Saturday, May 24, 2008

Do They Think I Don't Know They're There?

A long, probably somewhat boring post could be made about the complex and ever-changing relationship of the two major English publishing countries, America and Britain. I wouldn't be particularly qualified to write it, so you don't have to read that post.

I will say this: Publishing has been frustratingly slow on the draw about the internet, but then again so have most other entertainment mediums that pre-date it (music, television, movies, etc). They don't know what people are doing on it; they are kind of afraid to look because there's so much horse porn (I hate visiting bitorrent tracker sites). There seemed to be a genuine "Holy shit!" when nearly doubled its share in the pie chart of book sales, despite its low prices, deals, enticements with other products, and fast shipping. Last year at this time someone was telling me at the publishing institute that internet sales still weren't relevant.

As the world goes global (if that makes any sense - try not to think about it too hard), so do we. Young people aren't just getting their news on the internet, they're getting it from more than one place. My favorite page to visit after Yahoo! mail is Google News, which compiles news based on my keywords (I added sections for Tibet, Israel, and my area code) from nearly every English-speaking online news source in the world. I don't just read the New York Times - I read the Times (UK), The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka), Daily Times (Pakistan), The Times of India, The Epoch Times Ireland, and the Hindustani Times. And that's just papers with the word "times" in it. There's also Xinhua, the CCP's official news service, which is an interesting read side-by-side with Western papers on the same events.

Anyway, my long-sought-after point is that I often stumble upon book reviews for books published in the UK, not the US. When Knopf published Pico Iyer's The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama this month, and Bloomsbury did the same in England (with a better cover), the reviews in the UK papers ran side-by-side with another book, Alexander Norman's Holder of the White Lotus: The Lives of the Dalai Lama. For some reason, this book is not available in America and nobody seems to have any plans to make it available anytime in the next 6 months to a year, so I had to buy it through The book was not cheap - I had to wait for it to be a used copy to even be reasonable - with the exchange rate, but it was apparent that it was the only way I was going to get the book.

This isn't the first time I've resorted to (which for some reason will not honor my Amazon gift card) to get a book that I wouldn't have known about if various internet articles hadn't led me to it. I'm not saying that this is the end of a distinction between British and American publishing as we know it, because it's not, but it's one of those posts that maybe I'll look back on someday and say "I called it" in some fashion.

I like calling things.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reality Check

So apparently I'm on the Writer's Digest list of Best Websites for 2008. Thanks, Writer's Digest!

I love to read and I love talking to writers (although I'm not a very talented writer myself) but I work in a profession that isn't very creative. Sometimes I imagine quitting my job and trying to work for an agent. Please disabuse me of my daydreams:

1. would I have to go back to college for an English degree? (my undergraduate degree is in communications)
2. is the pay as abysmal as you suggest?
3. do you feel excited looking for new and creative voices or is it drudge work slogging through queries?


1. Considering I have a bachelor's and a master's and neither of them are English degrees, I would say no.

2. Sometimes you don't even get paid and they expect you to work for free. And there are people who will do it, too.

3. As I genuinely enjoy reading bad queries, I find my work very enjoyable no matter what is in the envelope.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Administrative Post

1. I do not tolerate comments that attack specific individuals, especially agents and publishers who do not post on this blog in the first place. If you have a specific issue with some agent, publisher, or writer, take it elsewhere. Posts naming names and then bashing them will be deleted or rejected.

2. That said, if you make a crazy, completely anonymous, rambling post, you are opening yourself up and are considered fair game.