Monthly Archives: September 2013

New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by ArtemisSmith, Arnie Bernstein, Peter E. Dans, Lawrence Grobel, Michael Gruber, Robie H. Harris, Johanna Hurwitz, Joseph Hutchison, David Jauss, Laurie R. King, John Kretschmer, Loreen Leedy, Sharron Kahn Luttrell, Sarah Maizes, Pamela Mayer, Robert D. McHugh, Elizabeth Miles, Constance Sidles, Sandra Millers Younger, Koren Zailckas, and Mary Kay Zuravleff. Titles below the jump.

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Survey Says: Slightly More Than Half of Adults Read a Book Last Year

In a bit of news we’ll interpret as the glass being just over half full, the National Endowment for the Arts says 54.5 % of adult Americans voluntarily (meaning it wasn’t for work or school) read a book in 2012, the same as when the group did its last survey in 2008.

The percentage of people who read at least one “work of literature”–defined as novels, short stories, poetry or plays–ticked down to to 46.9% from 50.2% four years earlier. No surprise, women continue to be the bigger readers of both fiction and nonfiction. While 63.6% of females responding to the survey last year said they’d read at least one book, only 44.7% of males did. Breaking it out to a “work of literature,” 36.9% of men reported reading in 2012, compared with 56.1% of women.

The survey also looks at reading by race, education level and age. Nearly 61% of whites said they’d read a book in 2012, unchanged from 2008, while the percentages of African Americans and Hispanics who read a book ticked up. Among people with advanced degrees, 81.7% had read a book, almost twice the rate of those with just a high school education.

The reading figures are part of a broader report titled Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. That report also found 59% of Americans went to a movie last year and 37% attended a live performance.

Bulletin Board

This week’s batch includes two poetry contests, a residency, and one multi-genre competition, with deadlines ranging from October 25-31.

The James Hearst Poetry Prize is currently open for submissions. Entries may include up to five poems. The winner will receive $1,000 and publication in the Spring 2014 issue of the North American Review. Entry fee: $20 (includes a one year subscription to the North American Review). Deadline: October 31, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Poetry Society of the United Kingdom is currently seeking submissions for the National Poetry Competition. The competition is open to anyone aged 17 or over at the time of entering. International entries are welcome. The winner will receive £5000 (approximately $7,588 USD), publication in Poetry Review, and will be invited to read at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2014. Poems should not exceed 40 lines and should be written in English. Entry fee: £6 (approximately $9.61) for the first entry and £3.50 ($5.60) for each subsequent entry. Deadline: October 31, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards is now accepting fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for the 2014 competitions. First-place winners in each category will receive $1,000. Second-place winners receive $500, and third-place winners $250. All winners will be awarded scholarships to the 2014 Tucson Festival of Books Masters Workshop, which will be held March 17-18, 2014. Entries may be five poems of any length, a short story or novel chapter, or a nonfiction piece or book chapter. Maximum length for prose is 5,000 words. Entry fee: $20. One entry per category. Deadline: October 31, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture is currently accepting applications for their 2014 Writer/Storyteller in Residence. The three-month residency, from September 8 to December 8, 2014, will require the resident to spend approximately 16 hours per week providing mentorship and practical artistic advice to developing writers and storytellers at the University of Manitoba, to give a limited number of readings and/or performances on campus, and to lead an informal non-credit workshop.  The remaining time is to be devoted to the writer or storyteller’s own projects. The resident will also receive a salary of $15,000 CAD. Applicants should provide a cover letter, a CV of career achievements, a writing sample of no more than 20 pages, and two letters of reference. Candidates of all nationalities are encouraged to apply. Deadline: October 25, 2013. For more information please visit the website.

Independent Booksellers Value Kobo Ebook Partnership but See Room for Improvement

Ten months after the ABA and Kobo formed a partnership to help indie bookstores compete with Amazon and other national retailers for ebook sales, booksellers are giving the program mixed reviews, according to Shelf Awareness, which talked to more than 50 merchants.

“Among the positives: booksellers like being able to give customers a digital choice and offer e-reading devices; many aspects of the program are an improvement over the old Google partnership; and Kobo has been more responsive than Google to booksellers’ concerns. Among the negatives: the low margins on Kobo devices and e-books; difficulties for some customers in designating indies through which to buy e-books; and erratic customer service.”

Booksellers say the Kobo name is not widely known and that customers who frequent independents tend to prefer paper books. Sales vary widely between stores, with independents in areas with commuters, students and younger customers doing a brisker business in the Kobo devices and ebooks.

Some booksellers also complain about the low margins, including one who is quoted anonymously saying,  “I need to sell about 15 to 20 e-books to make the same profit from one hardcover. I’d make more money by putting out a tip jar.”

But ABA CEO Oren Teicher says the program isn’t about profit margins, but about keeping customers at a time when readers want both print and digital books.

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

The title certainly smacks of a grand ambition.  The book is On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History.  The author is Nicholas A. Basbanes who writes and lectures about books. On Paper is his ninth book.

Basbanes is noted for A Gentle Madness, a book about those who become obsessed by collecting books.

While doing research that “explores the nature of paper,” the author learned how to make the stuff. Research and writing took eight years.

Along the way, he collected curious things. He told PW that one of these was “a strip of red tape . . . that had just been removed from some old public records at the National Archives, and was about to be thrown in the trash—a nice detail to mention in a chapter about bureaucratic ‘Red Tape’”

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Guild Lawyers Urge Judge to Reject Google’s Fair Use Claim, Uphold Authors’ Rights

In court before Judge Denny Chin Monday, attorneys for the Authors Guild argued that Google’s mass digitization of copyrighted material serves primarily to enhance the company’s search capabilities, giving it an advantage over competitors, and should not be considered fair use.

