Just got an email about this awesome offer from Melville House that I wanted to share for a few reasons.:
From the As-If-The-Cover-Didn’t-Tip-You-Off-Already department: Death and the Penguin by Andrei Kurkov is the perfect example of why the Melville House International Crime series is like no other: It’s political, it’s literary, it’s hilarious, it’s terrifying, and IT DOESN’T TAKE PLACE IN SCANDAVIA.1
To get the word out, for the next four days the ebook version of Death and the Penguin is on sale all over the interwebs for only $3.99.
To make this deal even sweeter if you buy it in the next 48 hours we’ll reimburse the complete cost of your purchase with a gift certificate to our website. All you have to do is buy the ebook, — we recommend from your local Independent Bookstore’s website — and email us your receipt —email@example.com. We’ll reply with a coupon. It’s that simple.
I might be jumping the gun here—currently, the book is stil $14.95 via the Indie Bound website, although the Amazon price is updated—but as soon as you can TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS DEAL.
I read this book a number of years ago when it came out from Harvill in the UK and thoroughly enjoyed it. We’re actually going to be featuring the sequel Penguin Lost as part of Read This Next, so you should start preparing now . . .
The idea of giving readers a $3.99 gift certificate is super-awesome as well. And if you look at Melville House’s website, it will take approximately .03 seconds to find something you want to buy.
Coincidentally, L Magazine released their “Best of Brooklyn” lists today, including one for Books & Media that includes this award:
Best Small-Press Branding
How to trick attractive young people into buying reissues and literature in translation? Collect-‘em-all series of jacket-pocket sized titles with clean covers. Their Art of the Novella and Contemporary Art of the Novella now being imitated by New Directions’ Pearls series, the Dumbo publisher has moved into an International Crime line (shades of Europa Editions and, well, large-house trends) and started the Neversink Library for out-of-print classics (including slim, terse Simenons) not already rediscovered by NYRB Classics.
1 Yeah, we all make spelling mistakes. Especially when typing in ALL CAPS which, for some reason known only to Bill Gates and that Jobs guy, seems to circumvent most spellchecking programs. LIVING ON THE EDGE.2
2 Also interesting is that there are over 465,000 instances of SCANDAVIA on the interwebs. Including sites like this, where crazy people can ask batshit questions such as “What is the official language of Scandavia?” I LOVE THE WORLD WIDE WEB.
Scott Karp has an interesting post at Publishing 2.0 regarding the possibility of putting ads in books:
It seems that everything that can command consumer attention — websites, software applications, social networking, video games, reality TV — is being monetized through advertising. So why not books? Especially in dynamic digital formats?
As Tim O’Reilly and Karp point out, in terms of the dominant current model ($1 per 1,000 views), this wouldn’t work out so well. A 400 page book (with an ad on every page), that sells very well (say 20,000 copies) would generate $8,000 in ad sales. Which isn’t enough of an incentive for publishers to do this. Not to mention the flak they would get for selling out in such a crass way . . .
Karp takes issue with that though:
I think what’s really holding the book publishing industry back from joining the digital revolution and putting ads on everything is the fear of shooting the sacred cow — the one that no other print publishing industry besides the book industry has ever held holy.
Newspapers? Circulation revenue AND advertising revenue. Magazines? Same. Books? Well . . . wait . . . what do you mean, when someone buys a book they want to read it without being distracted by ads. Well, of course, because nobody can read a magazine or a newspaper without being distracted by ads . . .
Regardless of whether there was any sense to this prohibition against ads in books in print, in digital all bets are off. The way content is consumed digitally is fundamentally different. The experience is different, and the expectations are derived largely from the core experience that defines digital media — surfing the web. You think anyone has every seen ads on the web?
As a believer in the longevity of books—that these are objects to be read, collected, cherished—the idea of ads in books is absurd. How odd would it be to pull a dusty book down off the shelf and be greeted by an ad for the Beyonce album that came out 15 years ago? (And I’m sure in the world of conglomerates, there would be a lot of cross-product advertising if this idea ever took off.) E-Books might be a different matter . . .
There are two cross purposes here though that need to be parsed. If a publisher is looking to monetize its products, ads are there solely to increase profit. And that’s shitty.
If a publisher is looking for a way to make a book available at a cheaper price, or more widely distribute it, then there’s something to the idea of finding a way of subsidizing publications that wouldn’t be crass or obtrusive. Like the Lannan Translation Selection Series. This helped make Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses possible, and I think we’d all agree that’s a great thing for the world.
Ideally—I feel like I’m living in an imaginary world today—there should exist a healthy, savvy culture of donors to literature. This does exist to some degree, but the field of nonprofit publishing is relatively young and no where near as developed as other nonprofit fields. A highly cultivated group of benefactors to literature (individuals, foundations, etc.) could serve as a counterforce to the increasing conglomeratization of publishing and the profit-making bottom-line driving editorial decisions.
The books that will make money can be published by companies with that goal; but for publishers looking to do books that will struggle in the traditional marketplace, philanthropists can make a world of difference in expanding the reach and viability of publishing literature, by identifying ways to expanding marketing efforts, lower the retail price, and even give away some copies to specific audiences in need. So although I don’t think books should be given away per se, I think it is important to try and find ways of making more titles available and getting these books into the hands of more readers, whatever it takes.
(Disclaimer: The Economics class I just finished at the Simon Business School scared the crap out of me. Left to the “invisible hand” of the marketplace, publishers dedicated to only doing great books don’t seem long for the world without something changing in the business side or in the culture.)
Litkicks is holding a pretty interesting conversation about pricing and literary books.
LitKicks is asking a variety of book industry professionals (including publishers, authors, agents, editors, distributors, sales representatives, booksellers, librarians, critics and bloggers) a question: “Does literary fiction suffer from dysfunctional pricing?”
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Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
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We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .