This week in books 4/30/17

by | Apr 30, 2017 | This Week in Books | 1 comment

I’ve been traveling. Follow me on Instagram! @nathanbransford

This week! In books! Just a few days delayed.

This is probably worth a full post unto itself, but there have been some very good articles on what has happened to Google Books, the incredibly ambitious effort to digitize all of the world’s physical books. It’s a tale of hubris, copyright morass, competing interests, the court systems, and some good old fashioned technophobia.

Back Channel’s article How Google Book Search Got Lost mainly focuses on the internal dynamics and hard lessons learned that led to Google losing energy to push it forward, whereas The Atlantic’s article Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria focuses mainly on the competing incentives and the colossal lost opportunity the current reality represents.

Both are worth a read and should result in some serious soul-searching for everyone in the book business.

Meanwhile, in other future-of-books news, The Ringer takes a look at cell phone chat novels, which trade pages for text exchanges. Anyone out there a fan of these?

Writers in the late 1800s were obsessed with the North Pole. What did they find there?

With Bill O’Reilly in the news, the New Yorker took a look at his 1998 novel Those Who Trespass, which is about a bitter newscaster who is forced out of his job and goes on a murder spree. Um.

In writing advice news, the Guide to Literary Agents blog compiled some writing tips from S.E. Hinton and Margaret Atwood. And author Jennifer Hubbard urges you to think about power dynamics and power shifts within novels.

Daunted by the prospect of marketing your book? Why not create a marketing team.

BookEnds has some do’s and don’ts of querying, including the importance of getting a second pair of eyes on it and considering whether a weak query might reflect some weaknesses in your manuscript.

And the NY Times has a good Op-Ed about being honest about the fear that’s getting in the way of accomplishing your dreams.

This week in the Forums (tip: want to get featured on this blog? Start a good forum topic!)

Which authors are killing it on social media?
Are you reading more or fewer books than you were 5 years ago?
Nominate Your Query for a Critique on the Blog
Nominate Your First Page for a Critique on the Blog

Comment! of! the! week! goes to Rachael, who argues for Octavia Butler’s Parable books as the most prescient she’s read:

Octavia Butler’s Parable books are frighteningly prescient. There is an apocalypse of sorts made up of economic and environmental problems that just get out of hand. A demagogue gets himself elected by claiming he’ll “Make America Great Again.” He riles up the fears of the religious conservatives to let him get away with getting rid of people he doesn’t like. 

And finally, lots of people are declaring Snapchat dead. My friend Taylor Lorenz says: not so fast.

Have a great week!

I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.

1 Comment


    The title of The Atlantic's article is metaphorical but there is a real physical Modern-Day Library of Alexandria, which is a huge and amazing structure in its own right.

    What did explorers find at the North Pole? Ice!

    I'm reading more books than five years ago, I think.

    Congratulations to Rachel Eliason for her comment!


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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