Category Archives: On the Web

Mailchimp Book Festival 2020

The folks at Mailchimp held an online book festival earlier this month called ‘By The Books’. At first I thought it kind of weird that an email newsletter company would be hosting/coordinating such an event, but once I scrolled through and took in some of what they had shared, it was pretty cool. The voices they are featuring seem to point to the fact that they ‘get books’ and understand the role that books play in our lives and communities. I thought this was just an underwriting/sponsorship thing, but I think I was wrong.

I clicked throughout Mailchimp’s ‘By the Books’ festival site and thought there were some interesting essays on there. I won’t name my favorites yet, as I didn’t read them all. But I felt it was time well spent on the handful I did read. It’s worth clicking through to scroll and see if anything piques your interest.

I will say: go ahead and maximize your browser window once your on the site. Things will just visually line up better. It will help in navigating the site too. While I was taking in ‘By the Book’, I was on three different screen sizes and got disoriented a few times.

(Pro Tip: if you click on the three colored rectangles in the top right of their screen the page will just give you a straight list to run down)
Cover design for Big Friendship was done by Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson.

‘By the Books’ featured a collection of books (with links to buy) curated by Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow. The selection is really broad in scope and quite refreshing. Friedman and Sow also do a podcast together called Call Your Girlfriend. I am guessing they spun that series into a book as they have just released Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, published by Simon & Schuster. It seems to be in the same vein as their podcast.

The festival also hosted a pop-up version of the Longform Podcast for this event and it’s called The Books That Changed Us. So far three episodes are on the site (you have to click on the ‘Listen’ menu item).

But do check out the essays as well as the author conversations (just keep scrolling down on that main page). The videos are interesting too, if you haven’t seen them before. The ones I watched are a few years old and have been on YouTube for a while. But it was nice to see them again and have them curated here.

I had heard that ‘By the Books’ was created to help fill the vacuum left when the Decatur Books Festival had to cancel this year. If that’s true, that’s very cool.

This was an event I hope other brands and companies think about doing. Extra attention and spotlights are something all authors could use right now. It’s hard enough to get ink for new books and voices any time of the year. During an election year? Three times as hard. Getting publicity during THIS election year with everything else going on? It’s going to be tough (unless your name is Bolton or Mary Trump or Michael Cohen.

So keep reading and sharing book blogs. Start your own book blog! And check out Mailchimp’s ‘By the Book’ offerings. They can’t replace the Decatur Book Festival or the Alabama Book Festival, but it’s fun to hang out there for a bit.

Hope you are doing well these days and are surrounded by some good books.

Online Book Festivals 2020

Summer is here and nothing can stop the book people! At least that’s how I am choosing to see this period of “safe at home” while all of the annual in-person book festivals and events go online.

And I have to admit that I am kind of enjoying the chance to lurk and click and enjoy some spaces and places that I don’t normally go to. This coming week is a BIG one for book festivals. Here is a quick rundown:

BookExpo 2020

This one runs May 26-29 and features more education and librarian support than I remember. Which I take to be a good thing as sometimes the marketing and fluff of BookExpo can be tough to push through and get to the meaty parts.

It looks like all of the author talks and panel discussions will be held on their Facebook page. So keep an eye on that. Here’s the rundown for Day One of the book festival:

BookExpo  book festival

Hay Festival 2020

The Hay Festival, runs May 22-31, and remains one of the best book festivals in the world. This year’s main program has a wonderful outlook and the quality of presentations are amazing. The event is held every year in Hay on Wye in Wales. Hay one Wye is a small town put is brimming with around 25 bookstores, which are packed during the event. I have never been, but I follow it every year and this year seems to be a great year to armchair-travel to Wales for the event as the Hay Festival has a great line up of folks. I’m most interested in the authors speaking under the Philosophy banner and I really enjoyed what Tori Amos had to say. It’s free, but you do have to register, as you can watch things that you have missed.

Hay book festival

TorCon 2020

TorCon is new to book festival circuit. It will run June 11-14 and will feature 8 panels, 20+ authors across Facebook, instagram, etc. They have some pretty recognizable names: Cory Doctorow, Neil Gaiman, V.E. Schwab, and so on. Here’s the schedule so far. If science fiction is your jam, I’d recommend signing up so you can get a final copy of the schedule sent to you.

Tor book festival

Hope you’re doing well and are safe and surrounded by some good books.

Two Documentary Films for Bookish Folks

Here are two documentary films that I’m excited about and I am guessing, if you’re reading this blog, you’ll probably be interested too.

The first film is called The Bookmakers and runs about an hour. It features all kinds of folks that are working to keep books viable in this day and age. There are interviews with type setters and old world book artists as well as digital librarians and font folks. The trailer hooks me early! I hear that The Bookmakers documentary has been delayed due to all of the “stay home” stuff going on these days. I’m excited for this one to be out – eventually. Here’s the trailer:

A co-worker mentioned The Booksellers documentary to me the other day and I just love the visuals in the trailer. It was released back on April 17th via special streaming screenings online. Which is all very cool and handy these days. You can scroll through the film’s twitter feed and find a place to watch it. It looks like it’s running about $10 to stream it. This film has to be good. There are some pretty big names from both the bookstore and book trade worlds in The Booksellers. I’m hoping to find some time this weekend to watch.

It doesn’t hurt to mix in a little screen time with reading, does it? I hope you all are tucked away, feeling well and have plenty of books surrounding you. And I hope you get a chance to see these two films too!

Science Fiction as Philosophy – Avondale Library

Avondale Library

The Avondale Library is hosting a very interesting online video discussion group this week. Friday, April 3rd at 3pm, they will host and discuss Science Fiction as Philosophy, via the web and a Zoom video conference.

The video series discusses, “…how popular science fiction shows have tackled profound issues such as autonomy, sentience, pacifism, colonialism, racism, grief, morality, and much more.”

Which sounds pretty dang cool and everything that good speculative fiction works with. It has all the makings of a fun and informative online conversation. This new Sci-Phi Fridays series by the Avondale Library branch is based on The Great Courses materials.

The Great Courses has lots of videos and classes diving deep into topics like publishing, writing, genres, etc. It’s worth scanning their catalog to see if there is anything you’d enjoy. The post a lot of content on their YouTube channel. Most of it is medical and viral-related these days and some 5-minute teasers. But they have longer 30-minute videos (like this science vs. science fiction one on Doctor Who and Time Travel Paradoxes) as well as sharing the first video in a series they sell.

Doctor Who Avondale Sci Phi

You can get more information in the BPL Online post and do know that registration is required. It’s free, but I’m sure they have to be able to send out all of the zoom invites, etc. to facilitate the online video feeds and discussions.

With all that is going on in the world, I hope you are well and reading this post some place safe and able to stay isolated.