Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Buffy Quote of the Week

Willow: I missed you, Oz. I wrote you so many letters, but I didn't have any place to send them, you know? I couldn't live like that.
Oz: It was stupid to think you'd just be waiting.
Willow: I was waiting. I feel like some part of me will always be waiting for you. Like, if I'm old and blue-haired and I turn a corner in Istanbul and there you are. I won't be surprised. Because you're with me, you know?
Ep: New Moon Rising

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Business Side of Graphic Novels

Blog of a Bookslut had a snarky comment about a Washington Post article on graphic novels, Drawing Power by Bob Thompson. Hoping for a good opportunity to rant, I clicked thru and settled down with my Starbucks.

Bookslut's comment is that the article "was out of date five years ago." Yes, there is a bit of "I've never heard of graphic novels so no one else really reads them and hey guys, lookee here at what I just discovered". Actually, I'm not as judgmental about this whole Christopher Columbus approach to an area as I could be, because this article is not directed to the "insiders" to whom, indeed, it is so five years ago, but, rather, to those at the same place as the author, and for the readers, it is fresh and new. We may know there is more to graphic novels than superheros; guess what? Mainstream America does not. (Mainstream = people who don't read graphic novels and aren't related to librarians)

Get beyond the first third of the article; what comes next is a very nice explanation of the publishing and business side of graphic novels. And personally, while I've heard some of it before, some of it is news to me; a lot is about events from the past five years; and, if you are interested in books, it's a must read.


It talks about things like distribution and how comic book sales are different from book sales. Unless you're content to not publish your work, or have a trust fund or well-off spouse, or don't care about things like insurance and paying rent, it is important to remember that publishing (including comic books and graphic novels) is a business. It's about making money. And Thompson does a great job of setting forth the different publishers, distributors, and what they are selling and why.

And -- this is so good, wonderful, amazing and right -- Thompson goes to the the experts, like Kat Kan and John Shableski. Usually, when an article like this is printed in the mainstream press, the author acts as if there are no experts to consult, so just spouts off what they've found in their recent toe-dipping into their Discovered Genre. Bob Thompson does not do that; he goes to the people in the field, talks to them, gives quotes, and actually acts and writes like a reporter should.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Am I Reading This Right?

The morality clauses we discussed earlier this month now appear to be part of some US contracts. Read via twitter, convo is at Boing Boing, as always, read the comments.

What I find interesting...is the publisher being named is Random House. Which, as most readers/bloggers know, is one of the first publishers who reached out to YA/childrens lit blogs with review copies.

And is also the publisher who wouldn't publish a historical fiction book about Muhammad's first wife, for fear of, well, read the articles at GalleyCat.

If I weren't enjoying vacation, reading books, sitting out in the sun, I'd have more to say. In the meanwhile, interesting stuff to ponder.

Edited to add: having taken the time to follow the links, Boing Boing points to the same UK article I wrote about. So thus far, it still seems a UK contract provision.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ten Gallon Bart and the Wild West Show

Ten-Gallon Bart and the Wild West Show by Susan Stevens Crummel, illustrated by Dorothy Donohue. Full color, cut paper illustrations. Copy provided by the publisher, Marshall Cavendish.

The Plot: Ten Gallon Bart is bored, and finds excitement in the Wild West Show. Ten Gallon Bart's dilemma: to be in the Wild West Show, he not only has to ride the bull -- he has to wake him up.

The Good: Ten Gallon Bart is bored because he is retired: he retired so he could seep until noon, howl at the moon, and go fishing anytime he wanted. But now he was plumb tired of sleeping, plumb tired of howling, and plumb tired of fishing. In fact, he was plumb tired of being retired. What do kids know about being retired? Grandparents are retiring; kids visit them; so the idea of retired is not so foreign. Also, kids know about being bored, and looking for something to do.

I enjoy books that bring something for the more knowing reader/listener, whether it's an adult, older sibling, or older kids. There is plenty here for Western lovers: Gunsmoke references, such as Dog City and Miss Kitty's Place (with Miss Kitty being a cat, of course). Buffalo Gal is a Buffalo; characters include Wyatt Burp.

