Tag Archives: AWP11

Your Official AWP Bingo Card: 2011 Edition.



Currently working on this year’s AWP Bingo Card, which has become a tradition for me. Watch out for it soon. Here’s 2010′s edition.

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Is the future of physical book publishing the same as the future of reading and writing?

Vinyl Albums Discs the 14

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People continue to mix and conflate the making of a thing called a book–often beautiful, many times endowed with a spiritual aura–with other, entirely separate things called reading and writing.

Thank you Jane Friedman, for bringing all this up as it relates to McSweeney’s rather pollyanna posts on the state of book publishing. The latter touts the state of book publishing (by number of books printed/published, at least) as being at an all-time high, as is library use and book sales, with the bumper-culminating point that literacy, global literacy, is at an all-time high.  The McSweeney’s posts wouldn’t have passed muster in a freshman composition class for argumentation–physical book buying is not the only way we read, and libraries are used for several other things now besides checking out books. Let me explain.

It never ceases to amaze me how ebooks, the one truly positive sales story in publishing, is also the one topic that is brought up to point out that The Sky is Falling in publishing. The economic models that make an ebook and produce a book are largely the same–people read, edit, then publish. After that, it gets really cheap and efficient for the ebook, and really dumb and slow for the physical book.  But books, physical ones, continue to serve as the measuring stick.  This has a lot to do with aesthetics and fetishizing what a book’s job is, of course, which is to provide text for a person to read. It’s an important time and takes a significant chunk of one’s time, reading. Never mind that much of what we do reading-wise and practically all of our writing occurs on-screen.  The book as object for many remains sacrosanct.

All this is easy for McSweeney’s to bring up, and it’s very much in their self-interest.  That’s because they make beautiful books. Issues of the McSweeney’s literary magazine wouldn’t be out of place at an art school or museum in a show that challenges what a book-as-object is.  You can’t digitize that, nor would you want to. What McSweeney’s does, however, is both an anomaly and an infinitesimal part of both the publishing industry and the reading experience.   Continue reading


Filed under So we contradict ourselves