I’m reading OUTLANDER for the first time. It’s … been enlightening.
Last night I texted Jenn with updates.
Today I made her listen to me complain on gchat. Please excuse our pidgin typing.
I’m reading OUTLANDER for the first time. It’s … been enlightening.
Last night I texted Jenn with updates.
Today I made her listen to me complain on gchat. Please excuse our pidgin typing.
But I cannot make that promise about Jeff Bezos.
We all know that there was an article in the NY Times about us evil, evil, horrible publishers colluding against the poor, wittle book seller innocent Amazon. (I may be simplifying things a bit.)
Sue me, I’m feeling mean today.
When things like this happen, and the news comes out, every blog and every article (barring some industry specific ones) make publishers out to be these money hungry monsters. Like we’re all sitting on big piles of money laughing about all those dumb customers buying expensive eBooks.
Oh, would that our lives look like that.
Really, we’re sitting around trying to figure out how to get our rapidly dwindling audience of readers to a) keep reading and b) read more. I know, I know. How could we??
So when Amazon comes along, with its “Oh, we’re selling eBooks at a loss to keep our customers happy you evil publishers!” it’s more than little offensive to those of us who honestly love reading and want to spread the good words among the populace, but can’t, because we don’t have any money to do so. Because you know what happens? Amazon knows that they can come back and say: This is the standard; we are now going to give you less money for the same product so that we can sell it for a cheap price.
I realize that the way we do business is not working. And there are many, many problems within the publishing industry. We’re doing our best to catch up.
However, I think that with most book stores, publishers feel a sense of partnership. Amazon is a bully. They want to get their grubby little paws on every aspect of an industry they honestly don’t care all that much about. I keep saying “they” but I should say “Bezos.”
I’ve been talking about him for years, I know. But seriously. Do you know what’s going to happen when Amazon slashes the eBook prices of those books you love so much?
Independents will not be able to compete. Brick and Mortar will not be able to compete. None of us will be able to compete. Because they are a behemoth. Did you know that the agency model actually made Amazon more money? What does that tell you? This isn’t about the profit for them. It’s about the power and squashing the competition.
But we need competition! Do you really want one company controlling what kind of books you do or don’t see? I understand that it shouldn’t be on the shoulder of the readers to see through all of this… that you should be able to just buy the cheapest and have that be that. But if you care about the books you read and the authors who write them and the people who help get them into your hands, think twice about where you’re buying your book. It matters. Books aren’t such a huge moneymaker that we can disregard our customers. Every single book buyer has an effect on all of us. This industry is not doing so well. But we all got into books because we love them. I can personally guarantee that it was not for the money.
And that brings me what is most terrifying about this episode. It’s just another instance of the government supporting Big Business. Not to say, of course, that the Publishers are mom and pops. But, I have a strong feeling that Amazon lobbyists had quite a bit to do with this investigation. This outcome will have a huge effect on independents, as well. In a nation where being a corporation means you have more rights than I do, it’s not all that surprising. Money talks, people. I just wish it wasn’t saying such hateful things.
Last night, I went and saw Jane Eyre in one of the two theaters in which it is playing. (I picked the one that was less likely to have o-the-horror, or as they’re better known, bed bugs).
I should start off by saying, I am hugely, giantly, nerdily, grossly in love with Jane Eyre. It’s been my favorite book since I was fourteen. There’s something about this incredible story full of gothic mystery, love, betrayal, and passion happening to two fairly unremarkable people. I don’t think, however, that this makes my opinion on the film any harsher than it would have been if I was just a passing reader.
Alright, confession time over.
So as I said, I went to see the movie last night.
I knew something was wrong when the movie made me snicker. One should not snicker during Jane Eyre! It is not a snicker-worthy story! Some light laughter perhaps, at Jane and Rochester’s banter, a smile or two at her precociousness, even. But snicker?
The movie was just not. that. great. They did an admirable job of keeping all the relevant plot points, and even giving Jane’s story some context (for first-timers) by opening with her fleeing Thornfield. I don’t have a single issue with their adapting the story to script. My issue is that they lost all the feeling. The Red Room or when we finally meet Rochester’s mad wife for the first time – all kind of left me saying, meh. And the loving words exchanged between Jane and Rochester? Laughable. I mean literally… we laughed at them.
It’s not like literary adaptions are impossible to get right! I mean, just look at the following:
Pride & Prejudice
I was staunchly against this movie when it came out in 2005. I have never been a huge Keira Knightly fan. (I think it’s the way you can always see her bottom teeth. So weird.) Also, how dare they think that anyone but Colin Firth could ever be Mr. Darcy! Eventually, I ended up on a 10 hour flight with a broken iPod, so I sucked it up and watched the only movie available on the flight: Pride & Prejudice. I was genuinely surprised by how good it was. The acting, the script, the cinematography and the music came together and encapsulated what makes P&P such an enjoyable read.
