A college friend of mine, Zoe Swenson-Wright, pulled me into a wonderful ongoing discussion of books this month on Twitter: #bookadayuk . Every day there is a different prompt and it’s been fun to engage with her, think about my own answers and see what others are posting. The Borough Press, a new Harper Collins UK fiction imprint, started the hashtag and provides the topics, as a lead up to Independent Bookshop Week at the beginning of July. It’s not too late to join in for the final few days of tweeting.
- 28th Bought at my fave independent bookshop
- 29th The one I have reread most often
- 30th Would save if my house burned down
Literary Articles and Prizes
Last week #bookadayuk participants were asked to nominate books that would become classics and this sparked a back and forth between Zoe and me about whether or not it is possible to define classic in the 21st century. Looks like we’re not the only ones considering the issue, though Arthur Krystal over at Harper’s isn’t confined to 140 character snippets in his discussion of the history and future of the idea of a literary canon: What is Literature by Arthur Krystal
The Millions posted a fascinating article by novelist Anna Solomon: Are You My Mother? On Maternal Abandonment in Literature
The Center for Fiction Announced the Longlist for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. It is a great list and includes a favorite read of the year this far, Maya Lang’s The Sixteenth of June as well as a host of others that are on my reading list for this summer and fall. I can’t imagine getting to the all, but I certainly want to try!
Covers: It’s More than Just Color Choice
Here’s an interesting article about cover design processes and philosophy. Tuesday’s post and reader comments became part of a broader discussion on Facebook that made me realize I want to understand the business, and politics, of book covers in greater depth. How do publishers position books through cover design? Is the market segmentation I perceive really a fact, or simply an act of interpretation on my part? What is clear from my brief look at the issue, there is a fair bit of alchemy at work. Cover selection combines marketing data, intuition and a lot of artistry to arrive at the products on the shelves. Jeff Kleinman makes a lot of interesting points, but because his article is brief, I came away with new questions to investigate as well as some answers.
Cathy Fiebach of Main Point Books brought up some points I hadn’t considered when thinking about covers for recent books I felt were being branded as lightweight female-only fiction instead of being clothed in covers that would appeal to men as well. What I didn’t consider is that most ‘literary fiction’ sells far less than ‘women’s fiction’ and a book’s prospects might be enhanced by a cover that appeals to women looking for an entertaining, though not trivial book. Is this thesis provable?
The conversation about this complex issue brings up topics that I plan to explore and write about — beyond my now well documented preference for blue books. Why are reading tastes so diametrically divided by gender? Is that even true? Assuming people choose books based on gender, what are the visual cues that signal the target audience? How are genres distinguished? What research is there on how cover design impacts sales? I could go on, and will, just not right at this instant. I need more than questions, I need data. Lots and lots of food for thought. Throw yours in — I appreciate any other perspectives and approaches to these issues.