Rocket Bomber

Don't Stop... Be-lieee-vin'...

filed under , 2 April 2014, 18:48 by

This is another in-fill post, as the links and embeds below were shared on my Twitter ages ago (…it was January) but I was reminded of very important PBS documentary because—like two of the videos I linked to on Sunday—the video is not on YouTube, not for free, anyway.

Wikipedia Wisdom:

“In the summer of 2007, Journey began searching for a new lead singer. After Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon found videos of Jeremey Hunsicker performing with his Journey tribute band Frontiers on YouTube, they made a last minute decision to fly across the country to Charlotte, North Carolina to watch Hunsicker perform. After the show, Schon and Cain approached Hunsicker and invited him to fly out to California and audition for the position as lead vocalist for Journey. Hunsicker rehearsed with the band and they wrote songs together for the band’s upcoming album Revelation. Ultimately things did not work out between Journey and Hunsicker. Although he did not become the new singer for the band Hunsicker did receive credit for helping to write the song ‘Never Walk Away’ which was the leading track on the album Revelation.

“In December 2007, Journey hired Filipino singer Arnel Pineda of the cover band The Zoo after Neal Schon saw him on YouTube singing covers of Journey songs. Their next album, Revelation, debuted at No.5 on the Billboard charts, selling more than 196,000 units in its first two weeks and staying in the top 20 for 6 weeks. Journey also found success on billboard’s adult contemporary chart where the single ‘After All These Years’ spent over 23 weeks, peaking at number 9. Receipts from the 2008 tour made Journey one of the top grossing concert tours of the year, bringing in over $35,000,000. On December 18, 2008, Revelation was certified platinum by RIAA. The band’s second album with Pineda, Eclipse, was released on May 24, 2011, and debuted at No.13 on the Billboard 200 chart. In November, 2011, Journey released their second greatest hits compilation titled Journey: Greatest Hits: Volume 2 which features songs picked by former frontman Steve Perry.

“Although Pineda was not the first foreign national to become a member of Journey (former drummer Aynsley Dunbar is British), nor even the first non-white (former bass player Randy Jackson is black), the transition resulted in what Marin Independent Journal writer Paul Liberatore called ‘an undercurrent of racism among some Journey fans.’ Keyboardist Jonathan Cain responded to such sentiments: ‘We’ve become a world band. We’re international now. We’re not about one color.’

“In 2012 the TriBeCa Film Festival premiered a Documentary titled Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, directed by Ramona A. Diaz. The documentary tells the story of how Journey found lead singer, Arnel Pineda, and follows the band on the road for a year.”
[/wikipedia]

Trailer:

see also: clip 1 | clip 2 | clip 3

The actual film is not on YouTube (except as a rental/purchase) but I’m sure you can find the links to your retailer-slash-internet-overlord-of-choice so I won’t bother — what is on YouTube is the filmmaker Q&A that followed the screening at the TriBeCa Film Festival [in two parts] and the band’s appearances on CBS Sunday Morning:



Motown, Stax, and Muscle Shoals

filed under , 30 March 2014, 18:50 by

The Southern sound of Sixties R&B became the template for both 1970s Funk *and* Southern Rock; Muscle Shoals famously hosted the Rolling Stones in 1969, punctuating a decades-long trans-Atlantic conversation that saw Delta Blues becoming Seventies Rock ‘n’ Roll: not just the Stones, but Led Zeppelin, The Yardbirds, Cream, Jethro Tull (yes, even with the flute), The Animals, and way-way beyond. Led Zeppelin informed Heavy Metal; the three chords of the blues, G-C-D, are the only three chords punk rockers know.

It all ties together. The sound of the American south became Jazz, Blues, and Rock. Jazz became Funk. Blues by way of Gospel became R&B — R&B and Funk both informed Hip Hop. Rock became Punk, and New Wave, and Metal — but the roots are still there. I previously linked to ‘southern rock’ as a by-the-way reference on another music post; but Southern rock isn’t a separate thing, necessarily: “calling it Southern Rock is like calling it Rock Rock; Rock is Southern”. Elvis is a country star, a gospel singer, and an early cross-over R&B artist — what Elvis isn’t is Rock, as we now understand it, and yet: who is “The King” of Rock?

I find it amazing that both the Swampers of Muscle Shoals and Booker T and the MGs at Stax were racially integrated bands — in the Sixties, in the American South — because the music was more important then, and no one can hear what color you are through the radio.

