Regarding yesterday's news that Amazon is looking to build an "equal" headquarters in some other North American city than Seattle: I was a bookseller for twelve years, first at a chain that Amazon destroyed and then at an independent bookseller. I have learned through painful experience never to trust Amazon. Yes, it's probably true that Amazon will soon be too big for Seattle alone. But if you think Amazon isn't going to use this opportunity to pit one "headquarters" city against another in a race to the bottom, you're mistaken. They will gladly take Seattle's future hostage in exchange for a shiny new tax cut. I have learned from experience that Amazon will do whatever it takes to come out on top.
Speaking of chain bookstores, there's no good news coming out of Barnes & Noble these days — particularly in the ebooks division:
Total company [first quarter] revenues fell 6.6% to $853 million, while Nook revenues fell 28.1%, to $29.5 million. That is literally the lowest Nook revenues ever recorded.
So that book written by Hillary Clinton's pastor has just been pulled from shelves due to rampant plagiarism.
Big changes at Vanity Fair, as editor Graydon Carter is retiring. Here is where I'd ordinarily say this is a great opportunity for an enterprising young editor to make her mark and reimagine the glossy magazine for a new generation, but come on. We all know that's not going to happen. It's been sad watching Vanity Fair shrink to anemic sizes; that last Hollywood issue was a shadow of years past.
Village Books cofounder Chuck Robinson, who served as president of both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and the American Booksellers Association, now owns a consulting business for businesses and nonprofits. Chuck Robinson Associates will offer the leadership and advice that Robinson put to good use as the head of Village Books for decades. Village Books has repeatedly been recognized nationwide as an example of independent bookselling done right; that's largely due to Robinson's leadership.
Fantagraphics cartoonist Matt Furie successfully sued the creator of an alt-right kids' book for using his character Pepe the Frog. According to Matthew Gault at Motherboard, the legal settlement "prevents further sale of the book and [hilariously] forces [the kids' book creator] to donate all profits to a Muslim-American advocacy group." Alt-right jackoffs beware: if you try to make a profit off of Furie's creation, he will sue you into next week, and he will force you to give money to a good cause.
Speaking of Fantagraphics, they're publishing a beautiful Italian comic strip sequel to Disney's Snow White film created by cartoonist Romano Scarpa. It's the first time these strips will ever be translated into English.
A hard drive containing Terry Pratchett's unpublished novels have been crushed by a steamroller, reports Michael Schaub at the LA Times. This is exactly what Pratchett wanted to happen to his unpublished writing after his death, and I'm a fan of this decision. Sure, people might argue that Kafka wanted his writing destroyed after his death, too, and the world is better for his books being published against his dying wishes. But there's a real difference here: unlike the unpublished Kafka, Pratchett was widely published — more than 41 books in the Discworld series alone — and he presumably didn't publish the books on that hard drive for a reason. His body of work as it stands is more than impressive enough.
I missed this news from last week, but it's an absolute fucking nightmare:
Despite the protests of hundreds of angry residents, the Escondido City Council voted 3-2 Wednesday night to begin the process of outsourcing the city’s library service to a private company.
Friends, I messed up. I failed to mention in this week's reading calendar that the Seattle Anarchist Book Fair is tomorrow, August 26th, from 10 am to 5 pm at the Vera Project in Seattle Center. It features all kinds of neat organizations including Books to Prisoners, Left Bank Books, and the Social Justice Film Festival, and it's absolutely free. Go check it out, please.
You should definitely read this Seattle Times story about how Seattle is now the country's biggest company town:
Amazon now occupies a mind-boggling 19 percent of all prime office space in the city, the most for any employer in a major U.S. city, according to a new analysis conducted for The Seattle Times.
Amazon’s footprint in Seattle is more than twice as large as any other company in any other big U.S. city, and the e-commerce giant’s expansion here is just getting started.
Here's the thing about company towns: They always flourish until, suddenly, they stop flourishing.
