Jammed-Up Day

PG is having a jammed-up day.

It began with a long out-of-office meeting and continued with a wide range of must-do tasks that took longer than he anticipated (of course).

He has not abandoned TPV or its lovely visitors.

He needs to complete one more must-do task, then he’ll put up some posts albeit probably fewer than he usually does.

The mother load

From The Guardian:

Never in my life had I been so high.

I’d just given a reading in Amsterdam after which the gracious hosts of the evening took me out for drinks. Three young women asked me questions about sex and love and desire as though I were an expert and it was nice but I was tired and unused to being considered an expert in anything but panic.

I thanked the hosts and slipped out. I’d always wanted to visit Amsterdam and I had only two nights. I wanted to walk the streets alone. I wanted to walk across the bridges and look at the waving water and look inside the windows of the closed shops. I wanted to find the loveliest cafe and mark it for the morning. I wanted to eat bitterballen and wash them down with stroopwaffel. And I wanted to get high.

The streets were dark with rain. I found a deli. It wasn’t one of the coffeeshops with the meticulously bagged furry sativa. This was just a deli, cartons of milk, packs of gum. Before leaving I bought one large plastic tub of marijuana brownies. It seemed wasteful not to, and the man assured me I absolutely could take the cookies on my flight to Romania early the next morning. OK yes why not yes yes is OK yes. He was equal parts aloof and confident and not understanding what I was saying. So it felt right.

In the hour that followed I held the joint with one hand and a broken umbrella with the other. I walked and smoked and the cherry kept going out on the joint and I didn’t have a lighter and so twice I stopped to ask strangers for a light and tried to balance the umbrella and the joint and the unwieldy weight of my embarrassment. I got so high that I didn’t feel panic about my imminent flight. I got so high that I didn’t get lost. I found my pretty hotel but had gotten so high that I forgot my four-year-old daughter was sleeping in a room upstairs.

Hang on now. Her father was in the room with her. But I almost forgot I was a mother. But that’s not it. I forgot enough about my panic that I wasn’t acting like the neurotic mother that I am. I rarely drink and when I do, I don’t drink much. So that getting high (so high) felt like a real breach. I got so high that I didn’t care that I got so high.

To some (or many!) I’m sure I would be considered in that moment (or many!) a bad mother. I know it for a fact because I spoke to hundreds of women for my book – many of them mothers – and they all had at some point been called “bad”. Many of them believed it to the extent that they felt they weren’t good enough for their children.

One of the women I spoke to was a talented musician. She told me that the only one of her singles that underperformed told the story of a bad mother. It was one of her favourite songs, but she had to stop singing it at concerts because she would receive death threats on Twitter. One listener threatened to kidnap her child, because she was too bad a mother to keep her.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Amazon and Mall Operator Look at Turning Sears, J.C. Penney Stores Into Fulfillment Centers

From The Wall Street Journal:

The largest mall owner in the U.S. has been in talks with Amazon.com Inc., the company many retailers denounce as the mall industry’s biggest disrupter, to take over space left by ailing department stores.

Simon Property Group Inc. has been exploring with Amazon the possibility of turning some of the property owner’s anchor department stores into Amazon distribution hubs, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon typically uses these warehouses to store everything from books and sweaters to kitchenware and electronics until delivery to local customers.

The talks have focused on converting stores formerly or currently occupied by J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp., these people said. The department-store chains have both filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and as part of their plans have been closing dozens of stores across the country. Simon malls have 63 Penney and 11 Sears stores, according to its most recent public filing in May.

It wasn’t clear how many stores are under consideration for Amazon, and it is possible that the two sides could fail to reach an agreement, people briefed on the matter said.

The talks reflect the intersection of two trends that predate the pandemic but have been accelerated by it: the decline of malls and the boom in e-commerce.

. . . .

For Amazon, a deal with Simon would be consistent with its efforts to add more distribution hubs near residential areas to speed up the crucial last mile of delivery.

But for Simon, any deal to surrender prime space to Amazon would signal a break from a longtime business model for malls: reliance on a large department store to draw foot traffic to neighboring shops and restaurants.

That model has broken down in recent years, as many department stores are now fighting for their lives. Lord & Taylor also filed for bankruptcy early this month, while Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. filed in May. Nordstrom Inc. closed 16 stores in recent months.

Their big-box spaces are typically more than 100,000 square feet and often span more than one level. Smaller mall tenants have counted on traffic to department stores to spill over to neighboring retailers, and many have clauses that allow them to reduce rents or break their leases if the department store stays empty.

Having an Amazon fulfillment center could still trigger some of these cotenancy clauses, but some landlords say even that scenario would be preferable to keeping that yawning space vacant.

. . . .

Amazon fulfillment centers wouldn’t draw much additional foot traffic to the mall, though some employees could eat and shop at the mall. That is why landlords have preferred to replace department stores with other retailers, gyms, theaters or entertainment operators. Yet many of these tenants are struggling to survive during the pandemic and aren’t in expansion mode.

Simon would likely rent the space at a considerable discount to what it could charge another retailer. Warehouse rents are typically less than $10 a square foot, while restaurant rents can be multiples of that. Depending on when the leases were signed and their locations, department-store rents can be as low as $4 a square foot or as high as $19 a square foot.

But Amazon’s growth and healthy balance sheet would make it a reliable tenant at a time when most retail business has been waylaid by the pandemic. Simon, which owns 204 properties in the U.S., has had to contend with a ramp-up in retail tenant closures in recent years that has accelerated during Covid-19.

. . . .

Malls’ strategic locations often make them attractive as distribution hubs. Many are near main highways and residences. Amazon has already acquired the sites of some failed malls and converted them to fulfillment centers. FedEx Corp. and DHL International GmbH have done the same.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)

The Nothing Man

It has been some time since PG has paid any attention to a book trailer. When they first became a thing, he watched a few. They were pretty terrible, so he stopped.

He happened across the book trailer below and saw distinct improvements over prior efforts. That said, he still doesn’t know if they sell any books, but would be happy to read opinions on the topic in the comments.

The Brontës: the unfortunate and unlikely tale of the world’s “greatest literary sisters”

From History Extra:

Charlotte Brontë steps into her father’s study. In her hand, she holds a book – a hardback volume bound in cloth, with the words ‘Jane Eyre’ stamped on the cover. “Papa, I’ve been writing a book,” she announces, rather understating the true matter of her achievement. In fact, her novel is completed, published, and is selling at almost record speed. “Have you my dear?” the unsuspecting Reverend Patrick Brontë replies, without looking up. As Charlotte continues, the clergyman slowly realises that his daughter has become a literary sensation, in secret, right under his nose. After some time, Patrick calls in Charlotte’s younger sisters, Emily and Anne: “Charlotte has been writing a book – and I think it is better than I expected.” It is good that he approves of Charlotte’s tale, because he’s about to learn that his other daughters have similar stories to tell…

This conversation, recounted by Patrick years later to Charlotte’s first biographer, occurred at the beginning of 1848. It was a tumultuous year for the Brontës, with glorious highs and tragic lows. But at this point, the Brontë women were happy, little knowing that they were on the brink of legendary – if short-lived – careers. They have since become famed the world over for their intense, dramatic and tragic novels, for which they had plenty of inspiration in their own lives…

. . . .

The tragedies started early for the Brontës. In 1821, when Charlotte was five, Emily was three and Anne was not yet two, they lost their mother to illness. Four years after that, their two eldest sisters both died of tuberculosis in as many months. Five Brontës remained: their father Patrick, an Irish-born, Cambridge-educated vicar, the girls, and their brother Branwell, who was a year younger than Charlotte. Their mother’s sister, Aunt Branwell, also lived with them in the parsonage of the industrial town of Haworth, Yorkshire. The unassuming grey-stone building, in its bleak setting between a graveyard and the vast expanse of the moors, became a much-loved home, to which the sisters always felt a painful pull.

