Monthly Archives: November 2015

Lingua Disinformation

29 November 2015


Linguists today received a misleading email from Elsevier sent to everyone who has ever submitted to or reviewed for Lingua, the journal whose editorial board has decided to not work with Elsevier anymore and restart the journal as the open-access journal Glossa. Here is Elsevier’s email:

Dear Lingua Authors and Reviewers

As I am sure you are aware, as of the end of December 2015 the current Lingua Senior Editorial team will be standing down from their roles on the journal. Together this team and the Publisher would like to reassure you that while still in post they will continue their work for Lingua as they have always done during their tenure.

Further information regarding the handling of papers from January 2016 onwards will be sent in due course, but should you have any queries or concerns in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact us via the ‘Contact’ button on the journal homepage or via the following email address: .

My colleagues and I would also like to take this opportunity to reaffirm that we remain totally committed to the publication of Lingua as a quality journal serving the field of linguistics and look forward to supporting the journal and the linguistics community for many years to come.

Best Regards

Ann Corney, Publishing Director, Applied Social Sciences, Elsevier Ltd

There has been a lot of puzzlement over this message. Some comments below, but first a message from the interim editors of the successor journal Glossa, which I have been asked to help disseminate:

Dear colleagues,

Those among you who have been authors and/or reviewers for Lingua were sent a message today by Elsevier, and you might wonder about the journal, Glossa, to be set up by the very same editorial team which has contributed to the high reputation of Lingua in the past.

As of the end of December 2015, the current executive and associated editors of Lingua will stand down. The next day, they will be in charge of Glossa. Until that date, the undersigned will be in charge as interim editors of Glossa, (backed up by the entire former editorial board of Lingua which already resigned in October).

In that capacity, we would like to reassure you that Glossa will pick up where Lingua left off. We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that any author has the right to withdraw their submission from any journal as long as the copyright forms have not been signed.

We are currently working on the website (including an online submission system etc.) for Glossa, and will come back to you as soon as it is operational. In the meantime, you can send your questions to both of us.

All best wishes, Waltraud Paul and Guido Vanden Wyngaerd, interim editors of Glossa &

Some comments:

  1. I would like to reiterate that despite the desperate rhetoric in the last sentence of Ms. Corney’s email, there is no way at all that whatever zombie journal Elsevier manages to keep running under the venerable name Lingua will have any moral right to be seen as the continuation ofLingua. Instead, Glossa is the rightful continuation.
  2. I also reiterate my call to the community not to work with Elsevier in propping up Zombie Lingua. Instead, get ready to support Glossa once it’s fully running in January.
  3. Lastly, authors with manuscripts currently under submission to Lingua should consider their options; please contact the interim editors of Glossa with any questions about that.

Link to the rest at

PG says it’s too bad that so much of academia is ensconced in silos and cross-silo conversation is uncommon. With fewer and fewer researchers using printed source materials, online, open-access journals are easy to operate, using (as is illustrated above) exactly the same domain experts that provide their expertise to current for-profit journals. If the silos spoke with each other, this change could take place very quickly and university and other specialized libraries could save a fortune on journal subscriptions.

In a former life, PG had some visibility into Elsevier’s financial results and the company’s profits from the publication of journals were extraordinarily large.

Amazon Books should be the future of brick-and-mortar retail chains

29 November 2015

From GigaOm:

Earlier this month, Amazon opened a bookstore in a mall that used to house a Barnes & Noble. Much has been written about this foray into the physical realm: It’s been called a potential library of the future; Amazon itself has been called the Darth Vader of the books business; and some have wondered about the possibilities afforded by a location that bridges online and offline commerce.

Those are all interesting considerations, but as with Amazon’s other programs, the secretive company hasn’t said whether this is a small test or the beginning of a larger initiative that will lead to Amazon Books locations across the country. So I don’t want to consider the effect this physical store could have on Amazon — I’d rather question why other brick-and-mortar stores are resting on their laurels.