Seattle publisher Fantagraphics announced this week that they'll be publishing a comic called Dull Margaret written by the great actor Jim Broadbent.
I don't agree with the assessment that Joan Didion is "the Original Millennial White Girl," but I can tell you that the movie that inspired this observation, Ingrid Goes West, is a decent (if not great) comedy with a bad ending.
Speaking of Didion, there's a Netflix documentary about her coming out later this year, along with a documentary about Gay Talese.
Neil Gaiman wrote a short-but-touching remembrance of sci-fi author Brian Aldiss at The Guardian.
Seattle poet (and the current poet in residence here at the Seattle Review of Books) Daemond Arrindell is the curator for the 2018 Jack Straw Writers program. That means Arrindell will choose the writers who take part in the program, and he'll take a leadership role as the writers learn how to share their work as spoken word and in recordings. Jack Straw is taking applications for the program through November 1st. You can apply right here.
Electric Literature reports on what one indie bookstore did when some fascists came in and tried to use their store as a marketing campaign for an alt-right douchebag's book.
Headline of the week: "I Bought a Book About the Internet From 1994 and None of the Links Worked." We think of the internet as lasting forever, but the truth is that this is a very fluid medium.
A Texas assistant principal was forced out of his job after self-publishing a children's book. It sounds truly awful — and by "it," I mean the book, not the fact that the guy lost his job:
The book features allusions that may go over some children’s heads. The setting is a farm called Wishington. The antagonist is a bearded alligator named “Alkah.” Astute readers will recognize Covfefe cliff. But perhaps the most inflammatory aspect is the smiling cartoon frog, which NBC News has called a “popular white nationalist symbol.” “Pede,” the name of the cartoon centipede that also graces the book’s cover, is also a term members of a Donald Trump-themed Reddit board use to refer to each other.
Spoiler alerts ahead, but Pepe and his centipede sidekick Pede start the book ecstatic that the old farmer has left after eight years of oppression. But Alkah and his minions have entrenched themselves in a pond that very much resembles a swamp — and are threatening to spread throughout all of Wishington Farm. Pepe and Pede have one weapon to vanguish the gator: buds from the honesty tree.
The good folks at Seattle independent online audio-bookseller Libro.fm have collected audio clips of their summer picks. If you're looking to sample a book or two before you head out on vacation, you should give this post a try.
A special message from Jeff Bezos (via The Onion):
As you might imagine, I often get asked by young entrepreneurs for advice on how to start a business. What many seem to want is some sort of trick, some magic set of tools that will allow them to launch a thriving startup from scratch. Well, there’s no magic involved, but the keys to success are quite simple: Value your customers, hire well, find a market that isn’t being served, and realize that someday I will utterly crush you.
The name of Norman Telos’ car was an automatic talk show joke. The Tork rhymed with stork, pork and cork. When the talking heads were done making fun of the Tork they went out and bought one because the Tork was the best two passenger sedan since the model T. Its diesel electric engine was the most efficient one on the market. Acceleration was better than any sports car. With 2 crossing roll beams and a domed roof it was the safest car around. The price was in the midrange of two passenger cars.
Sometimes a high sense of self-regard can be its own downfall, is all I'm saying.
An editor at Marvel Comics posted an innocuous selfie of a post-work milkshake party. That editor then received a deluge of hateful comments from comics-fan trolls. What did the editor do wrong? Well, uh, she's a woman.
She was immediately swarmed by a squadron of fanbabies furious that such “fake geek girls” had made their way into Marvel’s inner sanctum... According to Antos, the private messages she got in response to her tweet were considerably less polite. “[T]he internet is an awful, horrible, and disgusting place,” she wrote, noting that she woke up Sunday, two days after she posted the selfie, "to a slew of more garbage tweets and DMs. For being a woman. In comics. Who posted a selfie of her friends getting milkshakes."
