Amazon + Goodreads, The New Literary Lovechild
Oh, Amazon. At it again. As many of you know, the corporation bought Goodreads last week, creating a new literary lovechild. A good ol’ literary scandal.
With Amazon purchasing many of the big websites today, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’ve recently merged with Goodreads, a book recommendation community for readers. As a platform to recommend books, Goodreads is an ideal place for book sales (i.e. perfect for Amazon).
This new merger will still keep much of the layout of the website the same and preserve the Goodreads community. The only major changes to the site will be in customizations for Kindle users and their new ability to preview books and purchase directly from the website. For users reading on all other kinds of e-readers and in print, the rest of the site’s navigation and the social aspect of sharing books will stay.
There will still be links to other retailers besides Amazon because of the variety of users, and according to both Amazon and Goodreads, the site will still remain a place to share books, but now with the ability to start reading them directly on the site without going to a third party.
So, the site will remain the same for the most part. The only major difference will be behind the scenes—Amazon will have access to all the books you’ve read, are reading, or want to read. Perfect for a website that’s trying to sell you books, no?
Are some users going to leave the site in an active boycott of Amazon? Definitely. Has Amazon gone a little “Big Brother” in the literary world? Yup. But the more important question is will Goodreads remain the same online literary community it has been? Looks like it.
Pubslush Marketplace Seeks Freelance Writing Professionals
So, you’re an author and you’ve just successfully completed your Pubslush campaign. Congratulations! You’ve raised the money you will need to publish your book. Now what…?
Thanks to our partnership with MaestroMarket, Pubslush has developed a one-stop marketplace for our authors. Once an author has completed their Pubslush campaign, they will need the resources and a team of publishing professionals to successfully publish their book. Sounds like a lot more work, right?
Not anymore! Our marketplace will be a place for authors and editors, proofreaders, literary agents, book designers, illustrators, and other industry professionals to connect. We will be accepting bids from freelancers with all different backgrounds and levels of experience so that our marketplace will be diverse and offer something for every budget.
So, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a veteran to the industry, the Pubslush marketplace will help you land jobs, expand your clientele and build your resume. We are currently seeking freelancers interested in promoting themselves on our platform. If you’re interested, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and get you started.
Bookstores Galore: Kramerbooks & Afterwords
Stuff We Love: The Uprise Book Project
What is The Uprise Book Project?
The Uprise Books Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ending the cycle of poverty through literacy, encouraging underprivileged teens to read by providing them with new banned and challenged books. I know rattling off the mission statement isn’t exactly the most exciting answer to that question, but I think it makes a reasonably good elevator pitch.
Why is part of your mission to provide teens with banned or challenged books?
We know there are a couple of big hurdles when it comes to getting teens to read. Simply getting kids access to books is the first step… kids in poorer neighborhoods tend to have fewer books in the home (one study showed that the ratio of books-to-kids in middle class neighborhoods is 13:1, while in poorer neighborhoods it’s a horrifying 1:300… as in 1 book for every 300 kids), they tend to live further from public libraries, and they tend to attend poorly-funded schools.
But just getting teens books isn’t quite enough. There are so many things working against them… family obligations, poor reading skills, various entertainment options, and, unfortunately, negative peer pressure around any sort of “intellectual” activity, just to name a few. They need more than “eat your veggies because they’re good for you.” We believe that the “forbidden fruit” angle can help.
We’re also very much against the idea of institutionally-endorsed censorship, especially when so many of the books that are banned and challenged are being kept from the kids who need them the most. Imagine a teenager discovering her own sexuality in a district where books are challenged for “homosexual content,” or the sons and daughters of immigrants in Arizona seeing their school district pulling books about Mexican-American history. Those actions send a clear message to teens: “there’s something wrong with you being who you are.” We simply think that’s wrong. We take the American Library Association’s stance that the only people who should control a minor’s access to books are his parents, and they should only be controlling their own child’s access.
Finally, it’s also turned out to be an effective fundraising tool. During our Kickstarter campaign, for example, we learned that the anti-censorship message really resounded with some of our supporters, sometimes even more than the anti-poverty one. People seemed more likely to act when they were angry because someone challenged one of their favorite books.
Can you tell us how a book gets banned or challenged?
It varies, depending on the location. Most of the time, the challenges are issued from parents, though they certainly aren’t the only ones. The ALA site has some great stats on their site about the who/where/why’s:
Typically, in the case of schools and public libraries, they have formal procedures for handling complaints received from concerned citizens. The public librarians we’ve met tend to be staunch First Amendment supporters and fight vigilantly to preserve the rights of all patrons (regardless of age) to access books, but they are also obligated to at least investigate formally issued complaints.
Not all challenges lead to bans, of course, and data about challenges isn’t always officially recorded (though the ALA and various state branches of the ACLU do their best). There are times when the complaints might result in some action short of banning. For example, imagine an adult-oriented graphic novel shelved in the kid section with the Batman and Archie books. Few would argue that it might be more appropriate to move that title to a place a little less likely for an elementary-aged child to accidentally pull it off the rack.
How does literacy help to end poverty?
