Book News: Amazons’ Brick & Mortar Store, The SheepOver Gets A Deal, Into The River Gets Banned in New Zealand

book news amazon books

Amazon’s New Brick & Mortar Book Store

book news amazon booksFor anyone who equates Amazon with the transformation of in-store retail culture to the stay-at-home experience of online shopping, the retail giant is writing a new chapter. Earlier this month, the first Amazon Books store opened in University Village in Seattle, Washington.

Amazon’s web page explains that “Amazon Books is a physical extension of We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping.” And, of course, “you can also test drive Amazon’s devices. Products across our Kindle, Echo, Fire TV, and Fire Tablet series are available for you to explore, and Amazon device experts will be on hand to answer questions and to show the products in action.”

Seattle magazine did a review of the store, describing how “Discreetly embossed signs inform us that the store’s selections, groupings and arrangements have been determined (or perhaps curated) by the company’s deep metrics. The books, all of which are presented with their covers facing outward as we would find them online, are advertised as recipients of cumulative customer ratings of 4.5 stars or more and each is presented with a succinct and enthusiastic customer review culled from the website.”

The review also suggests the store’s appearance near the Apple and Microsoft store locations indicates that showcasing and offering a hands-on experience of its “growing line of consumer electronic devices” is the real impetus behind the physical store opening. Whatever the case, the reverse-engineering retail model serves as further indication that the printed word endures – and flourishes – 20 years after Amazon took to the Internet.

Photography Book Goes from Sheep Farm To Coffee Table Via Publishing Deal

book news the SheepOverIf you look at the the various self-publishing-to-traditional-publishing stories, you’ll notice there’s no exact formula. Each involves some serendipitous series of events, but the details vary greatly from author to author. One constant, though, is the high quality of the books involved. To get the attention of readers and publishers, the work itself has to be well-conceived and well-executed. The story of Sweet Pea and Friends: The SheepOver continues the tradition of good independent books gone wild, as the profile “A Three-Book Deal in Sheep’s Clothing” by Publishers Weekly describes.

As another PW post, “When a Self-Published Book Is Done Right,” explains: “it’s hard for ANY book, published by any outfit, to rise to the attention of readers… Self-published books have additional challenges. Sometimes the subject matter has a limited audience. Often, the books suffer from poor production values, not having the advantage of professional design. They might feature text that hasn’t been edited for clunkiness or shaped into a satisfying narrative arc.”

All this, of course, reiterates how important it is to make your project extraordinary, to focus on every detail, and produce a professional product – from design, to editing, to production – that stands toe-to-toe with the best the market has to offer. As the PW piece explains, “…when [photographer John Churchman] brought in this book for us to consider selling, it was hard not to jump over the counter and pump his hand in congratulations. My fellow booksellers and I marveled over the quality of the book and asked many questions about how it came to be.”

Into The River banned in New Zealand

book news into the riverIt’s an age-old story. A book – or some work of art – simultaneously eliciting praise from some and scorn from others. A new case in point is the book Into The River, a young adult title by New Zealand author Ted Dawe. The book won awards for Best Young Adult Fiction and the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year in 2013. Perhaps fueled by the recognition brought on by these accolades, the book caught the attention of Family First, a conservative organization “on a mission to provide parenting, marriage and relational truth.” Family First argues the work has “highly offensive language and gratuitous sexual content.”

As CNN reported in “New Zealand Bans Young Adult Novel,” Bob McCoskrie (National Director, Family First NZ) said “‘I’ve read it to parents, I’ve sat with a group of fathers, none of them want their children to be reading it. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be hanging around with people who have been reading it.'”

Family First asked for a R-14 restriction, meaning it could not be displayed for 14 year olds or younger. According to CNN: “The book had been given an R-14 restriction, which was later removed by the deputy chief censor, Nic McCully. When the age restriction was lifted Family First complained and the Film and Literature Board of Review placed the book on the restriction order, meaning it cannot be distributed or displayed anywhere in New Zealand.”

According to a piece in Publishers Weekly, “The banning of Into the River has stirred a number of authors to speak out, with many criticizing the government for what they perceive as a blatant act of censorship. Among those taking up the issue are Man Booker winner and The Luminaries author Eleanor Catton; she called the ban ‘appalling and shameful,’ adding that the move ‘says nothing about the pretext and everything about those who are enforcing the ban.'”

The PW piece also notes that Jason Pinter at Polis Books has acquired North American rights to Into the River, as well as Dawe’s earlier novel, Thunder Road, directly from Random House New Zealand. Polis is aiming to publish Into the River in both hardcover and eBook, in June 2016.

Other Book News

U.S. Publishers to Head to Cuba
“To take advantage of the thaw in American-Cuban relations, PW, the Combined Book Exhibit and PubMatch have created the U.S. Publishing Mission to Cuba set to take place February 12-17 next year. The event, to coincide with the Havana International Book Fair, will feature a two-day conference for U.S. and Cuban publishing executives.”

Writing Contests, Grants & Awards
“The Writing Contests, Grants & Awards database includes details about the creative writing contests—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, and more—that we’ve published in Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it. Ours is the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.”


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