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Monday Morning

10Q: A Mass Online Participatory Soul-Searching Project

10Q-logo.jpgWe got a note from Ben Greenman last week about his latest project, a multmedia celebration keyed to the Jewish high holidays called 10Q: Renew, Reflect, React. Starting with Rosh Hoshanah last Friday, participants will post their answers to a series of ten questions: What’s a significant experience that has affected you over the past year? What’s something you would have done differently? and so on, through to September 28 and Yom Kippur. You can keep your answers to yourself, or share them with the rest of the participants—and in September 2010, they’ll be emailed back to you as a sort of electronic time capsule.

“The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a time to think about the year that passed, and let go of grudges,” Greenman told Flavorpill last week. “Broadly speaking it’s the same kind of thing as the New Year… But one of the things that I think we’re trying to work against is—there’s so much self-expression without introspection. It’s so much easier now to react to something immediately and instantly publish it. We want people to think of what has been building up that they might not have expressed over the last year.” And though the high holidays provide a symbolic framework for the project, he explained to New York Blueprint, “why should the people observing those holidays have all the fun?” Thus, everybody is invited to participate, whatever your religious background or current level of commitment. As his partner, playwright Nicola Behrman, puts it, “10Q is designed to be accessible to anyone who sees value in taking a step back and looking at what’s been going on in their world. Ultimately, it’s by engaging in these acts of reflection that we get to really see who we are, what’s important to us and where we’d like to see ourselves in the future.”

To help spread the word, they’ve even gained access to an electronic billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square…


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A Book Marketing Campaign Flush With Success?


While she was at the Netroots Nation conference last week, FishbowlLA co-editor Tina Dupuy went to the ladies room where she found at least one stall had been issued a copy of 50 Ways You Can Help Obama Change America, a political activism handbook by Michael Huttner and Jason Salzman coming out early next month. As you can see, the book came with a message:

“While you’re sitting here, relaxing away from the chaos of the conference, we’d like to provide you with some reading material… We hope you enjoy it, and, by the way, we hope everything comes out okay for you.”

Our reaction is pretty much the same as Tina’s: “Gross. Gross. Gross.” But what do you think?

Want to Feel Better About Yourself? Read a Book!

According to the results of a survey from the Pepsi Optimism Project, Americans are optimistic—more optimistic, in fact, than they were back in November 2008. Specifically, the surveys shows that people become more optimistic about our personal relationships, health, finances, and overall well-being in the last seven months (although they’re a bit less optimistic about their careers these days). What attracted our attention, though, was the sort of things that make people feel optimistic—and might just lift the spirits of those of us in the publishing industry, too.


While the official survey report zeroed in on the importance of a constellation live events like music concerts, theatrical performances, and speeches, the one “optimism booster” cited by more respondents than any other—88 percent—was “books.” Unfortunately, that’s not broken down by categories, so it’s not quite clear whether fiction or non-fiction lifts people’s spirits, so you should probably read a little of both, just to be on the safe side.

(Meanwhile, 56 percent of those surveyed say they feel optimistic after attending poetry readings, which was pleasantly surprising as we had not realized poetry readings were so popular—although clearly they should be!)

Read more

UnBeige Is a Big Leanne Shapton Fan

Every once in a while, you’ll find a story here at GalleyCat on a striking book cover—or maybe the book covers we’d like to see—but if you’re really into the design side of publishing, you’ll want to add our sister site UnBeige to your daily reading list. Last week, co-editor Stephanie Murg paid tribute to Leanne Shapton‘s Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry, in which the art director of the NYT op-ed pages hijacks the format of the catalog raisonné to chart a failed relationship between two New Yorkers. Murg’s post features sample pages that give you a better feel for Shapton’s sly creative genius—it takes some powerful imagination to make a work this experimental this accessible.

Presenting: The Book Industry in a Nutshell

Finally, a clear explanation of just how the publishing industry works, as outlined by the digital marketing team at Macmillan:

Well, alright, maybe they fudged a few details, here and there.

Children’s Literacy Has Gone to the Dogs


Officially, we stopped running pictures of your cats and dogs on Christmas Eve, but Harley is actually… well, we wouldn’t go so far as to call him a publishing industry professional, but he is a literacy volunteer who’s registered with the Reading Education Assistance Dogs program, working with autistic children and other struggling young readers. According to Harley’s owner, consulting editor Karen Grove, reading aloud to dogs like Harley helps children concentrate on what they’re reading rather than worrying about being judged by human listeners, and it helps reduce their blood pressure, too.