The Importance of Being Earnest:
Again, I actually mean the newer version. Oscar Wilde has some misses on his repertoire – but the Importance of Being Earnest is not one of them. The play is brilliant and hilarious, and the movie carries it off really well.
Dangerous Liaisons / Cruel Intentions
This is a dangerous admission on my part. I think Cruel Intentions is a fairly good modern interpretation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses. As of three months ago, it was the only version of the book I’d seen in any format. Then I watched John Malcovich and Glenn Close tear it the eff up as the Vicomte and the Marquise. I mean, damn.
The list goes on: Lord of the Rings, Wuthering Heights (1939), Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz (arguably better than the book), pieces of the Harry Potter canon, Emma (2009)… IT CAN BE DONE.
So Jane Eyre, in it’s inability to honestly use what the author had provided, failed to be a successful adaptation. It had the right pieces, but lost itself in campy horror tricks, ridiculously stilted conversations, and period film cliches.
I guess you could call Jane Eyre a rental… but if you’re going to go to the movies, maybe you should think about seeing Rango instead. I hear that the animation’s, like, really good.
“Independent bookstores are the places where freedom of speech and anti-censorship are integrated into everything we do. We are spaces where difference–of ideas, sexuality, spirit, politics, and philosophy–is embraced and not feared. Politics and Prose has been exactly this kind of place for the past 27 years. Independent bookstores are essential to their communities and hence to a truly democratic nation. The survival of our bookstores relies on children becoming informed and engaged in our midsts. Only through the nurturing of this future community will we ensure having a customer base on which to rely.”
It is a pretty verbose way to say: “Indies promote thought” (and of course, I mostly agree with it, grand statements aside). A few paragraphs down, there was a note about how big chains were faring in today’s largely digital world – about the big chains’ need to remake themselves to better understand and serve their communities.
I wonder how these big chains ARE serving their communities. As far as I can see, on some level, Indies still cater to their community in the same way that a local Barnes & Noble may do so – they order the books they think the people who come into their stores will buy. Most may not have coops that are quite as influential as say, having your book on the front page of Amazon, or in the front table at B&N. So, with chain stores and digital behemoths, should they have the same sense of responsibility to their customers? To keep them informed of not just when the new Stephenie Meyer or Dan Brown novels are coming out, or when they can get that next Glenn Beck picture book, but also of books highlighting local politics or a title you may never have dreamed of buying in a thousand years, without someone saying – hey, you should check this out.
Do they have a responsibility to personalize the experience, I guess, is what I’m asking. Not a responsibility in a moral sense, or from some sense of duty – but tradition? Customer service? People are getting cheated out of knowing any better!
… You think that maybe this (and the ease & accessibility of the internet) is why a lot of chains may be falling under? … Of course, this is all conversation that’s happened and is happening and will probably continue to happen for quite some time. But, whatever. I’ma say what I’ma say.
With the enormity of what Amazon gives us, there’s also a sense of panic when trying to figure out what you really want. And so, I believe (or maybe just really want to believe) that independents are (or will) make a comeback, among people who value the experience, conversation, and above all the sense of community involved in book shopping.
… Of course, this is all tied in with whether or not book publishing itself will figure out a way to stop being so damned costly and damned repetitive (if I like this, then MAYBE I WANT SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND NEW). (But I will not go on that rant today, no, sir.)
To go back to the “promoting thought” comment, we (…I) like to complain about the obscene amount of power Amazon holds over the book industry and book buying habits of the masses – but I sometimes forget the political and psychological effects of the big-digital-business experiment. I don’t necessarily mean “political” in an industry way, but, how big business defines what people are exposed to.
I’ve mentioned before how this country seems to get less and less “American” with every passing day – with one group or another being legally or illegally put down for being different. You see it in the media – Oh hello Ground Zero Mosque that is niether at Ground Zero, nor a Mosque. And you see it in our book stores with the perpetuating of certain titles or authors, or even just trends (ahem, Vampires).
Not to say that one is equal to the other – but, if all we’re exposed to is one point of view, well, then, shit. How will books that aren’t like anything else out there be released? I’d suppose their platform would have to be the independents that may not need to rely on history for every title that comes through their stores.
With the word count I’m at, I’ve come too far to comfortably publish something with the thought: Sure, my friends will read this – because they won’t. It’s too freakin’ long.
… My bad.
