Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A few quick links

Just enough time to share a few links.

Tayari Jones is boycotting Arizona to protest the immigration law and racial profiling. She cancelled an appearance. During a recession. In the state where she finished her MFA. Amazing.

I really want to read Hellhound on his Trail, a book about the King assassination that traces the movements of James Earl Ray before he killed Dr. King. (Link is to the interview with author Hampton Sides on Fresh Air).

Attica Locke's novel, Black Water Rising, is on the shortlist for the Orange Prize.

What are your book habits?

Last night I remembered the time in my life when I had to read the "Ferber book". For those who haven't been exposed to it, it's a pediatrician's book about children's sleep and sleep disorders. When I read it, specifically the information about sleep habits, I realized that adults have sleep habits too. And I recognized my own immediately. Without my (blessedly) simple and short sleep steps, it's slightly more difficult for me to go to sleep.

Every night I do the same thing. Get in. Turn to my right. Rest awhile. Turn to my left. Go to sleep.

It would make more sense to just be on my left side to begin with. But I can't do it that way. And if I have to, it's slightly irritating.

Other habits we've developed over years are the same. We shop for grocery at the same store in the same order every time. Or we always read the newspaper with a cup of coffee in hand. Habits.

I think we have reading and book buying habits as well. A particular place to buy or try a new book, whether it's the nearest bookstore, a discount retailer or at the public library. Or a favorite time and place for reading - that easy chair or at night before we go to sleep. (I am a little obsessed with sleep right now!)

When our habits are disrupted, we move away from reading or lose our key trigger, source or opportunity. For example, here are some of the disruptions:
A favorite bookstore closes
The bookstore's hours change (i.e. from 9 a.m. opening on Sunday, to 10 a.m.)
Location changes (I once worked one block from the public library. Even with two young children, I read so much.)
Leisure time changes (we have new friends and go out more; we have children and do less reading)
Income changes
Even displays have an impact - what if your favorite section was moved?

For me the disruptions include losing days that I could reasonably go to the library, to lack of time, to lack of non-chain retail options. (Handselling at our local African American bookstore was key. I can't remember going there without buying at least one book).

It's really odd though that I'm reading less. Because by other measures, I'm reading much more. It's just that my reading is online. But I don't buy books that can be read online.

And while I get a lot of e-mails (I'm trying to cut back) from companies, none are short stories that I can read right now. So I read essays, blogs, tweets. What if one of those emails was the next chapter in a book I've been meaning to read? What if it were just the first chapter? Would that be enough to get me to go back out tonight and buy the whole book? Or pay to download it?

I know excerpts and sample chapter are out there. They just aren't where my habits are taking me. I'm sure I'm missing something. But there's a good chance I won't turnover to see it.

What are your book, reading habits? How have they been disrupted? Are the disruptions positive or negative?

Monday, April 26, 2010

In the loop - info on our authors

One of the things I struggle with is finding out about new books by African American authors. Back when I was in college (okay, way back) it was easy. I was focused on literature and regularly going to book events on my campus and throughout the city (Atlanta).

I'd see new titles in our campus bookstore, the Shrine of the Black Madonna bookstore, Charis Books and in one of the libraries. I had the time and the focus to stay on top of it. Plus, it was Atlanta, so covering Black authors was part of the daily newspaper's content.

Now, though I follow the book world as closely as I can, it seems I miss a lot of stuff. I hear about books on NPR, via Twitter, occasionally on Facebook and from publishers.

That's why I was a little put off when I got what was labeled the "last" issue of the African American interest newsletter from Random House. I mean really, how could they stop promoting our books. Or were they just not publishing enough of them to promote?

I posed the question on Twitter - why did you stop the newsletter - and @randomhouse responded. They are deferring to the newsletter from their One World imprint and there is an RSS feed you can sign up for. Okay. Got it. Here are the links for you all as well:
One World
RSS feed on African American authors

I know there are books out there that I'm missing - so I look for ways to stay in the loop. How do you follow the African American book scene?