Christianity Today has released the results of their annual book awards. Many attractive titles, including this one:
Science Fiction Theology: Beauty and the Transformation of the Sublime by Alan P. R. Gregory (Baylor University Press)
“Our culture is awash in science fiction. From post-apocalyptic young-adult blockbusters to hard sci-fi novels, the genre’s star has never burned more brightly. Science Fiction Theology demonstrates a masterful understanding of what makes it all tick. While the casual fan may find the book’s density off-putting, others will find themselves deeply edified by Gregory’s rigorous tracing of the dialogue between science fiction and Christianity. The dialogue, it turns out, is very lively, even when trafficking in distortions. The chapter on Philip K. Dick, an author criminally ignored by religious readers, is itself worth the price of admission.” —David Zahl, director of Mockingbird Ministries
(via Hunter Baker, who was a judge for these awards)
Last Friday night during the attacks on Paris, twenty or more people nestled down at Shakespeare & Co. as safe-harbor against the violence. Shelf Awareness noted, “the store embodied its own prominent sign, a verse from the Bible: ‘Be not inhospitable to strangers lest they be angels in disguise.'”
Canadian writer Harriet Alida Lye was there. At the time, she told reporters what they were saying inside the bookstore. “We’re saying it feels like this must be part of something bigger, like we are being senselessly attacked. It feels really close to home, because Paris is just so small and the attacks are all over the city.”
“Very few authors believe they have sold enough books. Don’t seek personal validation for your career through book sales.”
Ed Cyzewski has a new book out today about the calling and career of writing, Write without Crushing Your Soul. He observes how experts have differing ideas of what works and you can’t copy one writer’s successful habits to gain your own success (though perhaps that works for some).
I once asked an editor at one of the Big Five publishers about balancing traditional with new media advertising, and she said to do all of the traditional stuff and to then do the new media stuff until I dropped. That may have been realistic for success with a Big Five publisher, but it’s hardly possible for the average author who wants to have family time, personal pursuits, or some sort of spiritual practice each day.
I tried to follow her advice for a season, but over time I found that trying to dive into all of the social media marketing options out there at the same time meant I did all of them poorly.
He says he built an email list for a personal newsletter, which I hear is a strong marketing technique. Readers respond to email solicitations more than social media links, especially if they believe they have already gotten a good return from the emails they’ve received up to that point. There are different ways to do this. The main idea is to recognize and utilize your strengths.
Catholic Way Publishing offers a Kindle edition of The G. K. Chesterton Collection (50 books) for just two bucks.
I think this may be the greatest reading value in the history of the world.
Ruth Graham points out the problems with that wonderful literary celebration currently engaging many sweet, ill-at-ease readers across the country, Banned Books Week.
Much of the rhetoric around Banned Books Week elides not just the difference between the past and the present but some other important distinctions: the difference between “bans” from public libraries and from school libraries, and between inclusion in school curricula and general availability in a library. A parent merely questioning the presence of a book on a required reading list is the same, to the organizations that run Banned Books Week, as the book being removed from circulation at the local public library. But the former, I would argue, is part of a reasonable local conversation about public education (even if the particular parental preferences are unreasonable). The latter comes closer to a “book ban.”
We at Brandywine Books hope you are enjoying your Banned Book celebrations. If you’re looking for suggestions, Lady Chatterley’s Lover has always been a great fire-starter. We’ve heard of some bacchants snatching books from tables at coffeeshops or smacking them out of the hands of readers on the sidewalk. Don’t let the reason for the season slip into history. Get out there and ban a book. (via Prufrock)
Loren Eaton offers three reasons for new and established authors to have their work recorded into audiobooks.
“Most audiobook listeners are affluent professionals with plenty of time available during their commutes, and such availability is reflected in the sales numbers. A recent report from the American Association of Publishers shows that downloadable audiobooks are the industry’s fastest-growing segment.”
Commuters are a growing demographic for audiobooks.
A bookseller says the hype over Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman mislead readers, who are now expressing their disappointment in what was supposed to be a new classic.