The host of the computer science book club at Ada's Technical Books has written a great Medium post about why you should start (or join) a computer science book club.
In what may be one of the greatest instances of architectural trollery in history, someone built a Parthenon out of banned books on the site where Nazis burned books in 1933.
This person thinks e-books are on the way to being a "dead format."
This person disagrees.
The next book from George R.R. Martin will arrive in 2018. Supposedly.
After San Diego Comic Con, United Airlines tried to ban comics in checked bags. It didn't go well.
“While TSA is recommending that customers keep their comic books in their carry-on bags, there are no restrictions on packing them in checked luggage,” reads the statement. “We misunderstood TSA’s instructions and regret any inconvenience this may have caused our customers.”
Don't forget that the deadline to apply for a table at this year's Short Run Comix & Arts Festival is July 31st. The organizers this year are eager to include the literary arts, so even if you're "just" a writer and not an artist or cartoonist, you should consider applying.
This is a pretty big get: the King County Library System Foundation announced yesterday that basketball great and all-around awesome human Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be the headliner at their 2018 Literary Lions fundraising dinner. This year's headliner, for comparison's sake, was Daniel Handler. Handler gave a spectacular speech and he's definitely a high-profile author, but Abdul-Jabbar is a household name. Expect tickets to go very fast for this one. The Literary Lions dinner will take place in Bellevue on Saturday, March 10th of next year. We'll let you know when tickets go on sale.
At the Seattle Times, SPL librarian David Wright wrote a great profile of local publisher Pharos Editions, which has brought some essential Northwest literary classics back from the dead.
While we're talking about local reviews, Seattle Mystery Bookshop bookseller Fran published a good review of Cory Doctorow's latest novel, Walkaway.
Tara Marie at the Polygon has written a good meditation on white cisgender privilege in the comics industry, using Howard Chaykin's atrocious Divided States of Hysteria as the launching pad for the piece. (I read the first issue of the series and decided to ignore it; Chaykin has a long history, with his best work decades behind him, and he's now become nothing more than an aggrieved-white-dude comics troll like Frank Miller. I'm happy to not give Chaykin the attention, but I'm glad that writers like Marie are around to explain what it all means to general audiences.)
The new Jane Austen pound notes have a quote from Pride and Prejudice — "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” — that was...how shall we say...not quite delivered earnestly in the novel:
As many Janeites were quick to point out, that quote wasn’t sincere. Caroline Bingley, the haughty gentlewoman who competes with Elizabeth Bennet for Mr. Darcy’s attentions, makes this announcement in hopes of impressing him. “How much sooner one tires of anything than a book!” Miss Bingley adds. Shortly after saying so, already bored by a quick dip into a book, she throws it aside and tries another gambit to grab his attention. In short, Austen wrote the line as a satirical comment on how we perform certain admirable qualities to win approval.
WHAT DID THE STORY SAY????? pic.twitter.com/FjTcE9GM1S— mark mcbride (@mccv) July 17, 2017
Jamie Natonabah (Diné) will receive $7,500 per semester for four semesters, for a total of $30,000, $24,000 of which will be applied to tuition. The remaining $6,000 will help pay for her travel, lodging, books, and meals during the five residencies in Santa Fe. Jamie is an IAIA Alumnae. Jamie is from Fort Defiance, Arizona. For twenty-eight years she has embraced her love of writing which has evolved into a thirst for personal truth created largely through poetry. She won first place in the New Mexico Slam Poetry Competition (online). Also, for two consecutive years, Jamie participated in performances of her poetry through funding from the Witter Bynner Foundation. Her work has been published in Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities as well as the IAIA Literary Anthologies Bone Light and Fourth World Rising among others. Jamie is now living in Santa Fe with her partner Paul and daughter Anastasia Moriarty.