Well, this is all kind of a roundabout love letters to Indies. I support them, you should, too. Unless you want to get stuck with getting a goddamn John Grisham novel or, dare I say it, a Sarah Palin book of Essays (Times, They Are a’Changin’) every Christmas because no one decent gets published anymore.
Chew on that you kindlers.
Because I’ve officially graduated with my Masters in Publishing.
Which is going to be super, duper useful. Do you hear me, Publishing Industry? IT WILL BE USEFUL. (… it probably won’t be that useful).
That being said, this is a party post.
… Kind of. It’s also sort of a continuation of My Future is Imaginary. Because now that I no longer have the “but I’m a student” argument to make about avoiding real life, it’s kind of hit really hard and really fast.
Cue the that’s what she said.
So, yes: Party party party party all the time all the time. Because, now is the time to do it. I’ve been an official graduate for about three days now. Mere moments after the ceremony I steadfastly resolved to be the antithesis of productivity for at least a week.
This was a lie. It did not happen. Mostly. It did not happen.
… I can’t remember what my point was there. But at least I got to use a picture of Andrew W.K. He makes me feel better about myself.
So, I have a masters. And now there’s real life to be lived! And with the idea that my future is imaginary and that I don’t really have any where to go professionally, I’m kind of at a loss with what to do. I believe the phrase ‘so fucking stagnant’ covers the feeling admirably.
With that same sense of stagnation being felt in many industries, there are a lot of us (in the current entry level generation) that are feeling this way. We’re getting more and more frustrated, more and more boxed in, and less and less likely to think that we can do anything about it.
I know, I said I wanted to be unproductive and that I couldn’t do it. Because I’m pretty sure I’m overcompensating for the lack of movement in my realliferealjob by starting stupid shit on the internet that’s going to take up creative time. Because at least this way, I’m saying something. Right? Okay, I’m not sure I’m actually saying anything, but whatever. Fuck you, this is my blog. I do what I want. And you know what, I’m not sorry.
You get me, Snoop.
You get me.
So, the real question is, now that real life is here, with real responsibilities (ahem, loans) and real derailments (ahem, career) and real consequences (… I don’t have an ahem for this, but I know they’re around), what do I do with myself? Where’s the drive? Where’s the purpose? …
This sounds like a Matchbox 20 song. Or a My Chemical Romance song? I don’t even know. It certainly sounds like someone whining to music. Right? Right. I hate that I’m having twenty-something angst right now. It’s brought about a huge bout of self loathing, just so we’re all aware. But then, this is my so-called life, son. Except in my drama, nobody leans great. Sigh.
But seriously. On the upside (and the downside), while I do hate that I’ve lost the confidence in knowing where I want to be and what I want to be doing… I no longer feel so tied to my career path that I don’t think I can be adventurous. Earlier today, I actually had a serious conversation about moving to Europe. Like, in the we-could-really-do-this kind of way. Which is simultaneously awesome and terrifying because it means that a) I don’t think I’d really care about quitting this job right now and b) … I could fucking really do it. Kick ass.
… This whole post was incredibly self serving, idec.
So there’s a whole to-do going on in my workworld right now – not that many of you will care, because c’mon, how many people really even read now days anyway, right? (You’ll excuse me if I’m bitter).
Anyhoo – so, here are the basics. Amazon sells e-books for their e-reader, the Kindle. K, that’s cool. Their Kindle is closed format. Still, good for them, their company, their rules. Unfortunately, because they are the biggest book seller, this puts them in a position of habitualizing people who read electronically. They are creating the norms for e-publishing, and it seems that this doesn’t really matter to them. It’s more about Mr. Bezos’ control and bank account than it is about literature they’re selling. Which is very un-book-like. Rarely has publishing been about the profit, the reason that there are 8 billion books published a year is because hopefully one of them will take off and make us enough money that we can publish the other 7 billion blahblahblah and 99 without making a profit because we love them and they deserve to be out there… even if only a few people will ever really even read them. Sorry, /rambling.
So, this past week, Macmillan (a publishing house that includes Tor, FSG, :01 to name a few) went to Amazon to be like hey what’s up, let’s work on this pricing strategy you guys have. Right now, Amazon prices e-books at 9.99, often times selling them at a loss. This doesn’t matter to Amazon because while they are taking a loss, they’re also gaining customers who will read on their kindle as well as buy other things from Amazon. This matters to book publishing because if you price every book (regardless of cost of production) at 9.99, what does that mean for the future when e-books make up more than 3% of our market? So, Macmillan goes to Amazon with a new suggestion like hey, let’s maybe think about:
“Publishers would like to be able to set eBooks at a higher price, say $15, then degrade the price over time to a much lower price. How much? CEO of Macmillan says “Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99.”
