Latest Blog Posts

by Joseph Fisher

27 Aug 2010

Peta Jinnath Andersen’s excellent PopMatters piece on the utility of placing advertisements in books effectively challenged the notion that such a possibility is a recent marketing development. It also, for what it’s worth, forced me to rethink my own objections to in-text advertising—objections that were not much more sophisticated than something along the lines of “No way, man. I’ll never support writers who sell out, man.” Not very sophisticated, to say the least.

When I initially read Andersen’s article, I could not help but balk at, for instance, the references to Apple products that abound in Stieg Larsson’s The-Girl-Who-Does-Stuff series. My reservations about what I perceived to be really clunky writing—above and beyond the obvious product placement gestures—were steeped in classic academic condescension: “classic” works of literature stand The Test of TimeTM and do not require such obvious connections to the “real world” outside of them in order for them to be relevant. Larsson is pandering, I thought. However, as I stepped back from that decidedly uncritical point of view, I realized 1) that I was being a snob and 2) that product placement/advertising in literature, at least in the contemporary era, has a fairly extensive, if often unacknowledged, history.

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

26 Aug 2010

Last week, MediaBistro’s GalleyCat and The Wall Street Journal reported on what may soon be a disturbing new reality for readers everywhere: ads. But advertising directly in books, print or otherwise, offers its own particular set of problems which may keep publishers from calling up their buddies in the biz anytime soon.

Advertisements and sponsored content are nothing new. As Ron Adner and William Vincent point out over at the Wall Street Journal (somewhat ironically, from behind a paid content wall),

Even though periodicals like the New Yorker and the Atlantic [sic] have printed ads alongside serious fiction and nonfiction since their founding, purists will surely decry ads in books. But historically, the lack of advertising in books has had less to do with the sanctity of the product and more to do with the fact that books are a lousy medium for ads. Ads depend on volume and timeliness to work, and books don’t provide an opportunity for either.

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

19 Aug 2010

Earlier this year, WSJ’s Amy Chozick, wrote about television parents making a comeback:

For decades, TV has depicted teens as angst-ridden and rebellious, and parents as out-of-touch and unhip… [but the] less-defiant generation is influencing plots, changing what types of shows get made and prompting networks like MTV that have long specialized in youthful rebellion to rethink their approach. The new, more-sanguine shows still broach racy topics like sex, drug use and teen pregnancy, but they appease parents by always presenting consequences. Parents typically have prominent roles and just as many tawdry story lines as the teens—and look almost like older siblings.

Over the past few years, Gilmore Girls style fare—shows families can discuss and use to find common ground—have been more popular than the glitzy Gossip Girl style dramas most adults associate with teens (though GG is really focusing on parental drama lately). Although television and literature coexist rather than correlate, TV’s spotlight on the parent-child relationship presents a stark contrast with the absenteeism of parents in YA literature, where more and more teen characters tackle their issues alone, or with marginal, keeping-up-appearances style parenting

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

16 Aug 2010

Vampires. Zombies. Sea monsters with an unfettered love of double java chip frappuccinos. In the book world, trends appear to come and go quickly—the Twilight vampire boom is already coming to an end, just five years after Meyer’s book hit shelves the world over. Five years? Although that may seem a long time, it’s really only two to three publication cycles. But where do trends come from? Do authors band together to write books of the same ilk? Or are they the result of a rare and spectacular cosmic boom?

The short answer: it depends. Few trends appear fully formed from the cosmic ether (or Zeus’ head). Most come from a combination of cross-media pollination, cycling, and what I think of as the trickle-down effect.

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

25 Jun 2010

If you’ve ever walked around a bookstore, chances are you’ve picked up a midlist book. Midlist books take up the majority of the shelf space, filling in the gaps between bestsellers and popular books we love to hate (*cough* Twilight Saga *cough*). According to James McGrath Morris over at the Huffington Post, though, e-books are killing midlist authors everywhere, rearing their ugly, easily read e-ink heads to take chunks out of the reader-bookstore relationship. Fortunately, the slow death McGrath Morris predicts may never come to pass, if e-books and e-rights are handled with care. In fact, e-books could well be the savior of the midlist book, perhaps even the writing life itself.

Midlist books are exactly what they sound like—the middle sellers, middle catalog books that make up the bulk of a publisher’s output. If you imagine publishing as a cake (as I often do), bestsellers are the frosting, midlist books are the cake itself, and poorer, unpopular books are the burnt bottom crust. Midlist books are the titles which sell well (10,000 - 20,000 copies), their authors the arguably lucky folk who make their living writing, though many still need to supplement their income with day jobs.

//Mixed media

Blindspot: Season 1, Episode 3 - "Eight Slim Grins"

// Channel Surfing

"Secret codes, shadowy organizations: is Blindspot piecing together the riddle wrapped in the mystery of the enigma that is Jane Doe?

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