Many events will be programmed in consultation with Neighborhood Steering Committees; some will be co-created by audience members, in collaboration with Artists and Scholars in Community. If we do this right, Inside/Out will create lasting mechanisms to bring grassroots ideas and community-sourced solutions into broad public consideration—and we’ll welcome a whole new slate of exciting voices back to our renovated home. We’ll share more about Inside/Out over the coming months, and I hope you will join us for this transformative year.
You can’t really control how Pepe has been used on the internet in the past, especially since he’s been turned into this meme. Dealing with the internet is difficult because there are so many users all around the world. Pepe has taken on a life of his own. However, what should not happen is people profiting off Pepe and the intellectual property of Matt Furie. That’s a big concern. I couldn’t make a tuna fish sandwich at home and stick a McDonald’s logo on it and sell it to people. The McDonald’s corporation would come after me. This is Matt’s creation and people don’t have a right to take his intellectual property and then themselves profit off of it without his permission.
For KUOW, Elizabeth Austen introduces listeners to Seattle-area poet Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, with a pair of extra poems published as an online extra.
It was published in May, but I only just came across Bill Gates's summer reading list. Have you ever found yourself standing in a bookstore and wondering, "what would Bill Gates read?" Wonder no more:
This class, led by conceptual artist, writer, and communications professional Natasha Marin, will help you develop strategies and goals for effectively promoting your work. Through interactive exercises and group discussions, you'll identify the best platforms for your work, learn the key components of your web and social media presence, and practice your networking skills, so you can talk about your work online or in person with confidence.
Now that his show's been cancelled, Bill O'Reilly's book sales are down.
Can this tweet possibly be real? It seems too good to be true.
Friend is reading Harry Potter for the first time. He suddenly realizes he's read a fanfiction Order of the Phoenix instead of the real one. pic.twitter.com/tKNgT6usi6— Shelley Zhang (@shelzhang) July 10, 2017
Suppose your favorite film critic started sprinkling his reviews with references to the “Cowboy Test” and made it clear that he was factoring into his appraisal of a work of art whether it contained cowboys.
Movies (at least Hollywood movies) are about people on the extremes of society — cops, criminals, superheroes. These extreme characters tend to be men, and men tend to be the ones who create them. Women enjoy much more prominence in the milieu of low-budget independent movies, where the stories are more focused on ordinary people with real-world problems, but those movies usually attract small audiences.
To be slightly less reductionist than the Bechdel Test, women tend to write movies about relationships, and men tend to write movies about aliens and shootouts. Have a wander through the sci-fi and fantasy section of your local bookstore: How many of these books’ authors are female? Yet these are where the big movie ideas come from. If a woman wants the next Lord of the Rings–style franchise to pass the Bechdel Test, then a woman should come up with a story with as much earning potential as J. R. R. Tolkien’s.
We've written several times about how much we love the children's books of Seattle author Jessixa Bagley. If you'd like to hear Bagley discuss her life and work, she guest-starred on the All the Wonders podcast earlier this week. Make sure to check it out.
You probably know that Fantagraphics cartoonist Matt Furie's cartoon character Pepe the Frog has become a symbol of the Trump-loving alt-right. Furie is by all accounts a wonderful, easygoing guy who was completely blindsided by the fact that his laid-back cartoon frog has become the rough equivalent of a swastika. Now, an online petition by Furie supporters "implore[s] the Anti Defamation League, ADL, to remove the designation of Pepe the frog or any likeness as a hate symbol." Sign the petition if you agree. I've stated in the past that I don't know how much hope there is for the rehabilitation of Pepe; it's much harder to remove a meaning from a symbol than it is to add a meaning. But you certainly can't fault Furie and his friends for trying.
Remember when we told you that the TSA was testing a program requiring agents to go through books and magazines at airport security checkpoints? Great news! Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed says that the TSA has "abandoned" the program and "there are no plans to restore the pilot or to expand it."
Open Culture examines "The Splendid Book Design of the 1946 Edition of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." I saw these books once when I was a used bookseller and, unlike the tens thousands of books that passed over my desk in those years, I remember perfectly what this edition of Decline and Fall looks like. Book design is so important.
