Entries by Molly Gage

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Bookshop Is in Beta!

Everyone’s talking about bookshop. Errr, now that everyone is almost done talking about American Dirt, the limits of representation, the perils of mis-marketing, and the lost opportunities of seven-figure advances, everyone is talking about Bookshop.

What’s Bookshop?

It’s the Amazon alternative founded by Andy Hunter (of Electric Literature, LitHub, and Catapult fame) to sustain and foster independent bookstores and their dedicated reader communities.

The Bookshop model offers readers Amazon-like convenience, but it disburses proceeds to independent booksellers and gives a 10-percent share of book sales to affiliate linkers—whether they’re independent bookstores, magazines, bloggers, or other members of the book-loving public.

Of course, Amazon is cheaper. It’s cheaper because it only offers affiliate linkers a 4.5-percent share of book sales and because, compared to Bookshop’s on-average 8-percent discount, Amazon book discounts are much, much deeper. In fact, its unsustainable discounts are a major reason Amazon drives competitors like local and independent bookstores out of business.

So, in this as in so many other cases, “cheaper” comes at a price. Committed to books? To weird and wonderful bookstores? Help them (and readers!) thrive by buying from and linking to Bookshop. Its transparent effort to support local independent bookstores may be a more expensive alternative, but anyone interested in and committed to fostering a lively and long-lived cultural conversation will benefit from its marketplace.

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Book-Related Resolutions: Just as Hard to Keep as the Others

As has been documented (here and…everywhere else), I welcome the opportunity forced by the new year to reflect on the old, contemplate the present, and imagine a better, slightly more accomplished future. 

But reflecting on the old means reflecting on very many resolutions I’ve failed to uphold. So, when I make resolutions, I make one or two, in areas of life I actually want to spend time in, and small enough so I have a chance of fulfillment.

In this respect, the #2020bookchallenge is a hazard and an opportunity.

My 2020 book challenge is much less ambitious: I want continue tracking the books I read (a prior, miraculously successfully met resolution) and also track why I read the book in the first place.

The Newsletter Age has resulted in many excellent book recommendations, but they are hard to track. When I finish a book, whether I loved or hated it, I want to (mentally, at least) discuss it with its recommender. Yet, by the time I receive and then read the book, its provenance has vaporized with the mists of memory. 

The Library Extension tool and my trusty Excel spreadsheet are going to help me keep this resolution. The former (for Chrome or Firefox) will find the book at my local library the moment it’s recommended, and Excel will track its provenance. 

It’s too late for Trust Exercise–I reserved it in 2019 but no longer remember who recommended it–but I trust I’ll be able to engage in many more mental dialogues in 2020.

 

Make a Record: An Argument for Transcription

Although transcription is frequently viewed as a tool for reporters and journalists, thinkers, writers, and professionals of all kinds can benefit from integrating transcription methods into their production practices. For thinkers, writers, and professionals, a transcription habit creates an accurate record of conversations, interviews, presentations, and (perhaps) podcast-inspired soliloquies. The resulting archive stabilizes moments otherwise […]

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The Best Book Covers

You may not be in the market for a book cover, but we’re all—surely—in the market for inspiration. You’ll find it at the Book Cover Archive, “for the appreciation and categorization of excellence in book cover design.” There, you might marvel at how delightfully disparate design can be: Or, browse its links to consider the […]

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The Best Book Cover: Find Inspiration

This post it not a how-to. No primer, no matter how comprehensive, can teach the know-it-when-you-see-it quality that catapults an everyday shelf-piece into the realm of  book art. The Peter Mendelsund-designed Ulysses (as well as Dubliners and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), provides a startlingly effective illustration. Here is style and savvy […]

The Best Book Cover

Back when my readerly tastes were driven by the limited options at my suburb’s small, strip mall-located library, I rarely chose my books by their covers. Most of the library books sported dogeared, aggressively stickered covers anyway, so my appreciation for a cover’s import remained stunted. It wasn’t until I arrived at college and received […]

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Soft Strategy: Setting a Completion Date

While most people benefit from plans, it’s often the preparation begotten by planning that matters more than the plan itself. This truism is attributed to Eisenhower, but its commonsense application pre- and postdates his mid-century usage. First-time nonfiction authors, whether they walk the traditional or self-publication path, benefit from planning when they develop a completion* […]

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Listen Up!

Giving a talk, presenting a slide deck, teaching a class, delivering a keynote, conducting an interview, and other performances often provoke uncomfortable anxiety. Whether it’s  a low-key motivator of a stronger performance or produces a more debilitating flight-or-flight response depends less on the presenter’s personality and more on perception and preparation. Although glossophobia (literally/delightfully, tongue […]

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Writing 101

I loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s Instagram post on the top-ten of effective writing. Of her successful, audience-tested suggestions, a few merit special attention, especially #1: Tell your story TO someone; #4: Don’t worry if it’s good, just finish it; and #9: What gets you [to keep going on a writing project] is not pride but mercy. […]