Great piece in the NYT about an unheralded female Irish playwright:
IN the first half of the 1930s Teresa Deevy, a deaf writer from a small city in the southeast of Ireland, was one of the most prolific and acclaimed female playwrights in the world. She was “the most important dramatist writing for the Irish theater,” her fellow playwright Lennox Robinson wrote in The Dublin Magazine. Her most famous drama, “Katie Roche” (1936), a complex portrait of a lower-class servant with dreams of grandeur, inspired the critic St. John Ervine to write in the London newspaper The Observer, “Miss Deevy may be a genius.”
Then Deevy all but disappeared. The Abbey Theater in Dublin, which had produced six of her plays in seven years, started rejecting her work, and her prolific output slowed down considerably. Today she is rarely mentioned in theater courses; it’s difficult to find her plays. “Katie Roche” is occasionally produced, but her other works remain unpublished and ignored.
I’ve been a bit lazy with the linking here, because I’ve become so addicted to linking through Twitter. But I shall try and change.
A very nice exploration of what Google brings to the party for newspaper publisher (1 & 2). Extra credit, the Guardian’s interview/article with Google’s Josh Cohen.
I’ve never met John Blake, but I hope to some day. He’s a smart-smart publisher and this column in the Times goes to the heart of why in very simple language, a pretty impressive achievement:
The way the big publishers work is like spread-betting. About 80 per cent of books break even, 10 per cent lose a lot of money and 10 per cent make a lot of money. It doesn’t matter to them that some books don’t make money, because in the short term you have to keep the wheels turning and the staff employed until the next big thing comes along.
The New York Times has a holiday guide to the ereader. Worth digging into if only for the section where they explore the REAL future of content:
While not technically an e-reader, an online e-book portal for children is offered by Disney. A subscription provides access to more than 500 titles from Disney, including classics like “Bambi.” A family membership with accounts for up to three children is $8.95 a month; an annual membership is $79.95. Gift subscriptions, by the month or year, are also available.
Disney Digital Books is compatible with both PCs and Macs. Since it’s browser-based, you can log into your account on any computer. Young readers can select books based on individual reading levels, including picture and chapter books.
Beastly goings on
There have been a few pretty big moves in the last few days towards what seem (At least to me) sensible models for getting digital and quickly. The first is Tina Brown’sThe Daily Beast‘s deal with Perseus Press that the NYT featured yesterday:
Ms. Brown said that Beast Books would select authors from The Daily Beast’s cadre of writers, most of whom are paid freelancers, to write books with quick turnarounds. She said she planned to publish three to five books in the first year.
The beauty of the deal though is that they making digital first publications:
Beast Books, that will focus on publishing timely titles by Daily Beast writers — first as e-books, and then as paperbacks on a much shorter schedule than traditional books.
I rather hope this works, it certainly sounds like a good news story if it does. The model seems sensible, it capitalises on the eyeballs the Daily Beast is dragging and as The Big Money puts it in a sensible and thoughtful paragraph:
The good news is that this is exactly what digital publishing needs to fuel its growth: a product ideally suited to a new technology. Brown’s entry into the field validates the idea of writing specifically for the Kindle and its competitors, a huge vote of confidence in the tools. The less-great news is that for all of Brown’s talent for attention-getting, the Daily Beast may not have the right content to drive sales. Which just might be the point of the whole deal—with Brown using the book deal as a back door to better content.
In what it bills as an industry-defining moment — though rivals are sure to be skeptical about that — Disney Publishing plans to introduce a new subscription-based Web site. For $79.95 a year, families can access electronic replicas of hundreds of Disney books, from “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too” to “Hannah Montana: Crush-tastic!”
DisneyDigitalBooks.com, which is aimed at children ages 3 to 12, is organized by reading level. In the “look and listen” section for beginning readers, the books will be read aloud by voice actors to accompanying music (with each word highlighted on the screen as it is spoken). Another area is dedicated to children who read on their own. Find an unfamiliar word? Click on it and a voice says it aloud. Chapter books for teenagers and trivia features round out the service.
I like this idea because it is heading more towards the type of product that can win the battle for attention and hold its own against numerous distractions. What is more, a site like this (and being a site is crucial) has a certain seamless quality, it fits into the web rather than standing aside from it in a “connected” device. It will simply be a rich content website that you happen to pay for! That is important! that, I believe, is the future.
Both these moves are taking big publishing digital very rapidly. This is a space to watch! Eoin
Sometimes its the simple things that cause the most trouble
The Caucus Blog is one of the best innovations I have come across in the US Election* (And by picking it I don’t mean to diss any of the dozens of other Main Stream/Net Native and Personal Election blogs out there). The New York Times has accomplished a lot with this blog, posting just enough to keep interest alive (look at the comment counts), posting material that would never reach the paper, live blogging events and tying together a really wonderful all round election coverage.
But they posted today about comments and I think it goes to the heart of the issue for publishers of all sorts, be they newspapers, books or magazines:
Passions are hot; tensions are high. We’re facing yet another series of extremely competitive contests in the Democratic presidential primary race, and many of you have chosen your candidate and ardently defend your choice on this site.
But if you choose to offer your comments here, please refrain (we ask again) from name-calling. None of you deserve to be called an idiot, a moron, a juvenile, racist or sexist.
There is more and you should read it too because it hits all teh problem buttons when it comes to comments. My key concern is the anonymity one though:
Third, we will continue to ask that you use a name as close to your own as possible. We discourage people from trying to post under several names or aliases or nicknames. It’s dishonest and unfair to others who assume they’re reading a thread with many voices, as opposed to repetitive chatter.
I can’t agree more, the use of pseudonyms just ruins discussion boards and enables commentors to go astray so easily. It encourages rapid and wild statements without fear of repercussion. I wish the web was so transparent that everyone knew who everyone else was. It would make policing comments easier, make providing forums like The Caucus Blog easier and generally make teh web a better place, and I know many people disagree but I just cannot help but feel anonymity has led us down the wrong track on the web.
You won’t change my mind, Eoin
* The ACTUAL election is going to be such a let down after the Democratic contest ends! Whenever that is.
Or as we call them Mobiles
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece on Cellphone novels in Japan in case you missed the recent NY Times piece:
According to industrywide data cited by Japan’s largest cellphone operator NTT DoCoMo Inc., sales from mobile-book and comic-book services are expected to more than double, to more than $200 million from about $90 million last year.
Prompted by this post by James Bridle, I downloaded A Tale of Two Cities to my mobile and frankly I’m in love with the idea. I’ve already read a few chapters while dallying around and suspect it will form the basis for my public transport/bored in company reading for days to come!
The Freakonomics blog moved yesterday from its own dedicated site to a new home at the New York Times. Stephen Dubner has a long post explaining the reasons here.
I guess we should not be too surprised. The value of a site and community like Freakonomics is very clear. The monetizing potential must be high. Sites like it are the model most publishers think of when they think of online communities built around books and authors.
All in all I think this is both a good day for digital content publishers (and book publishers in general) but a bad day I should think for the actual publisher of Freakonomics, William Morrow. Surely they must be reluctant to see such a property go to another publisher, even one as powerful as the NYT. They are left with a much less attractive site to promote the book itself? Was there a deal done int he background?