Monthly Archives: April 2013

PW’s Fall Audio Announcement Listing

Adam Boretz -- April 30th, 2013

Attention Audio Publishers:

Spring is finally here, and that means it’s time to prepare Publishers Weekly’s listing of your audio offerings for Fall.

While we’ve had a great response thus far, there’s always a chance we’ve missed someone. So, if you’ve yet to get in touch about your upcoming audio titles, NOW is the time. Please contact our own Shannon Maughan at maughanse@verizon.net. And be sure to check out all the pertinent details after the jump. Continue reading

The New Ones: The Only Horizon Is Before Us

Peter Brantley -- April 29th, 2013

Chasing birds at the Hunt Library by meikimeikiRecently, I had the opportunity to meet a young software developer who is a graduate student at UC Berkeley. He’s amazingly quick; a good coder, confident in his abilities, and a budding novelist. Both for school and his own needs, he helped to build an open source ebook reader, FuturePress, in javascript. In part, he and his friends felt the need for a lightweight reader; and as a novelist he also wants to play with versioning, reader collaboration, and all the other cool things you can do on the web. What struck me was not that they had written an ebook reader: others have done that. My more significant realization is about the world they know. Continue reading

World Book Night in Small-Town America

Claire Kirch -- April 24th, 2013
IMG_1446

Last year, a woman at the Anchor Bar in Superior, Wisc. wanted our picture taken after I gave her a book.

World Book Night was a lot of fun last year. I hit two iconic bars in Superior, Wisconsin, the hard-scrabble, blue-collar town across the St. Louis River from Duluth, Minnesota, where I gave away 20 copies of A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. This year, I decided to go outside of my comfort zone again, drive over the bridge to Superior, and give away copies of Population: 485 by Michael Perry, who writes books about his life and times in a small town in the Wisconsin north woods. There’s also, for me, one degree of separation between Perry and me: his cousin, Penny Perry, a native of Wisconsin who now lives in Duluth, is a friend of mine. I felt like this gave me instant street cred.

Things didn’t start so auspiciously: I dropped a book in a puddle even before I left Duluth. But once I got to Superior, it picked up – I ended giving away all 19 copies in less than 30 minutes, minus driving time.

I started off at about 5 pm at the Red Mug Café, a hole-in-the-wall not far from the bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin. I approached a table of four middle-aged women, enjoying each other over cups of coffee. “Happy World Book Night!” I exclaimed, explaining that on April 23 each year, volunteers “all over the country like myself” give away books to strangers. Holding up Population: 485, I said, “Michael Perry writes about small-town life in northern Wisconsin. Can you relate to that, or what?” The women were very kind, and all four of them took a book and graciously thanked me. Emboldened, I walked around the café and handed out books to a woman slurping a bowl of soup; a middle-aged man on his iPhone, who was initially reluctant, but said, “Well, I am flying to Chicago; I do need something to read on the plane;” and to a young man at the counter, who high-fived me after I handed him a book and told him, “Books rock! Reading rocks!” Continue reading

World Book Night: Is It Easier to Give Away a Book or a Flower?

Judith Rosen -- April 24th, 2013

wbn1

I felt like one of those women handing out cigarettes in yesteryear. If you’re too young to remember them, you may have seen pictures. Except I have a couple years on most of those women, o.k. all of them, and rather than a sexy outfit, I chose a heavy down jacket over which I wore a sandwich-board sign, and I use the term loosely, made with a reflective vest covered over with a couple World Book Night flyers in clear page protectors. I don’t know if it helped, but I wasn’t too cold last night, given the drizzle and chill.

Last year when I was a “giver” at World Book Night, I chose a spot across from the Central Square T station in Cambridge, Mass., and found it difficult to break down people’s resistance to taking a book. They thought I was trying to foist a Bible on them, or maybe I was part of some cult. This year I was determined that it shouldn’t be so hard to give away 20 books. To get in the mood I used the pre-WBN kick off event at the Cambridge Public Library with Vanessa Diffenbaugh (The Language of Flowers), Lisa Genova (Still Alice), and Neil Gaiman (Good Omens, with Terry Pratchett) as a pep rally. It certainly got the high school students in the row next to me wound up. They wanted to sign up then and there to be givers. So did a former educator who had read Still Alice in her book group and had never heard of WBN.

