the contextual life

thoughts without borders

Posts Tagged ‘technology

New in Paperback for December

leave a comment »

Here are just a few paperback releases coming out this month that have caught my eye.

Black Is the Color by Julia Gfrorer
Black is the ColorBlack is the Color begins with a 17th-century sailor abandoned at sea by his shipmates, and as it progresses he endures, and eventually succumbs to, both his lingering death sentence and the advances of a cruel and amorous mermaid. The narrative also explores the experiences of the loved ones he leaves behind, on his ship and at home on land, as well as of the mermaids who jadedly witness his destruction. At the heart of the story lie the dubious value of maintaining dignity to the detriment of intimacy, and the erotic potential of the worst-case scenario. Julie Gfrorer’s delicate drawing style perfectly complements the period era of Black is the Color, bringing the lyricism and romanticism of Gfrorer’s prose to the fore. Black is the Color is a book as seductive as the sirens it depicts.

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink
To Sell is HumanTo Sell Is Human offers a fresh look at the art and science of selling. As he did in Drive and A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink draws on a rich trove of social science for his counterintuitive insights. He reveals the new ABCs of moving others (it’s no longer “Always Be Closing”), explains why extraverts don’t make the best salespeople, and shows how giving people an “off-ramp” for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.

Along the way, Pink describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive, and much more. The result is a perceptive and practical book–one that will change how you see the world and transform what you do at work, at school, and at home.

Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor
Hip Hop Family TreeThe lore of the early days of hip hop has become the stuff of myth, so what better way to document this fascinating, epic true story than in another great American mythological medium — the comic book? From exciting young talent and self-proclaimed hip hop nerd Ed Piskor, acclaimed for his hacker graphic novel Wizzywig, comes this explosively entertaining, encyclopedic history of the formative years of the music genre that changed global culture. Originally serialized on the hugely popular website Boing Boing, The Hip Hop Family Tree is now collected in a single volume cleverly presented and packaged in a style mimicking the Marvel comics of the same era. Piskor’s exuberant yet controlled cartooning takes you from the parks and rec rooms of the South Bronx to the night clubs, recording studios, and radio stations where the scene started to boom, capturing the flavor of late-1970s New York City in panels bursting with obsessively authentic detail. With a painstaking, vigorous and engaging Ken Burns meets- Stan Lee approach, the battles and rivalries, the technical innovations, the triumphs and failures are all thoroughly researched and lovingly depicted. plus the charismatic players behind the scenes like Russell Simmons, Sylvia Robinson and then-punker Rick Rubin. Piskor also traces graffiti master Fab 5 Freddy’s rise in the art world, and Debbie Harry, Keith Haring, The Clash, and other luminaries make cameos as the music and culture begin to penetrate downtown Manhattan and the mainstream at large. Like the acclaimed hip hop documentaries Style Wars and Scratch, The Hip Hop Family Tree is an exciting and essential cultural chronicle and a must for hip hop fans, pop-culture addicts, and anyone who wants to know how it went down back in the day.

The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays by Martin Heidegger
Question Concerning TechnologyThe advent of machine technology has given rise to some of the deepest problems of modern thought. Featuring the celebrated essay “The Question Concerning Technology,” this prescient volume contains Martin Heidegger’s groundbreaking investigation into the pervasive “enframing” character of our understanding of ourselves and the world. As relevant now as ever before, this collection is an essential landmark in the philosophy of science from “one of the most profound thinkers of the twentieth century” (New York Times).

The Guy Under the Sheets: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Chris Elliott
Chris ElliottIs Chris Elliott a highly successful and beloved comedian—or a slightly dim-witted notalent from a celebrity family who managed to convince a generation of disillusioned youth that he was funny? From a ghastly childhood on the posh Upper East Side to his first job entertaining mobsters with his Judy Garland impersonation, The Guy Under the Sheets is packed with countless episodes from the life of a mediocre artist who somehow faked his way to the top—of semi-moderate fame and fortune. Woven throughout thectional fun in Elliott’s memoir are wonderful real-life anecdotes that will delight many new readers and loyal fans alike.

Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013 by Trina Robbins
Pretty in InkWith the 1896 publication of Rose O’Neill’s comic strip The Old Subscriber Calls, in Truth Magazine, American women entered the field of comics, and they never left it. But, you might not know that reading most of the comics histories out there. Trina Robbins has spent the last thirty years recording the accomplishments of a century of women cartoonists, and Pretty in Ink is her ultimate book, a revised, updated and rewritten history of women cartoonists, with more color illustrations than ever before, and with some startling new discoveries (such as a Native American woman cartoonist from the 1940s who was also a Corporal in the women’s army, and the revelation that a cartoonist included in all of Robbins’s previous histories was a man ) In the pages of Pretty in Ink you’ll find new photos and correspondence from cartoonists Ethel Hays and Edwina Dumm, and the true story of Golden Age comic book star Lily Renee, as intriguing as the comics she drew. Although the comics profession was dominated by men, there were far more women working in the profession throughout the 20th century than other histories indicate, and they have flourished in the 21st. Robbins not only documents the increasing relevance of women throughout the 20th century, with mainstream creators such as Ramona Fradon and Dale Messick and alternative cartoonists such as Lynda Barry, Carol Tyler, and Phoebe Gloeckner, but the latest generation of women cartoonists–Megan Kelso, Cathy Malkasian, Linda Medley, and Lilli Carre, among many others. Robbins is the preeminent historian of women comic artists; forget her previous histories: Pretty in Ink is her most comprehensive volume to date.