. . . .

Over the next few years, the sisters took up various, generally short-lived, teaching positions. “All three girls hated being teachers and governesses,” says Barker, largely as “they couldn’t spare the time to write about their imaginary worlds, and Charlotte in particular resented the servility of the position.” Anne was the only one to maintain a long-term post, as governess to the Robinson family from 1840-45. Shortly after Anne joined the Robinsons, Charlotte spearheaded a scheme to open their own school. For this they needed a more sophisticated education so, in February 1842, Charlotte (aged 25) and Emily (23), went to a school in Brussels.

. . . .

They pushed through their homesickness to make the most of the opportunity, only returning at the end of 1842 after Aunt Branwell died. Afterwards, Charlotte returned to Brussels alone. She became forlorn and depressed, and also fell in love with her tutor. The painfully one-sided attachment would continue long after she left Brussels at the end of 1843. Back in Haworth, lovelorn Charlotte set about sourcing pupils for the school, but none were found and the entire dream was dropped, with surprisingly little regret.

. . . .

In autumn 1845, Charlotte found some of Emily’s poems and read them, uninvited. Emily was enraged by the intrusion, but the incident gave head-strong Charlotte an idea – if the sisters could gather a collection of poems, they might be able to publish in secret and, if successful, they could become professional writers. They would never have to teach again, nor would they have to worry so much about Branwell’s ability to provide. After calming Emily, Charlotte, who as Barker explains “was the only one ambitious for fame,” convinced her sisters of the plan.

Link to the rest at History Extra

“The strongest digital sales performance in years” – HarperCollins. “Robust growth in digital formats” – Hachette

From The New Publishing Standard:

The HarperCollins fiscal year runs to June 30, and this year fiscal Q4 (2020 Q2) saw a 3% drop in revenue from $419 million to $407 million. But profits were up 9%, to $47 million. As reported by parent company News Corp, for the full fiscal year revenue of $1.67 billion was down 5% on 2019, with profits down 15% to $214 million.

Bookstore closures of course played a role, but News Corp CFO Susan Panuccio reported a strong showing from the ebook and audiobook sector, describing it as “the strongest digital sale performance in years”, that helped offset the bookstore closures.

Compared to the same period 2019, digital sales were up 26%, with ebook performing best with a 31% rise, while audiobooks rose 17%. Together the two digital sectors made up 29% of HarperCollins revenue in Q2 2020.

. . . .

Meanwhile Hachette UK’s H2 2020 performance has been described as “sterling” by parent company Lagardère, with revenue down only 2.8% despite the  severe UK lockdown, with Hachette UK CEO David Shelley adding it was an “extremely strong” performance.

. . . .

Lagardère added that Hachette UK had seen,

robust growth in digital formats.

. . . .

The US by contrast performed well in difficult circumstance, leading Lagardère to observe the English language markets had better digital and e-commerce infrastructure.

. . . .

“Fast-paced growth in digital formats” also got a mention, with ebooks totalling 10.6% of Lagardère Publishing’s H2 2020 revenue, up from 8.2% in first-half 2019, with digital audio accounting for 5.3% of revenue, up from 3.4% in same period 2019.

Link to the rest at The New Publishing Standard

Self-Publishing Is a Gamble. Why Is Donald Trump Jr. Doing It?

From The New York Times:

There is a lot about Donald Trump Jr.’s second book that is unusual.

One of his father’s most effective surrogates, Donald Trump Jr. plans to release “Liberal Privilege: Joe Biden and the Democrats’ Defense of the Indefensible” in early September, during the final fevered weeks of the presidential campaign. His last book sold well. The Republican National Committee can use the new one for fund-raising, as it did with the last.

His plans to self-publish, however, along with the book’s unconventional rollout and distribution plan, make it something of a curiosity in publishing circles.

“It’s a risk,” said Jane Dystel, a literary agent. “And it’s your time.”

Mr. Trump’s first book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” was published last November. It has sold 286,000 copies, according to NPD BookScan, and is still selling steadily. But when the coronavirus pandemic grounded him in New York in March, he decided to write another.

. . . .

Center Street, an imprint of Hachette, published his first book, and it made an offer on the second one. Mr. Trump turned it down.

There are a few key differences between going through a traditional publishing house and doing it yourself. One of the big ones is money. Authors who sign with a publisher typically receive an advance payment before the book goes on sale, then about 10 to 15 percent of hardcover sales after they earn back their advance. If the book is self-published, there is no advance but an author can generally walk away with anywhere from 35 percent to as much as 70 percent of the sales. Because Mr. Trump has his own platform — and the promise of bulk purchases from the R.N.C. — he doesn’t need the publicity arm of a major publisher.

. . . .

But those big percentages don’t factor in expenses, which add up quickly. There are lawyers to pay, printed copies that need to be delivered to stores and warehouses, book jackets that need to be designed. There are fussy little details, like registering an ISBN number, filing for copyright, proofreading and more proofreading. Indeed, a typo on the cover of “Liberal Privilege” when Mr. Trump first posted it on Twitter was met with see-how-it-goes-without-us giggles in much of the publishing world. (That typo, an errant apostrophe, has been fixed, but another remained on his personal website this week, after a quote about the book from “Laura Ingraham, Host of The Ingram Angle.”)

So writing and releasing a book on your own is not only a gamble, it is also an unwieldy, complicated project, which is why the biggest-name authors generally don’t bother to do it.

One thing that is guaranteed when self-publishing is greater autonomy. While there’s no reason to think Mr. Trump was held back when he wrote “Triggered,” self-published authors hire their editors and can fire them if they don’t like their advice. This time, Mr. Trump can say truly whatever he wants.

. . . .

The R.N.C. said it raised nearly $1 million from signed copies of “Triggered.” The book was a New York Times No. 1 best seller last year, but it appeared on the list with a dagger symbol next to it, signifying that bulk sales — which came from the R.N.C. and other conservative groups — helped to boost its ranking. The R.N.C. said it has bought several thousand copies of “Liberal Privilege” so far and plans to buy more on a rolling basis.

“Don Jr.’s first book was a fund-raising powerhouse for the party, and we have no doubt this book will be the same,” Mandi Merritt, the press secretary for the R.N.C., said in an email.

Unlike Mr. Hannity’s book, “Liberal Privilege” will not be in bookstores. A person with knowledge of the project said that it will be $29.99 on Mr. Trump’s website, where presales are being handled, and on Amazon, along with an e-book and an audiobook narrated by Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior campaign adviser and Mr. Trump’s girlfriend. It’s unclear if any major retailers will carry the book, though managers at some traditional distribution channels said last week that they hadn’t heard anything about it.

. . . .

Another unusual aspect of the book is Mr. Trump’s collaborator, Sergio Gor, who has acted as his literary agent, consulted on the content of the book and has overseen the team managing everything from the editing to the print run.

. . . .

“It’s a big job to self-publish,” Ms. Dystel, the literary agent, said, “and it takes your attention away from other things.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Big Shot Publishers? We don’t need no stinkin’ Big Shot Publishers!

Big Shot Agent? We don’t need no stinkin’ Big Shot Agent!

Big Shot Barnes & Noble? We don’t need no stinkin’ Big Shot Barnes & Noble!

Big Shot New York Times? We don’t need no stinkin’ Big Shot New York Times, but thanks anyway for the giant sales boost from your snarky article!

Do-it Yourself takes your Attention?

No Attention paid to Big Shot Agent, No Attention paid to Big Shot Publisher, No Attention paid to Big Shot Barnes & Noble, No Attention paid to Big Shot New York Times.