By 1976, the Southern Soul Sound experienced a revival that skirts self-parody, and while I love me some Blues Brothers (both the albums and the movie) (movie, singular, as there was only the 1980 film and you can’t convince me otherwise) and the music is awesome, ‘Blues Brothers’ as a concept, as heart-felt as it is, is still an appropriation of black music by white artists. Color shouldn’t matter, doesn’t matter I guess, but now I find it interesting that ‘soul’ music didn’t find currency in the suburbs until it was fronted by a pair of white comedians.

For some clueless teen in the 1990s, the sound of Memphis became “chicago” blues and they only know the classic tracks from the 80s cover version. This is fantastic if it is the minting of a new fan and the start of a much longer, lifetime love combined with research and digging for the old tracks, but kind of tragic if the purchase of a single 1980 soundtrack CD is where the music ends.

Learning about Stax, Motown, and Muscle Shoals is as important as knowing about the Beatles, if you ask me — maybe more important, when you realize how many tracks on the early Beatles CDs were covers.

##

If you didn’t already know, YouTube sells and rents video now. So there are two documentaries that get teased on YouTube (I think the rest of the world calls them ‘trailers’, I call it a tease) but Google has been quite thorough in making sure the whole video isn’t on YouTube in these cases. [also, while I’m sure this is likely related-and-or-directly-tied-into Google Play on some level, the buy links on YouTube direct you to your Google Wallet account — or to set one up if you don’t have one — so YouTube is a stand-alone store. It’s not just about the ad revenue anymore.]

These two excellent documentaries are recommended:

Standing in the Shadows of Motown, 2002 [imdb], features interviews, classic tracks, and a 40-year-reunion live performance by the Funk Brothers; “Over a fourteen year period they were the heartbeat on every hit from Motown’s Detroit era. By the end of their phenomenal run, this unheralded group of musicians had played on more number ones hits than the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Elvis and the Beatles combined”

Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=—1Rbo3EWhM

Muscle Shoals, 2013 [imdb] — I hate to sound like a broken record, but once again: many, many classic tracks and also interviews with the artist who recorded there, from Aretha Franklin and Jimmy Cliff to Mick Jagger, Alicia Keys, and Bono. “Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, he brought black and white together in Alabama’s cauldron of racial hostility to create music for the generations while giving birth to the ‘Muscle Shoals Sound’ and ‘The Swampers’.”

Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNGtfpim0OM

If you’d care to make a purchase through YouTube, you’ll find the links I’m sure. Each is also available on DVD.

##

There is a third excellent documentary, about Memphis-based Stax Records — and this one *is* available on YouTube (in parts), either through an unintentional oversight of Google’s or (much more likely) just because video piracy is so easy — needless to say, you can also purchase the DVD (search for “Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, 2007”) and if you like the music, there are a number of CDs and box sets (a two-disc 50th anniversary collection was also released in 2007; I also recommend “Top of the Stax”) available for collectors and aficionados.

The Story Of Stax Records (part 1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmIzNX0Cr7k

I won’t embed it all here; I trust you know what to do with a hyperlink: part 2 : part 3 : part 4 : part 5 : part 6 : part 7 : part 8

Wattstax 1972 [imdb]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwuAwSbxbNk



"What sort of show was it, for people that didn't go?"

filed under , 28 March 2014, 00:59 by

[aside, before we get into it: After overdosing on the 1960s last week, and revisiting this Peter Gabriel interview, I’m thinking I might need to do a write-up or five of The Old Grey Whistle Test]
[extended aside: I’ll likely also revisit WOMAD in some later post]

“What sort of show was it, for the people that didn’t go? Was it a Genesis show, or a Peter Gabriel show…”

↑ Peter Gabriel interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Shb-bkr8oM4) on the Old Grey Whistle Test, 1982. ‘Last Saturday’ as referenced in the interview was 2 October 1982, a one-off Genesis reunion concert billed in some places as Six of the Best.

This is a pre-MTV-Sledgehammer Gabriel, but also a post-Genesis Gabriel. It is also an interview post-WOMAD, a 1982 experiment that might be called a failure. The interview above covers this—and partly glosses over it—but the really interesting bit is that Gabriel’s former band mates (burned? just 7 years prior when Gabriel left the group) set any animosity (real or imagined) aside, played a benefit-concert-to-pay-for-the-benefit-concert and basically, pulled Pete’s nuts out of the fire. This not only ensured the future of WOMAD as a travelling tour and institution, but also meant Gabriel could continue in his course as a solo artist without the albatross of crippling debt and the lingering miasma of failure.