Written by Gabrielle

December 4, 2013 at 7:00 am

Week in the News for November 11

with 3 comments

Here are this week’s interesting media and publishing stories. Add your favorites to the comments section.

Social Media

  • Daily Facebook activity among younger teens is in decline. AdWeek
  • Jenna Wortham wonders if Facebook is fading. Bits
  • Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, talks about his new venture, Medium. NYT

Media and Publishing

  • John Oliver leaves the Daily Show for HBO. AdWeek
  • BuzzFeed Books promises positive coverage. CJR
  • 10 technological innovations in TV broadcasting. Stuff of Genius

Lifehack and Business

Writing and Grammar

Podcasts

  • Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and lead developer for Tumblr. NextMarket
  • Tim Stevens, Engadget’s former Editor-in-Chief. RIYL
  • Tech columnist David Pogue talks about leaving The New York Times for Yahoo! NextMarket

For fun

  • The experiment that led to the concept of “thinking outside the box.” io9
  • Do our brains find certain shapes more attractive than others? Smithsonian

Written by Gabrielle

November 17, 2013 at 11:39 am

Link roundup for the week of October 28

leave a comment »

Here are some of my favorite stories and news items from this week’s publishing, media, and tech reporting.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

Tech

  • Researchers and designers are proposing new keyboard layouts for thumb typing. The Atlantic
  • How to crack a Wi-Fi password (and protect your own) Lifehacker
  • You don’t have to leave your gadgets behind to get away from it all. GadgetLab

Social Media

  • Facebook dominates in logins; Google makes gains [infographic] SocialTimes
  • At 300 million users, Google+ activity remains in question. Digits
  • Is Facebook failing marketers? Digiday
  • Facebook is looking to develop better consumer tracking technology. WSJ
  • Has Twitter changed the role of the literary critic? NYTBR

Media and Publishing

  • World Book Night US announced their 2014 selections. WBN
  • Random House acquires Figment, an online writing community for young readers. Jacket Copy
  • Editor & Publisher’s 2013 EPPY Award winners. E&P

Writing and Grammar

  • Five best free online word processors. Mashable
  • How to polish your writing. Poynter
  • When to use the passive voice. CJR
  • Tim Kreider on writing for free. New York Times

Lifehack and Business

  • How anxiety leads decisions astray. HBR
  • Top 50 executives who make wheels turn.  AdWeek
  • The structure of a 60 second pitch. Fast Company
  • Tick is a new to-do app. Lifehacker
  • 7 apps for a faster commute. Mashable

Podcasts

  • Former editor at Esquire and GQ, now editorial director of nonfiction at Random House, Andy Ward. Longform

Misc.

  • The science of a great subway map. FastCoDesign
  • Best Longreads accounts on Twitter. Mashable
  • Paintlist, a new app by Dutch Boy, recommends paint colors based on songs. New York Times
  • New iPhone app Knoala is a repository for toddler playtime ideas. Techland

Written by Gabrielle

November 1, 2013 at 6:42 am

Link roundup for the week of October 21

with one comment

Lots of interesting media, tech, and publishing news this week. Here are just a few things that caught my eye.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • Competition in the tablet market is increasing. NYT
  • 97% of newsstand apps are now free. AdWeek
  • New moms spend more time on smartphones than other adults. LA Times
  • Using metrics to boost e-book sales. MediaShift

Social Media

  • Five tips for promoting your online events using social media. Social Times
  • Facebook rolls out a new feature to help publishers increase engagement. Facebook

Media and Publishing

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

Podcasts

Misc

  • Most popular coffee brands on Twitter [infographic] All Twitter
  • Abraham Lincoln liked infographics. Elements

Written by Gabrielle

October 25, 2013 at 6:46 am

Link Roundup for the Week of October 14

leave a comment »

TelegraphHere are just a few things in the media and publishing world that caught my eye this week. Add your favorites in the comments section.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • Oyster iPad app has arrived. GalleyCat
  • Judge appoints monitor to keep eye on Apple’s e-book business. CNET
  • Five useful apps. Aliza Sherman

Social Media

  • One year later, Medium is changing the way writers write and readers read. MediaShift
  • Video sharing site Upworthy pairs emotional content with catchy headlines to spread social awareness. New York Times
  • Online mentions: New York Times vs. Mashable [infographic] SocialTimes
  • Twitter revenue more than doubles in third quarter. Bloomberg
  • Does real-time marketing work? AdWeek

Media and Publishing

  • Debut ratings for MSNBC’s “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” TV Newser
  • Willa Paskin reviews “Up Late with Alec Baldwin” Slate
  • A look inside the life of New York City newspaper hawkers. CJR

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Five prefixes to use in your email subject lines. 99u
  • Use your email autoresponder for maximum productivity. FastCompany

