Posted tagged ‘publishing’


August 13, 2009

I stumbled into an annoying little project yesterday concerning ghost/co-writers.  Now, one of the ramifications of our budget cuts is that I am now responsible for cataloging adult fiction (which I love doing by the way, but I still dearly want my co-worker back).  

I’m flying through our latest order yesterday when I come across a copy of “Sidney Sheldon’s Mistress of the Game” (that’s the title, it’s not actually written by Sheldon).  Problem time.  Our Tom Clancy books that are like this are cataloged under Clancy’s name, but the Eric Van Lustbader written Robert Ludlum novels are under Lustbader (with one copy erroneously under Van).  After much discussion it turned that everyone thought everyone else knew how we were supposed to handle these, and it was time for a new project.

So now we’re cataloging these as, for example, Fiction Ludlum/Lustbader.  But we’re only doing this for the books in which the author that patrons are more likely to look for (Ludlum) is not actually given credit for being an author.  Thus the Womens’ Murder Club books will still be cataloged as standard James Patterson books, and likewise the posthumous V.C. Andrews ones.  It’s a slightly annoying compromise, but I think it’ll work for us.

Now I just have to spend this morning tracking down 10 billions fake Tom Clancy novels.  ::grumble::

April Fool’s?

April 1, 2009

Today I received an unusual e-mail, an offer to write a book that has something to do with libraries, and after some research I’m pretty sure it might actually be legitimate.  At worst it might be a form letter sent to anyone in the profession with some leadership experience (which member-at-large of the technical services section of the Mass. Library Association might count as).

So now I’m conflicted.  First of all are the doubts; it is April Fool’s day, I’m not exactly regarded as being an authority on anything (okay, maybe amongst Western Mass. catalogers I’ve got a rep as the comics guy), and if this actually is real I’m not totally sure I’ve got a book in me (or at least one anyone would want to read).

On the other hand, my professional philosophy is pretty much that I should accept any professional challenges that come my way, and that’s worked out pretty well so far.  It’s gotten me a supervisory job right out of school, a roll within our consortia, the aforementioned post within the MLA, and my relatively new role leading workshops.  So I’ll probably say yes to this too if it pans out, but I’ll be damned if I know how to go about it.

Books and Games Again

October 6, 2008

The Times (via Linda Braun) has another report of books and video games today, but this time I’m feeling a little more cynical towards it.  The article is split between libraries and schools using games to foster scholarly activities and novelists capitalizing on the interest in gaming to market their books.  The former point is well taken (although I find the arguement that reading instruction manuals will improve literacy a bit dubious, particularly because hard core gamers don’t read them).

The later is true, but the article uses some really poor examples.  There are some great works in both the publishing and the video game world that bridge the two.  This article sticks entirely with the novels, and focuses on one person in particular who is in marketing first and an author second, not a great formula for success.  On the other hand there are people out there like Sean Stewart who came to the form (via Cathy’s Book) after having his feet firmly planted in both worlds first.

And on the other end of the spectrum, the article seems to presuppose that video games have not yet found a way to reach the same level of narrative complexity as books.  And while I agree they could be better, so could the great majority of novels being written today, and there are a huge number of games that have found ways to incorporate truly clever writing (Psychonauts, Sam & Max, Portal), complex narratives (Killer 7, GTA), and fictional worlds with incredible depth (Bioshock, Okami).  There may not be a game yet that has successfully combined all these elements, or at least not without sacrificing the gameplay to accomplish it, but there are plenty that have come close (I’ll actually accept some arguements in favor of Portal and Okami for having succeeded) and I have no doubt we will be there in the very near future.

Serial Offenders

September 29, 2008

Serials are a nightmare for catalogers.  The reason for this is fairly simple.  The rules that govern the cataloging of bibliographic items are largely based around the conventions established within the publishing industry.  We draw our main information from title pages and verso, we understand subtitles distinguished by font changes, and we know the difference between a second printing and a second edition.

But then there are serials, where all that goes out the window.  I’ve heard some colleagues say (mostly out of frustration) that publishers should do a better job of following the rules.  Suffice to say that’s not going to happen, nor should it.  Instead what needs to happen is that we need to update our processes to ones that can cope with any curve-balls thrown at us.

One of the biggest problem areas we’ve experience lately have been (surprise surprise) graphic novels.  Theses are particularly hard because the publishers have been continuously changing their publication models.  Right now the big two publishers (Marvel and DC) release each story in up to five different formats (single issues, trade, digest, hardcover, deluxe hardcover) in a very small period of time.  

Let’s use Captain America as an example.  We’re currently at volume 6 (I think) of the monthly comic.  Those issues have been collected in a deluxe edition collecting the first 25 issues.  It has also been published in two volumes of the Winter Soldier (named after the story arc), 2 of Red Menace (collection a story of a totally different title) 1 of Civil War, and most recently 3 of the Death of Captain America.  Each of these collections reset the volume numbering for each arc, despite the fact that they all belong to vol. 6 of the comic.  The only logic here is that comics with a number 1 sell better, so they reset the numbering as frequently as possible.  This is not an anomaly, this is standard practice, and we have no clear way of dealing with it adequately.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What’s a Twiller?

August 31, 2008

Matt Richtel of the Times has aparently begun to publish a story of his over Twitter (via Linda Braun), 1 sentence at a time.  The idea is to let fans read the story as he writes it.  It’s a neat idea, but it’s a form of publishing that libraries cannot really participate in.

Morality Clauses

August 22, 2008

This has been reported in quite a few places (I heard it from BoingBoing).  Random House has just announced a policy of including morality clauses in the contracts of its YA authors.  On one hand I applaud them for considering authors to be good role models, but mostly I’m just horrified.

I’m reminded of the protests that sprung up around Orson Scott Card awhile ago when YALSA awarded him a life time achievement award for his contributions to YA literature.  He is entirely deserving of the award based on his work, Ender’s Game is one of the few enduring classics modern SF has produced.  But Card also holds some horrible opinions of homosexuals, which he has voiced repeatedly.  The question was whether the author’s works could stand on their own, or whether to taint of the writer’s own beliefs tainted them.  Quite a few people were strongly opposed to Card, but in the end cooler heads won out, And I’m glad that they did.

The same should hold true for Random House.  Not everyone is a saint, and some of those who aren’t have produced the greatest works of art (i.e. Roald Dahl).

The State of Publishing

May 30, 2008

The Times has published an article with a bleak analysis of the publishing industry, despite the fact that sales increased (albeit by a mere 0.9%).   The problem being the the outlook isn’t very good, sales are expected to plummet and there isn’t another Harry Potter phenomenon on the horizon.

But what’s bad for publishers may be a boon for libraries.  The basis of the slump is after all the economic downturn and books are luxury items after all.  It’s no surprise they’re one of the first things to get cut out of a person’s budget (just not my own unfortunately, it’s lots of pasta for me instead).  Thus I’m really hoping that circulation counts will increase as the sales continue to slump.  Cause I really need to have some hope.