- Brave New (Marketing and Promotion) World – Evangeline Holland talks about some of the ways she sees the romance community as having become much more about promo than discussion. A lot of what she writes about is why LITM doesn’t do buy links, giveaways, cover reveals or the like. You can find that everywhere. We wanted to be a blog where you could read honest reviews (posted at odd hours on a vague schedule) knowing exactly who you were dealing with. Transparency and disclosure are key, IMO.
I remember the outrage back in 2011 when William Morrow ventured to set guidelines for book bloggers/marketing team. Around this time, the secret handshakes and code words necessary for obtaining ARCs began to disappear, and there was much concern that many were setting up book blogs solely for free books. So I understand why Big 6 marketing departments, then largely unfamiliar with the blogging world, assumed they could co-opt and control this faction of the online readership. Ironically, three years later, a book blog existing solely as a virtual publicist, with content dominated by cover reveals, excerpts, and spaces to host blog tours, is pretty much the norm.
Accordingly, original content–original and genuine book conversation–has mostly dried up as authors and publishers’ commercial demands have risen sharply over the past two years. This has caused many readers–and many fantastic voices in Romland–to retreat and retrench to the books/authors they already know (these days whacking a beehive gets you some buzz easier than a new release).
- Book Challenges Suppress Diversity – Malinda Lo looks at the numbers behind library book challenges and finds a disturbing but not unsurprising pattern.
If a book like Beloved by Toni Morrison is challenged because it is “sexually explicit” and has a “religious viewpoint” and contains “violence” (these are the stated reasons for its challenges in 2012), is it simply accidental that Beloved is also a novel about an African American woman, written by an African American woman?
I wondered if there was a correlation between books with diverse content — that is, books by and about people of color, LGBT people, and/or disabled people — and book challenges, so I decided to take a look at the data available from the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom and see what emerged.
- Pink I: What’s In A Genre? – Lauren Willig has an amusing story about the arbitrariness of determining a book’s genre in the publishing industry.
Often, genre classification is dictated by which part of the market is currently deemed in the ascendant. If historical fiction is outselling mystery, then there’s an incentive to package a book as historical fiction, even if it has a strong mystery element. Conversely, if historical fiction is dead (it dies every decade or so, and then bounces back), then there’s a push to highlight the mystery aspect.
Some books are written directly to their respective markets. Some mysteries and just mysteries, some romances are just romances, and some historical fiction is just historical fiction. But for those books on the margins, the boundaries become very permeable.
- Hands Up / Guns Out: On Being Brown and Alive – This an absolute gut punch of an account from a Latina living in Michigan of the effect white people’s assumptions has on her.
Living in Michigan has meant finding myself in places I’d never thought I’d be. On the steps of the library with my hands in the air, detained and questioned by Homeland Security for a wrong turn, at an exhibit dedicated to brilliant, brave Chicana women that I helped create. Each of these times, the sudden visibility reminded me of how often Latinas are rendered invisible, anonymous, and mute, despite the countless contributions we make to our society as thinkers, creators, and artists. It reminded me that I long for a visibility defined on my own terms, based on what I see when I look into my own heart and mind, not what you see when you see my brown skin and my hands up.
- In New York, Justice ‘Only Available To Those Who Can Afford It,’ Says New Report – So little of our justice system is actually just, and it’s hard to believe that’s unintentional.
In Onondaga, Suffolk and Schuyler counties, the report says, defendants are regularly arraigned with no lawyer present.
Some counties also set “drastically low minimum income thresholds” that make it impossible for most low-income people to get a government-funded counsel, the report contends. In Schuyler County, for example, the Public Defender’s Office “based eligibility on state and federal poverty guidelines to keep costs down.” This meant someone with an annual income of only $12,763 in 2007 would likely not receive a public defender. In Washington County, a woman who was supporting her son on just $10,320 a year was denied a public defender, according to the report.
In Onondaga County, which includes Syracuse, one-third of criminal defendants in the county’s 10,000 public defense cases in 2012 never met with their lawyer outside of court. According to the report, that results in most defendants pleading guilty.
In Suffolk County, where Telfair went to jail, the report says public defenders consulted expert witnesses in approximately zero percent of cases.
- New report slams Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for secrecy around harassment of women online – I think we all knew that misogynist abuse is rampant on social media, but it’s nice to see efforts to quantify it grabbing headlines in the mainstream media. Hopefully this adds some pressure on them to take action.
The report, which was released as part of the Association for Progressive Communications’ “Take Back the Tech” campaign and funded in part by the Dutch government, analyzed Twitter, Facebook and YouTube’s user policies and their public response to international abuse incidents over the past five years.
While the report’s findings vary widely by platform, it points to one sweeping issue across the board: a total lack of transparency around how much abuse actually goes down on social media — particularly abuse directed at women — and how social media companies deal with it.
“These companies are responsible to their users, yet so much of what they do happens behind closed doors,” said Sara Baker, “Take Back the Tech’s” global coordinator with the APC. “We would love to see data on how many people submit reports, their general demographics (including country and language) and the overall results of those reports. We also want to know more about the people making decisions behind the scenes. What countries do they live in? How are they trained?”
(H/T to Sunita for half of these links. They came fresh from her Twitter.)