Brilliant Books in Traverse City, Michigan, has said that its “dozens” of customers for Go Set a Watchman are owed “refunds and apologies” over the way the novel has been presented. “It is disappointing and frankly shameful to see our noble industry parade and celebrate this as ‘Harper Lee’s New Novel’,” the bookseller writes on its website. “This is pure exploitation of both literary fans and a beloved American classic (which we hope has not been irrevocably tainted). We therefore encourage you to view Go Set a Watchman with intellectual curiosity and careful consideration; a rough beginning for a classic, but only that.”
Depressing graphs for writers
“Life,” said Marvin dolefully, “loathe it or ignore it, you can’t like it.”
Annual research into German media consumption reveals a steady decline in readers.
“A solid quarter (25.1%) of Germans don’t buy books at all,” Ingrid Süßmann reports. “Book buying in general seems to be correlated to age: the older you get, the less likely you will buy a book; 28% of Germans over 60 years of age didn’t buy any books in 2015.”
John Scalzi, author of Redshirts, which is being adapted for television, has scored a ten-year deal with Tor Books for thirteen new books.
The executive editor at Tor said that while Scalzi hasn’t had a top-of-the-list bestselling book, “One of the reactions of people reading a John Scalzi novel is that people go out and buy all the other Scalzi novels.”
“The highest honor of Christian Book of the Year™ went to The Daniel Plan by Pastor Rick Warren (with Daniel Amen M.D., and Mark Hyman M.D.). The New York Times bestseller with a strong and regular presence on the ECPA Bestseller list, is described as “creating a health plan” that adds faith, focus, and community to the usual “food and exercise” approach to weight loss and health. The plan is credited for helping 15,000 of Warren’s church members lose 250,000 pounds in the first year.”
The Christian Book Awards from The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association have been announced. Again from the press release: “The Christian Book Award® winners not only represent the best books in our industry, but in their variety they represent the transforming power of Christian content that impacts all of life,” explains ECPA President/CEO Mark Kuyper. “Our industry continues to produce ‘Good Books that Feed the Soul’ for all ages, seasons, and interests.”
Last year, the Southern Baptist Convention resolved that the Bible tells us enough about the afterlife and that experiential claims can’t trump it. In light of recent bestsellers and movies, their influence on even biblically literate believers, and Scripture refusal to tell us personal experiences with the afterlife, SBC messengers “reaffirm the sufficiency of biblical revelation over subjective experiential explanations to guide one’s understanding of the truth about heaven and hell.”
Yesterday, Lifeway softly announced it would follow suit, saying it is taking a new direction. A spokesman said, “We decided these experiential testimonies about heaven would not be a part of our new direction, so we stopped re-ordering them for our stores last summer.”
I hope the business tactics used to obtain the Malarkey family book will not be part of this new direction as well.
Family Christian Stores (FCS) is filing bankruptcy with the desire to claim several million dollars worth of inventory that they haven’t purchased. Publishers, who consigned that inventory to FCS, is suing to have their merchandise returned or purchased.
“As the nation’s largest retailer of Christian books and gift items with 266 stores in 36 states, Family Christian said it needed to restructure its debt in the face of sales that had fallen from $305 million in 2008 to $230 million in 2014,” reports Jim Harger.
In Mauritania, where 60 percent of the country is under age 25, school books are hard to find. Added to what distribution issues publishers may have, thieves are taking books to sell on the black market. Where a book should cost under $1 at a legal bookseller, on the black market it will be sell for $10.
Aldada Weld El-Salem, who is in his thirties, said he was lucky to find six schoolbooks for his daughter for a total of 20,000 Ouguiya ($68.81) on the black market.
“I did not want to risk the future of my daughter so I recently gave in to the prices of the dealers and I paid whatever they asked for,” he said. “I did not want my daughter to be a victim of the indifference of the official authorities toward a current crisis afflicting all of Mauritania’s schools.”
(via The Literary Saloon)