The Association for Library Service to Children is looking for people of color who are willing to volunteer to join its awards and media evaluation committees. This paragraph is exactly the kind of thing you want to see from an organization of librarians in 2017:
It is an inconvenient truth for many of us, mostly white, that our industry (which I use here loosely to mean work in children’s books) upholds the systemic racism that is prevalent throughout the wider media industry and most institutions and communities in our country. It can be uncomfortable to confront the foundations of one’s own expertise in and passion for children’s books and examine where some of our judgments of quality we think are “unbiased” are only so when viewed through the lens of white privilege. But this white inconvenience, this white discomfort, is paltry when compared to what we create for communities of color by pretending this problem does not exist, or is not our own job to fix. To do our job, in service of the job of the child, many of us will need to start listening more, speaking less, and using our expertise to make space for and amplify voices that shine, in the multitude of ways a voice can shine.
Flame has regularly worked as an activist and organizer for a diverse number of theatrical, cabaret, queer, and POC communities — both during her time in the Bay Area and since returning to Seattle. Her connections to a broad network of artists and teachers also extends to the growing immigrant community and incarcerated populations through her work with The IF Project, a program funded by the Seattle Police Foundation.
Yesterday, Hugo House also announced their newest Made at Hugo fellows, which is a program that creates a cohort of young Seattle writers and gives them access to all of the Hugo House's mighty educational opportunities. The Made at Hugo program is a great way to take the pulse of Seattle's next generation of literary talent. You'll be seeing more of these names in the near future: "poet Holly DeBevoise, poet and writer Max Delsohn, writer Nia Dickens, poet Kym Littlefield, poet and artist Erin Lynch, and indigenous prose writer D.A. Navoti."
Speaking of mighty educational opportunities! Short Run's summer school looks like a lot of fun, with many free classes and all other classes below $50. Topics include letterpress printing, comics classes for kids, papermaking with local papercraft cartoonist Mita Mahato, and a class titled "How to Be Self-Employed in Seattle" that a lot of you should take.
Last year, some unpaid employees of Emerald City Comicon — who are unfortunately dubbed "minions" by ECCC leadership — sued the convention for compensation. Yesterday, lawyers announced that ECCC reached a settlement with the minions.Brigid Alverson at Smash Pages writes:
Under the settlement, Eitane Emerald Corp. and the Demonakos family will pay almost $500,000 to the volunteers, with the lawyers scooping up $123,300 for their troubles, [former "minion" Jerry Michael] Brooks [who filed the suit in the first place] getting $5,000, and the 250 or so other “volunteers” will divvy up the rest according to how many hours they worked.
Today we speak of "BBC English" as a standard form of the language, but this form had to be invented by a small team in the 1920s & 30s. 1/— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) June 26, 2017
The Sub-Committee came up with the following list of possible new words for the users of the television apparatus: 11/ pic.twitter.com/WeNmVYuMIV— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) June 26, 2017
Other ideas were...less successful. E.g. Smith proposed the BBC call televisions "view-boxes," call traffic lights "stop-and-goes," and 19/— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) June 26, 2017
Hey, Seattle writers! Please remember to apply for the LaSalle Storyteller Award, a fantastic $10,000 award from Artist Trust that goes to "an individual literary artist working in fiction." This is a lot of cash with very few strings attached, so it's one of the finer fiction prizes in the region. More information at Artist Trust's site.
And if you'd like to take a writing class this summer, you should know that today is the last day for early bird pricing for any of the Hugo House's summer class schedule. Sign up here and get anywhere from $10 - $35 off of your classes.
There’s a strong overlap between the women of the anti-Trump resistance and Alexie’s readership, which is primarily composed of college-educated white women. Unlike some male authors (see: Jonathan Franzen) who worry that a female audience will feminize their art, and thereby delegitimize it, Alexie embraces his readers. “They pay my mortgage!” he said. “But they’re also just more open to actually crossing boundaries. They have that perfect combination of privilege — because of their whiteness — and oppression, because they’re women. They’re at the forefront of every battle, and they come into it with both strength and weakness, with both power and pain.”
