Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
This was once limited to what used to be – and probably still is – called genre fiction: Chick Lit, Mum Lit, Bloke Lit, Chicks With Dicks Lit, Blokes With No Dicks Lit, Zombie Novels, Zombie Crossover Novels, Zombies With Dicks Lit, the Tom Clancy oeuvre, and so on. Now, though, what still is – and will continue to be – called literary fiction has also caught the "samey title" virus. At times I suspect there's a computer somewhere that spews out clichéd names for such works, depending on how badly the publishers want it to be Taken Very Seriously Indeed.
McManus has nailed it. See, that point that non-industry booklovers often like to ignore (or, at least, I like to ignore) is that publishing books is a business. Like all businesses, it's kind of ugly. Book titles are like covers - you judge based on them. Personally, titles can sell me onto a book without any knowledge of what the book is about. Don't believe me? I bought "The Periodic Table" because I had a chemistry exam coming up. Titles matter.
And publishers have realized this. "Literary fiction" (and what, exactly, is literary fiction? More on that later...) got a template of bland vagueness. McManus' examples of "The Inheritance of Loss", "The Unnamed", "The Surrendered", "The Girl with Glass Feet", etc., show this precisely. Can you figure out anything about the tone, the style, the depth or the story from these titles? I'll even give you the answer: no. These titles have no spark, nothing to distinguish them. Which is, it seems, exactly the point. Literary fiction, it seems, is defined by its lack of individuality. It's someone's wife, or daughter, or shadow, or... To sum up, this comes from commenter harley26:
one final point - everyone always blames the publishers for this kind of bland marketing but I think it's time to have a go at the readers. If it weren't for us lot lapping up this s**t, they wouldn't bother to sell it so.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Excited, I clicked on the link, eager to see translator names everywhere. Then my eyebrows rose. Then they rose even higher. You see, I'm looking at this list and the first title is the incredibly popular "The Help". Except "The Help" takes place in the U.S., right? I continued scrolling. Nicholas Sparks, pretty much the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (props for Amazon for including kids' books, though), and Jane Austen. The next page continues the Western world streak, but tosses in a bit of popular Americanized world literature - books that could legitimately belong on such a list were it a legitimate list.
In the sidebar, there's the country breakdown. Want to laugh? The U.S. counts for 177,397 books. Britain is another 118,982, Canada, Australia and New Zealand offer about 17,000 more titles. Oh, and another 57,000 "mythology" titles, which is just a fancy way of saying "Kids books" and other random classics.
There's something kind of disappointing here. Yes, I know the U.S. is part of the world and can thus qualify (like any other book) as "World Literature", but the point of the definition (from an American standpoint, anyways) is to make it possible for us to categorize those other foreign finds we typically ignore. I had always hoped to see various different titles showcased, good books that aren't necessarily popular. Instead, it's just another mishmash bestseller list, comprising of mostly popular (American) books and a couple of random unrelated titles (like classics or kids books). I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised though. Why help consumers when you can just sell them what they've already bought from you?
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The cool thing about Mr "I Love Science" (other than everything) is that I often like to match bookmarks with the content of the book I'm reading. For instance, I might have a bookmark from a certain country live in a book that takes place in said country. I often plan months in advance what bookmark will go where.
Too bad I couldn't have had this one when I read "The Periodic Table"...
Monday, March 15, 2010
“Tablets currently focus on the web-surfing experience,”This is a key sentence in the great Wired article about Tablets versus eReaders, which suggests that the two can (and perhaps should) coexist. It points out that Tablets are great for textbooks and magazines but not so much for fiction (it also puts non-fiction with that group but I'm not certain I agree - more on that later). The article rightly explains that eReaders are great because of their battery life and screen quality, while Tablets are awesome because of everything else.
E Ink screens aren’t particularly good at anything other than books, leaving newspapers and magazines out in the cold. That’s where tablets could step in, says James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research. [...] But it will be a battle that could take a toll on e-paper based displays, he says.
“For people who read more of those media than they do books, tablets will be an ideal device and can easily take some wind out of E Ink sales, once we get beyond the fourth of the population that really enjoys reading books,” says McQuivey.
Still, tablets won’t immediately supplant lower-priced electronic paper-based e-readers, he notes. “The first thing you need to consider is whether tablets will actually be as good for book reading as the E Ink readers are,” says McQuivey. “Having a two-week battery life and a device that’s comfortable to stare at for hours at a stretch without strain (as with e-paper based e-readers) is hard to beat.”
Indeed. There's the price issue too and with this Tablet vs. eReader split, eReaders will probably need to become cheaper. It's an interesting article, raising several ideas I'd never thought of before (and am still not certain I agree with). It's one of the better roundups I've encountered on the matter - those curious about the impact Tablets might have on the eReader market should certainly read it.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
She smiled. "Wait until we start studying about Egypt."