Archive for the ‘clowns are evil’ Category

I’m going to answer some (book) burning questions in today’s post, because I really want to talk about these things. The newswires are full of stories about the Death Of Books, and as Harry Potter draws ever nearer to its end, I’m betting we’ll see more coverage about the dire straits of the publishing world. Of course, these answers are just coming from me–an avid reader, author and former marketing brand manager. I’ve only ever worked on the fringes of Publishing, so I don’t know that I’m anything close to an expert. But boy, do I have opinions! Buckle up…

Why don’t people read for fun anymore?

I think there will always be readers, just as there will always be surfers, motorcycle enthusiasts and folks who collect dolls. Each one of these hobbies has enjoyed a rennaissance of faddishness at one time or another, but has then settled back down into a more realistic following. Leisure reading is a hobby about which many people can be very passionate, and other people can be occasional dabblers. For every book freak like me I’m betting there are a dozen folks who limit their leisure reading to a couple of paperbacks on the beach in summer and an occasional book throughout the year.

A few years ago I was in a bookstore with some friends. One of them came up to me and asked–very earnestly–how I knew which books were good and which ones I would enjoy. He had NO IDEA how to shop for a book. So he never went book shopping, until that day I dragged him into Barnes & Noble. It got me to thinking, because they were very good questions. I’m an avid reader. It’s gotten to the point that I can tell pretty closely whether or not I’ll like a book.

  • Did I like the author’s previous work(s)?
  • Do I like other things from this publisher/publisher’s imprint?
  • Is this in a genre or vein which has appealed to me in the past?
  • Are both the opening paragraph and a random paragraph from the middle appealing to me?
  • Does the back cover blurb sound intriguing?

Yeah, those things help me, but how do we make book-shopping more pleasurable for the more casual reader? Some ideas:

Clearly identify genres in shelf and table displays.

Different casual readers enjoy different things. Some prefer mysteries while others groove on books where floridly-named women have sex with vampires. (Go figure.) It’s got to be very frustrating to face an unlabled book display with sixty or seventy titles–none of which are clearly labeled as to genre. It’d be like walking into the frozen food section, seeing a bunch of boxes labeled “Ice Cream” and having to then open each one to decide what flavour is inside.

Do A Better Job of Cross-Marketing

What little cross-promotion currently exists is good, but is mostly limited to displays of authors’ backlists. The newest Patricia Cornwell will be on an endcap, surrounded by several older Patricia Cornwell books. Barnes & Noble and BAM have been doing a few genre-endcaps (“New In MYSTERY!”) but that’s still very limited and doesn’t do anything to burst out any center-shelf titles. How about a database of “if you like this [book/movie/tv show/style of music] you might enjoy X book by X author”? Affinity sorts work very well for most cross-promotion. As people have become more comfortable with computers and databases have evolved, this type of thing should find a home in brick and mortar bookstores. It does work to Amazon’s advantage–at least in my case.

Embrace Genre Fiction

It’s what people will buy. It’s what people enjoy. I think it’s dirty pool to complain about people not reading for fun and then refuse to publish the types of books which people think are fun.

Kill The Oprah Book Club

Yes, I know it blows out a dozen or so books a year. If you’re one of the Oprah Book Club picks, you’ve got it made. (Unless you lied about being an addict.) But, frankly, if we’re trying to encourage people to read for fun, the books Oprah chooses are NOT going to win many people over to long-time leisure reading. They.are.de.press.ing.

Create More Serialised Fiction

The books that tend to be the best in sales are the ones which have recurring characters who develop over time. People develop an affinity for the characters and spend money to find out if Charles and Mallory ever get together, if Peter and Rina Decker successfully remodel their kitchen and if Harry lives or dies. Dickens was the master of serialised fiction, and every bibliophile knows the story of the folks waiting on the docks for last installment of The Old Curiosity Shop to find out the fate of Little Nell. The two genres which traditionally have been best at exploiting the serialisation format in recent years are Science Fiction and Christian Fiction. Guess which genres are doing the best in terms of sales? Of course, I still have major issues with the way Christian Fiction Publishers are bursting their serialised material. They’re putting the least amount of story in the largest possible font and large trade paperback format; marketing a $3 minibook as a $15.95 Serial Novel. A happy medium would be nice.

I think elitism and failure to understand the casual reader are the twin enemies of modern book sales. I’m not a genre snob, but I’ll freely admit that I don’t ‘get’ people who aren’t avid readers. Sometimes in my mind it’s still recess and I’m the dorky kid with the Nancy Drew on the front porch and the non-readers are the ones trying to knock off my glasses with the kickball. But really, if the kickball kids can be convinced to part with a few ducats in exchange for the written word, I will feel quite vindicated indeed.

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Casey of Some Geek In TN. has come up with a new blog-related tool that’s pretty groovy. I keep meaning to talk about it and then get sidetracked. Basically, Losobo acts as a hyper-local version of Digg.com, and allows users to submit posts they think are interesting. I guess you could call it a user-driven aggregator. Check it out.

