Links + Things: TV and Teen Sex, Random House WTFery, Blogs and Book Sales, DRM, and the Dude Still Abides
Whew... It's been a whole week already? Things have been a bit slow at Clear Eyes, Full Shelves due to my inability to finish a blog post. I have so many partially written things and then I talk myself into a circle and think everyone will hate what I have to say. Please tell me I'm not alone in feeling this way occasionally! (You totally have permission to lie in order to make me feel better.)
I've got a whole hodge-podge of interesting tidbits for y'all this week--don't forget to scroll down for some really good deals on good books, including a couple of freebies.
I don't even really know what's going on with this trailer for Much Ado About Nothing, but I'm excited for this adaptation nonetheless, since I'm always a sucker for battle of the sexes-type stories and I did like Much Ado when I read it approximately one million years ago. Also, I approve of both the use of the St. Germain music and Mike Kellerman from Homicide, Life on the Street in trailer.
Without going censorious and conservative, all three of these television episodes make an important point that's rarely offered to either teenagers or adults. Sex is an awful lot of fun, but it doesn't make you a prude to see it as a big deal. Sometimes that means waiting. Sometimes it means forging ahead. But these shows aren't just treating the consequences of sex as significant: They're treating their teenaged characters as up to the challenges of weighing those consequences.
Slate's Alyssa Rosenberg thoughtfully discussed Bunheads, The Mindy Project and Parenthood's treatment of teenage sex and noted that each has brought nuance to the often black and white depiction of teens' decision to or to not have sex in television plots. (I will say that my beloved Friday Night Lights also dealt with this issue in an equally nuanced way, especially in the Matt-Julie storyline.) I wish more fiction--whether it's television, movies or books--would tackle this subject matter in more layered manner.
Hydra's deal is much, much worse than the one you'll get from a real DIY option like BookBaby or CreateSpace or Lulu, where you only pay for services you want, keep 100% of your profits, and assign no rights at all to the "publisher." It's got all the downsides of a DIY press, and all the downsides of a traditional press, and the upsides of neither.
News of Random House's digital imprint for science fiction, Hydra's, terrible contract terms were all over Twitter yesterday. This was further detailed in two posts from John Scalzi (here and here), which revealed that not only was Random House's Hydra imprint employing such nefarious contract terms, but their digital mystery imprint, Alibi, is as well. As a reviewer and reader, I'm grateful for this information (we would have been unlikely to review a Hydra book, because we don't read much science fiction, but Sandra does read a lot of mysteries, so it's possible we could have featured and Alibi title). I've tried to determine if the "new adult" and romance sister imprints, Flirt and Loveswept, respectively, also put authors under such restrictive terms, but to no avail. We've recommended several Loveswept titles, but I'm holding off on reviewing or recommending any more until I find out if that imprint places similarly onerous restrictions on their authors, particularly in terms of copyright.
(If anyone knows the details about Loveswept, please drop me a line.)
I don't purchase books in a way that's usefully measurable to anyone. I don't even always remember which blog I found the book on, I often just know that I read a really good review of it on a blog.
Book blogs do sell books, but in my case the way in which they do it simply cannot be measured. I don't believe I'm alone. I think a lot of you are with me and walk your own slow, twisty trail to purchase. But maybe I'm wrong.
I always enjoy Karen's (who's also the book editor at BlogHer) thoughts on reading and her recent post about the concept of blogs "selling" books gave me a lot to think about. I think Karen's onto something that blogs do influence buying decisions for a certain segment of readers (and not all readers look to blogs for recommendations), but it's often more of a culminating effect, rather that a direct correlation. The only thing I can track in terms of reviews and recommendations leading to actual sales is though affiliate link purchases, and a large chunk of those are actually of books we've reviewed negatively. It's complex and hard to measure in a meaningful way.
Over the last 15 years, the Coen brothers' oddball noir-Western-surrealist comedy about one man's complicated quest to get his rug replaced after a mistaken hitman pees on it hasn't just become a cult classic—it's become something closer to an actual cult. Not only has it launched at least one known, priest-ordaining faith; it's also become a field of study for religion and mythology scholars, too. In other words, some seek meaning in the movie, while others find meaning, and meaningful fellowship, because of it.
One of my favorite college memories is of my now-husband, then-boyfriend and I finding $20 on a sidewalk in front of a movie theater on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, DC and using that $20 to treat ourselves to a movie--and popcorn! That movie was The Big Lebowski. Since then, it's been a favorite of mine for a number of reasons, and I have a twisted fondness for the censored version that pops up on TNT on a semi-regular basis. Sometimes, I feel like The Dude is a weird secret handshake of sorts for people of a certain age. Nice marmot.
- A sample of The 5th Wave is available for download! I am so in love with this book, y'all!
- In honor of her birthday, Buzzfeed lists 16 reasons to love Connie Britton.
- Our friend Mandee launched a blog marrying books and manicures.
- Here's some footage of Zora Neal Hurston singing a "baudy" prison blues song.
- Want to buy Beverly Cleary's childhood home (and be my kind-of neighbor)?
- Romance Novels for Feminists dissects how Molly O'Keefe subverts romance tropes in Can't Hurry Love. (I highly recommend this book, especially to folks who assume that romance novels can't be feminist.)
- The Boston Globe conducted an eye-opening examination of the finances of athlete charities.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education explores the digital divide in the context of online learning. (You may want to avoid the comments--there are some real jerks weighing in on this subject.)
- Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books interviews Susan Mallery about her social marketing strategy.
- Yet another college is accused of having major issues when it comes to handling cases of sexual assault on campus.
- And, finally, a bit of humor: TED-O-Matic - How to generate your own TED talk!
Cover Art News
A.S. King really gets some of the best covers, doesn't she? Her forthcoming novel, Reality Boy, has one of the most striking cover treatments I've seen in a long while--it's almost frenetic feeling. I love how her covers always have universal appeal--I could totally sneak this one by an unsuspecting adult who refuses to read YA and they'd be none the wiser. You can read a bit more about it here.
On the other side of the spectrum, I'm terribly disappointed in the new look for the paperback edition of Melissa Walker's wonderful Unbreak My Heart. It basically makes no sense to anyone who's read the book, and has a youngish, Susane Colasanti-style vibe. It's dated and quite unfortunate and doesn't even have a freaking boat on it. I bought this one as an ebook and have been meaning to pick up a paper copy for my "collection" and will definitely be snagging a hardback before they're gone.
Books That Are Cheap/Free (Right Now)
If for some reason you've not yet read If I Stay, it's only $5 in paperback on Amazon and BN right now. I haven't read this one, but Witch's Brew by Heidi Kling is free for Kindle right now. Heidi cracks me up with her The Vampire Diaries Twitter commentary, so I snagged it. (Update: this one is now $1.)
It's definitely for adults only, but Victoria Dahl's short story/novella, Strong Enough to Love, is free for Kindle, Kobo and Nook. I haven't liked the other books in this series (and DNFed one), but this is an emotional and compelling read for such a short story. Finally, all of us at CEFS have adored Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, and it's only $6 for the paperback at Amazon.