Podcasts

Misc

Written by Gabrielle

October 18, 2013 at 6:49 am

Link Roundup for the Week of October 7

leave a comment »

Here’s this week’s tech, media, and book publishing news.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • E-book singles are on the rise. AppNewser
  • McDonald’s is teaming up with UK publisher DK to distribute free e-books to diners. Forbes
  • Kindle Paperwhite reviewed. Wired

Tech

  • Young people are not as digitally native as many believe them to be. Bits
  • How to get better Internet connection in your hotel room. GadgetLab
  • Silicon Valley novels blur fiction and nonfiction. Bits

Social Media

Media and Publishing

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Sourcing talent for the workplace of the future. Wired
  • Tame your Twitter feed by turning off retweets. GadgetLab
  • What multitasking does to your brain. FastCompany

Podcasts

Misc

  • A breakdown of Twitter’s 200+ million users (funny). Geek Culture
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s obituary. The Paris Review
  • “Doctor Who” fans petition to light the Empire State Building in Tardis blue. CNET
  • Geek vs. Nerd, this hip hop offers help with definitions. Social Times

Written by Gabrielle

October 11, 2013 at 6:47 am

Link Roundup for the Week of September 30

leave a comment »

Here’s the week’s interesting tech and publishing news.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • Scribd teams up with HarperCollins and several smaller publishers for an $8.99 all-you-can-read subscription service. Salon
  • The American Library Association talks about e-books in libraries. Forbes
  • The Kenton County Public Library has an e-book mascot. Overdrive

Tech

  • The benefits and challenges of digitizing library collections. The Atlantic
  • How to fix music discovery sites. FastCoDesign
  • NPR’s news app editor on designing for the mobile screen. MediaShift
  • Top 20 tech hangouts in New York City. The Next Web
  • 50 people in the New York tech scene you should know. The Next Web
  • Technology and the college generation. NYT Style 

Social Media

  • Who are the most social publishers on the web? DataBlog
  • Facebook made it easier to find old status updates. Here’s how to reconfigure your privacy settings. Huffington Post
  • Important facts about the Twitter IPO. Quartz 

Media and Publishing

  • Top 30 news shows for the third quarter of 2013. Huffington Post
  • Four things trade publishers can learn from scientific, technical and medical publishers. DBW
  • Penguin Classics editorial director Elda Rotor answers questions about publishing. Reddit
  • Author website tips. Jane Friedman
  • 25 independent publishers. Flavorwire 

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Career advice from top media editors. Digiday
  • How effective people handle email. 99U
  • How to establish a personal brand when you’re an introvert. Lifehacker
  • Work, life balance advice from neuroscientists. Fast Company 

Podcasts

  • Media and fashion entrepreneur Marc Ecko talks about sincerity in branding. Twist Image
  • In their second segment, the Culture Gabfest discusses the state of literary criticism. Slate
  • Reddit founder Alex talks about startups. Leonard Lopate Show 

Misc.

  • Michael Kimmelman says we should use libraries as storm shelters. The New York Times
  • 50 years of headlines from The New York Review of Books. NYRB
  • From the archive, Ursula K. Le Guin reviews Italo Calvino’s “Italian Folktales” (1980). The New Republic
  • A girl quit her tech job through a skit on camera, it went viral. Speakeasy

Written by Gabrielle

October 4, 2013 at 6:54 am

Link Roundup for the Week of September 23

leave a comment »

printing pressHere are just a few articles on publishing, technology, and other geeky things that caught my eye this week. If you follow me on Twitter at @contextual_life you’ll find some of these and many more. Link to your favorite stories of the week in the comments section.

E-books, Readers, and Apps

  • Jeff Bezos talks about the new Kindle Fires. Businessweek
  • Apple now holds a patent for a digital autographing app. TechCrunch
  • Earlier this summer HarperCollins invited app developers to reimagine how we discover books. The submissions are in. LitReactor
  • Best apps for serious readers. Gaget Lab

Tech

  • If you can’t operate your gadget, it might be the designer’s fault. The New York Times
  • What web developers need to know about iOS 7. Nieman Lab
  • Interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Businessweek
  • Tips for making the change to iOS 7. Bits

Social Media

  • Six Word Memoirs held their first Six Word Festival on Twitter. GalleyCat via Six Word’s press release
  • The government is cracking down on deceptive online reviews. Bits
  • A growing number of journalists are using Pinterest. Poynter
  • Apple used Twitter to send out their Kindle Fire press release. All Twitter

Media and Publishing

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

Podcasts

  • A discussion about John Steinbeck’s life and work. Great Lives
  • Cord Jefferson, West Coast editor at Gawker, talks about journalism. Longform
  • American Icons: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Studio 360

Misc.

  • Syllabus for MIT’s science fiction course. MIT
  • A.J. Jacobs 3-D prints his dinner. NYT Opinion
  • Farhad Manjoo says email will never die. Slate
  • Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (dubstep remix) YouTube
  • Follow Little, Brown on Tumblr. Here

Written by Gabrielle

September 27, 2013 at 6:54 am

Link roundup for the week of September 16

with one comment

Carnival BarkerHere’s this week’s roundup of publishing and tech news. Link to your favorite stories in the comments section.