Seriously, why aren’t there more retails stores like Amazon’s book store experiment? A store with a variety of goods on physical shelves with prices that fluctuate to stay in sync with the online version of the store. Of course, there would need to be some changes to accommodate those who don’t like change, but there’s potential here to merge the online and offline shopping experience.

People use their smartphones while they shop. Often this is because they want to learn more about an item before purchasing it. One study from 2013 states that only six percent of people who use their smartphones in a physical store plan to purchase an item online. The rest were seeking more information about the item’s quality, the reputation of its manufacturer, and other data that might inform a purchase.

. . . .

Why buy something from a brick-and-mortar store when you can order it online for a lower price, even after figuring in the costs of having it shipped? Unless someone needs the item immediately — in which case someone probably isn’t comparison shopping — the lower price will win most of the time.

Retailers could change this by emulating Amazon Books’ model of automatically price-matching items sold in their stores to items sold on their websites. Right now there’s no guarantee that a Walmart store will match the price of an item sold on, for example, and other stores have similar policies. It’s almost like retailers actually want shoppers to treat their stores like showrooms.
The truth is that I don’t want to check the prices of items on my smartphone. I’m indecisive enough when it comes to shopping — I’ll often grab an item, think of buying it, then put it back right before I get to the checkout aisle. Multiple times. Having to worry about a price discrepancy between a retailer’s physical location and their online store just gives me even more reason to reconsider a purchase. Knowing that the price I see on a shelf is the price I’d have to pay online would make the whole process easier.

. . . .

What happens when Amazon slowly but surely competes more and more with physical locations? The company’s already expanding its grocery business, for instance, and is reducing the amount of time it takes to ship items to customers with multiple services. Amazon Books — if it’s successful — could easily become an Amazon Market. There are other advantages, too. If an item on the shelf is sold out, retail stores could provide incentives for people to pull out their phones and have the item shipped to their home later on. Surely that’s better than just losing the customer.

Link to the rest at GigaOm and thanks to Chris for the tip.

HarperCollins Buys E-Book Deal Newsletter, The Midlist

28 November 2015

From Publishers Weekly:

In another effort to increase its direct-to-consumer reach, HarperCollins has acquired The Midlist,a daily e-mail newsletter that features e-book deals from a variety of publishers.

HC, which acquired the newsletter from Libboo, will merge the Midlist with its Bookperk newsletter. Bookperk spotlights discounted HC titles that can be purchased directly from the publisher, as well as from other e-book retailers.

The combined Midlist-Bookperk operation will, HC said, reach over 1 million readers. “Folding The Midlist into Bookperk is the next logical step as we grow Bookperk into an industry-leading direct-to-consumer platform,” said Angela Tribelli, HC’s chief marketing officer. She added that the combined newsletter will “connect our authors and our tremendous backlist to more than a million readers.”

At least for the moment, it appears that HC will limit the titles available on the new Bookperk to only those in the HC catalog.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to Kay for the tip.

PG doesn’t expect to see a lot of free and 99-cent ebooks from Bookperk.

Any Story

28 November 2015

Any story about revenge is ultimately a story about forgiveness, redemption, or the futility of revenge.

Nick Wechsler

The Gift of Reading

28 November 2015

From The New York Times:

The list of what a child needs in order to flourish is short but nonnegotiable.

Food. Shelter. Play. Love.

Something else, too, and it’s meted out in even less equal measure.

Words. A child needs a forest of words to wander through, a sea of words to splash in. A child needs to be read to, and a child needs to read.

Reading fuels the fires of intelligence and imagination, and if they don’t blaze well before elementary school, a child’s education — a child’s life —may be an endless game of catch-up.

That’s a truth at the core of the indispensable organization Reading Is Fundamental, a nonprofit group that provides hundreds of thousands of free books annually to children age 8 or younger, in particular those from economically disadvantaged homes, where books are a greater luxury and in shorter supply.