My Attention? Getting the book out the door and into the hands of a zillion readers!

Big Job to self-publish?

Big Shot Agent, Big Shot Publisher, Big Shot Barnes & Noble and Big Shot New York Times? That’s your Really Big Job!

Big Publisher, Big Shot Agent, Wait until Barnes & Noble gets copies out to all its stores, New York Times article? Impossible Job before November if your name is Trump?

Ya think?

Do-it Yourself is the Ultimate Big Cinch!

Plus Big Fast is Amazon’s middle name!

Anybody going to be dumb enough to use Big Shot Publisher for election-year written book ever again?

There’s your Big Gamble!

How This Bookseller Got a Spanx Grant

From Publishers Weekly:

Traveling though Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in 2017, on our way to our son’s wedding in the San Juan Islands, I say to my husband, “I have to stop here to buy a Spanx.”

“What’s a Spanx?” Ben asks.

“It’s like a girdle,” I tell him.

In my bag is a slim, silk, azure blue dress to wear, but my boobs are too small to cover my middle-aged stomach. Without trying anything on I buy a couple pairs of underwear and a body suit. Who knew I would wear that Eileen Fisher dress and feel so good, and that three years later Spanx would come to my stores’ aid?

With the onset of the pandemic in March, life in my bookstore changed overnight. Bookstores did not make the list of “essential businesses.” I contacted the state to ask that Connecticut bookstores remain nonessential, but be permitted to continue selling books with the doors locked and minimal staff for curbside pickup, shipping, and delivery. With the state’s okay, two managers, our new bookkeeper, and the event coordinator remained. Over 30 staff were furloughed.

First quarter in New England is habitually slow. This year, we owed thousands of dollars to our vendors. We asked publishers to hold shipments and cancel all forthcoming orders for spring and summer. A few other booksellers and I wrote a letter to the five major publishers in New York with a list of asks: better terms, longer dating on invoices, forgiveness of debt, and much more.

. . . .

Conversations with my bookkeeper were tough. She didn’t see how we were going to make it through this. Neither did I. I googled how to declare bankruptcy. I have two bookstores. What would I do if we could save one store and not the other? Which one would we save?

We needed every cent we could find to make it through this crisis.

. . . .

I was negotiating rent with our Mystic landlords in April, and one of them told me about a grant that the founder of Spanx was offering. Sara Blakely, who’d started Spanx with $5,000 in savings, was offering 1,000 grants of $5,000 each to women-owned businesses through the Red Backpack Fund. We applied. Why not? When we received an email saying that we’d been awarded a $5,000 grant, I was overwhelmed. The money came, along with a red Herschel backpack that will make me smile each time it sits on my back.

The world now looks a little brighter. If I miss my walk or take a shorter one, I still feel okay. The salt water is now warm enough to swim. Zoom calls with other bookstore owners in Wichita, Kans.; South Hadley, Mass.; New York; and San Francisco keep us all going.

We are in business. 

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Intuitive Writing and Character Formation

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

Inspiration is a funny thing. Mysterious and mystical, it’s difficult to know where it comes from. And unless one writes biographical fiction, characters are inspired by something. Before I started writing books, I imagined that somehow characters formed by themselves without too much effort, as if they leapt onto the page fully formed. Even when I wrote my first book, I thought it worked this way. The writing process was just as mysterious to me as character formation. You see, I’m an intuitive writer. I thought my writing just kind of happened. It was when I began books two and three that I realized characters were a little harder to pin down. 

G.K. Chesterton once said, “A woman uses her intelligence to find reasons to support her intuition.” Now that I’ve published multiple books and drafted several others, I’ve come to find out that while I am an intuitive writer, and even though it’s difficult to articulate my process, I do have a process. 

My first published book was born out of an experiment. I had already written an entire draft of another book, but I didn’t love the voice of that book. I had written it in third-person and began to wonder what might it be like to write in first person. As someone who loves to daydream with a constant inner monologue at any point in my day, it seemed a natural method of writing a story.

I don’t remember how it came about at the time, but the first thing I thought of was that scene from the Disney movie Aladdin where Aladdin has just stolen an apple and is running away from the city guards, singing the song “One Jump.”

I loved the idea of a feisty female heroine, so I re-imagined that scene from Aladdin, but this time with a character who would become Kassia. This was my initial spark of inspiration, but what does a writer do with that initial spark?

. . . .

Before I start writing any book, I have to know the why. My books need a purpose, a goal to accomplish. This is often called the theme of a book. Once I know my theme, I need to know how my characters relate to that theme. This guiding light is the compass for my main character throughout the entire book.

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books

Creator Groups Respond to Copyright Office’s Proposed Rule Changes to Ease Notice of Termination Requirements

From The Authors Guild:

The Authors Guild submitted comments in response to the Copyright Office’s proposed changes to its requirements for serving and filing notices of termination. Sections 203 and 304 of the Copyright Act give authors the right to terminate any grant of rights or contract after 35-40 years (or 56-61 years in the case of copyrights secured before 1978) by sending the grantee a notice of termination and recording it with the Copyright Office. The recent proposed changes would make the process of recording the notices easier by, among other things, giving the Copyright Office discretion to record notices that are untimely, and setting the date of recordation to the date on which the Office receives a copy of the notice instead of the date it receives the notice, fee, and other elements. Nine other creator organizations joined the Guild’s comments, which you can read below. 

Link to the rest at The Authors Guild

Following are excerpts from The Author’s Guild letter (a link to the entire letter is at the OP):

As the Copyright Office is well aware, the hard-won right to terminate grants of copyright
ownership, control and use after a set number of years, with certain exceptions and limitations,
were included in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 over the energetic objections of third-party
assignees. Congress acted in this regard as a result of its recognition of the inherent fairness and
necessity of such provisions in support of the advancement of the American creative community
and national culture, as envisioned under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
The plain fact underlying that visionary decision in 1976 by members of Congress is that
the accurate valuation of new works in virtually every artistic discipline is by definition an
impossible task. Under such circumstances, the only way to ensure that creators are fairly
compensated for creating works of enormous popularity and value is to legally empower them to
recapture copyright ownership or rights at some reasonable point after the grant. This new and
unique copyright termination rights regime, which commenced in 1978, has proven to be far more
effective in protecting the abilities of authors and their heirs to survive in the always-difficult
economic environment of the arts than the system of bifurcated copyright terms accomplished
under the 1909 Copyright Act.

. . . .

We strongly support the Office’s proposed amendment to restore its discretion to record
untimely notices “if equitable circumstances warrant.” As the Office notes in its 2010 analysis of

gap grants, “[t]ermination rights…have an equitable function; they exist to allow authors or their
heirs a second opportunity to share in the economic success of their works.”3
Considering that refusal to record a notice of termination can extinguish the right of
termination, the Office’s discretion in making equitable judgments to the extent allowed by the
statutes is vitally important. The Office, for its part, has diligently served as an equitable arbiter to
ensure that ambiguities in the termination statutes are resolved in favor of the termination
provision’s intended beneficiaries—authors.4 At the start of the decade, the Office undertook a
comprehensive analysis of “gap grants” to understand the consequences for grantors who sign a
contract years in advance of the work’s creation, something that is common in many creative
industries. In its report, the Office recognized that:

[T]he act of recordation by the Office and the refusal of recordation by the Office
do not carry equal weight under the law. The latter may permanently invalidate a
notice of termination that is otherwise legally sound. This fact and Office’s
obligation to provide clear guidance in its practices and the regulations compel the
Office to record [emphasis added] rather than reject notices of termination filed
under section 203.5

The Office notes in the present notice that the change in wording—from “the Copyright
Office reserves the right to refuse recordation of a notice of termination if….such notice of termination is untimely” to “the Copyright Office will refuse recordation of a notice of termination
as such if…such notice of termination is untimely” [emphasis added]—occurred in 2017 as part of
the parallel rulemaking on modernizing recordation practices without any discussion of reasons or
“whether [the change] was intended to narrow the Office’s discretion in this area.”6 Because this
change did not issue from rulemaking specifically about limiting the Office’s discretion, it’s
reasonable to assume that it does not compel the Office to reject untimely notices of termination
without respect to equitable circumstances even if the apparent ambiguity created by replacing
“reserves the right” to “will” opens one such interpretation. Nevertheless, the alteration that the
Office is now proposing—replacing “will” to “may”—removes the ambiguity and realigns the
wording with the Office’s practice of recording notices with minor errors as long as the mistakes
were made in good faith.