If you're into best-of lists, Vulture has published a listicle of "The Best Books of 2017 So Far." The usual standards apply — lists are meaningless, you can't really rate literary works, lists provide nothing more than clickbait for media sites that are addicted to clicks at the expense of thoughtful coverage, etc. etc. etc. — but sometimes lists of this sort spur bookstore shopping excursions, and who am I to argue with the buying of (and/or library-checking-out-ing of) new books?
OpenCulture published a great piece about why lowering your productivity might actually lead to better work. If it was good enough for Charles Dickens, it's good enough for you.
The Harry Potter books are now 20 years old.
The Seattle Urban Book Expo is happening on August 26th at Washington Hall. "Last October, the authors and the people showed out and declared that black literature has a place in our community. So much so, that we had to do it again," SUBE founders write on their Facebook page. If you'd like to get a table to exhibit at this year's SUBE, you should send organizers an email and follow the instructions on this post.
Local sci-fi writing organization Clarion West is offering up some neat-looking one-day writing classes this fall, including one on world-building and one class taught by the great Nicola Griffith. You can sign up right here.
Here's a neat idea that may or may not turn into something: Bookshelf is a website that lets you construct "book mix tapes" to share with friends. You can also read through mix tapes made by other readers. And here's a nice touch: rather than the ubiquitous links to Amazon you'll find all over the internet, Bookshelf links to Indiebound, which allows you to buy books from independent bookseller.
Standard Ebooks takes the free-e-library spirit of Project Gutenberg and pairs it with a good sense of design.
Ebook projects like Project Gutenberg transcribe ebooks and make them available for the widest number of reading devices. Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology.
I see novel-writing as an opportunity to ask dozens of questions. The question of self-“realization” is going to be among them, but I like to think a novel is a chance to throw dice that ask combinations of even broader questions. “What is the experience of being alone versus being ‘beside’ somebody else?” And smaller ones: “What is the best way to describe that one sensation?” And situational questions, too: “What would this character do if she were trapped in a well and mocked by local teenagers?”
The Sherman Alexie media blitz continues, with this great New York Times profile of the author. (Any piece that says Alexie could pass for "the world’s warmest don" is a winner.) Alexie's memoir You Don't Have to Say You Love Me is available for sale today. We'll have much more to say about it on this site — [winks at reader] — very soon.
Literary Hub took a brief tour of James Baldwin's FBI file. Their fear, distrust, and hatred of Baldwin is a testament to the power of writing. He was more powerful than the FBI, in the end.
Did you know that there's a podcast where LeVar Burton reads a short piece of fiction to you? How have you not already subscribed to this one?
Adrea Piazza reports on an interesting new independent bookselling model at the New Yorker:
The C.S.A. model is simple: consumers commit a certain amount of money to a farm up front in exchange for a portion of the future harvest. Farmers use the resources to support themselves during the slower months. Over the past few decades, C.S.A.s have grown in popularity across the United States. Many farms on the Blue Hill peninsula have adopted such programs, and Haskell watched a local brewery, Strong Brewing Company, get its operation off the ground with a community-supported beer program. “The idea of purchasing a season’s or a year’s worth of books seemed like an interesting way to structure thinking about a customer’s relationship to the store,” Haskell said recently. At Blue Hill Books, C.S.B. members can purchase a “share” for a thousand dollars—or partial shares for two hundred or five hundred dollars—and draw on that credit to buy books throughout the year. “It’s not a donation; it’s not an investment,” Sichterman explained. It’s more of a “gift certificate for yourself.”