I was especially pleased to get to hear Diffenbaugh, since I had chosen her novel to give away.  A debut novel by a local author seemed like an easier sell than many of the more “classic” books on last year’s list. Plus I had one other trick for getting people to take my books. Since her book is so interconnected with flowers, I decided to buy 20 carnations from Brattle Florist, the same florist shop in her acknowledgments, to handout with each book. That was before I learned from Gaiman’s talk that April 23 marks Cervantes’s death and in Spain men give women a rose, and women give them a book on that day. The first Book Day, as it is known, was held on Cervantes’s birthday (October 7) in 1926, then moved to April in 1930. Continue reading

Behind the Audio: Eve Ensler

Adam Boretz -- April 23rd, 2013

This week in Behind the Audio, we travel to the studios of Macmillan Audio, where Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler recorded the audio edition of her memoir In the Body of the World.

The audiobook is available April 30, but you can pre-order your copy today from Macmillan.

Behind the Audio with Simon & Schuster

Adam Boretz -- April 16th, 2013

Today in Behind the Audio, we take an inside look at a trio of titles from Simon & Schuster Audio.

Up first is narrator Holter Graham talking about Owen King’s Double Feature:


Next, Cassandra Clare and narrator Daniel Sharman discuss Clockwork Princess:


And finally, Andrew Solomon gives us the inside scoop on the audio edition of Far from the Tree:

What Was the First Book that Made You Love Books? PW Staff Picks

PWStaff -- April 11th, 2013

Every now and then, PWxyz likes to let the staff around here talk about books, because that’s all we secretly want to do. Previously, the PW staff has Fixed the Modern Library 100 Novels List, named some favorite short stories, and picked the best books read in 2011 and 2012. Here, we asked: What’s the first book you read that really made you love books? Let us know yours in the comments!

Andrew Albanese, senior writer: The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald

The Great Brain

Easy…

For me, it was The Great Brain series, by John Dennis Fitzgerald. In the mid-1970s, while I was in elementary school, my family began spending winters at my grandparents home on Oneida Lake, in upstate New York, so we could care for my great grandmother while my grandparents wintered in Florida. The move meant a special, 45-minute bus ride to school every day, with kids I didn’t know and who apparently were predisposed to not liking new kids. Or, maybe they just didn’t like me. So, there I was. 10 years old, in a rural lake house, in winter, no smartphones or Internet, of course, and only three blurry channels on TV, when the signal could penetrate the lake effect snow. But whatever, I never watched TV, I had to go to bed early every night so I could wake up at the crack of dawn to catch that snakepit of a bus to school. And then one day, our school librarian took pity on my brother and me, and sent us home with The Great Brain books. I have to admit, I can’t remember many details of the books today—but I’ll never forget my brother and I staying up late into the night reading the books together with a flashlight. Continue reading

Night Shade’s Final Chapter

Rose Fox -- April 9th, 2013

Last week PW covered the news that Night Shade Books contracts with authors were up for sale. Skyhorse and Start Publishing offered to take over print and digital contracts, respectively. Many people were skeptical of the deal as originally offered (see Tobias Buckell’s excellent and thorough roundup of links). Skyhorse and Start revised it, and response to the revision has generally been positive, including from SFWA (which has been criticized heavily for its secrecy around Night Shade–related matters) and critics of the original deal, such as agent Joshua Bilmes. So it looks much more likely that the sale will go through, which at least broadly takes care of Night Shade’s back payments to authors.

However, authors aren’t the only people who would really like to see some of the money that Night Shade owes. In a blog post comment, artist Todd Lockwood wrote:

Not only authors were harmed by their business practices.

I love Jeremy Lassen and really wanted Nightshade to succeed. I have a soft place in my head for underdogs. I cut my rates in order to paint covers for them. It took over a year and a half to be paid for one. Another dribbled in in bits, the last check bounced, and I have never received full payment. I understand that other cover artists were never paid at all. I would be surprised if Skyhorse & al felt any need to make those repairs, but I’d love to know what, if any, plans were made in that regard…?

And editor Marty Halpern emailed me to add:

There has been absolutely no mention, nor commitment made, to all the artists, designers, editors (including myself), and others who are owed tens of thousands of dollars — and seem to have been forgotten in all this “discussion” over the authors’ deal.

…now that NS is essentially closed and in “escrow” for this potential sale, the money that is owed to me (for invoices dating back to October of last year) — and all the other production people — may never get paid.

There would be no books to speak of if there weren’t editors, artists, and designers willing to work continuously for Night Shade for just the promise of pay. We are a dedicated lot and deserve to have our story told — and responded to — as well.