. . . .

Applying the Harmless Error Standard to Recordation Rules

We also support the proposed amendments to § 201.10(e)(1)–(2) to make compliance with
the Office’s recordation rules subject to the harmless error standard. Currently, the Office applies
the harmless error standard with respect to information contained in the notice to excuse good
faith errors that do not affect the adequacy of notice to the grantee. As such, the harmless error
standard adequately balances the equitable importance of the termination right for authors with
the practical necessity of providing enough information to the grantee to make them aware that
their rights in the work will expire on a certain date. A stricter compliance standard would burden
the ability of grantors to reclaim their rights, while a looser standard excusing even errors that
grossly misidentify the title or dates would defeat the purpose of the notice requirement. We think
this is a sensible approach that should apply to all requirements pertaining to termination notices.

. . . .

Identification of Work

We think that allowing remitters to identify the work by either title or registration number
or both makes good sense, and we support the proposed changes to § 201.10 (b)(2)(iv). We agree
with the Office that there is a greater risk of material errors being made by mistakes in the
registration number that could affect the adequacy of a notice (such as a transposition error in the
registration number that identifies another work), and that this risk should be noted in the
Office’s instructions for remitters. The Office might also consider issuing a circular specifically
discussing common errors that can materially affect the adequacy of a notice, with examples of
material and harmless errors.

. . . .

Optional Form for Remitters

We strongly support the Copyright Office’s creation of a form or template to assist
remitters in creating and serving notices of termination to help ensure that all of the required
regulatory and statutory elements are included. An online form that creators could fill out to
generate a letter would be ideal. The creator could simply print out the termination notice letter
for physical service (or serve it by email if and when the Office starts allowing service by email).
The Office might even consider integrating the termination form into the Enterprise Copyright
System (ECS) to harness the power of a centralized and interlinked database. For instance, the

Office could consider programming automated alerts that would pop up if any information
entered by the user in the termination form conflicts with information in the registration record (if
one exists), thereby giving the notice-filer a chance to correct the erroneous information before
service. The feasibility of additional functionalities, such as allowing users to serve the notice on
authenticated grantees (for example, those grantees who have used the ECS to record the transfer
and/or registered the work, and opted in for service in this manner), could be considered further
down the line. In short, the integration of a fillable form into the ECS has a lot of potential to
make the recordation of termination notices more efficient. The Office, however, should make it
conspicuously clear at all times that using the form to generate and serve a notice does not
guarantee recordation, and that ultimately the notice-filer is responsible for locating, entering, and
verifying the accuracy of the information contained in the notice of termination.

Link to the rest at The Authors Guild

PG found a lot of good changes described in the original proposal. The AG’s support for the Copyright Office to prepare a template of the form necessary would also speed up the job of creating a form that included all the requisite elements required under the law.

Attorneys that do a lot of this sort of work (well, there are not actually a lot of authors or heirs of authors who know about their right to terminate, so, compared to the number of publishing contracts signed, the number of notices of termination of those contracts are miniscule) have developed (or copied) form templates that address all the current requirements.

But, providing an online form template would allow more authors to do the job themselves and/or cost authors less because more attorneys would be able to provide assistance in filling out the forms.

There are a number of IP/Copyright/Publishing attorneys who visit TPV on a regular basis. PG encourages any of them who have thoughts about this topic to share them in the comments.

PG has written about the statutory rights of authors to terminate publishing agreements they have signed on several occasions, the first time in 2011. Here’s a link to a general explanation of the process and requirements. Basically, for publishing contracts executed by the author on or after January 1, 1978, the right to terminate opens 35 years after a publishing contract was signed (or, more commonly for book contracts, 35 years after the date of first publication) and continues for five years thereafter.

There are some other elements and exceptions, but the gist for most authors of books is the option to terminate starts 35 years after first publication and extends for 5 years to 40 years after first publication.

Under its current rules, everything the author does and every document Copyright Office needs to receive needs to be perfect or made perfect before the 40-year closing of the window. Among other changes, the proposed rules allow the author (or red-faced attorney for author) to make an effective filing, even with some relatively small errors, before the window closes, then fix fix the errors thereafter.

For the math-impaired, 2020 minus 35 is 1985.

1985 New York Times Bestsellers included:

THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, by Tom Clancy

THE CIDER HOUSE RULES, by John Irving

CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE, by Frank Herbert

TEXAS, by James A. Michener

LONESOME DOVE, by Larry McMurtry

SECRETS, by Danielle Steel

FAMILY ALBUM, by Danielle Steel

LUCKY, by Jackie Collins

PROOF, by Dick Francis

THE MAMMOTH HUNTERS, by Jean M. Auel

LAKE WOBEGON DAYS, by Garrison Keillor

THE TALISMAN, by Stephen King and Peter Straub

THINNER, by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

CONTACT, by Carl Sagan

THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, by Anne Tyler

THE VAMPIRE LESTAT, by Anne Rice

MEXICO SET, by Len Deighton

IF TOMORROW COMES, by Sidney Sheldon

MINDBEND, by Robin Cook

THE SICILIAN, by Mario Puzo

A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC, by Shel Silverstein

SON OF THE MORNING STAR, by Evan S. Connell

LOVING EACH OTHER, by Leo Buscaglia

MOSES THE KITTEN, by James Herriot

Books Published in 1985 that were not bestsellers in that year:

THE HANDMAID’S TALE, by Margaret Atwood

ENDER’S GAME, by Orson Scott Card

THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, by Anne Tyler

IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE, by Laura Joffe Numeroff

SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL, by Patricia MacLachlan

Nigel Roby Sells the UK’s ‘The Bookseller’ to Stage Media Company

From Publishing Perspectives:

The United Kingdom’s longstanding news medium of record for book publishing, The Bookseller, has announced this morning in London (August 7) that it has been acquired by Stage Media Co., publisher of The Stage–the counterpart trade medium to The Bookseller for the British theater and performing arts industry.

Terms of the deal have not been made public, and media messaging from The Bookseller says that the new ownership is effective immediately, a result of talks that began in the autumn.

While The Bookseller is only being sold for the third time–a remarkable thing in itself for a an operation more than 150 years old–some may feel it’s had too short a time under the leadership of Nigel Roby, who bought the publication 10 years ago when Nielsen was divesting itself of its magazines, which included  The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.

. . . .

“This is a bittersweet moment,” Roby says in a prepared statement for today’s news. “Owning and running The Bookseller has been the greatest privilege of my working life.

“I have put all of my care and energy into The Bookseller so leaving was never going to be easy. And it isn’t.”

. . . .

The Bookseller staff is expected to relocate, physically, to The Stage office space in Southwark’s brick-solid Bermondsey Street in the autumn.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

When PG first saw the headline of the OP, his initial thought was that The Bookseller is another victim of the Coronavirus.