The question of fair use is pivotal in the long-running legal battle over Google’s Library Project, and almost certain to determine whether Judge Chin grants summary judgment to the Guild or Google, or allow the case to proceed to trial.

On Monday, Chin did not rule on the issue, but did pose a number of questions related to Google’s defense that its scanning of more than 20 million books is transformative, and that the project benefits society and may drive consumers to buy books.

Guild attorneys agreed that the project may have some benefits, but said they are outweighed by the need to protect authors from the wholesale copyright infringement of Google’s unauthorized book scanning. They pointed out that Google could have licensed the material, but did not.

They also reiterated the argument that it is the role of Congress, not a judge, to decide whether US copyright law should be revised to allow for such unauthorized digitization of books. Chin expressed skepticism that Congress could act fast enough to resolve the issue in a reasonable amount of time.

New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Linda J. Amendt, Keith Baker, Marianne Berkes, Suzanne Collins, Sharon Creech, Steve Cushman, Melissa de la Cruz, Diane Elliott, Delia Ephron, Sue Fliess, Nikki Grimes, Molly Haskell, Stephanie Hoover, Kristin Loberg, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Shona Patel, J. Hamilton Ray, Larry Watson, Alan Weisman, and Jane Gershon Weitzman. Titles under the jump.

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Aiken Posts First Medical Records; Tells Us to Get Back to Work

Authors Guild Executive Director Paul Aiken has posted his first two sets of medical records pertaining to his ALS diagnosis: results of MRI, CT-myelogram, and x-ray reports from December 2012 through April 2013, and results from blood tests done this year. The reports appear at his n=2 blog, which he launched on Friday as the Guild sent out a press release announcing he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Aiken says that he expects to have other pertinent medical records posted later today, including electrodiagnostic reports and neurologists’ evaluations of the tests.

He also says he’s still the boss, and we have to get back to normal blogging, pronto. The Guild has a 100-year history of not reporting medical news to members, he says.

Aiken also says we should tell people that we do welcome self-published authors into our membership, so long as they earn at least $500 in writing income in 18 months. He says the Guild truly doesn’t care whether a writer’s income is filtered through a publisher, the whole point is to provide professional support to those who earn at least part of their livelihoods through writing books and articles. He says we should post a link to our application form and a separate link to our eligibility requirements, even though they’re kind of hard to decipher.

He says he’d been intending to get to that, but things got crazy busy for him lately, what with Google, HathiTrust, Penguin and Random House getting hitched, developments regarding the Justice Department’s cavity search of book publishing, Washington’s moves toward significant copyright reform, getting word out on how Obamacare affects our members across the country, and all.

Aiken says his condition is “oddly liberating,” and that he feels good. (Knock wood.)

Executive Director of US Authors Guild Has ALS. Aiken Says Early-Stage Symptoms in Remission with Steroids; Will Make Medical Records Public

Paul Aiken, the long-time executive director of the Authors Guild, announced today that he has early-stage Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a fatal illness also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease in the US and Motor Neurone Disease in the UK. There is no known cure nor effective treatment for the disease, which kills an estimated 125,000 globally each year.

Aiken, 54, said his ALS symptoms in his legs went into remission after he was treated on August 7 with the fourth in a series of epidural steroid injections he received for lower back and leg pain. Just two days earlier, doctors at Weill Cornell Peripheral Neuropathy Center had found fasciculations, involuntary muscular twitches that are symptomatic of ALS, in his legs, arm, back and tongue during EMG tests.

Aiken said that, separately, an emergency room doctor at St. Luke’s Hospital had given him oral steroids to combat a severe allergic reaction early in the morning on May 23rd, shortly after his first symptom, slurred speech, arose. Aiken’s wife noticed that his speech improved markedly after two doses of steroids.

“It was dumb luck, nothing else,” Aiken said,

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch of contests is mostly for prose writers (both fiction and nonfiction) but does include one poetry contest. Deadlines range from October 15-October 31.

The Calvino Prize is an annual fiction competition sponsored by the University of Louisville’s Creative Writing Program. The winner will receive $1,500, publication in the Salt Hill Journal of Syracuse University, and will be invited to read the winning entry, all expenses paid (within the continental US), at the Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900 held in February. Entries should be no more than 25 pages of a novel, novella, short story, or short collection. Previously published work is eligible. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: October 15, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Glimmer Train Family Matters Contest is now open. Stories can be about families of all configurations. Stories must be fiction (though they can draw on real life experiences) and should not exceed 12,000 words. The winner will receive $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue. Second place will receive $500 (or, if accepted for publication, $700 and 10 copies). Third place will receive $300 (or, if accepted for publication, $700 and 10 copies). Entry fee: $15 per entry; no more than 3 entries per person. Deadline: October 31, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Table 4 Writers Foundation, dedicated to honoring the memory of Elaine Kaufman, is currently offering grants of $2,500. Submissions must be previously unpublished prose (fiction or nonfiction) that deals with some aspect of New York City in a meaningful way. Entries can be short stories, essays, or book excerpts, and should be limited to 4-10 pages or 1,000 to 2,500 words. Collaborative pieces are not allowed. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. Entry fee: $10. Deadline: October 20, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry is an annual award for the best unpublished book-length collection of poetry in English, in honor of T. S. Eliot’s intellectual and artistic legacy. The winner will receive $2,000 and publication by Truman State University Press. Manuscripts should be between 60 and 100 pages of original poetry and should not be previously published. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: October 31, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.