Category Archives: Groups

Bookmarks Magazine

It’s a special day when my issue of Bookmarks magazine arrives in the mailbox every couple of months. It’s one of the few magazine subscriptions that I have held onto over the years and I can say with certainty that I will keep it as long as they stay in print.

I’m always surprised how many bookish friends are unfamiliar with the magazine. Have you heard of it?

It only comes out 6 times a year, but every issue is dripping with bookish info. At their core, they are a book review aggregator. For every book listed in each issue, they offer a brief synopsis, their collection of snippets from well known newspapers and online book sections, and a brief synopsis rolling up all of those  reviews they read and collected.

I have to say it’s been fun reading the reviews over the years and having a sense of how The NY Times and Washington Post and Huffington Post may differ on genre’s or authors or writing techniques. You really start to get a feel for the people behind the reviews, simply by paying attention to the trends over time.

Every issue always features a Book Club. This is always the first thing I turn to in each issue. It’s fun to read how all of the book clubs got started and how long they’ve been together. It’s also neat to read which books worked and did not work for their group discussions.

Bookmarks magazine also runs features each month. These spend a few pages talking about an author and their work as a whole, going title by title. Or (November/December 2017 issue) they’re focusing on “Books for Library Lovers”, which is a topic I will show up for!

If you keep up with the ‘book space’ then you’ll probably recognize 40% of the names, books, stories, etc. in each issue. I mean, all those books and authors are popular for a reason. But the rest of it is made up of reader-submitted lists, collections, recommendations and of course, the aggregated book review list.

It’s so fun. I’m always looking for other Bookmarks readers to converse with.

Do you read Bookmarks magazine?

GoodReads Is Hiding Reviews

Over the past couple of days it has become apparent that the folks running GoodReads are hiding some book reviews. While this initially sounds really really bad, it seems to be an effort to help their members “play nice”. It’s the classic story of a few bad apples ruining it for everyone else. I’m not going to link specifically to all the posts, forums, blogs, etc. that spawned all of this, as I don’t want to join the flame wars, but I do think it’s important that we all know what and how GoodReads is changing.

GoodReads One Star Review

The impetus for the changes in policy has to do with GoodReads allowing both authors and readers to be active on the site. Authors get blogs. Readers don’t. Readers can leave reviews. Author’s can’t (but they can have secondary “personal” accounts to do reviews with, but that’s another issue).  So what’s been happening with a few passionate (and not so mature) authors is:

1. A reader pans a book on GoodReads, gives it a one star rating and maybe adds it to their “Readers to Avoid” shelf.
2. The author stumbles upon this and blogs about the negative review on their GoodReads blog, often making observations of the reviewer’s “lack of a brain”.
3. The author’s fans see this post and flock to the reviewer’s profile spewing forth bad stuff.
4. The reviewer’s friends start reviewing the author and the author’s fans’ activities (rather than reviewing the books), and things escalate.
5. The reviewer and a couple of friends get fed up and quit using GoodReads.

So what GoodReads has started doing is letting users know that their review has been hidden, if it doesn’t meet GoodReads criteria of a book review. So now, if you bash an author for their stance on importing bananas from Brazil, your review will show on your profile page and in your shelves, but not on the curated community book page, because your ‘review’ had nothing to do with the book. Also, your GoodReads friends will be able to see it, but that’s it.

This seems to ‘kind of’ fix the problem as it removes the match strike that sets these immature authors and fans off. But there is really nothing to stop these bad apples from harassing readers. I am not sure if more changes are on the way or not. We’ll have to see how all of this evolves.

I dabble on GoodReads (if you want to say ‘hi’ please do, it’s always fun chatting with other readers). But I check in on LibraryThing every day, so come join the fun over there if you haven’t already.

Four Publishing Conversations Worth Following

There is a TON of information online about books and the ever-shifting landscape of publishing. It just takes so long to sift through everything to find something of worth, that you could actually use. But there are four conversations I always check in on, via Twitter. Sometimes I look back through the conversations, days after it’s over to see what I miss and often learn tons I didn’t know. If you are interested in publishing, fire up and plug-in these hashtags:

#dbwDigital Book World – this is one GREAT conversation by folks involved in helping change the landscape of publishing. Digital Book World is a new annual conference (the one I wish I had gone to), that focuses more on the how-to and strategy rather than the crystal-ball gazing and the “where will we be in 10 years” like some conferences. It’s well worth your time to follow this hashtag daily. It’s maintained through @DigiBookWorld and @glecharles feeds. (BTW, Guy Charles has a personal blog worth checking out, too.)

#followreaderFollow the Reader – this is a weekly chat covering a specific topic each week. I’m constantly surprised by the quality and depth of the topics. Not too mention the techincal knowledge of the folks who chime in. This hashtag and site are sponsored by NetGalley and maintained by @charabbott and @katmeyer.

#ISBNHour ISBN Hour@ljndawson runs this weekly chat, every Friday at noon Eastern. It’s worth checking in on during the week to see if the slant of the current chat is of interest. This is one of the more open threads, as the conversation is really built on sussing out ideas and possible solutions for future problems. Lots of good talk of ISBN, categories, libraries and indexes here. Smart people trying to solve the issues facing the publishing industry before they become crippling problems.

#ePrdctn – eProduction – this is a recent add for me, but is the only one of these four that has earned a permanent column in TweetDeck. If you follow this hashtag you’ll find people chiming in and helping each other from all over the eBook production workflow. Full of solid advice and help regarding Adobe products, indexes and lots of  “has anyone dealt with this before” kind of camaraderie. This is an ongoing conversation by lots of people actually doing the production work that so many in the industry and media try to analyze. There have been some weekly topic-focused chats organized by @crych.

Think of those as four separate cocktail parties attended by just publishing-industry folks and we can walk from party to party listening in on conversations from publishing insiders in New York City, Los Angeles and maybe even Birmingham, AL. Yes, they can get a tad technical (which is sorely needed) and we could think of these as four different publishing workshops, but I promise you this will be a lot more fun if you read through all the conversations with a cocktail in hand.

I know that there are lots more conversations out there. Please, plug your favorite in the comments so I can check it out, if I’m not already.

Birmingham’s ‘Big Read’

Susan Swagler posted about the JCLC’s new “one city, one book” type program which kicks off with Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.

Festivities officially start January 14th and go all the way through April. Looks like lots of movies, group talks, road trips are on the calendar. I’m digging their plan to place 1,500 copies of the book around town for folks to pick up, read and then set loose in the wild again. Could be good fun!

According to Swagler’s post, one of the speakers at the Alabama Bound event, in April, is a scholar who wrote a paper “questioning Atticus’s heroism.” Huh? What blasphemy is this? I’m going to have to find said paper and investigate. You can bet I’ll have red markers at the ready!

Actually, I’m just glad that the JCLC has taken the time to get all this organized.