If negotiations for the sale began last Autumn, that would seem to scotch questions about the victim narrative. However, finally coming to terms during the pandemic might imply tight finances at the publication helped move sales negotiations forward when they otherwise might have stopped.

All conjecture, however, on PG’s part.

My First Year as a Mother, I Only Read Women Authors. Here’s What I Learned.

When I was six months pregnant, I moved across the world, and I found myself thinking a lot about containers. First, in order to move I had to put everything I owned, including books, into containers. Then those containers had to be loaded into a shipping container that went across the Atlantic. My old life had to be folded and put away in the trunks of memory as I said goodbye to friends, quit a job I was sorry to leave, broke the lease on my one-bedroom apartment, and signed the paperwork for my spousal visa. And in the third trimester, it had become more and more obvious that my body was itself a container—one that was struggling to contain a writhing, wriggling being.

IMAGE: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The boxes carrying my things arrived at my new home a few weeks before my due date, and I put my books back on the shelf, not knowing how to organize them. When would I get to read again? As I waited for contractions to start, I read as fast as I could, soaking up the alone time. But it turned out having a baby didn’t mean I couldn’t find time to read. It just meant reading was different. I read on my Kindle app on my iPhone as the baby nursed. I spent long, lonely maternity leave days browsing the shelves at the local library, and then I read my picks while the baby napped.

But what should I read, now that I inhabited this strange, new life? The world was no longer defined by containers—I was outside of all the boxes now, wandering around in a cold new world and watching over a vulnerable, needy being who didn’t know or care what I was thinking about.

I decided to take on a year-long experiment of reading only women authors. My energy to read—and especially to be an engaged, opinionated reader—was dwindling. I wanted to find inspiration and understanding in the voices of other women. It was reductive, I knew, to imagine other women were the solution, but at the same time I craved reductive thinking. I just wanted things to be simple, and to work.

Early in the year, I found a book that let me look inside another new mother’s postpartum mind, and I recognized my own warped perceptions. The book was Little Labors by Rivka Galchen. “She had appeared as an animal,” Galchen writes about her newborn daughter. “A previously undiscovered old-world monkey, but one with whom I could communicate deeply: it was an unsettling, intoxicating, against-nature feeling. A feeling that felt like black magic. We were rarely apart.” Galchen’s book is in fragments, in dream-like observations and factually-presented metaphors that echoed my own disordered internal world. Suddenly, I felt like I was in a container again—a box labeled “Mothers like Rivka Galchen.” I was sure my experiment was working.

Link to the rest at The Millions

Here’s another PG experiment with a new (at least to him) WordPress block.

The two images and the text included with them are called a Media and Text block. PG likes the look and thinks it’s better than putting a big cover photo at the end of the post per one of Amazon Associates SiteStrip embeds.

Feel free to share your responses to intermingled media and images in posts. After viewing other websites that include visual media along with stories/articles, he was concerned that TPV was a little visually boring.

The downside to more image/text combos is that PG tends to wander off into OCD voyages to locate the perfect public domain/royalty-free image, so if he continues to use Media and Text blocks, he’ll do so on an intermittent basis. PG is inclined to match image sizes to text sizes a bit better if he continues to use this particular block (there goes that OCD again), so tweaking the size is likely to be an additional step.

The most borrowed ebooks and audiobooks since Libby launched

From Overdrive:

To celebrate National Book Lovers Day, we thought it’d be fun to look at the audiobooks and ebooks that have been checked out more than any others since Libby was launched.

Audiobooks
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Educated by Tara Westover
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’engle

Ebooks

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Educated by Tara Westover
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
The Whistler by John Grisham

Link to the rest at Overdrive

For those who may be unfamiliar with Libby, it’s a program used by many public library systems to facilitate ebook and audiobook lending.

Rapunzel, Draft One Thousand

From The Paris Review:

I call the Wig Man. He picks up. “My sister,” I say, “was diagnosed …” He interrupts me because he is driving and he is in a rush. “My store,” he says, “was looted last night.” “My sister,” I want to say, “…” He tells me he gathered all the hair that was left on the floor. “Glass everywhere,” he says. “I filled my Toyota Tacoma with all the hair that was left. I am driving home now,” he says. “Is you sister’s hair long?” he asks. It is. It is very long. “Because if it’s long what your sister should do before treatment begins is cut all her hair off and I will sew it, strand by strand, into a soft net. It’s called a halo,” he says. “I want to help your sister,” says the Wig Man. I imagine his Toyota Tacoma so stuffed with wigs that black and brown and blond hairs press up against the windows. Like animals trapped inside their own freedom. He starts to cry. I am certain he is driving across a bridge. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” he says.

“Neither do I,” I don’t say.

Sewing a wig strand by strand is called ventilating. I watch a tutorial. With a needle you draw each strand through a lace net and knot it on itself. The needle goes in and then out like thousands of tiny breaths. Ventilating a wig takes the patience of the dead. Each knotted strand is like a person sewn into a free country. The knot is tight, and the net is manufactured. “Of course my life matters,” says Eli my six-year-old. “Why wouldn’t it matter?”

My sister decides not to cut her hair. Instead she lets it fall out, slowly and then suddenly. She yawns, rises, and climbs up the stairs. She leaves behind a trail of blondish gold thread, like a princess coming undone. I write six different essays on Rapunzel. All of them are terrible. I help my sister into bed, though she prefers I not touch her. On her nightstand are six glittering tiaras. She wears one to chemo. Another to breakfast. “Isn’t it strange,” I say, “that I write about fairy tales and you are a fairy tale princess?” She looks at me hard. “A sick princess,” she says.

Of all the fairy tales, Rapunzel gives me the most difficult time. 

. . . .

I never call the Wig Man back. Instead, my mother buys my sister four wigs made out of strangers’ hair. Two brown ones, and two blond. My sister refuses to try the wigs on so my mother tries them on instead.

. . . .

“Did you know,” says my sister, “that in Disney’s Tangled Rapunzel lives inside a kingdom called Corona?” “That can’t be right,” I say.

I cut off all my hair. A twelve-inch braid long enough for nobody to climb. I throw the braid in the trash and then remove it from the trash. It’s soft and dumb. “I can’t look at it,” says my mother. “Get it away from me,” says my sister. I put it in an envelope and send it to a dear friend’s brother, an artist who makes Torahs and animals and money out of human hair and skin. I mean it as an act of solidarity, but I get the feeling my sister and mother read it as an act of pointless sacrifice. To punish Rapunzel for betraying her captivity, the enchantress winds her braids around her left hand, cuts them off, then takes Rapunzel to a wilderness and leaves her there. “See,” I say to my sister. “It’s not so bad.” She looks at my short hair, and a small forest grows between us.

Other than Disney’s, in no version of Rapunzel is Rapunzel’s hair magical. It can’t bring back the dead, or heal a broken bone, or keep a woman young forever. It can’t light up dark water. It can’t be thrown like a lasso so Rapunzel can glide from mountaintop to mountaintop. It doesn’t, like his hair does for Samson, give her god’s power or the strength to kill a lion with her bare hands. It cannot keep a man from being shot for his blackness. It’s just hair.

“I’m sure Rapunzel is wonderful and not terrible,” emails a friend, “but also there’s something Sisyphean about Rapunzel …” 

. . . .

Rapunzel, my sister. I am using my sister’s cancer to write about the impossible because it’s impossible my sister has cancer.

. . . .

It is late afternoon and my sister is sleeping. In the dining room, my mother has lined up all the wigs on their Styrofoam heads. Like four extra daughters. She keeps walking by them and smoothing their hair with her hand. 