Not Cool:

My sister tells me that they (her elementary school) had an assembly with a special speaker. I remember those from when I was in school. Policemen told us not to talk to strangers; Chinese acrobats talked about their history and culture while bending into superweird shapes.

Is it just me or is it a bad idea to have Ronald McDonald be an Assembly Speaker? I’m still not clear on what exactly he talked about. She says that the assemblies are “usually good” and “not all about McDonalds”. But, frankly, I still think it’s a bad idea to create the psychological link between a corporation and Fundamental Life Lessons, especially in the minds of children. Besides which, Ronald McDonald is a CLOWN.

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Then this event might be the thing for you:

Many of you probably already know about the Nashville Public Library’s
marionette shows (at the downtown branch), but this Friday author D.
Anne Love will be present to talk about her book The Puppeteer’s
Apprentice following the 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 presentations of Hansel &

The book is appropriate for ages 8-12, and it is a beautiful story of a
pre-teen protagonist who aspires to be a puppeteer’s apprentice. Full
of mystery, suspense and realism, the story is set in England in the
Middle Ages.

The author will sign copies of the book (available in paperback for
only $5) following each talk.

Take a pre-teen to the show and treat him or her to a signed copy of
this beautifully-written book! The majority of the proceeds will
benefit Humanities Tennessee.

Emily Booth Masters
Director, Tennessee Young Writers Programs
Humanities Tennessee
306 Gay Street, Suite 306
Nashville, TN 37201
615-770-0006 (x15)
615-770-0007 (FAX)

I will not be going, as I associate most puppets with clowns.

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I’m in a baddish sort of mood.

clown_parade.jpgAnd Malia thinks the Tilt-Shift pix are kinda creepy. So I made one especially for her.

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Even my father asked for my alibi.

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Kerry Woo wants me to tell people six kinds of wierdness that I have. This may be difficult since most of this blog is about chronicling my oddities in long form. But since I love to be tagged, I guess I’ll try and go along with this.

And, oh yeah, I was correct. I have kind of done this before. Except that one was only five. And now I have to come up with SIX more…which brings me near a dozen kinds of weird. I’ll play along as long as this doesn’t end up being used at my eventual commitment hearing(s).

1. I am afraid of antiques.

I know I’ve said this before, but it cannot be said enough. Antiques are scary. Whenever I look at a piece of antique furniture it seems to hold a part of the spirits of all the now-dead people who touched it, used it and looked at it. I feel like antiques shout the banality of the dead whenever I walk by. The worst kinds of antiques are those horrible metal toys. Really, what kind of freak not only took the time to think this up but manufacture it as well?

I am also afraid of clowns, but that doesn’t count as wierd, since many people feel the same way.

2. I cannot eat food that has been in or near a bathroom.

Again, something I’ve mentioned but must be mentioned again. You wanna know how engrained this has become for the people who know me? Last summer I was in the bathroom and shouted for my husband to bring me some medication. He brought it and stood patiently outside the door. When I screamed (I was in considerable pain) at him to bring it to me in the bathroom he decided then and there that I needed to go to the emergency room. If I’m sick enough to wash a pill down with a sip of water while in the bathroom, I’m pretty darned sick.

Let it be known that I no longer will drink out of that glass. Or any of the other 5 glasses in the cupboard which are identical to it. Six months later.

3. I invent things in my head to try to fall asleep faster.

Whenever I can’t fall asleep I try to think through an invention in my head. They’re generally “impossible” things, like a vat of jelly you could sleep in just like a tub but without drowning. Usually thinking through the mechanics of the thing lulls my mind.

4. I crave weird pets.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my dogs. I really do. They are my children. But if I had my way (and a much more permissable husband) I would also have a pig, a bat and a monkey. I think all of these animals are both smart and adorable. Don’t believe me? check this out.

5. I once learned the entire German-language version of ’99 Luftbalons’ just because.

I can’t hardly remember it now, because I’ve tried to block all knowledge of German from my mind. But my favourite part of the song was when it would be all german german german Captain Kirk german german german. I just thought that was funny.

6. I spent an entire year with my Spanish teacher convinced my name was Francesca.

She was half nuts. Her name was–no joke–Mrs. Strange, and she would spend many class hours telling us how she once made a chocolate milkshake for Jose ‘Feliz Navidad’ Feliciano. Everyone was supposed to go by a Spanish-ised version of his or her name in class, but I insisted that Francine was my second-middle name and wanted to go by Francesca. The sad part? Three months into it I felt ridiculous whenever she would refer to me as ‘Francesca’ and desperately wanted to revert to Katerina. But no. I was hoist by mine own petard.

I should tag others, but I won’t because everyone seems to have done this already. If you haven’t and you want to, climb aboard.

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