First up, something I neglected to mention last week is that my former client C.Y. Gopinath's truly fantastic novel THE BOOK OF ANSWERS has been published by HarperIndia, and it immediately shot into the Indian Top 10 bestseller list. TBOA is available as an e-book in the US and I can't recommend it highly enough.
It's about a man, Patros, who comes into possession of one of the most coveted items in the world, a book that contains all the answers to all of mankind's problems. Patros wants absolutely nothing to do with it. He ditches it at a junk shop, only to see an Indian politician use the book for his own nefarious gain. Patros has to decide whether he's going to turn a blind eye to the world's problems or regain his youthful idealism.
It's available in all e-book formats via Smashwords check it out!
Meanwhile, you hear often that the "legacy," "dinosaur," "archaic" publishing industry is going down in flames... so you may be surprised to know that the traditional publishing industry has grown since 2008, even amid a recession. Be still my doomsayers.
The Apple e-book app wars continue. First, in compliance with new app guidelines, e-book apps like the Kindle and Nook disabled the Buy Now links within the apps. However there were two counterattacks. First, Apple and the "agency model" publishers were named in an e-book price fixing lawsuit, and Amazon launched a new HTML 5 Cloud Reader App that enables purchasing within the app and bypasses Apple's App Store ecosystem. You can bet this isn't over. (Disclosure: Links are to CNET, where I am happily employed).
And speaking of disruption, GigaOM had two great articles on disruptors in publishing, first profiling Morgan Rice, Cindy Pon and Tahereh Mafi, and second on their hopes for the future of publishing.
Eric from Pimp My Novel has a somewhat hilarious open letter to the industry: He requests that people stop asking him to fax things.
Slate had two interesting book-related links this week. Michael Agger wrote a column on becoming a faster writer, and there's a roundup of notable book people discussing which canonical books they feel should perhaps be dropped from the canon.
In literary agent news, my former colleague Ginger Clark wrote a column for Publishers Weekly on boilerplate contract negotiations and the clauses that are of particular concern, and Rachelle Gardner rounds up some questionable practices by shady agents.
And Jennifer Hubbard has another post analyzing first lines in books (including one about a certain kid who blasts off into space).
This week in the Forums, praising your family, scene length and pacing, do characters need last names, and how may drafts does it take until it's done?
Comment! of! the! Week! I have to say I was really surprised by the number of people arguing that TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD isn't a children's book. Before I make my own case for why it should be considered such, let me first give Comment of the Week to Brittany, who has a terrific argument for why it isn't a children's book:
I side with the opinion that TKAM, as I fondly call it, is not a children's book.For me personally, I think some of this comes down to definitions, so let me first say that I think of a "children's book" as a catch-all that spans from picture books to YA. Basically anything for children under 18. I also don't believe authorial intent should be a consideration. I might intend to sit down and write a science fiction novel, but if it comes out fantasy it's fantasy.
I am a young adult. This book was my required reading for junior year. I am sure I can safely say that no one in my class has read it before, for more than one reason. One, it's a "classic." I have read a lot of classics and consider myself well-educated and well-read, more so than others my age, and I would not have picked up TKAM if it had not been required and I had not heard so many good things about it. No teenager or child reads "classics" because they think they're going to be just like Dickens (which, I confess, I haven't had the courage to pick up again.)
Secondly, this book has some adult themes-rape being among them. I don't know about you, but I don't want my seven year-old reading about rape. (Yeah, I know Scout's seven or eight.) It's good for kids to learn about prejudice and death and life, and if you'll excuse the mild languge that's going on, it's a great book for middle grade-age and YA. But there are some things I don't think are for kids, and besides, isn't one of the best points of the book that we're looking at this from a child's eyes but we understand the bigger things that are going on? A child looking through a child's eyes isn't the same.
I enjoyed TKAM but I don't think it's a children's book.
I've outlined my own argument for the difference between YA and adult, and to me it comes down to the sensibility of the novel, not the subject matter. Is it told with a child's perspective and sensibility or is it told from an adult's perspective and sensibility? There are books with child protagonists that are firmly adult because they have an adult's perspective and sensibility.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD definitely deals with weighty issues, but the perspective and sensibility is Scout's, and Scout is a child. Yes, we gain a huge amount of insight no matter what our age, but this is a book that's read by nearly everyone before they're 18, it's told from a child's perspective, and just because it deals with some weighty subjects doesn't make it any less a children's book.
But that's just me!
And finally........ I have ARCs!
Have a great weekend!