— The Music Biz (such as it was) was amazing for its leaps-of-faith and constant innovation, supporting new acts, though of course the flipside of that is the near-instant revocation of trust and support as soon as you are old, busted, or done. (…until the near-inevitable comeback tour, of course, but that takes time.)

Here is a moment, in an 1982 interview, 5 whole minutes long, where we get a glimpse of a whole career arc.

Gabriel dodged a bullet, though of course that was likely helped by the fact that his 4th solo album had already been recorded and released (“Security”, Sept. 1982) and ‘Shock the Monkey’ — the closest thing to a hit single he’d have* — was Security’s solid B-side intro.

*Solsbury Hill, 1977 and Games without Frontiers, 1980 not withstanding.

WOMAD was and is an amazing contribution to collective culture – though anyone who’d been listening to Pete through his solo career would hardly be surprised. Here, have some more YouTube:

Peter Gabriel on The South Bank Show, The Making of Security (1983) (49min)

Sources, process, equipment, inspirations — and kindly note his use of both drum machines and looping way back in the early 80s. Listening to Gabriel cite Jung is a special bonus.

##

I’m a prog rock fan, so while I love solo Peter Gabriel, and can understand the enthusiasm for 80s Genesis (even if I don’t share it) I have to say that early Genesis is the shit, on a short list that also includes Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues.

Inside Genesis 1970 – 1975 (57min)

Pretentious? Yes. Over the top, theatrical? Yes.

More theatre than music? well, that’s a hard one… YouTube evidence (live performance, for the most part) differs from studio albums. Alice Cooper was doing the same thing at the same time (and doing it better). Genesis, for all their musical chops, lacked energy — the Punks in England could be seen as a direct challenge to progs like Genesis — but like the later Punk Rock, Genesis was also challenging the music establishment and their audience.

Genesis: A History (1991) (1hr29min)

Some see extended solos and baroque arrangements as useless musical excess; from the other side, these long ‘jam band’ sets are a response to decades of 3 minute pop singles, and a return to music — and this puts Genesis, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, ELP, and ELO all on the same team.

##

Pete, man, he’s done quite a bit.

He always seems to be on the fringes, but his impact is oversized for his output — WOMAD pre-dates Live Aid by 3 years Grammy-winning Graceland by 4. The drum machines and loops of ’82s Security seem years too early when compared to the rest of British New Wave – by 1986, So became not only an instant classic, it gave us the soundtrack to the defining GenX moment. And yet, in interviews, he always combines the bravura and bravado of the musical genius (that he is) with a healthy dose of self-deprecation and humor (often, humor at his own expense) as well as grounded context.

Peter Gabriel talks about WOMAD “A Bunch of Idealistic Amateurs” (7min)

DNA: The Evolution of the Songs from ‘So’ (8min)

Peter Gabriel: “Back to Front”, Talks at Google (43min)

1977: still and all, maybe his most accessible hit.

1982: and five years later, following the success of Sledgehammer (‘86), I remember this video in rotation on MTV

1989: Say Anything

** for those following along on twitter, a sub-set of these videos was initially shared on Sunday, 16 March 2014 as part of the usual weekly nonsense; it just took a while for me to actually get around to a write-up.



New York Times reports 17-year-old "news"

filed under , 27 March 2014, 17:47 by

“Rising rents in Manhattan have forced out many retailers, from pizza joints to flower shops. But the rapidly escalating cost of doing business there is also driving out bookstores, threatening the city’s sense of self as the center of the literary universe, the home of the publishing industry and a place that lures and nurtures authors and avid readers.”
Literary City, Bookstore Desert: Surging Rents Force Booksellers From Manhattan : Julie Bosman, 25 March 2014, New York Times

…this sounded really familiar to me for some reason. Oh, right:

“The B. Dalton on Fifth stayed open for close to two decades, until 1997. At that point the chain was owned by Barnes & Noble — and the hubbub wasn’t about new big boxes forcing out bookstores, but about rising rents in New York forcing some of the big boxes to close.”
Rocket Bomber, 24 February 2009

…and the B. Dalton on fifth, that I made note of five years ago?

“After 36 years of business, the Doubleday Book Shop on Fifth Avenue, a cerebral antidote to Tiffany’s glitter and Bergdorf’s finery, is shutting its doors at the end of the month. It will be the seventh bookstore to close on the avenue since the early 1980’s, signaling the end of midtown Manhattan’s strolling boulevard for book lovers.”
Another Fifth Ave. Bookshop Is Felled by High Rents : Lisa W. Foederaro, 17 June 1997 …that was seventeen years ago, as reported in some local rag, which one was it again? oh, yeah: the New York Times.