E-books and Readers

  • Trade e-book sales growth continues to slow through first half of 2013. DBW
  • Digital publishing in the developing world differs from that in the US. Publishing Perspectives
  • The future of art e-books. The Guardian

Apps and Tech

  • Laura Miller beta tests Oyster, the forthcoming iOS e-book rental app. Salon
  • So does Ian Crouch. Page-Turner
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of cell phone owners now use their phone to go online. Poynter
  • TV producers are experimenting with second-screen viewing opportunities. DBW

Social Media

Media and Publishing

  • Next year Americans will be allowed to enter the Man Booker prize. Telegraph
  • Netflix looks to pirating sites to see what shows to buy. Telegraph
  • Nick Bilton on online piracy. Bits
  • A House judiciary subcommittee hearing on intellectual property and piracy is set for Wednesday. AdWeek
  • The New Yorker, redesigned. New York Times

Writing and Grammar

  • Is it possible to “transcend genre?” a debate. io9
  • 25 things you should know about worldbuilding. Chuck Wendig
  • Grammar Pop: a word game app. Grammar Girl

Lifehack and Business

  • Wharton puts first-year MBA courses online for free. Businessweek
  • Retailers say Gmail’s new filtering system harms e-mail marketing efforts. New York Times
  • Tim Harford on mastering the technology around you. Financial Times
  • The upside of a messy office. Well

Podcasts

  • Mitch Joel and Michael Hyatt talk about the importance of building a platform. Twist Image
  • The Slate Culture Gabfest answers listener’s questions, one on media consumption. Slate
  • Good e-Reader has a radio show. Good e-Reader

Misc.

  • Clive Thompson talks about the benefits of tech; Joshua Glenn talks about reviving old scifi novels. Gweek
  • Ray Dolby, inventor of the Dolby noise-reduction system and Dolby digital surround sound died. New York Times
  • So did Hiroshi Yamauchi, President of Nintendo since 1949. Wired
  • Brooklyn Book Festival party at Greenlight tonight. Greenlight

Written by Gabrielle

September 20, 2013 at 6:57 am

Link roundup for the week of September 9

with one comment

gossipLots of interesting publishing news and opinions this week. Share your favorite articles in the comments section.

E-books and Readers

  • 71% of travelers prefer to fly with printed books. Good E-Reader
  • Tablet sales will outpace PC sales for the first time in the final quarter of this year. Traditional PC companies are without a viable strategy. The Guardian
  • If you have an Android you can customize the font on your e-reading app. TeleRead
  • An all-digital library opened in Texas. Good E-Reader

Apps and Tech

  • Apple’s App Store is not affected by the Justice Department ruling on price-fixing. Businessweek
  • Oyster, Apple’s iPhone App, will offer all-you-can-read e-books for $9.99/mo. ZDNet
  • On Monday, the F.C.C. and Verizon went to court over Net Neutrality. The New York Times
  • Timeline of Net Neutrality. Public Knowledge
  • The Readmill app allows e-book owners to share marginalia. Damien Walter wonders about future copyright issues. The Guardian
  • Twitter to sell ads on mobile app. Bits

Social Media

  • Facebook’s new Page Insights will allow businesses to track social media engagement. Poynter
  • Social analytics platform Topsy has archived every tweet in existence. Here are 10 ways to use it as a publicity tool. PR Newser
  • Rachel Fershleiser is leading Tumblr’s new book club. GalleyCat
  • Successful real-time marketing campaigns. AdWeek
  • How publishers can get the most out of Facebook marketing. Publishing Perspectives
  • The perfect social media post for multiple platforms [infographic]. All Twitter

Media and Publishing

  • What publishers can learn from the music industry about subscription models. Music Industry Blog
  • NewsHour Weekend reviewed. CJR
  • Sponsored content is on the rise. Digiday
  • Percentage of time given to reporting vs. opinion at CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. Poynter

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Is there really such a thing as a ‘workaholic’?  The Atlantic
  • Five tips for better public speaking. 99u
  • A short tutorial on “Bullet Journal,” a new system for to-do lists. Co. Design

Podcasts

  • Cal Morgan spoke about publishing with Brad Listi. Other People
  • Alec Baldwin is getting his own show on MSNBC. Listen to his podcast Here’s the Thing. WNYC
  • What marketers need to know about Google+ Hangouts. Social Media Examiner
  • Mind and Machine, Part I. CBC Radio Ideas

Misc.

  • Emily Nussbaum on Pivot, a new TV channel for the Internet generation. New Yorker
  • “The purpose of multitasking had gone from supporting multiple users on one computer to supporting multiple desires within one person at the same time.” Elements
  • Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video recreated with LEGOs. DesignTaxi

Written by Gabrielle

September 13, 2013 at 6:52 am

Link roundup for the week of September 2

with 2 comments

MegaphoneHere’s some of the publishing and book news that caught my attention this week. Link to your finds in the comments.

