Posts Tagged ‘Julia’

Mad Men to Take Costume Design to Retail?

mad-men2Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m obsessed with Mad Men’s cult following. Given the character’s fictitious presences on Twitter and the dazzling Mad Men Flickr stream, I was not at all surprised to read the show may take its costume design to retail. With Tivo’s purchase feature through Amazon, it may be only a matter of time before you can buy Betty’s yellow bikini with your remote. [Mediabistro]

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Stanley Fish on Barack Obama’s Prose Style

Stanley Fish’s analysis of Obama’s inauguration speech is one of the most incisive I’ve read:

“It is as if the speech, rather than being a sustained performance with a cumulative power, was a framework on which a succession of verbal ornaments were hung, and we were being invited not to move forward but to stop and ponder significances only hinted at.

And if you look at the text – spread out like a patient etherized on a table – that’s exactly what it’s like. There are few transitions and those there are – “for,” “nor,” “as for,” “so,” “and so” – seem just stuck in, providing a pause, not a marker of logical progression. Obama doesn’t deposit us at a location he has in mind from the beginning; he carries us from meditative bead to meditative bead, and invites us to contemplate.

Of course, as something heard rather than viewed, the speech provides no spaces for contemplation. We have barely taken in a small rhetorical flourish like “All this we can do. All this we will do” before it disappears in the rear-view mirror. But if we regard the text as an object rather than as a performance in time, it becomes possible (and rewarding) to do what the pundits are doing: linger over each alliteration, parse each emphasis, tease out each implication” [NYT]

(Fish was in the office this morning for our social networking breakfast and is excited to get on Twitter.)

-Julia

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A Good Author Website Is…. ?

I have a dumb question, one that’s been nagging at me recently: What exactly is an author or book website supposed to do?

The short answer is sell books. But it ain’t that simple.

If you stop and think about it, give or take a few bells and whistles (the ubiquitous flash intro page, for example), most author websites are exactly the same: Descriptive copy, an excerpt, author bio, possibly a trailer or Q&A, reviews, events & readings, and a link to Amazon and other book retailers. In other words: an electronic business card. It comes as no surprise, then, that a recent Codex study quoted in Courtney Sullivan’s article “See the Web Site, Buy the Book” found that 8% of book buyers had visited author websites in a given week. 8%!

So what would engage the other 92% of the book buying market? What are the elements of a successful author/ book website? (On Friday Debbie is hosting a breakfast for our authors to discuss these very questions so more to come on this subject from the rest of the HS gang). For now, here are some of my unscientific observations. I would love to hear yours….

A good author website:

- Is interactive and speaks to a distinct community

- Is inherently entertaining

- Engages someone who has never heard of the book or author

- Gives the reader a reason to come back

- Can be found easily on Google

Here are 5 authors who are getting it right.

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John Hodgman: http://www.areasofmyexpertise.com/

Tim Ferris: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/

Chris Anderson http://www.thelongtail.com/

Sloane Crosley http://sloanecrosley.com/

Cory Doctorow http://craphound.com/


(note the savvy publicist Sloane Crosley is the only author here who has used her name rather than the book title)

- Julia

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The City Celebrates

Foley Square, NYC 1.20.09

For more stunning inauguration photos by Adrian Kinloch see Brit in Brooklyn

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Sentences That Stick: Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

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Have you ever had a sentence from a novel reverberate in your head days after you finished it? In Yates’ novel Revolutionary Road Mrs. Helen Givings, the meddling Realtor who sold April and Frank Wheeler their suburban home, learns over the course of a phone call that the Wheelers are, in fact, not going to sell their house and leave the community:

“When she put the receiver back it was as if she were returning a rare and exquisite jewel to its velvet case.”

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New Talent Shines at The Gray Lady

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(Photo: Mike McGregor)

In her wonderful article “The New Journalism: Goosing the Gray Lady” Emily Nussbaum reveals the genius behind the Word Train (namely Aron Pilhofer, Andrew DeVigal, Steve Duenes, Matthew Ericson, and Gabriel Dance) and boils our relationship with new media down to one, elegant sentence:

“That’s the way change happens on the web: The most startling experiments are absorbed in a day, then regarded with reflexive complacency”

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Would Charles Baudelaire Hate the Kindle?