. . . .

We’re on the cusp of the year-end holiday season, during which many people turn their attention to charity, making the most generous of their yearly donations. I urge everyone to think about literacy, books, early childhood education and organizations, like R.I.F., that support them.

And we’re a texting, tweeting, distracted country in which too many children don’t read at grade level, too many forces conspire against any improvement in that and too heavy a price is paid.

. . . .

But R.I.F. has signed on as a partner with ustyme — a digital platform that enables multiple users to read or play video games together — to make sure that underprivileged children in particular take advantage of ustyme’s Billion e-Book Gift, which will provide access to a digital library of 50 previously selected children’s titles, many in Spanish as well as English. Those titles can be downloaded by visiting, starting Dec. 1.

The ebook reflects R.I.F.’s determination to get kids to read in whatever manner best accomplishes that. The goal is to develop a muscle, nurture a habit, maybe even spark a passion. You never know where a little reading might lead.

Ellen Halliday, the R.I.F. coordinator for the Brooklyn Public Library, recalled a mother who worried that her 8-year-old son was wasting his time with easy, breezy, frivolous books.

“Then one day,” Halliday told me, “when he was about 9 or 10, he said to me, ‘You know, I got this book, and this author — I can really see what he’s talking about when he talks about the shire or the hobbit. I think this Tolkien guy is an excellent author.’”

. . . .

“Reading follows an upward spiral,” said Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and the author of “Raising Kids Who Read,” which was published earlier this year.

“Kids who read more get better at reading, and because they are better at reading, it’s easier and more pleasurable so they read still more,” he said. “And kids who read well don’t just do better in English class — it helps them in math, science and every other class, too.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Julia for the tip.

The vanishing words we need to save

28 November 2015

From The BBC:

Robert Macfarlane is a compiler of words: an explorer of hedgerows and roadsides, salt marshes and sea-caves. But he is also a magician, of sorts – one who weaves spells using lost phrases that recall a different connection with our landscape. In his latest book Landmarks, the British naturalist calls for “a glossary of enchantment for the whole earth, which would allow nature to talk back and would help us to listen”.

. . . .

[H]e doesn’t believe that the words he has collected in Landmarks are just for shepherds or hill-walkers. “I’m talking to you from my edge-of-the-suburb house in Cambridge – most people are in cities now,” he says. “The book is about all of us finding ways to celebrate and enrich the language that we have for landscape and nature.”

. . . .

In Landmarks, Macfarlane pulls together nine glossaries of terms taken from 30 languages, dialects and sub-dialects around Britain and Ireland. They all describe aspects of weather, nature and terrain – and many of them are dying out, slipping out of conversation and off the tongues of those who once spoke them. They have been lost. Macfarlane wants them to be found.

. . . .

He describes two of his favourites: “One is this lovely Cornish word ‘zawn’, which means a wave-smashed chasm in a sea cliff – it’s so evocative of that gaping mouth, and the power of those places,” he says. “Another is this soft, Gaelic phrase ‘rionnach maoim’, the shadows that clouds cast on moorland on a windy day. There’s something about the poetry of that, the precision and the need to compress that phenomenon down into that gorgeous soft phrase.”

In his book’s lists, he has included words coined by poets along with agricultural or geological terms. There is the ‘shepherd’s lamp’ imagined by the 19th-Century poet John Clare to describe the first star that rises after sunset, and a smattering of terms from the Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins: ‘heavengravel’ for hailstones, ‘endragoned’ describing a raging sea, and the ominous ‘doomfire’ – meaning, as Macfarlane puts it, “sunset light which has the appearance of apocalypse to it”.

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Why Social Media Should Become Publishers’ New Testing Ground

28 November 2015

From BookBusiness:

Testing books isn’t a common practice in the publishing industry. It makes sense, considering that for the majority of the industry’s history acquiring a new title relied on an individual editor’s intuition and skill. In the past, the only way to find out if a book would be successful in a certain demographic was simply publishing it and seeing how the sales performed.

