Nathan Bransford, Author

Friday, January 14, 2011

This Week in Books 1/14/11

This week! The books!

I don't know if it's the new year or the chilly weather or the fact that everyone is dusting off their shiny new e-reader for a little "Holy cow I'm not reading on paper anymore," but there were quite a few Future of Publishing articles this week, so let's get right to them, hmmm?

First off, agent Mary Kole has a really interesting article about the future of agenting, in which agents offer up some visions of what's to come. And though I'm of course no longer an agent, I chimed in with a shorter version of what I said yesterday. The future, it is most definitely coming.

Meanwhile, industry sage Mike Shatzkin has a characteristically insigutful post about differentiating the purpose of Digital Rights Management (DRM) between stopping piracy (hint: not very good at it) vs. stopping casual sharing (hint: actually pretty good at it). Probably a large part of why you're not going to see it go away any time soon.

And further to this whole future business, my good friend Eric from Pimp My Novel has a great post on brand management and how publishers are not adapting quickly enough to the new landscape and are still continuing to muddle their own brands with imprints that only matter to insiders. It's been two months since I left agenting and I already am forgetting basically all imprints, but just off the top of my head, Random House alone contains: Random House, Knopf, Crown, Crown Forum, Broadway, Nan A. Talese, Spiegel & Grau, Three Rivers Press, Doubleday, Dial Press, Bantam, Doubleday Religion, Harmony, Waterbrook, Ballantine, Clarkson Potter, Vintage, Anchor, Dell, Del Rey, Triumph, Pantheon, Knopf Children's, Random House Children's, Delacorte, Schwartz & Wade, Wendy Lamb, and I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty. And that is just Random House!!!

And finally in the future of publishing, if you want one of those newfangled Kindle thingamajigs, reader Steve Fuller is happily giving one away! Stop by to find out how to win.

On Wednesday we discussed the balance between writing and life, and there were two pretty moving posts this week about that tenuous balance between grief and books and writing. Stephen Parrish received permission to reprint a transcript of David Foster Wallace's funeral, and it's an incredibly moving outpouring from the people who knew him. And over at HTML Giant, Kyle Minor reflects on reading as an escape from some of the horrors of life and death (via Bookslut). I'm not sure if you'll read two more moving links this week.

The ALA has come and gone and some of the most cherished awards in young people's literature were announced. Congrats to Clare Vanderpool for winning the Newbery for MOON OVER MANIFEST, Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead won the Caldecot for A SICK DAY FOR AMOS McGEE, Paolo Bacigalupi won the Printz for SHIP BREAKER, and Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Award for ONE CRAZY SUMMER. Congratulations, all!

And are you curious about which books were bestsellers the week you were born? Wonder no more.

I know I have been woefully negligent about our Page Critique Fridays as I've gone through quite a busy stretch, but rest assured, I shall resume them soon enough!

This week in the Forums, the joy of cooking, all things waiting, people's first e-book experiences, how to know when to move on from a manuscript, and the 10,000th Forum post!

Comment! of! the! Week! There were tons of really great comments in response to yesterday's post about the future of agenting, and I thought I would single out Porter Anderson's, reprinted in full:

Picking up on Reena's good comment, I think I see the lifespan of publishers shortening faster than that of agents, Nathan. This is because an agent's role is morphing into something that includes vehicle design, not just content. The agent already is doing the work of acquiring editors, often of publicity departments, and is advising and negotiating pathways to distribution, more and more of which lie outside traditional routes.

While offshore and film rights negotiations, of course, may remain closer to current patterns, the the future of smart agenting lies in the transmedia efforts being tracked by Digital Book World's Guy LeCharles Gonzalez ( ), by Jane Friedman ( ) and by rich-media developmental specialists like Dan Blank of We Grow Media ( ).

In the same way that authors are hustling to embrace and capitalize on the potentials of the e-phenomena, a clever agent can become, him- or herself, an enabling mentor and impresario, guiding authors to recast and envision projects to achieve their transmedial possibilities.

As Jimmy Cramer ( ) loves to say, there's always a bull market somewhere. An agent's job is rapidly becoming that of the experienced scout who can get to the top of the hill, see where the new markets are rising, and signal back down to her or his authors the best concepts, techniques, and evocations of storytelling to deploy.

And finally, there have been some serious links this week, but this should cheer you up. There is no happiness like the happiness of a baby elephant at the beach (via Sarah LaPolla):

Have a great weekend!


Ted Fox said...

Erma Bombeck was #6 on the non-fiction list the week I was born. Talk about being born under a good sign as a humorist. That's something no astronomer can ever take away.

Chuck H. said...

I was going to make some wise remark about the best seller the week I was born bein written in cuneiform on a clay tablet but then decided to actually check and see. Sadly, the only titles I recognized were: fiction - The Miracle of The Bells and non-fiction - The Egg and I. Even more sadly, I haven't read either one.

Laurel said...

THE CRYSTAL CAVE by Mary Stewart! How's that for a genre girl with a thing for fantasy?

Dara said...

Thanks for posting this! Apparently some of the writers in my critique group think that all publishers will go away and it will all be self publishing, with no agents involved. I'm sending them the links to prove to them otherwise :P

Also, it looks like Stephen King and Peter Straub's The Talisman was #1 the week I was born.

Laura Campbell said...

Fire Starter and Clan of the Cave Bear! It's interesting to see authors, you've just been introduced to (i.e., Ken Follett), have been successfully working for quite some time. Sure, you can read the copyright page, but seeing the bestseller list has more impact. Thanks for the link!

