Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Books for Africa

Books for Africa is the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent. 
When it began, in 1988, Books for Africa had a simple name and a simple mission: to collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to children in Africa. The goal was to end the book famine in the continent. Since its inception, Books for Africa has shipped more than 23 million books to 45 countries across Africa. In 2009, they shipped approximately 1.6 million books to 20 African countries. 

To add to that phenomenal number, children's book publisher Capstone, donated $5 million worth of books to the effort. Nearly 300,000 overstock books have been shipped from the publisher's warehouse in Mankato, MN, to the Books for Africa offices in St. Paul, MN. The books are now being sorted and packaged for shipment to Africa. It is the largest donation ever received, and will supply hundreds of school libraries across Africa, helping to increase levels of education and literacy across the continent. In 2009, the publisher donated more than 37,000 books to the organization.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Diamond in the Slush

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS was released on July 21, 2007, and sold 11 million copies on the first day of its release, breaking Rowling's earlier records for the fastest selling book of all time.
The Deathly Hallows, Part One, hit the movie theaters as of midnight last night. As I plan my night out to see it, I can't help but remember that J.K. Rowling had to deal with a lot of rejection before Alice came into her life. Who is Alice? She was Bloomsbury Publishing's chief-executive, Nigel Newton, eight-year-old daughter, who read the manuscript and convinced her father of its brilliance.It was Alice who saw the diamond in the slush pile, which led her father to eventually acquire the book, sending J.K. Rowling £2,500. Not a bad investment since the Potter series went on to sell 400 million copies.

Such gems are often lost in slush piles and most writers slog through to find their route to publication. When Stephen King submitted his first book he was told: "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell." His novel CARRIE went on to sell more than one million copies and established his career. George Orwell's ANIMAL FARM was rejected as a cute kids' fairy tale and was told by an publisher that "It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.'' James Joyce's collection of short stories Dubliners was turned down by 22 publishers before it was published by Grant Richards. THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK was dismissed when a publisher noted: "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift the book above the curiosity level.'' When William Golding tried to publish LORD OF THE FLIES, a reader from Faber & Faber famously branded it as "an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull".

Many of today's best known authors have had to persevere in order to get to where they are today. I'm sad to see Harry Potter coming to its end, but am hopeful other diamonds will be pulled out the slush for our enjoyment!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One Billion and Counting...

In 1993 Zahur Klemath Zapata developed the first software to read digital books. Digital Book v.1 and the first digital book is published ON MURDER CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS, by Thomas De Quincey

The latest report out by Forrester Research predicts that ebook sales will reach$966 million in 2010 and that by 2011, the amount will be $1 billion. In 2009, ebook sales were $169.5 million, a small portion of the $35Billion publishing industry. Forrester reports that as people get the hang of reading ebooks, they shift their book-buying from hardcover or paperback to ebooks.

James McQuivey of Forrester states that "the average eBook reader already consumes 41% of books in digital form." Those who've taken the plunge and gotten a Kindle or other ereader have an even higher percentage: 2 out of 3 books they read are ebooks. Amazon illustrated this in their announcement that in its spring quarter it sold 143 for every 100 hardcover books. Forrester found that only 7% of online adults who read books read ebooks, highlighting that there is room for growth.

The question for publishing is whether ebook sales will simply cannibalize current hardcover and paperback sales, or whether there might be a windfall of converting formats.  If people who have the paperback edition of "Twilight" buy it again as an ebook, publishing will profit. But if they skip it, and instead choose to buy Stephenie Meyer's next novel as an ebook instead of getting the hardcover, the bottom line shrinks and that billion looks less promising...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Adults Who Love Kids Books

 In 1919, the Macmillan Publishing Company hired the first children's book editor in the United States.
Martha Parravano and Roger Sutton of Horn Book Magazine have released a wonderful new resource: A FAMILY OF READERS: THE BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE. The books is filled with essays and reviews on multiple genres of books, which is separated into four sections;
1. Reading to Them - Choosing and sharing board books and picture books with babies and very young children.

2. Reading With Them - Launching the new reader with easy readers and chapter books
3. Reading on Their Own - Exploring what children read — and how they read — by genre and gender.Respecting the reading privacy of the young adult.
4. Leaving Them Alone - Respecting the reading privacy of the young adult.
From MOTHER GOOSE and ELMO to THE CATCHER IN THE RYE, there is a wide range of books for all types of readers. It's an amazing resource for adults to share their favorite books and love of reading to the children in their lives.