The idea really coalesced after last year's Short Run festival. I went to that show with a plan to really canvas the show and see what was there. I don't get to actually shop extensively at shows very often, and I ended up dropping close to a couple of hundred bucks, buying anything that looked even remotely interesting. There was a lot of good work that I felt was probably being overlooked because of either the signal to noise ratio or even just the harsh realities of distribution. If you don't live in a region that has a show like Short Run, you're likely to never be exposed to a lot the work that's there. And I came away from that show realizing that Fantagraphics can provide a platform to get the work out there.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's talk at Town Hall last night was canceled, Sara Bernard reported at the Seattle Weekly. Taylor had received death threats since publicly criticizing Donald Trump at a commencement address. Funny, isn't it, how one canceled Ann Coulter appearance can inspire the mainstream media to talk endlessly about the snowflakes of the left, but Taylor's experience barely makes a dent in the popular consciousness? Anyway, maybe you should read Taylor's new book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation.
Megan Burbank at the Mercury reports that Portland's literary community is coming together to support Micah David-Cole Fletcher, a poet who survived last Friday's white supremacist stabbing attack. Portland poets are hosting a number of benefit readings for Fletcher, including one with an appearance by Seattle-area poet Robert Lashley.
HBO has picked up the Julia Roberts-starring adaptation of Seattle writer Maria Semple's novel Today Will Be Different.
Only eight percent of all literary magazines actually pay their contributors.
Speaking of depressing financial realities: want to make comics for a living? Better marry someone who's got a steady, good-paying job!
Seattle's Office of Arts & Culture is accepting applications for its CityArtist Projects grant, which provides funds for artists seeking to complete a project. The grant changes disciplines every year, and literary artists are up for consideration this year. You have 55 days left to apply, so get to it.
Ted Closson's cartoon at The Nib titled "A GoFundMe Campaign Is Not Health Insurance" is required reading. It seems that every day I see another writer or musician or artist in medical distress whose lives depend on the outcome of a GoFundMe campaign. This, of course, is total bullshit.
Speaking of crowdfunding, here's something: "Neil Gaiman Will Do a Live Reading of the Cheesecake Factory Menu If We Raise $500,000 for Refugees."
At The Atlantic, Asher Elbein writes about the turbulence that Marvel Comics is experiencing at the moment. It turns out that Marvel isn't flailing due to an increased drive toward diversity (as some dipshit white men on the internet claim). In fact, Elbein argues, the company has fallen deep into a negative feedback loop of insularity and ego.
At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald backs up Elbein's column with her own observation:
...I came upon yet another problem for Marvel: working with libraries – another source of easy money for most publishers – isn’t much of a priority for them...As one prominent librarian put it to me, “People [in the library space] ask me is there a way to contact Marvel and I say, ‘nope it’s just impossible.’ Often, they’re people who want to buy 200 copies of something. I say ‘Good luck!'”
I just want to confirm MacDonald's experience and add that Marvel never supplies the media with review copies, a weird policy held by virtually no other publisher in the business. Additionally, I've talked to multiple writers over the years who argue that, for a company that likes to brag about the high value of its intellectual property, Marvel pays its contributors very little. Maybe if they actually invested in their people, Marvel wouldn't be suffering from low sales?
Yesterday, Amazon opened its first Amazon Books brick-and-mortar store in New York City. Thu-Huong Ha from Quartz didn't enjoy the experience:
The store doesn’t let you escape the noise of shopping online: One section is for books with more than 10,000 reviews; another display is for “page-turners,” based on ebooks that customers have read in three or fewer days; with a few exceptions, books need a 4-star review to be in the store; to enter, you have to walk around a table showing books 4.8 star-rated or higher.
Of course, the Seattle Review of Books visited the very first Amazon Books store in University Village when it opened two years ago. We were horrified.
We've visited Amazon Books a few more times in the intervening years, too.
We're still horrified.
There's still time to nominate a Seattle writer you love for the Mayor's Arts Awards! You have until May 25th to "recognize the accomplishments of artists, arts and cultural organizations and community members committed to enriching their communities through the arts." All you have to do is head over here and fill out the form.