E-books and Readers

  • Amazon is launching KindleMatchbooks, a program that bundles print and e-books. It’s retroactive. Forbes
  • The history and future of color e-paper. Engadget
  • Cory Doctorow has some thoughts on libraries and e-books. Locus
  • Esquire is launching a weekly tablet edition to reach a younger audience. The Guardian
  • Tablet owner demographics 2013. Pew Internet
  • Nicholas Carr talks about the history of paper and how we read digitally. Nautilus Magazine

What we’re learning now is that reading is a bodily activity. We take in information the way we experience the world—as much with our sense of touch as with our sense of sight. Some scientists believe that our brain actually interprets written letters and words as physical objects—a reflection of the fact that our minds evolved to perceive things, not symbols.

Apps and Tech

  • Apps are on the rise, possibly because they match the way our brain works. Wired UK
  • Google just launched “Chrome Apps.” Techland
  • Clive Thompson on Google Glass New York Times Magazine
  • Farhad Manjoo heads to The Wall Street Journal to report on tech. Digits

Social Media

  • Heineken and Weiden + Kennedy New York devised a scavenger hunt using Instagram. Digiday
  • Twitter is preparing to go public. Bits
  • You might be tweeting your location. Huffington Post

Media and Publishing

Writing and Grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Advice to freelancers for pitching stories. Useful for placing op-eds and articles. The Atlantic
  • Magazines are experimenting with various subscription models. People is the latest. AdWeek

Podcasts

  • BookRiot has a podcast. It’s good. BookRiot

Misc.

  • Rebecca Solnit on technology’s influence on time. London Review of Books
  • Joan Juliet Buck on interviewing Bashar al-Assad’s wife for Vogue. Newsweek
  • Frank Bruni on bringing your digital comforts with you while traveling. New York Times
  • Take the Ishihara Color Perception Test. io9

Written by Gabrielle

September 6, 2013 at 7:01 am

Link roundup for the week of August 26

with 4 comments

Breaking NewsHere are this week’s best links collected from my daily scouring of the Internet. Share your favorites in the comment section.

E-books and Readers

  • Kobo keeps pushing boundaries. Techland
  • Kobo will offer magazine service on their devices starting in October. Good Ereader
  • Does it make sense to bundle print and e-books? Publishing Perspectives
  • The Oxford English Dictionary is not for sale (in e-book) but you can rent it. The Guardian

Apps and Tech

  • The paradox of wearable technology: can devices augment our activities without ­distracting us? Technology Review
  • Three apps to help declutter your work and life. Aliza Sherman
  • Five apps to help you dress for fall. AppNewser

Social Media

  • J Crew put their catalog on Pinterest a day before it was available elsewhere. BusinessWeek
  • Twitter will allow retailers to sell products and services within tweets. Bloomberg
  • Shoppers are turning to YouTube for product research before buying. AdWeek
  • Alexis Madrigal deconstructs the new blogging platform Medium. The Atlantic
  • How to choose a hashtag for your campaign [infographic]. All Twitter
  • How to get your client’s content into Google’s new “In-Depth Articles” PR Newser

Media and Publishing

  • NewsHour at a crossroads. CJR
  • Al Jazeera America began broadcasting last week. Here’s how to measure their success. Poynter
  • Al Jazeera America’s launch ratings. TV Newser
  • Four journalist secrets every PR person should know. Cision
  • Slate launched an LGBTQ blog, Outward. June Thomas is heading up the effort. Slate

Writing and grammar

Lifehack and Business

  • Shut down your browser tabs by accident? If you’re using Chrome, here’s a keyboard shortcut for full recovery. Slate
  • 5 ways to perfect an author reading. Huffington Post
  • Four steps to creating a documented procedure for delegation. Michael Hyatt
  • Public speaking lessons learned from touring college campuses. Fast Company
  • Four things to do before the end of each work day. MediaJobsDaily
  • LinkedIn etiquette. Good.co

Podcasts

Misc.

  • 35 innovators under 35. Technology Review
  • Three bookstores got into a Twitter fight. BuzzFeed
  • 101 best writers, reporters, and thinkers on the Internet. Wired
  • Five websites for your photojournalism fix. CJR
  • Are tech firms the new pop culture villains? GigaOm
  • 20 online talks that will change your life. The Guardian

Written by Gabrielle

August 30, 2013 at 7:01 am

Link roundup for the week of August 19th

with 8 comments

Breaking NewsAs a Publicity Manager specializing in online media for a publishing house, every week I’m required to put together a roundup of links to send out company-wide. Since everything looks like a blog post to a blogger I thought putting it here as well was a no-brainer. So, from here on out, I’ll have weekly link roundups featuring publishing and tech news. Please feel free to share your favorite news and sites in the comment section; I’m going to need all the help I can get!