Although digital technology, social media, and a slew of new marketing tools enable more testing than ever before, publishers are by in large using the same guesswork system of the past. In part there is a hesitance to turn literature into a science — a machine that churns out the same type of bestseller over and over. But that fear is unfounded. Today tested literature is already a reality, and it’s resulting in some fantastic titles. But these titles are thriving in the self-publishing arena, leaving traditional publishers out of a significant revenue stream and an opportunity to develop a direct connection with their readers.

. . . .

Novels too are finding traction on social media. Photographer and author Rachel Hulin is currently publishing an entire novel in segments on Instagram, titled Hey Harry Hey Matilda. The project began in September and is slated to run for nine months. It shares the story of twins Harry and Matilda as they write letters to one another about their lives and hopes for the future. The Instagram account has over 7,500 followers to date, as well as a dedicated website with extra content and “secrets” about the two characters. Hulin’s website should be even more troubling for publishers. It raises a problematic question for the industry: if an author can create their own high-quality platform to reach readers, why work with a publisher at all and give up a share of their revenue?

That question is why publishers need to enter this field of social-media-tested stories now. Why let the initial publicity and audience of these tests go directly to the author and in turn lose the revenue from the first self-published title? And why run the risk of an author opting out of traditional publishing all together? Publishers could lose the primary value they provide authors — the scale they can bring to the marketing of a book.

. . . .

Test stories where the audience actually is, on social media. Not only will this grow the direct relationships many publishers are seeking with their readers, but it will become a critical part of the editing and acquisition stage.

Link to the rest at BookBusiness and thanks to Iola for the tip.

Laura Tisdall: ‘If I only wrote when I felt “inspired”, I would probably never have finished’

28 November 2015
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From The Guardian:

Mario: what was your inspiration for Echoes?

I’m a big fan of ‘spy-fi’ TV shows like Alias and Fringe and with Echoes I wanted to try and write a novel with that kind of exciting and hi-tech – but also emotional – feel to it. A lot of the specifics then came out of the main character of Mallory; someone who’s very intelligent and powerful when she’s online, but who struggles in other ways day to day. The dichotomy between people’s on and offline personas can be profound and much of what Echoes came to be about was the question of who the real you actually is.

. . . .

Muzna: have you used any real life experiences in your book?

Not in terms of specific events – I’ve never done any computer hacking for starters! Following on from the previous question, I think what I’d say on this, though, is that a lot of character creation can come out of personal experiences. That’s not to say each character is based entirely on you or people you know, but just that there are often facets of their personalities that are informed by things you’ve been through or seen in your life.

. . . .

Mario: how many people did you ask to publish your book?

With publishing today, you generally go through an agent as opposed to asking publishers directly yourself. Publishers just get sent so many manuscripts to look at that they often don’t have time to read them all and so prioritise ones coming from a known source that they trust. In this way, agents can often be like the gatekeepers to getting published. I had two different manuscripts submitted to various publishers by an agent, but although both got close, unfortunately neither was ultimately picked up. It was after that that I made the decision to self-publish Echoes.

. . . .

Devante: what authors inspired you when you were young?

Like a lot of people, my answer to this is definitely JK Rowling. I read Harry Potter when I was ten and I was absolutely captivated by it. I remember reading it compulsively for hours on end and I’d never done that with a book before. It also opened the door for me into other literature and media in the fantasy and science fiction genres, which remain two of my favourite.

Ayca: was there someone that inspired you to become a author? If yes, who and why?

