Monday, October 17, 2011

Around the Word

Amazon eats New York. . . . There's no clearer indication of how deeply the e-volution has shaken up the book world than today's front-page New York Times story on Amazon's aggressive move into the publishing space. As the Times reports to the larger world, Amazon's new publishing imprint, headed by literary magnate Larry Kirshbaum, will put out more than 122 titles this fall -- putting it in direct competition with publishers of all sizes. This new-found ability to develop, promote, and deliver their own product is a game changer that many equate to the arrival of Gutenberg's printing press. Amazon remains tight-lipped about the details specific to their new venture (no one knows how many editors they've employed or exactly how many books they have under contract) and these uncertainties have only helped intensify the traditional industry's already profound fear factor. As a top Amazon exec so aptly puts it, "The only really necessary people in the publishing process are the writer and reader. Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity."

. . . . And New York snickers in response: The Times story may have been eye-opening to many of its readers, but it was old news to industry followers -- and thus the subject of much snark on the interwebs. The New York Observer headlined its cheeky response, "Times Discovers Amazon Publishing." Publishers Marketplace went a step further, referring to the Times story as “Things You Know About Amazon’s Publishing, Rounded Up Into an Article.” This was definitely a classic case of the Times coming late to a trend-y party. But we wonder if the all the mocking was masking something deeper. Thoughts?

Words of self-pub wisdom: For those of you about to embark on the adventure of self-publishing, we wanted to turn you on to an illuminating tale of trials and successes that we stumbled upon over the weekend. The non-profit Echoing Green recently went through the experience of self-publishing a book and EG's leaders shared their story of DIY advantages and pitfalls on the Book Doctors blog. Though they sometimes struggled without the support of a publisher, Echoing Green used their industry connections, ingenuity and flexibility to create the self-pub project they always wanted. Has their story inspired you to test the self-publishing waters?

Happy Dictionary Day! Yesterday was the 253rd birthday of Noah Webster, making it national Dictionary Day. The MacMillan Dictionary Blog describes Webster -- who was born in Gotham founder Dan Gerstein's hometown of West Hartford -- as "the father of American lexicography." He strove to create a dictionary that was uniquely American, celebrating the immigrant influence and simplifying spellings (he's the reason we don't spell it "colour"). If you didn't get the chance to celebrate yesterday, dust off your Merriam-Webster today and remember the man who started it all.

Super Size your career: Journalist and documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock -- best known for the mega-hit "Super Size Me" -- is looking for the next great (failed) attempt at the American novel. GalleyCat reports that Spurlock has put out a casting call on their job board and is looking for a few lucky literary failures from the New York area to feature in an upcoming documentary series. Here's more about the project: "This brand new series 'failure club,' is about embracing the fear of failure in order to change your life. Meeting each week over the course of a year, 7 different people will come together to form this unique club where they will help each other achieve things they have only dreamed of." If you can swallow your pride, follow this link to apply for the series.

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