 

E-books and Readers

  • PM Press in Oakland, Calif., is the first book publisher to bundle free e-books with nearly every one of the physical books purchased on its Web site. Publishers Weekly
  • How popular are digital magazines? The Guardian
  • Can traditional bookstores survive? A roundup of opinions. The New York Times
  • B&N reports a 20% decline in Nook revenue. AppNewser via B&N press release

Apps and Tech

  • There’s a new, free scheduling app that breaks down your day into people, places, tasks, and locations. Fast Company
  • Best Android Apps for writers. AppNewswer
  • This interactive device is threatening to kill the mouse. FastCoLabs

Social Media

  • Four tips for tweeting content. All Twitter
  • 10 social media tips from the Financial Times. Journalism.co.uk
  • How to use Google+ for book promotion. Digital Book World
  • 10 journalism sites and media people to follow on Twitter. PR Daily
  • Using multimedia in your tweets increases the chance people will share it. Poynter
  • How bookstores promote events today. Shelf Talker

 Media and Publishing

  • Conde Nast signed a distribution deal with Amazon that is the first of its kind. Conde Nast president Bob Sauerberg said, “We want to go from selling print subscriptions to selling access to all our content.” Fast Company
  • Listicles are here to stay, because the kids like them. DigiDay
  • Cory Doctorow on improving book publicity in the 21st century (spoiler: know who uses NetGalley). Locus Magazine
  • The “Today” show has a new book club. Publishers are happy. New York Times
  • A new online and print magazine called The Riveter highlights longform writing by women. Poynter
  • What’s up with cover reveals? Beyond Her Book

Writing and grammar

  • “Proofreading is the last line of defense for quality control in print and online publishing.” Here are 7 proofreading steps to make sure your writing is up to snuff. Daily Writing Tips
  • 9 tips for a better author bio. LitReactor

Lifehackery

  • What was once called “small talk” is now “conversational intelligence.” Here are five stages of a successful conversation. WSJ
  • If you still need help, here are six tips for having productive conversations. Fast Company
  • A critical look at Google’s “20% time,” which allows employees to work on hobbies during work. Harvard Business Review

Podcasts and Radio

  • What Lady Gaga can teach business about building and maintaining customer loyalty. Twist Image Podcast
  • Freelance book publicist Lauren Cerand shares some useful insight. Late Night Library
  • Media mogul and teen fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson talks to Books & Arts Daily. Radio National
  • Jeff Bezos, The Washington Post, and the Future of Newspapers. On Point

Misc.

  • Here’s why you’re oversharing on Facebook. Slate
  • The Cronut King talks about creativity, philanthropy and copycats. DigiDay
  • A handy infographic showing cell phone etiquette by country. Repair Labs

Written by Gabrielle

August 23, 2013 at 6:35 am

Wither Physical Space? A Bookstore Mystery

with 8 comments

Cafe-Librería El PénduloThis past week there were a number of articles that addressed the fate of bookstores, mainly announcing their impending demise. While this is nothing new—the topic has become a perennial favorite in the publishing industry now that the Digital Age is in full-scale disruption mode—this latest round struck a chord with me. As someone who spends many of her non-work hours in these shops—browsing, buying, going to readings—I give a lot of thought to the future of the bookstore.

I work for a publishing house, as do many of my friends; many of my other friends are booksellers and still others are authors. Admittedly, I have a stake in the bookstore’s survival beyond mere personal enjoyment.

I’m also aware that by living in New York City, a place teeming with bookstores, I am spoiled and possibly have a skewed view of their place in society. Nearly every one of these stores hosts an author event most nights of the week, giving me and the local community a reason to show up other than to buy a new book. They are a place to congregate, to catch up with friends, and occasionally meet new ones. They’re where you meet your favorite author and listen to poignant conversations among writers.

So, while I praise bookstores for doubling as neighborhood spaces and expound on how wonderful it is to have access to tens of thousands of square feet of books within a 10-mile radius, it would be narrow-minded of me not to acknowledge that there are people outside of my urban area who might not have one bookstore within driving distance. For that reason—among others—I am grateful for online retailers and ebooks.

Many detractors of bookstores often cite the seemingly infinite selection of and ease with which they can buy both print and digital books online as the main reason why bookstores are bound to go belly up. The first article I read was a recent post from Seth Godin. I’m a huge fan of Seth’s and always take what he says seriously, even if it sometimes makes me uneasy, like “The End of Books” did.

The death of the bookstore is being caused by the migration to ebooks (it won’t take all books to become ‘e’, just enough to tip the scale) as well as the superior alternative of purchase and selection of books online. If the function of a bookstore is to stock every book and sell it to you quickly and cheaply, the store has failed.

My argument is that the bookstore is not there to carry every book under the sun; they are there to curate a modest selection based on the demands of the community, the owner’s tastes (more so in independent bookstores than chains), possibly the staff’s tastes, and yes, based on the commercial success of a particular title at any given moment. Many stores, it should be noted, also sell ebooks through their websites and are happy to order a physical book that is not on their shelves.

In a recent episode of the Adventures with Words podcast, co-host Rob Chilver, a senior bookseller at a university branch of Waterstones, a British book retailer with nearly 300 stores in the UK and Europe, shared how he, as a book buyer for the store, decides which titles to stock.

When asked by people how he knows what books to buy he says, “It’s kind of a gut feeling. You get to know your shop. You get to know your customers. You get to know what people buy. … We occasionally get to see reps, these are reps from publishers. They walk you through the catalog, you can ask a few things.” He reads trade publications, pays attention to what’s getting covered in the media, and relies on an internal website where his coworkers discuss books they’ve read and what they’ve enjoyed.

Mike Shatzkin, a publishing theorist who specializes in digital changes in the industry, also discussed the future of the bookstore this past week in his post, “Losing bookstores is a much bigger problem for publishers than it is for readers.” He said:

The obsession with the false dichotomy between printed books and digital ones is beginning to give way to attention for the more important shift taking place between purchasing books online and purchasing books in stores.

