Friday, October 31, 2008

American artists on Bush's cultural legacy

Who better to eloquently express the failures of the Bush administration than 12 prominent American artists? The Guardian has collected statements on the "cultural legacy" of the Bush administration. Too good to pass up, here are a few quotes:

"If McCain wins, I feel like going into a cellar for the next four years or going out into the streets every day and screaming." - Paul Auster

"The 'cultural legacy of George W. Bush' would seem to be the punchline of a cruel joke, if there could be anything remotely funny about the Bush administration." -Joyce Carol Oates

"We have an administration of criminality, complicity and incompetence but no cultural legacy whatever from those eight years." -Edward Albee

"So the Bush years have been great for the arts, restoring a collusive, adversarial climate last seen circa 1968." -Lionel Shriver

"Here, people have complained a lot, but in terms of organizing a vanguard of resistance, of people getting out there and saying this is not the American way... Where is the Arthur Miller of this generation?" -Naomi Wolf

"It's hard to believe Bush, a man who's proud not to read books and who makes fund of words longer than one syllable, has been the inheritor of the mantle of the Founding Fathers, or of Woodrow Wilson, FDR or even Bill Clinton." -Daniel Liebeskind

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Americans Read, too!

I blogged earlier about the hoardes of German readers that attend the Frankfurt Book Fair every year. It turns out that Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda believes in the reading culture in America, and so should you!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Facebook and Feedburner

I have been playing online today with Feedburner and Facebook. Believe it or not, this counts as working! Take a look at the official Frankfurt Book Fair fan page on Facebook with photos, info, links, and other goodies!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Can you even remember music videos?

I have so many fond memories of watching music videos on MTV as a teenager. Then MTV suddenly turned into a reality show channel with a bunch of crap for programming.

But take heart, children of the 80s and 90s, because NBC has launched a Hulu-like website for music videos called MTV Music. You can bop to your favoite beats just like in the old days!

The Kindle is everywhere...but Europe

Three developments regarding the Kindle have recently caught my eye.

1) The Bookseller reported during the Frankfurt Book Fair that the Kindle would not be released in Europe this year due to complications with data carrier agreements.
2) Oprah is now endorsing the Kindle, which you can read about from the Bookseller, the Guardian, Time, Amazon, and Oprah.com.
3) Several American university presses will release Kindle versions of textbooks (old news, but I just found out about it)

But what does it all mean? Are we just lusting after another gadget, or are some readers ready to change their reading habits? We no longer have a problem with the electronic versions of songs. We gave up our CD towers with ease and eagerness, but nobody wants to get rid of their bookshelves. People complain that you can't take a Kindle to the beach, but then why do we take our MP3 players to the beach?

I had a conversation with a German family about the Kindle recently. Although they had not heard of the Kindle, they said that $300 did not seem like too much to pay for such a device. They seemed intrigued. Germany has an amazingly strong reading culture, and I am looking forward to seeing how the Kindle does in that market. The only person in this conversation who was not intrigued by the Kindle was the person who worked in book publishing.

Maybe the target audience is not actually the publishing professional, but the book club member, the business traveler, and the readers who have nothing to do with the business of publishing outside of consuming it. Most of the talk about the Kindle comes from inside the industry, yet I hear relatively little about the Kindle from outside the book biz. Despite working with and producing e-books, publishing people mostly stick with ink-and-paper books (as found in a survey conducted by the Frankfurt Book Fair, over 60% of respondents do not use e-books or e-readers).

As a potential user, the primary reason I would buy a Kindle over the Sony Reader or any other device is the internet connection. Gadgets need to be multifunctional and convenient these days. Maybe I should just buy the iPhone instead. The truth is that consumers are not sure what they want when it comes to digital reading, which makes it difficult for publishers to create products for them.

Book-based social networking

Obviously I love books and talking about books, but do we really need another one?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vacation

Hello readers. Literary Rapture is on vacation until next week. Munich is the perfect spot to recover some of the brain cells lost during the book fair.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frankfurt Book Fair links

Check out my round-up here of links to a fraction of the awesome content on the Frankfurt Book Fair website.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Where are the readers?