And if you'd like to be Washington State Poet Laureate, you can find more information about that in this PDF. The position pays $10,000 per year, with up to $3,500 in expenses paid for travel and materials.
The Spokesman-Review reported on Sherman Alexie's commencement speech at Gonzaga University:
“So ask yourself, graduates, and families and friends: Do you want to be the person suspicious of strangers? Do you want to be the person who turns away strangers from your front door?”
I've talked about how podcasts were my gateway to audio books. I suspect I'm not alone, and publishers are finally getting wise to that.
Scarecrow Video published a wonderful comic by Seattle cartoonist Ben Horak about video stores and horror movies and fear.
Here's an awful headline out of Washington DC that seems entirely believable: "House Votes to Limit Powers of First Black Librarian of Congress."
Fantagraphics cartoonist Eleanor Davis was arrested for protesting the Trump Administration's immigration policy, Bleeding Cool reports.
Many of the blogs who migrated to blogging platform Medium last year are now leaving Medium again.
It has been, to say the least, a crazy week. Locally, everybody is running for mayor. Nationally, our president's brain seems to be degrading at an alarming rate. So let's end the week with a piece of unabashed good news and a pair of excellent poems by Seattle poets, okay? Be good to yourself — and the moms in your life — this weekend. Spend a few hours at a bookstore. Read a book. Don't go on the internet on Mother's Day.
Seattle poet Jane Wong recorded part of her poem "Pastoral Power" with KUOW. It's lovely and you can listen to it here.
Cody Walker's book of Trump-inspired poems The Trumpiad, which I reviewed last week, has already raised $1,368.60 for the ACLU, Walker reported yesterday on Facebook. You can do your part by picking up a copy at Open Books this weekend.
Lit Hub published an incredibly moving poem from Sherman Alexie's upcoming memoir You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.
You can add poet Sarah Galvin to the short list of Seattle authors who have gone on a European tour. Starting on Sunday, Galvin will be traveling to bookstores in Amsterdam, Krakow, Paris, Berlin, and Reykjavik in support of her terrific new collection out from Gramma Press, Ugly Time. If you know anyone in or near those cities, let them know by sending them a link to the tour page.
Heidi MacDonald at the Beat broke some pretty big news this morning: Jim Demonakos, the Seattle-area comics retailer who started Emerald City Comicon, has left the organization. Two years ago, Demonakos sold ECCC to ReedPop, an international producer of comic book conventions. "I’m not leaving for another job, I don’t have an immediate new project," Demonakos wrote in a Facebook post announcing the change. This means that next year's ECCC will be the first time the show is not produced by its founder. It'll be interesting to see if the convention can maintain its essential Seattle-ness without Demonakos at the lead.
At Strong Towns, Kea Wilson wrote a piece about why urbanists need to talk about Amazon:
Amazon has made it their business model to make you think that way: they market themselves as your friendly, invisible big box store, with all of the benefits and none of the massive, concrete drawbacks of the K-Marts of the world that you’ve (rightly) come to distrust. All you see is the website, algorithmically manipulated to show you everything you want and need—and two days later, a little brown box on your doorstep with a smile printed on the side.
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, is launching an interesting new news organization. I don't know if Wikitribune will actually work, but it's always worth your attention when people try new models of journalism.
The bookstore that trolled Piers Morgan on Twitter is now in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign to stay open.
This 2011 video of a carwash for books is making the rounds on Twitter and it's so terrific that you should watch it again:
Speaking of librarians, I just want to make sure that you appreciate how librarians dragged Ivanka Trump for her all-talk "support" of public libraries at the same time that her dad is trying to defund them.
The good people at Artist Trust are launching a "Night School" program of short classes for artists. Classes include "Promotion Fundamentals" and "Business Fundamentals."
Open Culture published a neat look at what children's books were like in the Soviet Union.