Not every book costs the same to make, why pretend they all cost the same to read.
Ah, but any way – this is not about the pricing. This is about Amazon’s response…
WHICH WAS TO TAKE EVERY MACMILLAN BOOK OFF THEIR WEBSITE AND ONLY MAKE THEM AVAILABLE THROUGH THIRD PARTY VENDORS.
What in the absolutely stupendously ridiculous flying fuck, Amazon?!
For a pretty great explanation as to why this is bad on a point by point front, check out this guy.
Now, I’ve been bitching about Amazon forevz and evz. But this is a big bully move, like seriously. Think about going into an indie book store, there’s a personality there – an understanding that this literature is important to people.
Yes, Amazon is hurting (“giant conglomerate evil”) Macmillan by doing this, but it is also hurting the writers and the editors and all the people who put a ton of work into a book to be made. Amazon wants to be considered a book seller by the customer and a book publisher by the publisher. They consider e-books “licenses.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Amazon’s made their point very clear with this move, monopoly is most important to this company. Monopoly of the publisher’s business as well as the customer’s business. And no fucking publisher is going to tell them what to do. Tobias Bell sums up the author issue pretty well in his crazy long post about this shiz:
“I’m not trying to exhort anyone to do anything, but to explain the situation I’m in, and to educate. I’m seeing a lot of people state things with certainty (points I try to knock down above) who have no involvement in the trade. A lot of readers are going to take this out on authors, and I wanted to basically show my homework to explain things that people may not be aware of. People toss out prices of what eBooks ’should be’ who’ve never even stopped to understand how the math of something like this works. They demand things they’d never demand of a jacket salesman, just because they think economics and supply and demand and volume don’t apply to eBooks. They do. Seriously. I’ve thought about these things a lot. Mostly because I have a novel series that has not been renewed, and I keep running the numbers to see if I could write it as an eBook, and when I run these numbers, I come up looking at making a few thousand dollars for half a year’s worth of work based on how eBook sell now. Yes, there are a few J.A. Konrath’s selling well on Amazon, but as I’ve linked, other authors aren’t automagically selling thousands of eBooks there. Most who follow these footsteps sell hundreds. Not everyone becomes JK Rowling.”
Apple’s outlook is a little better – though they have their hangups as well. (Can’t put your iBook on your iPhone?! Lame.)
It’s really more scary than anything. Sigh. I can’t rant about it anymore.
What’s troubling is that people don’t seem to care… even readers. You keep buying your kindles and your books off amazon, despite their big brotherness. What the hell, man.
This really is an opportunity for Indies and for Indie enthusiasts.
Buy stuff from independents. Do it! Indiebound will help you locate indie book stores and even specific books you want IN YOUR AREA. Or just go to Barnes & Noble. At least they remember that they’re in the business of books and not just in the business of business.
There are a lot of words in this post and not a lot of pictures. I was totally going to shop a Devil Bezos and put him in here, but meh. Not worth it. Instead, I’ll put in a video about what book publishing used to be like in 1947:
And a photo because I’ve habitualized you people in expecting such things from me:
If you are interesting in what’s going on, follow DigitalBookWorld on twitter, they’re recapping the situation nicely.
No seriously. If I were to throw my language back for a hot minute, I might say that words and I have a very serious love affair, darling. So when I read, sometimes (… let’s be honest, more often than not), I read for style versus story. Because even if (not saying that this is true), but even if there are a finite number of stories in the world, there are a kazillion ways to tell them. It all comes down to how you use words. And not to say the story doesn’t matter, because if your plot or characters are uninteresting, then I don’t give a whaaaat about what you have to say. Mostly because you’re boring. So I probably hate you.
ANYWAY… so, quotes. This is dedicated to some of my favorite favorite quotes, and a few from friends and family and random interneters (courtesy of ontd-p) as well of course. Because as the internet should be, my blog is a CONVERSATION. Y’all should take a listen and speak up. Ya heard?
Here we go. In no particular order, the following are some random favorites with spotty commentary here and there. For funsies.
“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams.
Of course, Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has one of the best opening lines to any book ever. Adams speaks for all of us (well those of us who enjoy his humor any how). It is a particularly common sentiment, for example, when considering Fox News has more viewers than all the other news networks combined.
“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.” – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte.
(You guys see Laurence Olivier’s jawline, g’damn Heathcliffe – BaDOW).