… Online book buying — whether print or digital — takes business away from bookstores. So bookstores close or reduce shelf space. That decreases both their attraction and their convenience, which makes online buying increase even more. So bookstores close or reduce shelf space further. (This is called a “vicious cycle”.)

Shatzkin goes on to say that in this new world of online book discoverability—as opposed to the old way where people found books in stores—puts publishers on the defensive where they now have to explain how and why they’re still of value to authors. I can think of many: editors, publicists, sales reps, marketing and art departments, and distribution.

Shakespeare & CompanyHowever, the question of physical vs. digital availability is an important one. The future of the bookstore depends heavily on merging the physical showroom with digital technology. Interactive screens where stores maintain their curatorial nature—giving prominent visual space to select titles—but allowing an additional layer for increased selection is something I would like to see. With those screens would come a delivery service where those with ereaders could download books immediate, purchasing them from the store in which they stand. This latter part would be enforced either by blocking competitors’ sites within the store or by the honor code.

A recent episode of the Twist Image podcast addressed online shopping more broadly. Host Mitch Joel spoke with author and “retail futurist” Doug Stephens about the future of retail in our digital world. Stephens explained the impact of pervasive technology on consumer behavior and, in turn, on retail space. Because people can find what they want online he asks what the role of a physical store is now: “Is the job of a retail store still to distribute products? Or is it about distributing brand impressions? Is it about distributing relationships or connections?”

Just this past weekend, The New York Times took a look at the other side of retail development. Technology reporter Jenna Wortham explored in her article “Hanging Out at the E-Mall” one challenge facing online sellers: how to create a social experience.

The Web has yet to duplicate the real-world feel of a mall, where shoppers can pop in and out of multiple stores, easily browsing racks of clothing, display cases of jewelry and shelves of housewares. And online, friends can’t join you in a dressing room to help you avoid buying fashion faux pas.

Jenna highlights the problem of online discoverability and shows how a new crop of entrepreneurs are attempting to remedy it:

as more companies and shops migrated to the Web, it became harder to find cool, stylish and quirky items, giving entrepreneurs an opening. … The [new] shopping sites do not sell one type of item or good — instead, they mimic a bazaar where people can browse through bins at their leisure. … In addition, most social shopping sites let their users find and follow their friends and favorite brands or shops, which creates a feed akin to those on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. The feed is filled with new items that they might like to buy.

It’s often said that with disruption comes innovation. Do I think bookstores need to get creative if they’re going to survive, let alone thrive, as we become increasingly digitized? Absolutely. Are they doomed? I’m not ready to concede that just yet. I like to believe I live in a world that values in-person interaction and that readers, although a group known for its introversion, sees the benefit in moving these spaces into the future.

**Disclaimer: I work in publishing but am not a spokesperson for my company.

Written by Gabrielle

August 20, 2013 at 6:51 am

Steal Like an Artist, A Night with Austin Kleon

leave a comment »

Last week at McNally Jackson, an independent bookstore based in the heart of SoHo, Austin Kleon, artist and, most recently, the author of Steal Like an Artist, brought together three fascinating minds on the internet today. Joining him in conversation about creativity and curation were Maria Popova of the website Brainpickings, Maris Kreizman of the mashup Tumblr Slaughterhouse 90210, and cultural critic Maud Newton.

One of Austin’s ideas that I find most interesting is “creative lineage,” those who influence your work, whose fingerprints can be seen in your creations. For Maud Newton, Muriel Spark is woefully underrated; Maris raved about fiction writer Lorrie Moore and recommended Self Help and Anagrams; Maria named Susan Sontag along with Winnie the Pooh and The Little Prince; Austin, a fan of Midwesterners who include pictures with their writings, named Kurt Vonnegut and Lynda Barry.

Here is a profile I wrote and a Q&A I conducted with Austin early in April when his book first came out. It originally ran on The Nervous Breakdown. You can also read my riff on Austin’s analog vs. digital approach to creating, posted in March on this site.

Below are links to all the various places you can find Austin and the panel participants on the internet, along with more recommendations mentioned throughout the discussion.

“It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to” –Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

In 2005 Austin Kleon experienced a bad case of writer’s block. Right out of college, after having studied creative writing, he was struggling to write a short story. To break out of the rut he took a Sharpie to nearby newspapers and started crossing out sentences, leaving only a few words and large swaths of black ink in his wake. Unknowingly, he created something he calls Newspaper Blackout Poems.

But as he said on the phone one Saturday morning before embarking on a major US tour to support his latest book, Steal Like an Artist — the title a riff on a popular saying in the creative world often misattributed to Picasso — “nothing comes from nowhere.” It was soon after creating these blackout poems that Kleon traced the style’s origins back 250 years to a former next-door neighbor of Benjamin Franklin’s. More recently, William Burroughs had done something similar with his cut-up technique.

Far from disappointed by his findings, Austin developed a philosophy, one that he celebrates in the book. “All creative work builds on what came before,” he continued. Whether it’s our subconscious at play or a dedicated effort, we all have influences whose work guides our own. Austin encourages us to embrace and cultivate them rather than see our mashup style as fraudulent.