We see a very strong correlation between literacy and income. Adults who can’t read well are much more likely to have lower-paying jobs, if they can find employment at all. The problem is exacerbated in the U.S. by the continuing shift from a manufacturing to an information/knowledge-based economy, one that requires more educated, highly-trained workers. If, like roughly 25% of the American public, you can’t read well enough to interpret the instructions on a medicine bottle, you’re not very likely to find a job that will lift your family out of poverty.
The children of impoverished families find themselves perpetuating a vicious cycle. Parents in low-income families are less likely to promote literacy in the household than their middle/upper-class counterparts, so their children are less likely to pick up the reading skills correlated with future success. Those children grow up to find themselves in the same situation as their parents: poor, unable to read, and raising children who’ll likely continue the cycle.
A recent study commissioned by RIF supports our hypothesis, concluding that “children from less affluent families do not perform as well on achievement tests compared with children of more affluent families” and “one possible remedy to the socioeconomic gaps in academic achievement is to make sure that children of low-income families have access to high-quality, age-appropriate books.”
Geographically speaking, where are your efforts focused?
We’re still in the process of building the website we partially funded through our initial Kickstarter campaign in 2011. That site will allow qualifying teens (those who attend poorer schools or who qualify for free/reduced lunches) to request books regardless of their location within the US.
In the meantime, we’ve been working with a couple of individual teachers who contacted us after reading about our organization online. While our original intent was to work with individual students rather than entire classrooms or schools, we didn’t think we could ignore these kids simply because their requests didn’t exactly fit our intended plan. A few weeks ago, we were able to send 170 copies of “The Catcher in the Rye” to students at the Carrollton/Farmers Branch Dallas Can Academy, and we’re currently working to raise money for kids at Philadelphia’s Creative Learning Academy. You can read a bit about that here.
What is your favorite banned/challenged book?
It really depends on my mood, but usually it’s either “Lolita” or “Slaughterhouse-Five.” I love so many of them, though… For instance, Shel Silverstein’s “A Light in the Attic” is still a favorite in our house, and our son was a huge Captain Underpants fan in elementary school.
How can people get involved?
Giant bags of cash are always appreciated (again, we’re a 501c3, so donations are usually tax deductible). As I type this, we’re pushing to raise $1,500 to help the aforementioned kids in Philadelphia, and we’d love to send them a nice little package before they break for the holidays.
Aside from that, the best way is to spread the word. Follow @UpriseBooks on Twitter, Like us on Facebook (http://facebooks.com/UpriseBooks), subscribe to our newsletter (http://eepurl.com/fv_zw). Tell your friends and family. Send us good karma.
Bookstores Glaore: Antigone Books
Since 1990, these two hard working women have established a bookstore that their customers can call home. Voted best Independent Bookstore in the Tucson Weekly, Antigone Books offers an abundance of literature for all ages as well as cards and gifts. It is also 100% solar powered! The location of the bookstore has changed three different times since its grand opening in 1973, but each time relocated to a different spot on 4th street. Antigone Books carries books about current events, fair trade and green living, to souvenirs like handbags so their customers can have a piece of Antigone Books to carry with them every day. Today, Antigone books is said to maintain its feminist slant while still widening the store in all directions. Antigone Books is opened Monday to Thursday 10:00am-7:00pm; Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm and Sunday 11:00am-5:00pm.
Good Reads from the New Yorker
You know when you open up the latest New Yorker and there’s nothing you want to read? You’re sure the lead feature on the last artisanal beekeeper in Westchester (I do not know if this is an actual thing, I kind of just threw together buzzwords that sounded good together) is well-written but you just can’t muster the enthusiasm needed to read the entire ten page article. Happily I’ve found some good reads in the two most recent issues of the New Yorker and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you rundown of some highlights.
“God and his Girlfriend” by Simon Rich, January 9th, 2012 issue
Do you guys know/like Simon Rich? He writes for SNL, he’s a former editor of Harvard’s National Lampoon and an author of books, so he’s a somebody and a funny somebody at that. This New Yorker piece is a good little introduction to Rich’s writing, which is often a contemporary reimagining of some older thing that renders the aforementioned older thing into something sort of absurd. If that makes no sense to you, refer to the link above.
“Stumptown Girl” by Margaret Talbot, January 2nd, 2012 issue
Profile on Carrie Brownstein, ex-guitarist and singer in Sleater-Kinney, current guitarist for Wild Flag, co-creator of IFC’s Portlandia. Portlandia begins its new season on January 6th so that is probably the promotional driving force behind this article. Whether you think Portlandia is funny or not is for you to decide, but I think it would be hard to argue that the sketch show doesn’t successfully skewer the white, urbane and decidedly hipsterish culture that exists in Portland, Oregon and other major U.S. metropolises (including New York and not JUST in Williamsburg). The best thing about this piece is the very sincere camaraderie and even love between Brownstein and Fred Armisen, her comedy partner/co-creator of Portlandia (he’s also in the current cast of SNL).
I’m keeping this to three because New Yorker articles are long and the average New Yorker’s free time is sparse. Here’s my last pick:
“The Future” by Pop Notes, January 9th, 2012 issue
You’re going need the iPad app to read this, be a New Yorker subscriber, or be willing to shell out 6 bucks for the issue and for this I apologize. I’m not condoning shoplifting but I am condoning maybe stealthily slipping your friend’s copy into your bag and reading it at home. The short piece lists new music and I KNOW, just know, that one of your New Year’s resolutions was to “get more into” new music. This is your chance.