It came up in one of my meetings that publishers are worried about the disappearance of their readers. Publishers have been mourning the death of their own industry since its birth, it seems. Every year a new survey comes out telling us that nobody reads, that books don't sell, that our livelihood is about to disappear from under us.

Before you let the impending doom overwhelm you and your love of book publishing, let me give you some positive news. On Saturday, the Frankfurt Book Fair posted its largest number of visitors ever: 78,218. The hallways and escalators overflowed with people, backpacks, rolling suitcases, and swag. It also came up in this same meeting that, in fact, our situation might not be so dire as we fear.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Long Live the Frankfurt Book Fair!

"Ich glaube an die strahlende Zukunft der Buchmesse." -Michael Krüger, Hanser Verlag.

"...wenn die Bücher aussterben sollten, würden wir uns wohl weiterhin treffen." -Nikolaus Hansen, Arche Verlag.

"Es gibt schließlich keine Buch-Blase, die platzen könnte." -Rüdiger Salat, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck

(as reported in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung zur Buchmesse, October 18, 2008. Here is a PDF of the Day 4 report. See page 4 to read more quotes.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Hof and other news

I am not talking about the guy from Baywatch, but rather the Frankfurter Hof, a hotel here in Frankfurt that has become the spot for agents and publishing people to gather after a hard day of fair-going. Want to pay $15 for a glass of champagne? It sounds steep, but not when you consider that being at the Hof means increasing your overall industry presence, making friends with the influencers, and feeling like one of the cool kids. Deals get made here. Relationships, personal and business, get established. People get drunk. It is a do-not-miss part of the fair.

Admittedly, I still know relatively few people when I walk into the Hof, but I think of it like an endurance sport (we can certainly call book fairs endurance events!) in that it takes patience to improve, but the hard work and the time always pays off in the end. So to all you newcomers and young publishers out there, keep on going to the Hof!

Other News:
The Kindle will not launch in Europe this fall as originally planned, reports the Bookseller. Why? According to the article, negotiating agreements with the many wireless carriers in Europe has delayed the release of the Kindle in Europe.

Motoko Rich was also at the Hof for the Booker announcement.

Richard Charkin blogs about the Frankfurt Book Fair for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The Guardian reports that publishers are finding ways of making the financial crisis work for them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Booker Prize at Frankfurt

Where better to catch the announcement of the Booker Prize winner than in the Frankfurter Hof? Berlin Verlag threw a party last night, and the live broadcast of the announcement was enough to quiet the excited crowd. Cheers went up from the winner's publisher, glasses clinked, and then the party continued. See Chad's write-up here.

Aravind Adiga won the award for his novel, The White Tiger.

In other news, check out the Frankfurt Book Fair daily blog featuring Ed Nawotka, Andrew Wilkins, and Chad Post! They are covering events all week, adding their wit and witticism to the fair!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Frankfurt Frenzy

I may have used the same title for a post last year, but there is no other way to describe the atmosphere at the Frankfurt Book Fair. This year is no exception. Literary Rapture is currently in the Literary Agent Centre (we use British spellings here) through Wednesday, and then we will be returning to our homeland away from home, Hall 8.

As the agents trickle into the center, I had some time to peruse the Event Catalogue, which is extensive. This year, there are plenty of digital events in English this year, which you all should check out:
  • Google Book Search, various presentations throughout the week in Hall 4.2, Forum Innovation
  • E-books in the Arab World: Thursday, 10 - 11:15 in Hall 5.0, D901
  • Digital Asset Management with Ingram Digital: Thursday, 10:45 - 11:15, Hall 4.2, Forum Innovation
  • Digital Lunch on the .epub format: Thursday, 12 Noon, Hall 4.C, Room Alliance
  • Digital Lunch, StartWithXML: Friday, 12 Noon, Hall 4.2, Room Brillanz
  • E-book Market Development: Friday, 2 pm, Hall 4.2, Forum Innovation

Check back for more updates and Fair fever!