Link to the rest at The Paris Review

From Etymology of the Day:

Beginning as a slang term in 19th-century London, the stir in stir-crazy means “prison.” According to the Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology, stir may have originated as a variation on Start, a nickname criminals gave to Newgate, a notorious prison throughout London’s history. Stir, if this is true, broadened out from “Newgate” specifically to “prison” in general.

The Oxford English Dictionary first cites stir in Henry Mayhew’s 1851 journalistic investigation, London Labour and the London Poor. His interviewees mention folks “in stir” or “out of stir,” or, as Mayhew helpfully glosses, jail or prison.

By the early 20th century, stir had traveled to the United States, where crazy was added to describe “a prisoner who has succumbed to prison-induced insanity,” as slang lexicographer Jonathon Green defines it. He points out many colorful permutations: Stir-bug, stir-nut, stir-psycho, and stir-simple all referred to such prisoners who had gone stir-crazy, while stir-batty, stir-happy, and stir-looney were other ways to characterize the experience. US prison slang used stir for other terms throughout the 20th century, too, such as a stir hustler (“one who has mastered the ‘art’ of incarceration”) and stir lawyer (“a fellow prisoner who offers advice based on his own purported legal expertise”). Green also finds stir active more recently, used for “time served in prison” come the 2010s.

Link to the rest at Etymology of the Day

The Truth Is

The truth is that Trout, like Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury and many others, writes parables. These are set in frames which have become called, for no good reason, science fiction. A better generic term would be ‘future fairy tales’. And even this is objectionable, since many science fiction stories take place in the present or the past, far and near.

Philip José Farmer

3 New Thought-Provoking Horror Novels

From Book Riot:

I love how thought-provoking horror novels can be. Along with romance, horror is probably my favorite genre to read, and for similar reasons. That may seem counterintuitive, but I promise you it isn’t! Horror novels do not always end optimistically, the way romance novels guarantee. When they don’t, it’s a call to examine what justice looks like in the world of the novel. If, at the end, the monstrous force is winning, perhaps it’s not so monstrous after all. We should always be asking who the monster really is, what made it, and what it wants. That process of reckoning with monsters is a kind of optimism, because we believe it can be done.

Some readers are eager to “elevate” certain pieces of genre fiction from their genre into the realm of capital-L Literature. I don’t think that’s a worthwhile distinction to make. All fiction, genre or literary, makes a comment on the time of its writing and the society that produced it. The best thought-provoking horror novels are, like these, ones not trying to defy their genre. Completely entrenched in horror, the books celebrate and subvert tropes in turns. The authors are giving faithful horror readers the monsters, demons, and frights they desire, all while leaving eager readers with plenty of grist for the old brain mill.

. . . .

MEXICAN GOTHIC BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

Mexican Gothic is, in many ways, a more honest version of classic gothic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca. The story begins when Noemí receives a letter from her newlywed cousin indicating she’s in mortal peril. This prompts Noemí to travel to the creepy manor her cousin lives in, where she too gets tangled in the mystery.

When a Gothic manor sits on a windswept moor, far from the place where the wealth was extracted to fund it, it’s tougher to see why it should be haunted. High Place, the house in Mexican Gothic, is in Mexico, a monument to a mining empire and geographically close to the mines themselves. The supernatural forces don’t have as far to travel. The connection becomes clearer. This book elegantly ties rotten families, marriage, childbearing, race, and capitalism together, without ever forgetting to be a wild, spooky, trope-y gothic ride.

Link to the rest at Book Riot

How do you feel about Latest Comments as periodical post?

In the latest release of WordPress, a Latest Comments block has been added. PG has dropped it in this post right below this explanation. It shows the latest five comments in reverse chronological order.

Among other things, this means that if someone leaves a comment to a post that appeared two days ago, that comment will show up as the Latest Comment, above a comment made earlier on a post that first appeared an hour ago.

PG doesn’t think this would be objectionable (although, like all comments, it is subject to potential abuse). As with anything that appears on TPV, PG can be informed of any concerns a visitor has about any content via the Contact link on the top menu bar. PG can disenfranchise chronic abusers whose words appear anywhere on TPV by eliminating their accounts or taking other steps to help keep them off the blog. It’s not perfect, but PG hasn’t noted any regular bad actors who have reappeared after being removed.

PG would be interested in opinions concerning placing one of these on TPV every day or two. Feel free to share your thoughts via the Comments to this post (at the very bottom of the post).

Here’s the Latest Comments WP block in action:

The 35 Most Iconic Caper Movies, Ranked

Perhaps a writing prompt or two.

From Crime Reads:

Here it is—the other half of our endeavor to evaluate movies about large-scale theft! This is the accompanying list to our recently released ranking of the 50 most iconic Heist movies. We wrote at the start of the Heists list, “We will be releasing an accompanying list of the Best Capers shortly after this one, so if you don’t see a film with a great heist in it, keep your shirts on, because it’s probably on the other list” and this is that list. Ta-da. These two lists were written at the same time, so this is not some sort of amendment to the first list. It is the other half you’ve been waiting for!

Why are there two lists? Because the Caper is a sub-genre of the Heist film with its own specific rules and mood. Looking at each category of films (Heist versus Caper) specifically allows for more thoughtful ranking experience, between them. The Caper sub-genre features films which are (overall) lighter and wittier than the standard Heist movie. While characters in Capers also frequently pursue large sums of shadily-acquired money or other items of value, these films are not necessarily about the acts of committing robberies, as Heist films always are. This is important, so I’ll repeat it: for a film to be a heist movie, items have to be literally stolen. In a caper, items may be stolen, but they don’t have to be; there can be swindling and cons and money-laundering and other forms of theft. Not all con movies are capers. For example The Hustler is not on here, nor is Fabián Bielinsky’s Nine Queens, perfect examples of “Con” movies that are neither Heist nor Caper.

. . . .

What else really makes a Caper different from a Heist? Unlike the traditional Heist movie, which is usually a slick, deft, high-octane practicum, a Caper can be madcap, zany, as well as, on a different note, extremely romantic or flirty. The Caper is where you’ll find clever banter, silly sidekicks, gags, slapstick, and things generally going hilariously wrong. It’s also where you’ll find, more often than not, men in well-fitting suits who can’t be trusted or other sexy cat burglars, and tons of romantic tension. These movies are hardly gritty, they’re frequently not about the underworld. If they are, they’re funny as a result. Generally speaking, in terms of tone, if the Heist is a stomp, than the Caper is a romp.

When a movie is remade, sometimes it will move from Heist territory into Caper territory, or vice versa. Remakes like The Ladykillers, The Italian Job, and The Thomas Crown Affair occupy different categories than their originals and are therefore on different lists. As with the Heists list, keep in mind the criteria we’re using: we’re looking at the most iconic movies in this category, and we are ranking them from “worst” to “best.”

. . . .

26. The Truth About Charlie (2002)

I wish this remake of Charade, starring Thandie Newton and Mark Whalberg, lived up with what Thandie Newton deserves from this world, but it doesn’t. Cameos include Agnes Varda and Anna Karina, and those are very charming.

. . . .

21. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)

Michael Caine and Steve Martin are two rival con men in a race to see who can swindle an American heiress out of her fortune, in this rollicking comedy set along the French Rivera. Apocryphally, David Bowie and Mick Jagger were supposed to star in this movie which would have been… a different film entirely. A classic: put it on and you’ll put on the ritz.

