What’s On My Mind: random thoughts occupying my Summer Hours

I’m carrying on with my summer hours – I haven’t posted since Sunday, and I haven’t really had time to compose full-length reactions to a few things I’ve read about recently, so this post will be a bit of a potpourri.

I’ll begin with a personal update, in case you missed it on Facebook or Twitter on Monday: I do believe the Shoulder Saga has come to an end! I originally dislocated my right shoulder just over a year ago, on June 25, 2010; I got it fixed five months ago, on January 21. I had a follow-up appointment with the orthopedist on June 27, and he “graduated” me – my shoulder is Officially Healed. He did an excellent job with the surgery, as did the physical-therapy team with the post-surgical rehab – and I sincerely hope I never have to see any of them again! (However, if you’re in the western San Fernando Valley or eastern Ventura County and need an orthopedic specialist, let me know – I’ve got some recommendations.)

So I won’t have my shoulder to talk about any more, but I always like to talk about blogging and those who practice it – I think a lot of bloggers do, actually. Kim Tracy Prince, who’s been doing this for almost seven years now, had a lot to say about it in a piece she titled “The Cranky Veteran Post.” (I’ve already shared this link on both Facebook and Twitter, but I think it’s a must-read if you’ve been doing this for any length of time.) She’s seen a lot of changes in the blogosphere during that time, and grown increasingly frustrated by a sense that her own place in it doesn’t seem to change, while newer blogs with different priorities jump to the forefront.

“I’m a veteran blogger in a time when blogging for a year is considered an accomplishment…I’ve been blogging for seven years, since before brands gave a crap about sending free stuff to bloggers, or inviting bloggers to parties, or sending bloggers on free trips to Kenya. Every so often I bitch about this and I write about how I need to get back to my roots and blog for the same reasons I started blogging in the first place: to tell the stories of my life as a parent. And since I’ve embraced that ‘Parent’ is one of my many personalities, this blog has become so much more than a ‘Mommy Blog.’ When people ask me what kind of blogger I am, I’ve been giving a long-winded awkward answer that essentially means ‘I like to write about what I think about stuff.’ 

“…As the years have progressed and billions of newbies have thrown their hats into the ring and become far more popular than I – more comments, more subscribers, more traffic, more gigs, more cool trips, more free shit, better and higher profile jobs – whether or not they are actually good writers – I have watched and worked and noticed, and their recognition as being SO AWESOME eventually builds up on me and makes me fume. 

“…The thing is, I work hard. I’m good at this. I’ve never considered giving it up. It’s a part of me. But the landscape is so different now. ‘Success’ in media has always required serious hustle and some kind of unidentifiable X factor. One can suggest that I adapt to keep up with the times, but I really don’t have a desire to change the format, or focus on a niche, or comment on 75 blogs a day, or attend every conference and give out my card and a piece of candy to everyone I see. I’m not going to quit drinking, or quit taking drugs, or describe my post partum depression or my divorce in great detail, or publish photographs of my vagina, or reveal that I am a man.”

Kim’s one of the “original” Mom Bloggers, but I’m pretty sure her feelings aren’t unique to that particular category. I’ve had them myself, and even if you don’t want to own up to it, you probably have too. The landscape HAS changed, and it’s hard to know how to find one’s place in it sometimes. It’s also hard to decide that you want to keep doing it your own way and not play by the new rules, and it can be hard to accept that such a decision means that you may not find yourself with all that much of a place. I think getting to that acceptance is probably part of attaining blogger maturity…and I’m still not very mature sometimes.

Blogging’s not the only landscape that’s changing; those of us who focus our blogging on books are well aware of the struggles in that particular business these days – in publishing, in bookselling, and in promotion and finding readers. Independent bookstores are particularly challenged, and a recent New York Times article discussed some that have begun charging for author events. There’s never been a guarantee that these events would generate enough sales to offset their costs, but some stores have lost sales when attendees browse their stock, make lists of the books they want – and then order them from Amazon (sometimes before they leave the store!). Marie at The Boston Bibliophile has a thoughtful take on this.