“Just as you have a familial genealogy, you also have a genealogy of ideas. You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see.”

Although his “family tree” is always changing, Austin named four influences who have stuck with him over time. Lynda Barry, his favorite cartoonist, showed Austin he could make a career out of pairing words and pictures. He believes her book What It Is should be required reading for high school students. Austin’s work is highly visual, the book features drawings throughout, so it was no surprise to hear him mention two other artists: Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame and Saul Steinberg, an illustrator best known for his work with The New Yorker. Acclaimed fiction writer George Saunders also made the list.

Although the influences he mentions appear cohesive, leading one to assume his work has a singular foundation, Austin says there’s no harm in variation. “Don’t worry about unity from piece to piece — what unifies all of your work is the fact that you made it,” he said.

The beauty of Steal Like an Artist is that it’s accessible, something that was important to Austin. As one can surmise from the subtitle, 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative, a tagline that fits neatly into today’s culture of pared down how-tos, there’s a noticeable lack of technical jargon. Instead, Austin filled its pages with thought-provoking aphorisms and bite-sized insights. Structured around these ten simple rules, Steal Like an Artist offers a list that will most certainly transform the way you think about your work: use your hands; do good work and share it with people; be nice (the world is a small town); and be boring (it’s the only way to get work done) — to name a few.

Unlike many big thought books, Steal Like an Artist doesn’t leave you stranded: putting ideas in your head without a practical plan for going forward. In the last few pages Austin offers tips on how to harness creative energy: take a walk, get yourself a calendar, start a blog, and take a nap. As an avid reader and someone who believe books hold many answers, he includes a reading list of other books that might help you along the artistic path.

Ultimately, Steal Like an Artist is an inspiring conversation, one worth returning to again and again as your creative process evolves over time.

Here are a few bonus questions I’d asked Austin after our phone call. Check out what he has to say about procrastination, serendipity, and Carl Jung.

You talk about finding one’s voice. I’m curious to know how you found yours — or if you think the search ever ends.

Voice always confused the hell out of me in school. I really had no idea what professors were talking about when they said “find your voice.” I still don’t have a handle on it real well, honestly. The closest I’ve been to understanding is through something Billy Collins said: you find your poetic voice by emulating about 6-8 different poets, and once they fit together, so you can’t tell what comes from who, you’ve discovered your voice. I don’t think the search ends, though — at least I hope not. To have one voice forever sounds boring to me.

Do you feel procrastination is an integral part to the creative process?

Oh yeah. Basically, I always have 3-4 projects I’m working on and when I get sick of one I bounce over to the other. At some point I’ll become obsessed with one and run on that energy until it’s dead, then I switch again.

As much as we like being productive, We also need time to sit around and do nothing. To stare at the wall and think, or do something routine and mundane with your body so your mind is freed up.

How do you procrastinate productively?

I like going for walks and doing the dishes — both get me ideas, but one makes me less fat and one gets the kitchen clean.

You say “Creative work is a kind of theater.” I love that. As an artist, how do you see your work — or creative work in general — as theater?

The stage is your workspace — your desk, or your studio, whatever. The costume is your smock, or your favorite sweatpants, or a funny hat you put on to think. The props are your tools — pens, welding torch, etc. — and the script is just plain old time set aside to work. You know, just like actors “get into character,” I think we can trick our minds into get into the zone, too.

You mentioned recently that you’ve been making more of an effort to step away from your computer — your chapter “Step Away from the Screen” is one of my favorites — and that you spend your time in the local university library looking through the stacks. What’s your take on serendipitous findings in the physical world versus the virtual/online world?

Yeah, you just can’t beat having books in a physical space. I call it the “serendipity of the stacks” — you go looking for a book with a certain Dewey Decimal number, and then your eye gets caught on another book’s spine, and pretty soon you’re reading that book instead of the one you went looking for.

The same thing can happen on the Internet, but it just doesn’t feel quite the same. Steven Johnson says, if you can’t find serendipity on the web, you’re not using it right.

I’d asked you about your favorite artist biography or memoir and you mentioned Carl Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Did it change your life in some way?

I’m not sure it’s changed my life, but what I love about the book is how Jung is constantly on the edge between science and religion, rationality and mysticism, etc. it’s just a great story about one of our great minds coming into being.

You can find Austin online at austinkleon.com, on Twitter at @austinkleon, on Facebook at Austin Kleon, and on Tumblr.

::[Links]::
Maria Popova: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr
Maris Kreizman: Tumblr, Twitter
Maud Newton: Website, Twitter, Tumblr, The Chimerist (A Tumblr about iPad reading, co-run with Laura Miller of Salon)

::[Recommended Links]::
Perchance to Dream: an essay by Jonathan Franzen in Harper’s Magazine
Who is Mark Twain?: an animated conversation with John Lithgow at the New York Public Library
Artist Marc Johns on Pinterest
Maud Newton outlines her day at the Paris Review: Part I, Part II
Maria uses Evernote
Austin likes the show Justified, based on Elmore Leonard’s novels

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 13,546 other followers

%d bloggers like this: