Is twitter a form of literature? What do you think about banned books week? All this, dead oysters, and more in the Litblog Roundup, a bi-weekly overview of topics, trends and highlights from the literary Internet.
The Deal with Blurbs
You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. You’re supposed to judge it by its blurb. But how are we to judge the blurbs themselves? Lately, that judgement has been a popular topic. First, there was the piece on “blurbspeak” a while ago. Now, NPR asks “Forget The Book, Have You Read This Irresistible Story On Blurbs?” One of the payloads of this discussion is that they’ve unearthed what appears to be the very first blurb, and the book for which it was written. If that’s not enough blurb action for you, Real Pants has you covered with free blurbs for your book.
Oysters Don’t Last Very Long
Startups don’t last very long on average. That’s no surprise, but it probably doesn’t help to name them after something that is an acquired taste, first of all, and which spoils quickly. Once company, with such an auspicious name, Oyster, has taken a turn for the worse and it will shut down. Hailed as “a Netflix for books” the service offered a subscription service for e-books, the company has ceased to exist, although there are murmurings that Google has acquired much of the company’s personnel.
The Oncoming Train
Given that startups don’t last very long on average, it’s interesting to see someone claim that the natural turmoil in that sector is an ominous sign of doom on the horizon. The blog, “Just Publishing: Self Publishing advice and Publishing World News” claims just that. The salient part of the argument is that Amazon’s new option to pay-per-page might be unfair. This is a reasonable argument, at least, but as for the rest of the argument, Teleread offers an amusing rebuttal to the author:
“He produces a chart of a gradually-declining squiggly line as another sign from which he reads doom (he never clearly explains, nor is it captioned, exactly what that squiggly line actually refers to, though I’m guessing from context that it’s search activity about the term “self-publishing”). Then he flourishes another chart showing that regional search interest in the term “self publishing” is limited to the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. (Oddly enough, those happen to be the main countries where English is the primary lingua franca. Funny that an English-language search term should be most popular in those, huh?) From these, he concludes that self-publishing interest is on the wane and nobody cares about it outside a small portion of the world.”
Every time there’s a new way to write, or something new to write upon, there’s someone who asks: “is it literature?” Twitter was founded almost a decade ago, so it isn’t exactly new, and neither is the question “is it literature” but nevertheless it’s been asked about the mocroblogging platform with a character count constraint. Perhaps a more interesting question, one to rule them all, would be, what makes a literary genre in general, anyway? Does anybody want to read a story in tiny chunks? Does anybody want to read one that way? Sure, why not?
Banned Books Week
It’s banned books week! Banned books week is a time of reflection on the power of language, the nature of oppression, freedom of expression. It’s also an opportunity to think “wow, I can’t believe that was banned! What were they thinking!” Sometimes, you might even think “wow, I don’t want to read that either.” Watch this week for conversations along those lines. Start some of your own. Here’s a piece to get you started. Did you know that Frank O’Hara’s collection, Lunch Poems was banned from English classes at Aurora High School in 1976?