Sunday, December 12, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) No 49: Genre Fiction, Aptara Report, Salinger Obit

In the Observer Ed Docx tries to explains quality is in the eyes of the beholder and in the process proves his point (Observer)

It's worth dealing with the difference again, since everyone seems to have forgotten it or become chary of the articulation. Mainly this: that even good genre (not Larsson or Brown) is by definition a constrained form of writing. There are conventions and these limit the material. That's the way writing works and lots of people who don't write novels don't seem to get this: if you need a detective, if you need your hero to shoot the badass CIA chief, if you need faux-feminist shopping jokes, then great; but the correlative of these decisions is a curtailment in other areas. If you are following conventions, then a significant percentage of the thinking and imagining has been taken out of the exercise. Lots of decisions are already made.

So it follows that genre tends to rely on a simpler reader psychology. If you have a body on the first page, then you raise a question: who killed it and how did it get there? And curiosity will power readers a surprisingly long way. As will, say, a treasure hunt (Brown) or injustice (Grisham) or the locked room mystery format (Larsson). None of this is to say that writing good thrillers is easy. It is still incredibly difficult. But it is easier.

These are the reasons, too, why a bad thriller or detective novel or murder mystery will feel so much better than a bad literary novel – why it might even thrive. Even in a bad genre book, you've still got the curiosity and the reassuring knowledge that the writer will eventually deliver against the conventions. Bad literary fiction, on the other hand, is mostly without such fallback positions and is therefore a whole lot worse.

Short item about Indian publisher and retailer (The Hindu)
In 1903, Motilal Banarsidass (MLBD) began as a tiny store of spiritual books, built on a capital of Rs. 27. Over the next century, it developed into one of the world's foremost publishers of scholarly works on Indology, with a formidable catalogue of priceless works — 100 volumes of the Mahapuranas, 50 volumes of the ‘Sacred Books of the East' edited by Max Mueller...

Today, the 107-year-old Delhi-based publishing company, still run by the descendants of Motilal Jain, its founder, retains its focus on Indian culture and spiritual heritage, but is evolving to meet the changing needs of the 21st Century.

Speaking to Rajendra Prakash Jain, one of the five brothers who currently run MLBD, what emerges is the picture of a company that straddles the old world and the new, combining tradition with modernity.

The Observer is revisiting their Obits from 2010:
The JD Salinger I knew, by Lillian Ross American author JD Salinger died, aged 91, on 27 January 2010. Here, his long-standing friend Lillian Ross, a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1945, tells of the generous author who could keep her laughing for hours
Technology vendor Aptara released a survey of more than 600 publishers across the Trade, Professional, and Education markets reveals the latest impacts of eBooks on the publishing industry (SFGate):
The survey, conducted this summer, reveals that 64% of publishers are now offering titles in eBook format. Though, the majority are still struggling to maximize profits from the fast-growing eBook market as a result of inefficient print production processes that require transformation in order to support scalable, affordable digital output. The second in a year, this survey is one of a series being conducted by Aptara to document the evolution of book publishing in the face of the burgeoning eReader market and consumers' changing reading behaviors.

The most significant findings from this survey include:

  • A widespread inability to calculate return on investment (ROI) from eBooks - 62%, and of those able to calculate ROI, only 14% are recognizing a stronger ROI from eBooks than print. These stats confirm that most publishers are not employing scalable digital workflows, but rather retrofitting print production process and forgoing significant cost savings.
  • The main eBook production challenge facing publishers is still eReader/content compatibility issues. Even with the near universal EPUB eBook format standard, today's fragmented eReader market makes quality eBook production a moving target, with expert, manual manipulation required to retain consistent formatting across device-types.
  • Almost a quarter of publishers producing eBooks are employing XML, indicating a positive shift to scalable, digital workflows in support of efficient eBook production across all eReaders.
  • Only 7% of publishers are implementing enhancements to their eBooks, suggesting that most publishers are not aware of the EPUB standard's inherent support for content enhancement, including audio and video.
From the twitter (@personanondata)

LA Times: Why is Len Riggio Publishers Weekly's man of the year?

Google Books launched (Blog)

Slow week...

In sports, England crushed Australia in the second Ashes test (BBC)

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