And that, kids, is how you write a headline. The biggest news in the book world this week is obviously this: for the first time in 35 years the Pulitzer Prize board will not name a prize for fiction this year. It seems the jurors couldn’t reach a consensus, so they just said meh, to hell with it.
Needless to say, this got a lot of people in the publishing industry, not to mention readers, bent out of shape and perhaps rightly so. The Pulitzer Prize award winner invariably sells a lot of books, after all. But then winning a Pulitzer Prize for fiction is no guarantee of literary immortality.
The New York Times‘ Julie Bosman has a good rundown of the ensuing hubub following the Pulitzer Prize board’s announcement Monday.
Why Would a Published Author, Under Contract, Turn to Kickstarter and Self-Publishing?
The publishing world – and consequently the world of literature and books – is in a state of flux, at the moment, to be sure; we are living in a Chinese proverb: these are indeed interesting times. At the forefront of this is the rise of the ebook market along with Amazon.com and declining print book sales.
What does it all mean? And perhaps more importantly, how does an author cope? When ebooks can be bought with a click – and subsequently pirated with a click – and at the same time when self publishing and independent publishing have become viable and cheap – what’s an author to do? Furthermore, how does marketing work in this postmodern publishing world?
Author Kate Milford, who is already a published author of so-called young adult fiction and is apparently currently under a contract with a traditional publisher, has an interesting approach to these publishing issues. Milford is using Kickstarter to self-publish work that will stand alongside novels published traditionally. As she relates to uber-blog Boing Boing:
I’m raising funds to self-publish a novella companion to my second traditionally-published YA fantasy, The Broken Lands. This is the first installment in what I hope will be an ongoing project with two goals: to combine traditional and self-publishing by releasing companion content alongside my hardcover books; and to use indie bookstore-friendly resources for the self-pub end of things.
The first novella, The Kairos Mechanism, also acts as a bridge between the stories told in The Broken Lands and my first book, The Boneshaker. It will be released in three editions: paperback (via McNally Jackson’s self-pub services and Espresso Book Machine); digital (via Google Play); and a Super-Special Digital edition, free or pay-what-you-like, which will be illustrated by young reader artists. The funds raised will finance the costs of publication as well as paying the young artists.
There and Back Again: It Was the Best of Nepotism, It Was the Worst of Nepotism
Charles Dickens is one of my literary pet peeves; if there was ever an author in the annals of Western Literature that was and is over-rated, it is him, or so I like to argue. And argue I do; people seem to hold him dear – even my friends who should know better (I’m talking to you, Johnny O).
J.R.R. Tolkien, on the other hand, is one of my favorites. While in some respects his works arguably do not stand the test of time, he nevertheless single handedly gave us the genre of modern fantasy. And more importantly, I still enjoy rereading his works; for me they do stand the test of time in spite of the faults that people perceive in his works today.
In any event, aside from my personal opinions one way or the other, both are so-called literary giants; there is no disputing that fact. So one wonders what they would make of this patently obvious gimmick: a British publisher is publishing two fantasy novels penned by Tolkien grandchild Michael Tolkien, allegedly based on stories told him by his grandfather.
As if this weren’t dubious enough by itself, naturally they will be tailored for young readers, the publisher says. Apparently adults don’t buy books anymore. Damn this young adult market/marketing trend, anyway.
Oh yeah. The accompanying audio books will be narrated by one Gerald Dickens, a great-great grandson of Dickens.
Tech blog Ars Technica reports that a science fiction author is suing videogame producer Ubisoft, the name behind a number of huge titles, such as Halo, Far Cry and Prince of Persia, alleging copyright infringement.
Author John L. Beiswenger claims in his suit in U.S. District Court that Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed games lift ideas from his 2002 novel Link without his consent. As Ars Technica explains, Beiswenger’s novel centers around the device from which the novel takes its name, which enables users to relive memories of relatives and ancestors through DNA. This does sound almost exactly like the Animus devices of the Assassin’s Creed games — incidentally, I have played the first game in the series, albeit briefly.
The Ars Technica post also quotes a lawyer specializing in video game legal issues – what crazy times we live in – as suggesting that the suit may be without merit, regardless of whether or not the similarities are intentional or coincidental.
“The level of comparison they’re trying to make would be along the lines of both Back to the Future and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure have time machines as plot devices, so one must be infringing the other,” said Mark Methenitis, as quoted by the blog. “A copyright does not protect abstract ideas at that level.”
Even so, I doubt if that will encourage the two parties to be excellent to one another.
And I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me if Bill and Ted’s phone booth had been equipped with a flux capacitor, well, I’ll bet lawyers would have gotten involved.