Mira said...

So the book that topped the bestseller list the day I was born was:

"The Agony and the Ecstasy."

How apt. And that was just the first day.

So, look at all these goodies! Thanks, Nathan. You've out-done yourself from out-doing yourself all the previous times you out-did yourself! I'll have loads of fun browsing the links this weekend.

Be back to comment on the links when I've read them!

abc said...

Watership Down! I'm good with that.

Transparent Mama said...

Jonathan Livingston Seagull. And I remember looking at the cover of that book on my parent's shelves as a child. Thanks for the link

Anna said...

The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub.

How to channel their long-term success?

Watcher55 said...

Was I born under an unlucky star?
#1 - SHIP OF FOOLS by Katherine Anne Porter.

#13 - TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee

TKAM ranks with OF MICE AND MEN (IMHO) but it was #13.

I've never read SHIP OF FOOLS which is unfortunate because I taught a course on the roots of the Holocaust for two years. (If anyone needs me I'll be at the library)

D.G. Hudson said...

Didn't see any bestsellers I'd want to read on my birth week, and never heard of half of the authors. It was a dull time, IMO.

Baby elephant videos? Too cute.

Haven't yet checked out all the links, but plan to do so over the weekend. It seems everyone in publishing has a prediction as to how it will evolve. Only time will tell us who had it right.

Raquel Byrnes said...

So much chatter happening in the ether over eBooks, Google, and free downloads. What a week!
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Nora said...

Interesting to me that 6 out of 10 authors on "my" bestseller list are still big names more than thirty years later. Maybe publishing isn't as ephemeral as all that?

Watcher55 said...

I'm glad you mentioned "Page Critique Friday" because it's one of the features that drew me to the forum. I joined right after T'Giving so I haven't had the chance to participate yet and I'm looking forward to it.

I can't speak for everyone, but I'd be willing to wager that most (if not all) of us really appreciate the time you do take to help us sharpen our skills and indulge in the give and take of the critique/discussion process.

T. Anne said...

I LOVED looking up books from the year I was born! Awesome!!!! Thanks for the link soup, it's always a great way to start the weekend. (And thank you for the kind words to me earlier this week.) XOXO

Elizabeth O. Dulemba, a.k.a. "e" said...

Aw man - thanks for the baby elephant! :) e

Anonymous said...

That's a real nice perspective on history and a person's own life experiences, to see the NYTms best-sellers from when we were born: thanks! I'd have never thought to look that up, but I often want to put things in perspective by thinking, "Where was I, then, & what was I doing?" when a particular time period is mentioned. (Jackie Kennedy went into publishing in 1975 -- I was high school sophomore...)

best sellers on my birthday included "The Affluent Society" by John Kenneth Galbraith; "Please Don't Eat The Daisies" by Jean Kerr (that was popular all through my growing-up years, it was in school library, & on people's bookshelves -- "Kids Say The Darndest Things!" by Art Linkletter; "Only In America" by Harry Lewis Golden (which sounds like something I'd want to read, will look it up); as well as "Around The World With Auntie Mame" by Patrick Dennis -- !

Also thanks for elephant / beach -- so funny and sweet !!

Anonymous said...

My comments come in as "Anonymous" -- sorry...that was me.

Carson Lee said...

OK, I can't make it work, sorry

Anonymous said...

Do you know of any good professional editing services that don't charge a ridiculous amount of money?

Lynne said...

Great week wrap-up, Nathan! The e-book era -- and how it will affect authors, agents & pub houses--is starting out a (the?) hot topic of 2011. As always your recent posts lend some thoughtful insight on the blogs/posts/perspectives swirling around the web on this topic. Marys Kole's take was great, as was Kristin Nelson's post from last week, and many others. I didn't comment yesterday, but as far as agents go, I think Darwin said it best when he commented (and I'm paraphrasing here): "It's not the strongest of the species that will survive but the ones most adaptable to change."

Same for agents. I think they help authors in countless ways, not simply getting the book into the hands of a publishing house. Agents help authors get a book into the hands of readers, and that's what makes them such fantastic-- and much needed -- author advocates.

Happy writing, Nathan. And thanks for the elephant.

Pen and Ink said...

The BibliOZ link was my favorite. besides being fun, it's an awesome research tool if you're writing about an earlier era.
Note: the site employs British dating. So put the month of your birth before the year of your birth

Pen and Ink said...

That Being said, The Robe topped the best seller list and I actually have read it. A Tre Grows in Brookly was number 4

Jamie Fox said...

Great info to reference in this post. The Executioner's Song and The Bourne Identity were bestseller's in my b-day week. A lot to live up to!

Mira said...

Darn, I was hoping to comment on all the links, but I've been so overloaded with papers I haven't even read them all yet!

The ones I did read were so interesting - thank you, Nathan - I'd be in the dark ages of information without your Friday in Books.

I did watch the video, and that is the cutest thing I've ever seen. I want a baby elephant, I want one, I do, they are so cute, and I want one NOW.

On the other hand, I do NOT want an adult elephant.

Something to think about.

Okay, that's my wisdom for the weekend. Hope everyone had a good one - and I'm looking forward to lots of interesting discussions in the next week!

Samantha G said...

Is it bad that on the week I was born I know only one of the authors in the list? Danielle Steel whose work I have never read? It is quite sad that some amazing sign like "how to be a millionaire" wasn't number one. Dang.

P.S the baby elephant was adorable.

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