Baudelaire Every generation has those who are distrustful of new technology. I’m often reminded of the French poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire’s famous attack on photography:

“As the photographic industry was the refuge of every would-be painter, every painter too ill-endowed or too lazy to complete his studies, this universal infatuation bore not only the mark of a blindness, an imbecility, but had also the air of a vengeance. I do not believe, or at least I do not wish to believe, in the absolute success of such a brutish conspiracy, in which, as in all others, one finds both fools and knaves; but I am convinced that the ill-applied developments of photography, like all other purely material developments of progress, have contrib­uted much to the impoverishment of the French artistic genius, which is already so scarce….Poetry and progress are like two ambitious men who hate one another with an instinctive hatred, and when they meet upon the same road, one of them has to give place. If photography is allowed to supplement art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it altogether, thanks to the stupidity of the multitude which is its natural ally.” [On Photography, from the salon on 1859]

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I suppose one could argue the Kindle is hardly a populist device at $399 a pop, but then again neither was the first camera. It was the potential to go mass that frightened Baudelaire who, it seems, now has 50,662 friends on Facebook.

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Is social networking making the recession more painful?

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Do I really need to know that Metro France let 3 reporters go, or that PCM the owner of the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant is downsizing?

 No, I don’t. And neither do you.

 Ever since I subscribed to themediaisdying on Twitter I get dozens of updates a day reporting layoffs in print media, radio, television, advertising, you name it. Updates based on anonymous, unconfirmed tips:  A dozen layoffs at WGBH! The SUN-TIMES MEDIA is closes printing facility! 80 Jobs to go at MTV UK! A magazine editor friend of mine who used to poke fun at Twitter said she’s been “gobbling it up like candy.”  Well, so have I and, like a kindergartner the week after Halloween, I’m sick to my stomach.

Apart from the obvious irony of learning about layoffs in print media through a social networking platform, and the fact that we’re already saturated with bad news about the economy which contributes to our tooth-grinding dreams (or lack of sleep), themediaisdying feeds a kind of mob mentality that is unproductive at best. Did journalists at the Cleveland Plain Dealer worry about people at the Los Angeles Times during the Great Depression? Maybe they did. But nowadays when I log on to Facebook and see a so-and-so “is stressed” I immediately wonder: Did they get sacked? Should I call? Send a tweet? 

I’m grateful for the kind of grass roots mobilization that platforms like Twitter and Facebook enabled during the election season, and I love reading – in real time- about my friend’s baby’s first bath, but when it comes to the death of the media, I say all 7,339 of us Twitter subscribers hold hands and press “remove.”

Besides, as our favorite Twitter-rock-star-entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck said recently on his Twitter feed: “u can’t cry u just have to HUSTLE”

- Julia

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“Catcher in the Rye” for young Muslims adapted to the screen

The Taqwacores,” a cult novel by Michael Muhammad Knight about imaginary punk rock Muslims in Buffalo, is being adapted to the screen:

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“This book helped me create my identity,” said Naina Syed, 14, a high school freshman in Coventry, Conn.” [NYT]

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Crowdsourcing: Dear Author, Please Market My Book

Heppner Mike Heppner is counting on the kindness of strangers to market his new novel, Man, recently published by Small Anchor Press. (Heppner’s novel Pike’s Folly was published by Vintage in 2007.) Heppner has randomly scattered 500 copies of the novel (which is not for sale) around the country. Inside each copy is a note asking the reader to write in and share his or her thoughts:
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Here’s one person’s response: 

“My name is Gina.  I am a senior at Temple University in Philadelphia double majoring in Dance and Psychology.  I found Man on a table in the Honors Lounge and just started reading. I found the story quite touching, particularly the segments that described specific things the character remembered from each period.  As a choreographer I am often trying to use gestures, memories and intimate details to bring people into my dances; I feel like this is what made Man successful.”

[Adweek]

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