20. Charade (1963)

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Charade, as much as I am often entertained by many Stanley Donen movies. Maybe it’s because I’ve just never gotten the appeal of late-career Cary Grant or because Charade is too slow for a film whose Saul-Bass-designed credit sequence promised would twist and whip along. If I enjoy it, I enjoy it for the presence of James Coburn and especially for the casting of Walter Matthau as an exhausted, sardonic American bureaucrat stuck in Paris, but anyway… Audrey Hepburn is about to divorce her husband when she finds out he’s been murdered. Turns out, he was CIA, but more than that—he was part of a group who secretly stashed stolen money during WWII, and after he dies, all his old buddies assume Audrey Hepburn knows the actual location of the treasure, and come after her. George Kennedy chews the scenery nicely as one of these visitors, a loud assassin with a hook for a hand.

. . . .

11. The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

This remake of The Thomas Crown Affair ditches its predecessors grasp on neo-noir and swaps it out for sexy intrigue. One of two art-theft-related romantic suspense movies to come out in 1999, Thomas Crowne stars Pierce Brosnan as a wealthy playboy who steals art for fun, and Rene Russo as the cunning detective on his case. It’s suave and sexy without being too heavy. It’s actually probably the perfect film to watch right now. Such an escape.

. . . .

5. Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks are teenaged con man/forger Frank Abignale Jr., and uptight FBI agent Carl Hanratty (respectively) in this perfect cat-and-mouse caper from Steven Spielberg, which is equal parts fun and devastating. Tom Hanks is overdoing it on the Boston accent, yes, but once you get past that, the relationship between hunter and hunted becomes almost as enjoyable as watching young Frank slip in and out of various snags. Also, why Christopher Walken didn’t win an Oscar for Supporting Actor is beyond me. Must of slipped right off his neck. (Actually, I confess, it’s not beyond me… that category was insane that year! Paul Newman for Road to Perdition? Chris Cooper in Adaptation? Ed Harris in The Hours? John C. Reily in Chicago? I just really wanted to make that joke.)

. . . .

2. How to Steal a Million (1966)

Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole light up the screen in this perfect little caper, about a young Parisian woman who disapproves of her jolly father Hugh Griffith’s penchant for art forgery. He’s an impeccable imitator of the Great Masters, and makes a pretty penny from selling them, but when he loans a priceless statue forged by his father to a museum for an exhibition, he finds out that the statue will have to be examined in order for it to be given its $1 million insurance protection. Knowing that an examination will expose her family’s history of art crime, she decides to steal it back from the museum, somehow. Only, since she has had no interest in a criminal lifestyle until now, needs to enlist the help of sexy cat burglar Peter O’Toole to help. The heist they pull off is one of the cleverest ones I’ve seen onscreen. And the scene where Audrey Hepburn sees Peter O’Toole for the first time, when he’s peeking out at her over the frame of the painting he’s swiping, and his eyes are super blue and when he puts it down it’s revealed he’s wearing a tuxedo… no better meet-cute in the history of cinema.

Link to the rest at Crime Reads

Nobody ever agrees with ranked lists of “Best” whatever.

PG will opine that Charade should be ranked much higher, however.

There are photos for each movie at the link. Plus a list of Iconic Heist movies – The Thomas Crown Affair is #9.

Publishing the full Spectrum

From The Bookseller:

For a long time, I felt like I had been failed by publishing. After a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome – now Autism Spectrum Disorder (or ASD) in 2015 – I set out to learn more about my new ‘label’, and what it meant to me. Recommendations included looking to TV, because characters such as Sheldon Cooper in “The Big Bang Theory” were ostensibly ‘good’ representation. I couldn’t relate. Frustrated, I turned to books, expecting someone, somewhere, to have written about my experience. There was very little that was supportive, or even relevant, to me.

It’s good to see that this is changing at long last, although publishing still has a long way to go to plug the gap. Despite Autism Spectrum Disorder being exactly that – a spectrum! – there remains a lack of nuance in books that touch on the varied experiences of people with ASD.

Take the recent backlashes around books about Autism. To Siri With Love – Judith Newman’s recent memoir about her Autistic son – may have been met with huge praise, but Autistic individuals shot back. Accusations of eugenics and ableism abounded – Kaelan Rhywiol summarised the objections in a piece for Bustle – as well as a ‘Twitterstorm’, complete with the hashtag #BoycottToSiri. The author responded that she had not written the book for an Autistic audience.

And this year, my Instagram feed flooded with petitions calling for the removal of I Wish My Kids Had Cancer by Micheal Alan – a book that appeared to equate Autism with cancer. Enough said.

. . . .

There are also a lot of books about parenting – but they are written by parents not on the spectrum. Spectrum Women: Autism & Parenting is out next month – and, so far, has been seen as a ‘revelation’. Why? Because it is written by people on the Autistic spectrum! As the saying goes, ‘nothing about us, without us’ – and this should apply to books about parenting Autistic children. It’s good to have books that are almost like textbooks – but they are not necessarily the real, lived experience of being on the spectrum. They miss the colour, the humanity. And that, I think, could often be said when someone not on the spectrum writes about being Autistic. 

. . . .

Stim: An Autistic Anthology was released earlier this year. Edited by Lizzie Huxley-Jones, this book was notable for giving free rein to the Autistic contributors. Essays, art, even fiction – not necessarily about Autism! – made this book a stand-out tome in its niche. It’s refreshing to read, offering a range of non-neurotypical perspectives.

Illustrator Megan Rhiannon has also released Existing Autistic – a self-published, illustrated book that contains information about functioning labels, sensory overload, and more. It has been received with thunderous applause – with her needing to re-stock it at least once since the release. 

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Giving Back To Your Readers

From Writers in the Storm:

In my last two posts here on WITS I talked in general terms about building your author platform, both online and offline. Today I’m going to dig a little deeper into building a long-term relationship with your readers. 

. . . .

One key piece of information we ask potential readers to give is an email address. This allows us to keep them up to date on new releases, share our creative process with them via newsletters, and send the occasional promotional mailings. But what can we give them in return for this valuable piece of information?

Like many authors, I’ve been giving readers a free story download in exchange for signing up for my newsletter (I admit I stole this idea from the great James Scott Bell). You might think managing all those download requests will eat up most of your writing time, but the good news is the process can be automated.

. . . .

Now that you have something to give to the readers, you’re going to need somewhere in the cloud to store it where it can be easily accessed and distributed. There are many cloud storage providers out there, but Google Docs is probably the simplest solution. I have a specific folder where I upload and store giveaway files. This helps keep things neat and tidy and makes getting the download links a snap.

. . . .

You’re also going to need a way to collect and manage the email addresses you receive. You’ll also be using this same application to automate the delivery of your file. Two of the most popular solutions are Mailchimp and MailerLite. Both are free up to a certain number of subscribers, and both offer delivery automation. I’ve found MailerLite to be the most flexible and robust at the free level, and a good fit for most authors, but do your research and decide what works best for you as you scale up and move toward achieving you ultimate goal as a writer.

Link to the rest at Writers in the Storm

Draft2Digital Review

From Reedsy Blog:

The gold standard for self-publishing aggregators, Draft2Digital distinguishes itself with excellent customer service and a user-friendly interface. They’re the best way to sell your book with dozens of retailers without tearing your hair out.

Pros:

  • Quick to set-up and publish a book
  • Robust book conversion tool
  • Great customer service
  • Universal Book Link helps readers buy your book on their retailer of choice.

Cons:

  • Limited reach outside English-speaking countries
  • Not suitable for Amazon publishing

. . . .

While not the first epublishing aggregator on the market, Draft2Digital (D2D) has become Indie Publishing’s preferred method for “wide” distribution since it launched in 2012. 

How does Draft2Digital work?

Draft2Digital’s service offers a simple way to directly sell ebooks with (almost) every major retailer. Instead of creating separate accounts with Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, etc., you can:

  • Set up a single Draft2Digital account; 
  • Upload your manuscript files; 
  • Let D2D publish your ebook to over a dozen of the biggest retailers; and
  • Manage your pricing and payments through your D2D dashboard

This approach to ‘wide’ distribution can save authors hours of work every week by taking the task of monitoring and managing multiple accounts off their hands. This leaves you more time to run ads, write your next book, or do your laundry (whichever’s more important on any given day).

