Dear Tumblarians and Publishing Passionates: the above photos are the reason for my extended absence from this inviting forum. I fell a little bit in love with an old haunt, Hong Kong, where I went for a terrific book fair, and forgot I could share what I learned there *here*.
In brief, that part of the world, a cross between East and West, is both ahead of America and behind us. More people of all socioeconomic backgrounds have access to the internet (hotspots abound, from the many gargantuan, interlinked malls and skyscrapers to the mall-like Central Library). Local librarians rejected the idea of any “digital divide,” a reality in many parts of our country.
However, unlike in the States, a reader would be hard-pressed to get at an ebook of popular content. On that, Taiwan and Korea lead. And moreover, a Hong Kong native is inclined to consume digital magazines over ebooks. The Hong Kong Book Fair remains a hugely well attended civic event, where scores renew magazine subscriptions in exchange for choice gifts.
Never in my book-fair-going life have I seen so many members of the general public convene to buy pounds and pounds of printed matter. It was like going to the old Giants Stadium to see U2: the excitement was palpable and overwhelming. Paper books are still king. “Romantic novels” (what I would liken to new adult romances on our side of the world) are Hong Kong young women’s addiction, per my lovely translator, who asked about Comic-Con.
Traditional Chinese versus Simplified Chinese writing embodies the culture clashes happening between Hong Kong and mainland Chinese people. Hong Kong believes absolutely in using the former, and mainlanders the latter. Powdered milk and other resources unsafe to buy over the border in China disappear from shops on the weekends and cause outcries, I was told.
All in all, a truly enlightening and empowering experience for the library and publishing parts of my brain. I was lucky to go, and I didn’t take one breath of that hot and humid air for granted.
Did I mention the incredible kindness and generosity I was shown day by day? Now I have. Thank you, Benny Chan, Ellis Chow, Paul Kenny, Chicha, the MTR, and many more. One love.
Fellow #alaac14 goers: Come by #753 for a demo of our awesome new apps; get a copy of Karin Slaughter’s new stand-alone novel, Cop Town.
"What we have in these stories is actually something less like a childhood photograph, or juvenilia, or apocrypha, and more like the miraculous discovery that the beloved book you’ve read a dozen times has an extra chapter you’ve somehow never noticed. These stories don’t feel different; they feel like just her."
TOP OF THE TBR PILE I’m fascinated at least in theory by a sub-subcategory that I am unofficially calling millennial fiction. First on my list is Maxwell Neely-Cohen’s debut, Echo of the Boom, which will be coming to Cloud libraries soon via our recent agreement with Perseus/Constellation, which distributes the author’s publisher, Rare Bird Books. (Check out the reading soundtrack on Large Hearted Boy.)
Strengthening my interest in this vein of angst is the paperback/ebook release of Kate Zambreno’s Green Girl, which garnered numerous accolades from no less than Roxane Gay, James Greer, and Elissa Schappell when it was first published by a small press in 2011. HarperCollins is giving it this second push.
From the marketing:
"Zambreno’s heroine, Ruth, is a young American in London, kin to Jean Seberg gamines and contemporary celebutantes, by day spritzing perfume at the department store she calls Horrids, by night trying desperately to navigate a world colored by the unwanted gaze of others and the uncertainty of her own self-regard."
I’d be lying if I said the eye shadow didn’t grab me either. I’m a Gen X’er with a Bowie fixation, after all.
Can’t Be Long Now
Rule of thumb: if they’ve gone live with them, they’ll be live with us soon. Grove Atlantic comes to the Cloud via Perseus/Constellation. Many more small presses to follow.
I kind of hate this New York Times headline. The real news is that Hachette Book Group bought Perseus Books Group. Both are partners with 3M Cloud Library, and, yes, there will no doubt be changes in how Perseus sells ebooks to libraries (currently, it’s one copy, one user).
My advice to Hachette is to experiment with the travel-, business-, science-, and history-heavy offerings of Perseus’s 12 imprints. Nonfiction ebook sales to libraries are still pretty marginal compared with adult fiction sales. They could use a boost.
Last call on our exclusive DK Publishing summer sale! Through June 30, it’s 30 percent off the entire catalog, which includes the best-selling Eyewitness, Rough Guides, and Complete Idiots’ series.