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Publishers Giving Away Books?

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Photo Credit: Flickr/Missouri State Archives

That’s right. Publishers are giving away books. Over a hundred million of them. Just kidding. This is not something I can imagine ever happening again. I’m sure the major publishers have some kind of charity or school program that offers books for cheap or for free, but I highly doubt that it’s on the level of what I’m about to tell you.

Remember that thing called World War II? Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia and Churchill and FDR. I’m sure you’ve read about it in the history books, but there’s a part of the story you likely haven’t heard. Before I get into what happened during the war as related to books, you should know that they were not quite as available as they are now. Bookstores may be closing, but you still can get your hands on just about any book you want by way of Amazon or Abebooks or another retailer near you. With that being said, publishers took a chance in 1943. They began selling paperbacks for just six cents to the Army. These cheaply made books were manufactured using magazine presses.

You might be thinking so what. What’s it matter if publishers were selling books cheaply to the Army and soldiers stationed around the world. Well it matters because these books soon became wildly popular during the war. You can imagine the living conditions and the thoughts of never returning home of some of the soldiers. But then these books start arriving from America. I won”t exaggerate the role these books played during the war, but the Army eventually could not order these books fast enough to meet the demand of the soldiers and the publishers could not ship out a new batch of books soon enough. The books were often read until they were no longer a book, until they fell apart. Suffice it to say that a single book could be read by dozens of soldiers in lesser war torn areas.

Publishers gave away a grand total of 122,951,031 of these cheap paperbacks over the next four years. Read that number again. 122 million! Guess what the result of all their efforts was? Though paperbacks were sold prior to the start of the program with the Army, the titles weren’t the same as their hardcover counterparts and all books were hard to find because of how few bookstores existed at the time. During and after the war this changed. Rather than pay $2 for a hardcover, paperbacks were just a quarter. The everyday person could afford them and soon millions of Americans were reading.

So again, what was the result of all the work of the publishers during those few years? They helped create an America that wanted to read.

You can read a great article about all of this here.

Everyone has That one Novel in Them…or do they?

This is one of the dumbest things you’ll hear from anyone who claims to be a writer. And probably from people who know nothing about anything. I’m talking about that stupid saying that states that EVERYONE is capable of writing that one good novel during their lifetime. Or maybe I’m taking the phrase too literally. Maybe it’s supposed to mean that everyone has a story worth telling? Either way, no. Just no.

Let’s tackle my first issue with this. I find it hard to believe that someone could actually believe in what they’re saying if they’re indeed stating that everyone is capable of writing a book. Have you ever known someone who lives okay, not rich but capable of buying most things they’d want, maybe a new car every few years? Of course you have, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m describing you. Okay. And then for whatever reason you get a look at one of their emails or a letter or some form of their writing and you realize how bad it really is. I’m not talking bad as in you have no idea what they’re trying to communicate to someone else, but rather that they struggle to string together cohesive sentences or misspell the most basic words. There’s nothing wrong with people who write poorly, heck maybe they had some bad English teachers during their school days, but to say that EVERYONE is capable of writing that one novel is just not true. I think it’s what someone repeats over and over again who knows their writing needs a lot of work.

Let’s now tackle the second issue about whether everyone has a story that needs to be told. I have no issue with someone bringing light to an important situation or event. But if you’re going to sit there and tell me that everyone has a story to tell, then I have just a single question for you. How can you make that statement and then very quickly criticize all the books that are written by celebrities? Are their stories any less worthy of being told than mine or yours? Are their stories any less worthy of being read or told simply because they have more money than you or I could ever imagine? That makes about as much sense as this whole thing.

There’s no truth to this stupid little phrase that gets repeated over and over again for reasons I simply don’t understand. I really wish it would be struck from existence never to return again.

PS: I’ve been really lax about posting this month, so I’m going to try to post everyday for the final two weeks of September to kind of catch up a little. Maybe I’ll succeed, maybe I won’t. I’m at least going to  try.

Millennials Read More Than You

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Yep. You read that right. Pew Research Center just recently released a report that says as much. Want to know what I think about it? Here’s my entire response….HA!