I’m not sure most of us, as readers and bookstore customers, can address the “should” of bookstores charging admission to their events; we can only answer for ourselves whether we’d pay, or make a required purchase, to attend them. The discussion, in some ways, reminds me of paying for autographs at fan events like Comic-Con. It’s common practice at these events to have to buy admission tickets and then pay separately for each autograph you want (usually you have to buy a photo to get signed). It’s not perfectly analgous, since that money usually goes directly to the “celebrity” signer and not the Con, but I see similarities – and I’d much rather be required to purchase a book than someone’s publicity photo!

Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena occasionally hosts off-site author events which require purchase of a ticket – it’s usually the price of the author’s newest hardcover, which is included. But they also host many in-store readings at no charge and with no purchase required – they don’t even mind if you bring in a book you already have (I’ve done it), and there’s usually no limit on the number or type of items signed unless the author has imposed one. However, Vroman’s does make backlist books available for purchase as well as the new one the author’s promoting at the event, and I’ll almost always buy something while I’m there.

Having said all that, I’d pay a cover charge ($5 or so) to attend an author event, but then I probably wouldn’t attend unless I already knew the author’s work and felt the event would be worth the money.

These are a few of the things occupying my brain’s summer hours – what’s on your mind lately?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9 other subscribers

Sunday Salon: Summer Hours

Sunday Salon: Summer Hours

Shortly after returning home from BEA, I remember seeing something about the start of “summer hours” mentioned in reference to the publishing industry. I’m not sure exactly which “hours” those are, but I did have a job once where we observed “summer flex-time” for several years – employees could work 9-hour days Monday-Thursday and leave at noon on Friday. I was never able to partake, because my child-care arrangements at the time didn’t allow for […]

How to Offend Moms, Non-Moms, Housewives, Women over 50, Teens, & Genre Readers in a Single Sentence

Thanks to Serena for tweeting the link to this item, which got under a large expanse of book-blogger skin on Twitter yesterday, and to Sassymonkey for the tweet that inspired this post’s title. Daniela Hurezanu shared some not-very-favorable impressions of last month’s Book Expo America on the website for Santa Cruz Weekly – but she provoked some not-very-favorable reactions with her characterization of the book bloggers she met there: “BEA is a major event for […]

Book Talk: *Anthropology of an American Girl*, by Hilary Thayer Hamann (TLC Book Tour)

Book Talk: *Anthropology of an American Girl*, by Hilary Thayer Hamann (TLC Book Tour)

Anthropology of an American Girl: A Novel Hilary Thayer Hamann (Facebook) (Twitter) Spiegel & Grau (2010), Edition: Revised, Hardcover (ISBN 9780385527149 / 0385527144) Fiction, 624 pages Source: Publisher, via TLC Book Tours in support of the paperback release Reason for Reading: blog tour, personal wishlist Opening lines: “Kate turned to check the darkening clouds and the white arc of her throat looked long like the neck of a preening swan. We pedaled past the mansions […]

Sunday Salon: The Reader’s Digest Edition

Sunday Salon: The Reader’s Digest Edition

I’ve been suffering from a case of “can’t keep up with anything” this week, so my Salon discussion today is largely a recap of what I have managed to keep up with (with links, in case you haven’t been able to keep up either!). ** I did manage to commit to some weekend reading time last Sunday, and I plan to do it again today. While my husband spends part of Father’s Day at the […]

The Shelf Awareness READERS’ ISSUE is here!

The Shelf Awareness READERS’ ISSUE is here!

