Monday Morning Stepback: ACX, NetGalley, Criminal Element, Zappos and Sex Positive Feminism 101

The weekly links, opinion, and personal updates post

Link of Interest

Why Academics Should Blog: A College of One’s Own, at The Neuro Times via (The Durham U Center for Med Humanities Blog)

But most importantly, scholars need to make everything they do count in multiple ways: those blog book reviews can become the foundation of essay reviews or serve as literature reviews for new articles. They can also act as brief and searchable notes for teaching purposes that help to maintain a critical and cutting-edge classroom. Similarly, brief critical reflections on recent articles and books can develop with time into abstracts for conferences and workshops, which can become the basis for further grant applications or new articles. The joy of reading a new primary source can be shared with others who have read it and also enjoyed it.

As an aside, I liked the post, but it’s kind of remarkable how the post traces the rise in the benefits of social media to a decline in some aspects of academic life brought on by the demise of the traditional model of the scholar-bachelor or scholar-family man, without ever explicitly mentioning women: either the implied “faculty wife” or the women in the faculty.


Seth Godin is getting some flack for his post on The Future of the Library. Writing as if no one has yet to do it, he suggests:

There are one thousands things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.

@GleCharles had this to tweet:


Also via @Glecharles: Library Journal and NetGalley Announce Partnership for Reviewing Romance E-Originals:

New York, May 16, 2011 — Library Journal announces today that it will accept review submissions for romance e-originals through NetGalley.

Starting immediately, Library Journal will consider for review book-length romance e-originals, with plans to expand to book-length e-originals in other popular genre fiction and, eventually, novellas and original nonfiction works. This expansion of review coverage is necessary to address the skyrocketing popularity of ebooks in U.S. public libraries (72 percent currently offer ebooks, according to Library Journal ‘s 2010 “Ebook Penetration Survey”). Library Journal will use NetGalley to give editors and reviewers access to secure digital galleys of said e-originals. At this time, simultaneous print/ebook titles are not eligible. E-originals selected for review will run online in Library Journal Xpress Reviews and, in most cases, in the print Romance column—which publishes six times a year (Feb. 15, Apr. 15, Jun. 15, Aug. 15, Oct. 15, and Dec. 15).

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable (*cough* DearAuthor *cough*) than I am will tell us what this all means for the reader.


Are you a book blogger planning an event for June? Felicia the Geeky Book Blogger would like to know. She’s compiling them for Fresh Fiction.


Author Diana Gaston is over at Risky Regencies sharing her view on What Is A Romance Novel, with lots of links to others’ views.


The best source for reporting on audio romance books continues to be AAR’s column Speaking of Audiobooks. This week, the topic is Audible’s Game Changer:

If you haven’t heard about Audible’s new venture, Audible Creation Exchange (ACX), have I got news for you. On May 12th Audible announced a dynamic online audiobook rights marketplace, audiobook production platform, and online sales system. Its aim? To increase the number of audiobooks by offering a place for audiobook professionals to connect and produce audiobooks. There’s much more to ACX, but what it means to us as listeners is greater selection.

ACX is groundbreaking in that it allows any professionally published book, new or old, to become a professionally produced audiobook. It provides authors and publishers access to talented actors/narrators and studio professionals who know how to deliver a well-produced audiobook. There is even training for an author if one wishes to narrate their own book.

It figures that I just canceled by Audible membership yesterday.


Ever wondered about the difference between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance? Larissa over at Heroes and Heartbreakers gives her take.


Was Nancy Drew My first victim? a meditation on violence against women in mystery/suspense novels, by Wendy the Super Librarian, over at Macmillan’s new crime fiction blog, Criminal Element. I confess my own view is closer to Magdalen’s in the comments than to Wendy’s but I rarely read the genre, so what so I know?


So many people sent me this link. They must think I really need my confidence bolstered. Need Innovation? Hire A Humanities Grad, at a leading business blog (reporting on an article in the Harvard Business Review):

Their resumes may never make it past your HR department, but Golsby-Smith argues that people who studied literature, philosophy and the like offer key skills your organization probably lacks.


From Beauty Schooled, Enough With the Fat Hate:

Yes, there is lots of research linking obesity to serious health issues. Although it’s worth noting that most of that research is based on correlations, not causations. And there is also plenty of evidence to show that it’s not the fat itself, sitting on your body, that makes you sick — it’s unhealthy lifestyle habits like eating junk food and never exercising, which can be practiced by people at any size, as Ragen regularly and patiently explains.

But even if science steps up and finds a rock solid connection between pounds of body fat and deadly diseases — why has the “war on obesity” become a war on obese people, even children?


The Independent reports on a new special issue of Granta out this week, in Is Feminism Relevant to 21st Century Fiction?