How much does D2D cost?

In place of any upfront fees, Draft2Digital takes 15% of net royalties in exchange for managing your retailers and handling your payments. This means, for example, if you sell an ebook on Amazon for $4.99

  • Amazon’s Royalty is 30% ($1.497)
    • Net royalty is $3.493
  • Draft2Digital takes 15% ($0.524)
    • Author’s royalty is ($2.969)

Draft2Digital’s pricing model is reassuringly reliant on authors actually selling books. Unlike a few of their competitors, they’re incentivized to help you maximize your sales.

Link to the rest at Reedsy Blog

English Has Its Own Music

From The Los Angeles Review of Books:

TRANSLATORS PLAY A crucial role as gatekeepers of world literature. We are currently witnessing an important era in literary translation where many platforms and institutions dedicated to the art and craft of literary translation recognize and celebrate this essential role played by translators.

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Ottilie Mulzet’s recent recognition on the global stage is a case in point. She has made a name for herself as translator of both contemporary Hungarian and Mongolian literatures. Most recently, her rendition of László Krasznahorkai’s Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming received the 2019 National Book Award for Translated Literature. Her text clearly displays not only the brilliance of the author but also Mulzet’s own genius in recreating his characteristically unwieldy, bleak yet surprising, somber yet agile prose. Despite the long — and, at first glance, unnecessarily detailed — lines that run, more often than not, across half a dozen pages, the text is remarkably accessible.

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CHAMINI KULATHUNGA: Most of the books you’ve translated have won or been nominated for major translation awards. And others have attracted a considerable amount of attention in the contemporary literary world. What are some of your early attempts at translation? How were they received by readers?

OTTILIE MULZET: My first attempts at translating occurred a few years after I began learning Hungarian. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in a closed adoption in Canada, and I never even knew the background of my birth parents until I was in my late 20s. At the time, I was still deep in my love affair with French literature (I had studied for 18 months in Paris), and as I began my search — a long, tedious, draining, and partially underground process due to the records being permanently sealed — I was unrealistically hoping that one of them might turn out to be French. When I received the letter from the agency telling me only the “non-identifying information” that my mother’s background was Hungarian, I only had the vaguest of ideas concerning Hungary. To be honest, I was somewhat influenced by the portrayal of Eastern Europe in US mainstream media, and I imagined it to be a rather gray, sad communist country. My first visit there occurred before 1989, and what I found instead was a really vibrant place where the importance of literature and music seemed palpable. I immediately became fascinated and intrigued by this very strange language and its meter-long words (visible on the country’s signage, etc.). When I came home, I was determined to start learning it. For quite a while, I did my translations only for myself. Hungarian was quite literally a “graspable foreignness” to me — a foreignness I had to grasp, linguistically, intellectually, emotionally, in the endeavor of trying to understand something about my own maternal background.

Somehow, the whole project of translation only really took off for me once I moved to Europe in the late ’90s. I began attending the Attila József Circle Literary Translation Camp, and I began working at the Hungarian Translators’ House in Balatonfüred. I did translations into English and wrote articles for Soumar, which was an early internet literary magazine run by the Hungarian Institute in Prague. Soumar is no longer around, but I also ended up doing many translations and essays for Hungarian Literature Online (hlo.hu), which is still very much active.

My first published book was an earlier version of Szilárd Borbély’s Berlin-Hamlet, put out by FRA in Prague, which is an excellent small press working mainly in Czech. Trying to get attention for Borbély’s work while based in Prague was challenging: I mailed out review copies myself, even sending copies to various libraries in the US and UK so that the book would be available in some library collections (the publisher, understandably, had little budget for distribution). I had a reading in the tiny but atmospheric FRA basement café in Prague, attended by a few appreciative friends. One of my first big breaks was when George Szirtes included some poems from Berlin-Hamlet in his anthology New Order back in 2010. I had mailed him a copy, too. Beginning in 2008, I also did a lot of translations, and wrote essays, for the website Hungarian Literature Online.

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What is the nature of your editing process? What do you pay special attention to when editing your translations?

I line-edit against the original at least two or three times, then I edit for clarity and, hopefully, ever greater nuance, at least two or three more times, and this, of course, is still before the beginning of publisher’s editing process. I don’t use any kind of software, but rather have a printed PDF in front of me with the translation on my laptop. I like to have the PDF to scribble notes about rhythms in the text, special vocabulary, and other observations. It feels important to me to still have this one tactile link to the text. In some instances, for example, as with some of Krasznahorkai’s longer sentences, I sometimes mark up different sections of the sentence in different colors. I have a special set of colored markers and pencils for that.

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In one of your interviews with The Paris Review, you used this interesting simile to describe the extreme elasticity of the Hungarian language: “[I]t’s like a rubber band. It can expand and expand, until you think, well, this rubber band is going to break at any moment now, or it can shrink into just a few sparse words.” What are some of the linguistic resources you make use of in English when you’re translating a text from Hungarian?

Probably the most salient example of this would be “The Rebuilding of the Ise Shrine” in Seiobo There Below, which is one sentence running to 46 pages in the Hungarian and 50 pages in my English translation. I kept reading it aloud to myself over and over to make sure that the English flowed. I don’t so much use specific techniques as try to ensure that the reader stays anchored without over-explaining. A lot more can be suppressed in a Hungarian sentence, and in narrative in general. For example, in Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming, every section begins in medias res, in the middle of a character’s dialogue or ruminations: the narrative has shifted either slightly forward or backward in time (like a tango step), and no indication is given as to who is speaking; this emerges usually after five to 10 lines, although the English reader has more clues than the Hungarian one because Hungarian doesn’t need gender. Interestingly, I was about to write “Hungarian lacks gender,” which demonstrates how easily one internalizes English-language norms!

In general, I think that monolingual English readers are far less tolerant of ambiguity. “Lack of clarity” is perceived as a defect of style in standard English, but for me a great deal of the aesthetic pleasure in a Krasznahorkai text lie in his deliberate disorientating strategies. Another example of a Krasznahorkai narrative strategy would be the final walk of the Baron in the City Forest, when suddenly he is accompanied by Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, and the current Roman Catholic pope. The entire incident is written as if it were really happening, but since it is a memory, it must be occurring in the Baron’s head — and yet for me, at least, these passages exist in a liminal space: what they describe is both real, and a dream. Perhaps there is something in the grammar of Hungarian, and the fact that it is a heavily contextual language, that allows for that kind of hovering quality. In a recent conversation, Krasznahorkai said that these figures are absolutely real for him: elsewhere, he has stated that also, for him, Josef K. and Prince Myshkin are not fictive characters. For me, Krasznahorkai’s figures are real: I have bumped into the characters from Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming while in Hungary. And so if Krasznahorkai is channeling something while he writes (he has referred to himself “taking dictation” from these figures), then I am also just channeling what he has already channeled.

In terms of linguistic resources, more than anything else, I feel that I have to suspend a lot of what I’ve absorbed as “good normative English,” while at the same time very much drawing upon everything I’ve ever read in English. I think reading as widely as you can in your target language is very important. Maybe it’s also about having a good technical repertoire as to how to construct a sentence, while at the same time forgetting about it while you’re translating. Perhaps it’s something like being a musician who has to try to thoroughly master technique, so as not to be confined by it.

Link to the rest at The Los Angeles Review of Books

PG had never thought much about the process of translation of a book from one language to another.

After considering the OP, he suspects that machine translation programs likely have a very long way to go.