If you play around on WordPress or just the internet in general you’re likely to come across dozens of articles (blog posts) that start with something like “People just aren’t reading anymore.” or “Do people even read books anymore?” or “Books are dead.” I know you know what I’m talking about. But these are all just opinions of individuals who have no idea what they’re talking about. They think that because they don’t read and probably their friends and family don’t read that that means every other person in America also doesn’t read. Like…huh?

I’ve read way too many articles about books and publishing and all that stuff to know better. But what does this mean? What does it mean that millennials are reading more than older Americans? For one, if your mom or dad reads more than you then you have a problem. Second, ALL of you people writing about how no one reads anymore and blah blah blah can shut up. That’s what. And if you’re one of those people who has been thinking that, then you should probably go find yourself a book.

Let’s all give a nice ovation to the millennials out there who made this report possible by reading their Potter collections every year. *stands and waits for others to join in*

*sits back down awkwardly*

I’d like to know what you think of this finding. What do you think of millennials reading more than older Americans?

And oh by the way, this report is strictly talking books. I know some of  you had it in your head that they must have counted reading on social media or some other absurdity. So again, HA!

You can read about the report here.

Why do you Read?

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It seems like a simple enough question, right? For me, the answer is yes. But for you I’m thinking that it may be a bit more complex. You see, there are a lot of reasons explaining why people do a lot of things. I could ask you a million times the same but different question just by changing the last word. Why do you go to school? Why do you eat fast food? Why do you smoke? See? And just about every person’s answer to each question would be something unique and pertinent only to them.

I think this is very much the same when it comes to my question. Why do you read? Maybe you’ve thought of your answer already. Maybe you didn’t have to think of your answer at all because it’s so obvious in your mind as to why you read. Or maybe you have no idea why you constantly find yourself in a new book. But me, I know exactly why. My reason is simple and straightforward. I read because I honestly believe that books are the greatest form of entertainment today. I read because I like doing so. That’s it. I don’t read to learn, although I’m sure some of you would argue that we learn from what we read. I don’t read to get away from anything going on in my  life. I don’t read because I HAVE to, which is what I know most writers would say when it comes to writing.  I read to be entertained. And for whatever reason some people seem to have an issue with that. Eh. People are pretty stupid sometimes.

With that being said, I’d like to know why you do. Why do you read?

The Books That Have Stayed With Me

Don’t worry, I’m not going tell you about ten books that have stayed with me. Cause I don’t think I have ten, or five even. But in the name of kinda sorta not really participating in this little Facebook tag that seems to have sprung up out of nowhere, I’m going to talk about it.

I’ve just read an article that states that Facebook has determined the book included the most in responses to the tag is…can you guess it? I could have. Easily. I’ll give you a second to think about it.

Here’s a hint if you’re still thinking. The main characters in the book go to a special kind of school by the name of Hogwarts. The most common response to this particular Facebook tag was the HP series. I think it’s understandable considering who I think is more likely to be on Facebook responding to these kinds of things. Would I have included the series? No. I think the movies are great and the books are likely a bit better, but have they stayed with me? I don’t think so. They’ll ultimately just be really great books that I think generations upon generations will continue to read. But I’ll just be reading through them once.

The rest of the top 20 on the list compiled by Facebook is about what you’d expect. Here it is:

1. Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling – 21.08%
2. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee – 14.48%
3. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien – 13.86%
4. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien – 7.48%
5. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen – 7.28%
6. The Holy Bible - 7.21%
7. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 5.97%
8. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – 5.82%
9. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – 5.70%
10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 5.61%
11. 1984 by George Orwell – 5.37%
12. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – 5.26%
13. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – 5.23%
14. The Stand by Stephen King – 5.11%
15. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 4.95%
16. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – 4.38%
17. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – 4.27%
18. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – 4.05%
19. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – 4.01%
20. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – 3.95%

Stephen King is perhaps the only mild surprise if you ask me, but eh I’m no expert. What do you think of the books people are saying have stayed with them? I know it’s completely subjective, but we all have opinions. If you’re wondering, my entire list would consist of The Diary of a Young Girl and The Hunger Games. No more. Dracula would be very close to being included.