The illustrations are cut paper; I love collage, the depth it gives, how it makes things look "real" -- even a dog as sheriff. Another reason I love artwork like this; when I look for books to make into feltboards for story time, it is always easier when using a book like this. Plus, it gives great inspiration for craft projects, having kids design their own cut paper works.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buffy Quote of the Week

Willow: Is there anything you don't know everything about?
Giles: Synchronized swimming. Complete mystery to me.
Ep: Lessons

Monday, August 18, 2008

What is Pop Culture?

Pop culture is . . . well, you know.

It's pop culture.

When Sophie Brookover and I began our book, Pop Goes the Library, one of the first questions we asked, and tried to answer, was "what is pop culture." Check out an excerpt from the book here and let us know if you agree or disagree; and let us know how you define "pop culture."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

YA, Adult, YA, Adult

Chasing Ray has links to the latest YA versus Adult smackdown, this time within the science fiction world.

Click thru to Chasing Ray for all the links and quotage; per usual, there is the standard lack of a definition of YA, defining YA as something it is not, referencing what one did as a teenager and then using one's own experience as evidence of a some universal norm that the world should follow in terms of what one does and does not read; etc., etc.

I just want to throw a few things out there.

I read a lot of sf/f as a kid, both stuff written for kids (I adored H.M. Hoover), teens (what was out there) and adult stuff. As I've written elsewhere, as I got older, I stopped reading sf/f.

Why? Well, cover jackets like the one in the article saying "we don't need no YA" is one reason.

Another? I didn't much like the adult sf/f I was reading. For a variety of reasons.

After reading Harry Potter, I realized there was still good sf/f out there, and returned to the sf/f written for kids and teens. And I haven't given adult sf/f a second try (outside of some horror or the like; stuff that isn't really sf/f).

Oh, maybe a handful of adult titles that I read for the GSTBA, and the adult sf/f books I got assigned always were the ones that had made me stop reading: books in endless series, books that were way too long, and authors that were in too in love with their characters and worlds (it was much like spending a time with a parent who is convinced their darling child is smart, charming, and talented...perhaps for a half hour, yes, but not for seven hours).

Ha! That is the challenge to the adult sf/f readers out there: can you give me a standalone book that is less than 300 pages? If so, I'll read add it to my post-Printz reading.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Show Your Love!

ALA just sent out this press release about the "I LOVE MY LIBRARIAN" Award. Please note it's open to both public and school and academic librarians; but there are different time frames for nominations.


Nominations for public librarians open August 15

Carnegie Corporation of New York has awarded the American Library Association $489,000 to support the new Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award.

Administered by the ALA’s Public Information Office and Campaign for America’s Libraries, the award will launch this year and will continue annually through 2013. The award encourages library users to recognize the accomplishments of librarians in public, school, college, community college and university libraries for their efforts to improve the lives of people in their community.

Nominations for public librarians run from August 15 through October 1. Nominations for school and academic librarians begin September 2 and continue through October 15.

“In our democratic society, the library stands for hope, for learning, for progress, for literacy, for self-improvement and for civic engagement. The library is a symbol of opportunity, citizenship, equality, freedom of speech and freedom of thought, and hence, is a symbol for democracy itself,” said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York.

"We’re thrilled to be working with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the American Library Association to honor librarians who play such a vital role in our communities,” said Scott Heekin-Canedy, president of The New York Times. “What began as a local Times initiative in New York City seven years ago has grown to a national awards program and now we are proud to be co-presenting the award with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the ALA.”

“This award will continue to raise awareness of the valuable contributions of today’s librarians and the ways they make a difference in people’s lives and their communities, schools and campuses,” said ALA President Jim Rettig.

Up to 10 librarians in public, school and academic libraries will be selected each year and each will be honored at a ceremony and reception in New York at TheTimesCenter, hosted by The New York Times. Each winner also will receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and a $500 travel stipend to attend the awards reception. In addition, a plaque will be given to each award winner’s library.