You may have heard of Shelf Awareness, the daily e-mail newsletter with the tagline “Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade,” but thought it wasn’t for you because…well, you’re not in the “book trade.” Well, think again. As of today, that’s changed. Today, Shelf Awareness launches its new “Readers Edition.” It will come to you twice each week, on Tuesday and Friday mornings. Editor Bethanne Patrick (@TheBookMaven) promises that each edition of the Readers’ Shelf will […]

Things to Know (and Love) About LibraryThing

Things to Know (and Love) About LibraryThing

Inspired by Wallace’s post “How to Get the Most Out of GoodReads” (and a follow-up Twitter discussion with her), I thought I’d tackle my preferred online book site, LibraryThing, in a similar vein. I hope it will be at least half as useful as her GR guide is! I have a GoodReads account. I have friends on GoodReads through that account. They may wonder why they see so few updates from me there… Here’s why. […]

At the movies: *Super 8*

At the movies: *Super 8*

Super 8 Mystery/thriller/sci-fi, 2011 Paramount Pictures / Amblin Entertainment / Bad Robot official movie site Plot summary, via IMDb: In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local Deputy tries to uncover the truth […]

California Book Bloggers: See You in September?

California Book Bloggers: See You in September?

I’ve had a couple of small disappointments in my social calendar – the one that blends my online social-media life with my admittedly sparse offline social life – this year. I didn’t make it to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in April, which has been the site of some great book-blogger meet-ups for the last couple of years (although I’ve heard hardly anyone else made it either, so that reduced any sense of […]

Book Talk: *Nerd Do Well,* by Simon Pegg

Book Talk: *Nerd Do Well,* by Simon Pegg

Nerd Do Well: A Small Boy’’s Journey to Becoming a Big Kid Simon Pegg (Twitter) Gotham (2011), Hardcover (ISBN 1592406815 / 9781592406814) Nonfiction/memoir (mostly), 368 pages Source: ARC from publisher, via TLC Book Tours Reason for reading: Blog tour, known writer (although not known for books), guilty-pleasure genre Opening lines: “It was never my intention to write an autobiography. The very notion made me queasy. You see them congesting the bookshop shelves at Christmas. Rows […]

Sunday Salon: Time Commitments

Sunday Salon: Time Commitments

I am seriously considering committing a block of time every weekend – ideally, a couple of hours or so – to reading. And I think I need to commit to starting today. As it stands now, there is a chunk of time many weekends that is dedicated to whatever book I’m reading at the time – my Saturday-morning “Starbucks hour.” But there are weekends when it doesn’t happen for one reason or another – I […]

A Discussion for *Leibowitz* (Faith and Fiction Roundtable)

A Discussion for *Leibowitz* (Faith and Fiction Roundtable)

The Faith and Fiction Roundtable’s third book of 2011 was the science-fiction classic A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. (reviewed here last week). Wait – a “science-fiction classic” for the Faith and Fiction Roundtable? Science and religion do not have to be opposing forces, although history has shown that they often are. They both offer ways to confront the world’s most complex questions, and the conflicts between them usually arise from a […]

BEA/BBC Aftermath: Personal Highlights…and that means people!

BEA/BBC Aftermath: Personal Highlights…and that means people!

This is the last piece of my three-part reflection on conference comparisons. After some consideration of conversations and conference-goers in the previous post, this one gets more personal. * Some people come for the people, and you see them talking with each other, walking around, and eating together. There are also events that go on around a conference that have no association with brands at all. They happen when two or three bloggers meet up […]

At the Movies: *X-Men: First Class*

At the Movies: *X-Men: First Class*

X-Men: First Class Action/adventure drama, 2011 20th Century Fox / Marvel official movie site Plot summary, via IMDb: “Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a […]

BEA/BBC Aftermath: Connections to Conference-goers Seen in the Wild

BEA/BBC Aftermath: Connections to Conference-goers Seen in the Wild

This is the second of my three-part reflection on conference comparisons. Yesterday I talked about conversations; today I’m thinking about some of the “accessories” conferences acquire… * Some people come for the swag, and you see them carrying around lots of stuff. There’s been some pretty impressive swag spotted around BlogHer conferences. Some comes from BlogHer sponsor brands, but rumor has it that the really choice stuff turns up at the offsite, invitation-only events that […]