Granta magazine will publish The F Word (£12.99) next Thursday: an issue dedicated to reflections on gender, power and feminism, in which Lydia Davis, Rachel Cusk, Jeanette Winterson, AS Byatt, Helen Simpson and Téa Obreht, among others, write wide-ranging pieces on women’s places in the world, the place of feminism within storytelling and shortfalls of the Women’s Movement of the 1970s. John Freeman, editor of Granta, feels this latter aspect is a positive outcome: “I think political movements must always critique their own legacies – otherwise they become cults. Writers in the issue are doing what’s natural after decades of believing in a cause – they are observing the victories and defeats, and taking stock of how this idea has infiltrated life and culture.”

Winterson, reflecting on the love affair between Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas, bemoans the loss of romance in our post-feminist age.

I am alternately terrified and looking forward to reading the issue.


At Slate, Awsum Shoes: Is it ethical for companies to fix grammatical and spelling errors in internet reviews?

By cleaning up its reviews, Zappos is hurting shoppers as it helps its bottom line. The lowercase reviews, the all-caps reviews, the Internet speak, the subject-verb-agreement manglings, the sentence fragments, the pathetic attempts to spell chic—all of these are factors to weigh when considering someone’s opinion of low-top Chuck Taylors. Or, to be more earnest about it, our mistakes are what make us human. On the Internet, it’s important that other people can tell if you’re an idiot.

I occasionally fix errors in comments made here, if in my judgment the error makes the comment too hard to understand. I would like to fix many more, but I hold back. Now I am wondering: is this wrong? Should I get permission first? What do you do on your blogs?


At The New Yorker’s Book Bench, Are You a Reader or An Owner?, a short piece linking to Shelf Awareness, who linked to a WSJ piece in which the Penguin Group C.E.O. John Mankinson said this:

There is a growing distinction between the book reader and the book owner. The book reader just wants the experience of reading the book, and that person is a natural digital consumer: Instead of a disposable mass market book, they buy a digital book. The book owner wants to give, share and shelve books. They love the experience. As we add value to the physical product, particularly the trade paperback and hardcover, the consumer will pay a little more for the better experience.


I love my Kindle but I have always HATED with a passion the clipping, copying and pasting limit. This really minimizes the extent to which I can use Kindle books for research. As Galley Cat reports, some Kindle users at MobileRead are trying to get the limits removed.


A manifesto on Sex Positive Feminism at Feministe, by Clarisse Thorn. 49 comments make it an interesting discussion. Really long, but really interesting. I may use it as a basis for discussion in feminist theory in the fall.

One commenter had this to say in criticism:

I can’t embrace the term “sex-positive” because it does, in fact, reinforce the existence of the strawman of the anti-sex feminist.


I am sorry to say this link is evidence that there are some dead horses I enjoy beating: The Future of Book Reviews: Critics versus Amazon Reviewers” at The Daily Beast:

Ozick noted, Amazon reviewers hold two principles in common: “First, a book, whether nonfiction or fiction, must supply ‘uplift.’ Who wants to spend hours on a downer? And even more demandingly, the characters in a novel must be likable. Uplift and pleasantness: is this an acceptable definition of what we mean by literature? If so, then King Lear and Hamlet aren’t literature, Sister Carrie isn’t literature, Middlemarch isn’t literature, nearly everything by Chekhov isn’t literature, and on and on and on.”

Really? Cuz it took me all of 3 seconds to click over to Amazon, find Middlemarch and see that 123 Amazon reviews have given it an average of 4.5 stars.


Having trouble meeting your goals? From Reason, Self Control in the Age of Abundance, a report on a new website designed by an economist which allows you to make “precommitments” to your goals, and suffer penalties (like forcing yourself to donate to political causes you despise) if you fail (via Arts and Letters Daily):

The concept is fiendishly simple. (the second K is from the legal abbreviation for contract, although baseball fans will detect a more discouraging connotation) lets you enter into one of several ready-made binding agreements to lose weight, quit smoking, or exercise regularly, among other things. You can also create your own agreement, which many of the site’s 100,000 registered users have done. You specify the terms (say, a loss of one pound per week for 20 weeks), put up some money, and provide the name of a referee if you want one to verify your results. Whenever you fail, gives some of your money to a charity or friend that you’ve chosen. Whether you fail or succeed, never keeps your money for itself aside from a transaction fee.



I’ve been watching Game of Thrones on HBO. I have never read the books. I like it, but I don’t love it, and I think I figured out why: I feel like a bystander watching a lot of interesting events which do not concern me. Having so many different storylines, and changing point of view every scene, make this viewer unable to really have that bonding experience with any character that keeps me fully engaged. That everyone keeps telling me most major characters will be killed off keeps me at even further a distance. I like GoT, and I admire the acting and production values, but so far, at least, it is not a show that gets under my skin.

Another busy week ahead, but hoping to get some Rachel Gibson and Anne Stuart reviews up.


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