Nominees will be judged by a selection committee based on quality of service to library users, demonstrated knowledge of the library and its resources and commitment shown in helping library users.

Each nominee must be a librarian with a master’s degree from a program accredited by the ALA in library and information studies or a master’s degree with a specialty in school library media from an educational unit accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Nominees must be currently working in the United States in a public library, a library at an accredited two- or four-year college or university or at an accredited K-12 school.

For more information, visit www.ilovelibraries.org/ilovemylibrarian.

The Carnegie Corp. of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." For more than 95 years, the corporation has carried out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy by building on his two major concerns: international peace and advancing education and knowledge. As a private grant-making foundation, the corporation will invest more than $100 million this year in nonprofits to fulfill Carnegie's mission, "to do real and permanent good in this world." The corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $3 billion on Sept. 30, 2007.

The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), a leading media company with 2007 revenues of $3.2 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 16 other daily newspapers, WQXR-FM and more than 50 Web sites, including NYTimes.com, Boston.com and About.com. The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 65,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.

Looking For NYC Hotel

It doesn't hurt to ask.

Anyone have a good hotel recommendation for NYC? I've gone a bit bleary eyed doing Internet searches for good yet not terribly expensive hotels. Either comment here or email me at lizzy.burns at gmail.com


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Posting Jacket Covers

I thought you might be interested in this conversation over at the Law Library Blog. The topic? When is it OK for a library to post an image of a jacket cover of a book?

Not about blogs, but still, raises some good questions. I've gone back and forth on using images of books. Right now I use them, for a variety of reasons.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Interested in Seeing the Liz & Carlie Show In Person?

Or, as Carlie likes to call it, the Carlie & Liz Show?

Then register now for the YA Lit Symposium, before prices go up! The Carlie & Liz Show present "Explaining and Exploring Fandom, Fan Life, and Participatory Culture, presented by Liz Burns and Carlie Kraft Webber".

Also, if you're not a member of YALSA, you're still welcome. And while the rates are a wee bit higher for non-members, if you join YALSA and register, it all evens out, and then you get the cool perks of YALSA membership.

A final note to publishers, blogs and the like reading this post -- there are still some sponsorship opportunities available. I include blogs, because look at this? What do we see under Symposium Sponsors? Pop Goes the Library: the Blog. The 8 blog contributors (Sophie, me, Melissa, Sue, John, Carlie, Karen & Eli) all contributed something to become official sponsors. How cool is that?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Don't Read That Book!

The thing I hate about getting up early is that then I do something other than my normal routine, such as checking my email, and then I see someone has posted a link on the listserv to My Say: When YA Might Not Be OK by Shannon Stevenson at Publishers Weekly, and by the time I'm done reading and posting somehow I am running late for work.


I'm torn about the article; on the one hand, knee jerk reaction of "no" to the idea of telling a child what not to read.

On the other hand, I agree that a good librarian helps a kid find the right book for them. Just because kids hear about a book doesn't mean it's for them. And Stevenson doesn't say "no"; she engages in wonderful readers advisory to find out what the child is really seeking in terms of a book.

Channeling Zaphod to get a third hand, I also am a big believer in kids self-censoring, and that the kid who picks up the book that is too "old" for them will either quickly put it down or simply not notice the stuff that is above their maturity/age level.* So I'm not too worried about "oh noes they read Gossip Girl and from now on will only wear Prada."

On the fourth hand, I think there is some terrific stuff in the children's section, and just as I hate the idea of teens being told (directly and indirectly) to "grow up and move to the adult section for the good book," I don't like that attitude being used towards the children's section. That is, a belief that "oh, you're the SMART kid, it's time to move to YA." There are so many spectacular books written for 6th graders, isn't the librarian's job to help those books find the right reader?