I’ve reached out to Night Shade to ask whether the revised Skyhorse/Start deal going through would make it possible for Night Shade to make payment to freelancers. If they reply, I’ll revise this post to include their comment. EDIT: NSB co-owner Jeremy Lassen wrote back declining to comment on this matter.

I also called up Jarred Weisfeld at Start Publishing to ask whether Start and Skyhorse would be taking on the responsibility of paying Night Shade’s non-author creditors. He told me, “Night Shade is responsible for paying those debts, but all creditors of Night Shade will be taken care of if the sale goes through, and freelancers who are owed money would be considered creditors. Nobody’s going to be left high and dry. The deal is contingent on those individuals getting paid.” So that’s a sign of some hope for Lockwood, Halpern, and everyone else in their shoes. EDIT: Weisfeld called me back to clarify that if the deal goes through, settlements for creditors will likely be in the 30%–50% range. Not ideal, obviously, but better than zero.

Weisfeld sounded like he’s been talking for a week straight, which is probably not far from the truth. Before we got off the phone, I offered him a sincere welcome to the genre publishing community; for better or worse, he’s going to be one of us now, especially if Start and Skyhorse do end up not only taking over Night Shade’s contracts but publishing 90 new titles under the Night Shade name over the next few years. It will be very interesting to see how that changes the local landscape. In the meantime, as a frequent freelancer myself, I really hope that all of Night Shade’s creditors do get paid one way or another.

Extending the Arc of Publishing: Preprints at PeerJ

Peter Brantley -- April 8th, 2013

Multiphysics Object-Oriented Simulation Environment (MOOSE)This month the open access journal PeerJ launched a new preprint server where scholars can post papers prior to submission for formal peer review and publication. Preprints are common in many disciplines, but have been unusual in the biology and biomedical areas that PeerJ focuses on. The culture of biomedicine and the academic overlap with highly competitive and potentially lucrative biotechnology and biopharm firms have retarded pre-publication release of results.

Pre-print servers are part of a growing trend. Over the last few years, the breadth of scholarly communication has begun to dramatically expand to support a life-cycle trajectory extending from the publication of small pieces of the research process in “nanopublications,” to the publication of pre-prints, and subsequently publications of record, often with post-print versions. With the launch of its preprint server, PeerJ hopes to capitalize on the growing comfort with pre-publication review and commentary that is increasingly accepted as a normal part of the publication lifecycle.

I was able to do a Q+A with the founders of PeerJ this last week, Pete Binfield and Jason Hoyt, to ask them more about their motivations.

PW: Why are you launching a pre-print server now?

PeerJ: Three reasons really:

Firstly, “Green Open Access” and the role of repositories are very important issues these days. The demand for Green OA is coming from both the top and bottom, and if you look at it, then the peer-reviewed portion of Green OA is covered by institutional repositories, but the ‘un peer-reviewed’ or draft versions of articles (i.e. the pre-prints) really have no major venues (at least not in the bio/medical sciences). So we view PeerJ PrePrints as one solution to that demand.

Secondly, academic journals themselves started out as non peer-reviewed venues for the rapid communication of results. Peer-review came about later on, evolving over centuries, to create something which has certainly introduced many positives for science. Still, ‘preprints’ also have many benefits that we no longer get to enjoy, because peer-review has come to dominate peoples attitudes towards what deserves to see the light of day. Now that more and more scientists are comfortable with the sharing attitude of the Internet (in part encouraged by the rise of Open Access), and as the costs of ‘preprinting’ are really quite low, it seemed like a good time to return to the roots of scholarly communication. Both peer-review and preprints have important roles to play in the ecosystem.

And thirdly, we believe that we are finally seeing a desire from the Bio and Medical communities for a service like this, but with no viable venue to meet that need. Just in the last year or two, we have seen biologists start to use the arXiv preprint server more (even though it really isn’t set up for their areas); we have seen services like FigShare and F1000 Research launch; and we have heard from many academics that they are eager to submit to something like this.

PW: In biomed, particularly, there has been a marked reluctance to pre-publish findings or early stages of papers because of the highly competitive nature of the domain. Do you think that is changing, or do you think you will attract a certain audience?

PeerJ: We do think that this is changing. It is common, of course, for early adopters to prove the value of a new way of doing things before the rest of a field will follow, and we believe that there is now a sufficient ‘critical mass’ of engaged academics who will use this service, to the extent that the rest of their communities will see what they are doing and give it a try as well. In this respect, we believe that earlier ‘failed experiments’ in the preprint space may have been simply (and unfortunately) too far ahead of their time to gain wide enough adoption.