Besides letting me know what you think about the top 20 responses, let me know why particular books have stayed with you, or if you’ve written this post link to it in the comments and I’ll take a look at your picks.

I snagged this list from here.

Would you Write a Book That you Knew Would not be Read for 100 Years?

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Photo Credit: Tales From an Open Book

Margaret Atwood will. As part of a new project called Katie Paterson’s Future Library, author Margaret Atwood has become the first author to submit a work into the project not to be unveiled to the public until 2114. 2114!

Here’s how the project will work. Every year for the next century one book will be accepted into the the project not to be released or published until 2114. So technically Atwood’s is the only book that will go the full hundred years, but still. This means that most of the first 30 or even 40 authors will not live to see their book released. They will have no idea how well it is reviewed or how well it sells or anything at all. Isn’t that a little scary? Think of writing a book. You work maybe three months to get a draft done. Then we’ll say a few more to reach its final draft. Then you print it and put it in a sealed box that won’t see the light of day in your lifetime. I know there are plenty of books that become classics long after the death of the author, but this is different. It’s one thing for people to come to appreciate a work long after it’s been written, but it’s something else completely for no one at all to know anything about a book for so many years.

Not that anyone is knocking on my door for me to submit a book to be included in the project, but I don’t know if I’d be okay with this. Writing a book is difficult, no matter how many an author has written. And this project is taking out all the satisfaction that comes with publishing. That isn’t to say that I think it’s a bad idea. I think it’s pretty great, I’d just have reservations is all I’m saying.

So tell me, if someone asked you to write a book that wouldn’t be released to the public for a full century, what would you say? Would you have reservations? Would you immediately jump at the chance to be included in such a unique project? Would you wonder if your work would find an audience? What would go through your head?

Here is an article written about the project.

Access Katie Paterson’s website here.

Saturday Selects: The start of a new season

Texans-MolochSaturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month about something completely unrelated to books, writing, and all that fun stuff to give myself a chance to discuss something else of interest to me. Cause I don’t actually spend 24 hours a day thinking about books.

Today’s post, as I’m sure just about every one of you has already figured out, is about the new NFL season that just got underway on Thursday. The notion that every team is currently undefeated is true, but definitely not something any knowledgeable football fan truly believes in. You can’t.

BUT I live in Houston. And I think it’s one of those cities where everyone is pretty die hard when it comes to the Texans. For about a month now I’ve seen people everywhere in their Texans gear. And during the season it becomes and everyday thing. I’m sure this happens in most NFL cities, but the Texans have sold out every single game in franchise history. So maybe the fans here are near the top of the league? I don’t know. But with the start of a new season comes new expectations for the team from fans, players, and coaches. Typically expectations for the worst team in the league the previous season are a bit lesser than those of other teams, but let’s be real. TEXANS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL! Just kidding. I’ll seriously cry whenever that happens.

But my expectation is that they will be quite a bit better than last season. But I’m not going to define quite a bit for you. Just gotta let the season play out and see what happens. Their schedule isn’t bad, but let’s not forget that every team in the division plays basically the same schedule. The quarterback situation is still a big question and some big time players are coming off major injuries. BUT I’m confident and behind the team.

And it doesn’t hurt that we have Mr. JJ Watt on the D line.

Okay, you know a little about what I expect from my team, but what about you? Which NFL team has your heart and what do you expect this season from them?

On a side note, if you keep up with the NFL then you know that the Texans selected Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick in this year’s draft. You also know that there was some buzz in the months leading up to the draft around the possibility of drafting Johnny Manziel. I made a friendly wager with a friend of mine who is probably the only person who knows the Texans better than I do. The bet was if we draft Manziel I buy him the jersey, but if we draft Clowney he buys it for me. AND we got Clowney. AND I’m getting my jersey tomorrow! This will be my gameday attire for every game this season.

 

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