As I've run out of pretend hands, let me add that Stevenson also points out the age levels used to shelve in her library. So in responding, remember -- at her system, YA pretty much equals high school readers. Also remember -- those books you love for older teens, if that eleven year old came asking... seriously, what would you say? "The commercials for Nick and Norah are so cute, I want the book!" To say the F word appears every page would be conservative; and it has an incredibly hot almost-sex scene. If my friend's daughter who is entering sixth grade asked me for it, I would be showing her Sex Kittens. If I do that for her, why shouldn't I do it for the kid in the library I don't know? In all honesty, yeah, if I knew that kid was that young, I'd be engaging in the exact same interview Stevenson does. Fact of the matter is, some books ARE for high school students -- and older high school students, at that. Authors know that -- many authors agree that their intended audience is not just teens, but older teens.

So, as you can see -- yes, I'm conflicted much.

But, I imagine that the imaginary sixth grader who IS ready to read N&N isn't asking for my help in finding it. So I wouldn't really be that nasty librarian who said you couldn't read a book....

Anyway, much to think about and darn, yes, now I'm running late.

*Deenie had masturbation? As a kid, I had no idea.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fun With Authors In NJ!

New Jersey is a happening place.

Don't believe me?

Check out the Children's Book Festival at Princeton Library, Princeton, NJ, on Saturday, September 13. A ton of authors are going to be there, like Peter Brown and Sarah Beth Durst. And Donna Jo Napoli. And, well, take a look at the full list.

Seems like Princeton is the place to be -- and perhaps a good time for a NJ/PA blogger get together?

I'm going to be getting more details, but in the meanwhile, save the date!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Do You See What I See?

Maybe not. Especially if you're colorblind.

Color + Design Blog has a great tool to see how your website looks to someone else's eyes. As that blog notes, "In the U.S. 7% of the male population – or about 10.5 million men – and 0.4% of the female population either cannot distinguish red from green, or see red and green differently." The direct link is for the Colorblind Web Page Filter, but read the whole post at Color + Design.

Thanks to American Libraries Direct for the link.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Pop Goes the Library: The Book

Yes, it has finally happened.

Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture To Connect With Your Whole Community (aka "the book" aka "Pop The Book") is a real book.

Sophie has a post up at the blog that inspired it all, which includes how we are using Web 2.0 to promote the book (and, of course, we are using some of ideas we have in the book for using pop culture and technology to promote libraries. )

One of our ideas: get caught reading Pop and share the photo with us! Details are at Flickr.

The official publication date is August 11, but of course, you (or your library) can pre-order the book anytime directly from our publisher. It's also available from the usual suspects.

In the meanwhile, the blogging about the book will be taking place at the Book Blog. Yes, another blog to add to your reading!

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Last month, over at Pop Goes the Library, Sophie blogged about borrowing cake pans from the public library.

And today -- wow! The post and the blog got a great shout out from NPR! More info is over at Pop.

Adding to the NPR goodness of the weekend; Gwenda Bond of Shaken & Stirred talks about Anne of Green Gables.


Swingtown CBS. TV Series. Currently on at 10 pm on Fridays (tho I think last night it was not shown until 11.) Past Eps available at the website.

The Plot: The summer of 1976; three suburban couples face the changing times. Tom and Trina embrace the new philosophies; Bruce and Susan are not sure what they want but both want something different; Roger and Janet are shocked (shocked, I tell you) at anyone wanting anything than the traditional white picket fence.

The Good: Most descriptions of this show focus on the sexual revolution aspect of this show, specifically the swingers, Tom and Trina; and Bruce and Susan's exploration of swinging, with Roger and Janet as the stick-in-the-mud traditionalists.

After the "shock value" of couples who don't confirm to the "traditional" has worn off, what this show really is about is much more than who sleeps with whom.

Tom and Trina are swingers; but in many ways, they are the healthiest and happiest couple. They are honest and open; and while both are happy to have an open relationship, they also "close" it when necessary. There is a hint that Tom cheated in the past and that rather than breaking up or pretending it didn't happen, as a couple they embraced Tom's straying by swinging and being open about who they sleep with rather than hiding it. Grant Show plays Tom; Lana Parilla Trina. They wore born in 1962 and 1977; and while ages aren't mentioned much on the show, that age difference is still there. Grant Show deserves a lot of respect for taking this role; because often, the close ups on him say "yes, this is a 40 something guy who looks his age." Not old; he doesn't look old. But he is a perfect 1976 fortysomething because he has wrinkles and lines on his face.

Bruce and Susan... who doesn't love Jack Davenport and Molly Parker? They play former high school sweethearts who got pregnant. Bruce, without college diploma, has worked hard to make it "big" (he and Susan just moved up to a better neighborhood), while Susan is a stay at home mother to two teenagers. And here are more reasons this show rocks: a self made man, as it were, who hustled and worked hard and didn't get anything handed to him. And people who look young but are indeed old enough to have teenagers. Usually, anymore, actors as young looking as Davenport and Parker play cool single people or people without children or people with very young kids. Growing up, parents were in the Jack and Molly age bracket, tho maybe about 4 or so years older. Bruce and Susan swinging is as much about them trying to experience a youth they lost because of teen pregnancy and marriage as anything else; and Susan's yearnings for something more are as much about someone who has never worked outside the home, never gone to school beyond high school, wanting something more in her life and yet not knowing what that "more" is. If Swingtown gets picked up for more seasons, I'm betting we eventually see Susan going to college.

And now Roger and Janet, who began as almost a joke; the straight-laced couple to be mocked. Thankfully, that quickly ended and Janet has become my favorite character on the show. Josh Hopkins and Miriam Shor, like Davenport and Parker, are actually playing their ages, rather than playing down. Roger and Janet are the middle class neighbors, back in the 1970s when a couple could own a nice house in the suburbs (not the big house of Tom & Trina's area, but still nice) while the husband worked and the wife had a "little" job. Janet sells Tupperware; I use the term "little" because I think that Janet sees what she does as something "little," as "pin money," as not a "job." Janet likes her life; is a little too uptight; but loves her husband and is not nearly as judgmental as others think she is. For example, her reaction to Roger losing his job was not yelling and tears; it was supportive. I feel sorry for Janet; because she is happy with her life, and Roger is not. He was unhappy in his job, he has a flirtation going on with Susan that neither admits to, and Janet is trying to be supportive but... I'm not sure. Oh, and like Susan & Bruce, they have a teenaged son. Who may be gay. That should be interesting.

Yes, that is all rather wordy. But I wanted to make a few points:

This show is about more than teh sex.

It has some wonderfully developed characters.

The show leaves you guessing about what is going to happen next.

And it has the best soundtrack.

And, it needs more viewers. I'm not sure why more people aren't watching. Maybe because it's a grown up show, about relationships. In a way, it is a YA novel, because there is strong feeling of "coming of age." Just because you're in your 30s or 40s doesn't mean you have all the answers or know what you want or who you are; and the changes of the 1970s raised even more questions.

EDITED TO ADD: NYT interview with Grant Show

Friday, August 01, 2008

Who Died and Left You In Charge?

Bookshelves of Doom shares that a publisher is attempting to include a morality clause in its contracts with children's authors.

No, really.

From the Guardian Book Blog: "a well-established, enormous publishing house has decided to insert the following clause into its standard contract for children's books: "If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished, and we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement."" Click thru to find out the name of the publisher; it's one you'll recognize.

Any American authors care to comment as to if they've seen this in recent contracts on this side of the Atlantic?

Now, the rant.

What annoys me about morality clauses such as this is that the people who want them hardly live up to them. Will all people in the publishing industry have to live up to this? And, more importantly, what about the parents? If the parents get to judge every aspect of an author's life, why not turn the tables and judge every. little. thing about the parents?

But what really pisses me off about the whole thing?

It's a big old fake. Seriously. Who gives a damn about anything besides the book? What does it matter what the author does or does not do, or think, or say outside the book? How often does a kid even know about it?

Why is it a fake? Because it is not about the book. It is not about the author.

It is about control. It's about a certain kind of person who isn't satisfied with living their life a certain way; they want to dictate how others live and think. And if the author isn't the "right" sort of person and doesn't do and say the "right" thing ... then the book being made of awesome doesn't matter. You won't get your money. Your book won't get published.