I’m not sure there’s a specific person who inspired me to become an author, but I’d say there are lots of people who made me fall in love with stories in general – which in turn made me want to try and create my own. This could be a very long list, but along with JK Rowling, some of the others I’d mention would be Philip Pullman, Trudi Canavan (The Black Magician trilogy), Frank Herbert (Dune) and Suzanne Collins. TV and movie writers like Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and JJ Abrams (Alias and Fringe) have also been a huge influence on me. In terms of why I’d say they all created story worlds that felt real and characters I cared about deeply.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Here’s a link to Laura Tisdall’s books. If you like what an author has written, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.


What Market?

27 November 2015

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

This past week, I’ve talked with a lot of writers about writing to market. Not just because of last week’s blog post, but because I had done a group author signing at Powell’s on Sunday, and the topic came up again. At dinner after the signing, one of the writers asked, “What market are indie writers writing to?”

Indeed. That’s a very good question. Because there is no answer. Or should I say no good answer. Not in indie publishing anyway.

Let me explain.

Back in the days before the ebook revolution hit, there was an actual market that writers could write to. That market was defined by traditional publishers.

Traditional publishers—without doing any market research at all—would declare certain genres dead because sales had tapered off. (Sales had usually tapered off because mediocre books got published in that genre after the big surge of good books. More on that below.) At conferences, editors would state that their company was looking for a certain type of book, usually a subgenre.

Often those editors were editing brand new imprints at very old companies, an imprint that the traditional publisher was starting to capitalize on some perceived market trend, and needed a new stable of writers to fill.

Usually writers didn’t have to write to market for these imprints. Usually, writers had a trunk manuscript in that very subgenre, something other publishers (or even that publisher) had turned down years before.

. . . .

Last year, Pocket Books opened a new sf and fantasy imprint, after years of not publishing any sf/f except in urban fantasy and romance. (Those of us with sf/f books still in print from Pocket from the previous incarnation of the sf/f line back in 2000 had been effectively orphaned all of that time.)

I’ve been through these traditional publishing waves dozens of times in the past thirty years. So-n-so has started a new imprint at such-n-so big company and promises it will have dozens of New York Times bestsellers. Then the books don’t do well or the sales force loses interest, the editor moves on to another company or is downsized or is promoted, and the imprint gets canceled or morphed into another imprint altogether.

Those are publishing markets that writers can figure out. The markets are defined by the new imprint or the new editor’s tastes.

. . . .

Clearly defined markets were the hallmark of the closed publishing system that existed before the ebook revolution—from the perspective of writers. Traditional publishers were just flailing in the dark. Because traditional publishing is the only multibillion dollar industry that I know of that does absolutely no market research at all. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

They hire editors for their “gut,” and fire those editors when their “gut” fails them. Often failure is defined by such stupid things as “This erotica title didn’t sell as well as expected.” What was the expectation? “Oh, that it would sell at least as well as Fifty Shades of Grey.” Which was aphenomenon.

The publisher, of course, wouldn’t look beyond that expectation to see that the erotica title sold half of what Fifty Shades sold, which made the erotica book more successful than, say, that literary novel everyone in-house loved. But because everyone in-house expected the literary novel to sell only 5,000 copies, and it sold 5,005 copies, it was successful, and the erotica novel, which sold (oh, I don’t know) 100,000 copies, was not.

Because of unrealistic expectations.

. . . .

There is no market.

There is a marketplace.

A wide-open marketplace that lets readers browse and find whatever is to their tastes. Think of one of those bazaars you find in major cities, the kind of bazaar that goes on for blocks and blocks. Sure, there’s a lot of fresh fruit currently in season, and some lovely woven scarves and some beautiful hand-carved bowls. But there are also one-of-a-kind items, from artists who might not be able to afford to be near the entrances, but you can find them if you look.

That expanded marketplace is new in publishing. Before, the gatekeepers controlled every single stall in that marketplace. You couldn’t find the lovely one-of-a-kind item even if you walked past every stall in every aisle.

Now you can.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like what an author has written, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Imagine that you are dying

27 November 2015

Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.

Anne Enright

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