In addition. although the default state for a PeerJ PrePrint will be to be ‘fully open’, future developments of the site will allow authors to apply ‘access’ and ‘privacy’ controls to create what we call ‘private preprints’. Specifically, in future authors will be able to limit the audience for a specific preprint (e.g. to just collaborators) or only make part of the preprint visible (e.g. just the abstract). In this way, we hope to make people comfortable enough to share to an extent that they might previously have been uncomfortable with.

PW: Researchers are increasingly publishing smaller bits of their research workflow, e.g., as data or even specific queries or lab runs. In some ways, a pre-pub server could be seen as a very conservative component of academic publishing. What do you regard as the “MVP” (Minimum Viable Product) for a pre-print publication?

PeerJ: We’re focusing on what we support best, long-form writing that is still a necessary step (for the time-being) on the road to a formally peer-reviewed publication. It’s a good fit for the lifecycle of a manuscript. Therefore, as a general rule, the MVP could be considered as “something which represents an early draft of a final journal submission”. On the other hand, there are no restrictions to the exact format used for these preprints, so we are actually hoping to see the use cases evolve due to an intentional lack of what is or isn’t allowed.

In terms of content, the only thing we don’t allow as a PrePrint for the moment are clinical trials or submissions which make therapeutic claims (as well as things which don’t fit within our Aims and Scope, or adhere to our Policies).

PW: How does pre-print fit into the economic model that peerj is running?

PeerJ: First it should be noted that authors who ‘preprint’ with PeerJ have no obligation to submit that item for formal peer-review – they can go to any journal that accepts preprints that have not been peer reviewed. Our membership plans allow for one public preprint per year for Free Members, and paying users can have unlimited public preprints. Paid memberships also have different levels of private preprints, but that isn’t available just yet. This is a similar model to several repository type services, such as GitHub, with a mix of public and private options. We expect private preprints to be attractive to those who want to test the waters of preprints, but restrict access to groups that they choose themselves.

PW: Are you requiring a CC-By license on pre-pub contributions? If so, do you think it discourages submissions from researchers who are sensitive to potential commercial gains from their work?

PeerJ: Any ‘public’ preprint will be published under a CC-BY license. The PeerJ Journal is also under the same license, and so if this license dissuades researchers, then they would also have been dissuaded from submitting a Journal article for the same reason.

PW: How do you imagine a work flowing within the PeerJ environment from a prepub status into an official publication?

PeerJ: The submission form that PeerJ PrePrint authors use is basically the same submission form that PeerJ Journal authors use (although there are some missing questions which are relevant to a preprint, and some fields are “Suggested” rather than “Required”). Because of this, it will be quite easy for an author to take their preprint submission and ‘convert’ it into a journal submission (they would simply have to supply a few extra bits of metadata and perhaps a fuller set of original files). Therefore, we expect a PeerJ PrePrint author to publish their preprint, get feedback, perhaps publish revisions etc, before then deciding it is ‘ready’ to be submitted to a Journal. If they choose PeerJ as their journal then it will be a simple matter to submit it to the journal for formal peer reviewed and eventual publication (assuming it passes peer review). If the preprint version had already gathered any informal comments then clearly those could also be used in the formal evaluation by the Journal’s Editors and Reviewers.

PW: How do you imagine a pre-print server generating additional traffic or “buy-in” for PeerJ? Will a pre-print server be able to increase the overall conversation that happens at peerj.com?

PeerJ: Our first focus is to make sure that we’ve built a service that researchers enjoy and engage with. We look at metrics such activity rates and engagement time as a barometer for whether what we are building is actually benefiting anyone. We are not worrying about traffic levels, but rather engagement levels. The traffic and new members will follow if we build something that researchers love.

PW: Thanks!

Can You Guess These Classic Books From Their Phantom Covers (Round 5)?

Gabe Habash -- April 4th, 2013

If you read PWxyz regularly, by now you know how the House Game, Guess the Phantom Book Covers, works. We’ve done this a few times before (here, here, here, and here) but in case you’re playing for the first time, all you need to do is look at the 10 books covers below, which have had their title and author vaporized, and guess what the book is. Answers are below. How many can you get? A perfect score means a golf cart tour of PWxyz’s grounds.

1.

2.

phantom2a

3.

phantom3a

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