This program sounds awesome; we immediately started looking for more details about how R.E.A.D. works, and if you’re equally captivated, you can find a program in your area or perhaps even start your own chapter.

“Goth Pop Icon” a Children’s Book Knockoff?


Cycling through our Twitter follows late last night, we followed a link to an article suggesting a non-coincidental degree of similarity between Rosamond, a supporting character in the Nate the Great series of children’s books written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont, and Emily the Strange, a merchandising icon that has evolved from stickers and T-shirts to a series of “graphic novellas” published by Chronicle Books, a monthly comic book from Dark Horse Comics, and, starting next year, a set of young adult novels from HarperCollins.

Some commenters to the blog post are surprised it took this long for somebody to say something: “Good GOD, finally someone else noticed!” one reader wrote. “I made this comparison back in the mid-90s when I first discovered Emily merchandise… However, no one else seemed to notice and obviously there was no lawsuit, so I thought maybe I was overreacting.” Another adds, “I raged at the huge commercial entity Emily had become without giving credit where credit was due. I couldn’t find good comparison pictures with a google image search with which to show a comparison to friends. You freakin’ nailed it!”

The image at left comes from 1978′s Nate the Great Goes Undercover; the one at right is described in the article as “one of the first images of Emily the Strange ever made publicly available,” from a sticker produced in the early 1990s. Whether the similarities between the two are of any consequence is yet to be determined—and considering that Dark Horse has an Emily the Strange film in development, while Theaterworks/USA is touring a musical adaptation of Nate the Great (including Rosamond) for elementary school audiences, the situation is likely to take some sorting out.

The Annual Cat Photo Frenzy Begins… NOW.

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Apparently there’s a new Yahoo Group being formed called “The Bastion,” which will be, in the words of founder Moshe Feder, “a place for members of the SF, Fantasy, and Horror communities (fans and pros both) to share their love of cats.” (The title dervies from Egyptian mythology.) I don’t know much more about it than what I read on SFScope, the search function on Yahoo Groups being unhelpful, but that sounds like the sort of thing the GalleyCat Army could get behind…

It also reminds me that I haven’t run an open call for your cat photos since last December—and since I’m going out of town later this week on a speaking engagement, now’s a good time to bulk up! You know the drill: Authors (published or at the very least with a book deal in place), bookstore owners, and other publishing industry pros are invited to send in pictures of their cats—preferably doing something cute, ideally with a book or a manuscript or anything literary in the image, and definitely with a backstory to go with it. Any questions? Consult the archives.

This time around, let’s cast the net wide; even if your cat’s been featured before, if you’ve got a new photo and new news, we’ll take a look. But, please, just cats this week; as always, we’ll feature dogs and other creatures in early August.

Some Audio Goodies While You Drink Your Coffee

ben-greenman-reading.jpg⇒You might recall last week’s mention of new literary projects from Ben Greenman. Thanks to KQED, we’ve got a sneak preview of one of those projects: Correspondences, “a set of stories about correspondence, letter-writing, and how epistolary culture has changed over the years” that Akashic‘s Hotel St. George imprint will be published in a special ‘book box” edition this fall, with each story printed on a separate removable insert. A 17-minute reading of one of those stories, “Helpmate,” is available from the radio station’s website in streaming or downloadable formats.

⇒Science fiction writer (and recurring GalleyCat presence) John Scalzi wound up on NPR‘s All Things Considered as part of a four-minute segment on what passes for dramatic in last week’s Mars probe. You’ll never look at a shovelful of dirt the same way again!

(photo of Greenman from the PAGE reading series)

Right-Wing Nutjobs Plagiarizing from Thriller Writer?

obama-power-broker.jpgSo there was this rumor going around last week that somebody somewhere had a videotape of Michelle Obama, the wife of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, saying all sorts of terrible things about white people—but apparently whoever owns that tape is keeping it on a shelf right next to the one of Tommy Hilfiger on the Oprah Winfrey show… that is to say, it’s a BS rumor from a BS source.

Or, rather, the source ultimately turns out not to be BS, just pure fiction. National Review blogger Jim Geraghty was one of the first to suggest that this rumor matches a key plot point in The Power Broker, a political thriller published two years ago. Except that in the novel, it’s the candidate, an African-American U.S. Senator with close ties to a controversial minister, who’s caught making the remarks. (Talking Points Memo confirms the details.) “Either author Stephen Frey is clairvoyant, writing this book in 2006,” Geraghty observes. “Or this is one of the all time amazing coincidences. Or whoever started this rumor got the idea from a novel.” I know which one I’m going with.