The second Kindle version came out, right when at least 10 other companies announced their own e-readers (including the god-awfully-named Vook from Barnes and Noble), most of which were open-format. Suddenly market control was slipping out of Amazon's hands and voila! that fateful meeting and the subsequent behavior and backlash. But to be fair, Amazon's not the only large company to flinch and overreact. Don't even get me started on the 'new' Facebook format (coincidentally widely released the day Google Buzz went live)...

Speaking of Google: they continue to expand the database of titles available, with Stanford recently agreeing to let Google list their titles. Regardless, Google is facing tough opposition to it's digitization program, which I'm on the fence about. On the one hand, I see the benefits of having access to those millions of forgotten, public domain titles; on the other hand, due to the blanket scanning of titles in libraries, Google now has access to digital editions of works by authors still alive. I know Google's created a nonprofit Book Rights Registry in order to clarify and alleviate many of the authors concerns. So, um. They're trying? A decent summary of events (including the dissenting authors and those who agreed) can be found here.

Whimsy: R.I.P (Rest in Public) J.D. Salinger. The world will soon be inundated with Salinger-fest. Though this film-maker's work will probably be the most genuine, least likely-to-cash-in-on-the-writer.

An awesome interview with a 'street' scientist with the brilliant quote: "I'm not a Rock Scientist. But then again, Rocket Science is just plumbing with math."

When I watched the Superbowl (the only time I watch NFL), the Dodge Ad that came on left me angry, and I'm a guy! The backlash from women was strong, and often funny. My main problem with this ad is that it preys on outdated gender stereotypes, like this horrendous humor book called "Porn for Women" which depicts men doing things like ironing, washing the dishes, vacuuming, being considerate. Har, Har, very funny. Let's tell women we'll only be neat and grown-up, and responsible because we want sex, or a new car. I like to iron (it relaxes me), I like to clean up after myself, and I'm considerate because it's what adults do. Regardless of gender. I know women who love to work on cars, climb rock walls, and playfully oggle men at bars... So what? Let us be what our inclinations guide us to be. Stuff it, Dodge (and the Mad Men at that Ad agency who thought it up)!

Finally, as the weekend approaches, all I have to say is: Kitchen Sink...

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