“To die will be an awfully big adventure.” – Peter Pan
I adore Peter Pan, I really do. As the Disney Movie, as the live action movie, in Hook, and especially as the book. Of a time when it was okay for a children’s novel to be melancholy, Peter has one of the most simultaneously depressing and beautiful stories I’ve had the good fortune to read. With eight words, Barrie pretty much sums up our hero. It’s not about what’s happening, but rather, how interesting it is. How much fun Peter will have doing it. And death, well, you only get to play that game once. So it better be good, son.
“But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” – 1984, George Orwell.
First of all, yes. That is me. I was born in 1984 and so it totally makes sense. Shut up. That being said, this quote gives me the chills. The book is terrifying and amazing and I can remember sitting down and reading it in one sitting when I was fourteen. The direct way that Winston spoke to us was at best unsettling, but if we’re being totes truthful, no double speak involved, the narrative just lent itself to a simple terror. Also, my least favorite class in high school was French class which was in room 101 for three years. Going to French class was like letting rats eat my face off.
“No matter how hard I try to be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are naturally good. It’s a good deal like geometry, I expect. But don’t you think the trying so hard ought to count for something?”- Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery.
“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…. No one could die for you.” – Le Petit Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery.
“It’s not denial. I’m just selective about the reality I accept.” – Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson.
Yes, yes, Calvin & Hobbes is a comic strip – but probably one of the most intelligent and witty strips ever written. It was a damn shame when Watterson retired (because commercialism fucked him over), but this one line has always stuck with me. Pretty sure I’ve ended more than one paper with it. (The accompanying image is remarkably apt as well.)
“He is at ease, his body sculpted to the music, his shoulder searching the other shoulder, his right toe knowing the left knee, the height, the depth, the form, the control, the twist of his wrist, the bend of his elbow, the tilt of his neck, notes digging into his arteries, and he is in the air now, forcing the legs up beyond muscular memory, one last press of the thighs, an elongation, a loosening of human contour, he goes higher, and is skyheld.” – Dancer, Colum McCann.
There is not enough to be said about the manner in which Colum McCann writes. It was hard to pick a quote from this passage, probably one of my favorite passages ever written. You can read the entire thing here. As my buddy All-Beef Pateenz can tell you, Colum McCann is easily one of the best voices in recent times, he uses words like colors and paints these incredible scenes for us. And it’s always more than just a picture, it becomes this living scene inside of you that you just feel down to your toes.
“You don’t have to stay anywhere forever.” The Sandman Series, Neil Gaiman.
Most of you know I kind of have to put this in there. But really, in the Kindly Ones when Lucifer says this to Delirium, it’s chilling. We know it’s the end, because nothing is forever. He especially knows this. … It’s kind of a weird video, I won’t lie to you. But hey, such is what happens when you google “lucifer morningstar” – he totes digs ambrosia.
“The Angel has confided in me that he is going to ask the Lord if he can become Spider-Man.” Lamb: the Gospel According to Christ’s Childhood Pal, Biff, Chris Moore.
It was hard to pick a good quote from this book just because so much of it is tear-inducing hilarious. Also, when trying to find an image to associate with this quote, I found this: LOL JESUS. You’re welcome.
“Weep not, my love,
Weep not, my love,
Your heart is close to me.
You fucking bitch,
Your heart is close to me.
Oh, do not fear,
I’m nearer than near,
Your heart is close to me.
I’ll gouge out your eyes
And pound in your fucking head,
You fucking bitch whore,
Your heart is close to me.” Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer.
Don’t get me wrong, I hated the movie. Hated it. But c’mon, look how darn cute Elijah is. I can’t hate him. What do you want me to be? A monster? Jesus Christ.
“But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before.” Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain.
I chose this quote not just because Huckleberry Finn is a favorite character of mine (so much better than Tom Sawyer, let’s be real), but because of it’s association to Iain Sinclair and Marc Atkins. I read both Lights Out for the Territory and Liquid City as a senior in college for a seminar on Mr. Sinclair. He was (and still is) the most frustrating writer I’d ever experienced. Of course, at the time, I hated it. But, looking back I have to respect his use of language. He used words to trip up his readers, I remember one line in particular, in White Chapel, Scarlet Tracings – the character is cooking breakfast, and Sinclair ties in the cooking of the eggs to the character’s scapula. If I hadn’t lost the book long ago, I’d put that quote in there because it’s been in my head for four years.
… I’m rambling. My apologies. I love this quote, cliche as it may have become, it’s a beautiful way to phrase wanderlust.
So there you have it, just a few random smatterings of the many, many, many. I may (read as: will probably) do another one of these some time in the future with more words of style from other books or short stories.
Suggestions kiddos? I know how you all love to read and support my lifestyle.