“‘You just have to walk down Fifth Avenue to see what New York has become — it’s become an outlet mall for rich people,’ said Esther Newberg, a literary agent, adding that she had just received an email from a Random House editor noting that the company was able to print books quickly because it owns its own printing plant. ‘Why don’t they own their own bookstore?’”
Bosman, op. cit.

Barnes & Noble could stand to own a little real estate, too: I mean, why negotiate rents, why not own the building? Of course, they did own a building, but they closed that bookstore in January.

I find it hard to cry for Manhattan. I feel sorry for some New Yorkers but it seems like the Powers That Be are rebuilding that borough into exactly what they want, a gated community and theme park for the rich …and apparently, also a collection of neighborhoods without bookstores.

Perhaps this should instead be a wake-up call for every publisher who still maintains an office in Manhattan: is it really worth the rent? I mean, when you can’t walk down the street to see your product for sale in a store window, is New York really the “book capital” of the US anymore?

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods



Because so many 50th Anniversary specials will be coming up: Getting a handle on the 1960s

the tl;dr – Just go watch Forever Young: How Rock n Roll Grew Up on YouTube (it’s an hour) and then come back if you want to see and hear a little more

Even though I set up a YouTube playlist for this batch, this is much more of a ‘choose your own adventure’ set of documentaries — and quite a bit is only tangential to the music. There is no need to watch all of the videos, and I fully encourage you to check out the whole list (reading this post to the end) before you start clicking on any of the embeds or links. You can easily pick a 2 hour or 3 hour block and save the rest for a rainy day when nothing good is on TV.

##

When we’re talking about the 1960s, it can be difficult (even for historians) to separate the times from the music. Even after an 8 hour slog through the 60s (mostly by way of the BBC – thanks, Auntie Beeb!) I found myself chasing loose ends on Wikipedia and attempting to digest the whole so I could go back to just enjoying the music again. The 1960s bring a lot of baggage, especially the way the decade has been mythologized in the 40 to 50 years since.

The revolution didn’t start in the 1960s — the hippies’ grandmothers were the first, in the era of flappers, speakeasies, and Jazz (free thesis there, for you grad students). And the music (while fantastic) wasn’t a revolution either: The early Beatles were covering Motown and Chuck Berry; The Rolling Stones played the blues and R&B. [note, note]

The music didn’t magically spring into being in the summer of 1960 when the first of the baby boomers turned 14, the threads (and in many cases, also the musicians) came from the generation before. The music was more evolutionary than revolutionary*, though I appreciate the process and love the eventual outcomes: by the late 60s, we see Lennon/McCartney come into their own as songsmiths, and scores of bands that were inspired by the Beatles, Stones, et al. would go on to record many of my favorite rock albums of the 70s. (It would be negligent as well to ignore the parallel line of Folk music and the singer-songwriters that followed Woodie Guthrie and Pete Seeger; Dylan was playing in Greenwich Village at the same time the Beatles were playing the Cavern Club in Liverpool and taking jaunts to Hamburg.)

(* The music revolution began on 16 May 1966)

What did change by the 1960s? The new media of Television played a role – and the huge record companies that didn’t even exist until the 50s (the LP was introduced in 1948, the 45 in 1949, the transistor radio in 1954) – and a record number of teenagers (“teenager” as a concept comes from the early 1940s) – the weight and long hangover of the Depression and War finally lifted – and the corrupting influence of the almighty dollar (and pound sterling) as consumer culture firmly took root.

Socially? A large youth bulge poisoned by decades of huffing leaded gasoline exhaust (especially in the cities) is likely enough to explain the revolutionaries. I don’t mean to hand-wave away the 60s: when faced with a collective and international insanity, maybe the only response is a little insanity of one’s own. I also don’t mean to discount the real social change that took place, starting in 1955** and continuing throughout the 60s, but the answer to these large-scale problems needed large scale solutions — solutions often precipitated by protest — but the protests are not the solution. After the (inevitable?) crackdown turns the sit-ins into riots, both sides have lost.

** depending on how you define it; we could argue the 60s began in 1918 with Gandhi.

There is no way to concisely describe any decade and it is folly to try; at best we can fall back on stereotypes and cliché as a sort of universally-understood shorthand for a decade — at worst, we bury the history and real meaning of the times under stereotypes and clichés.

##

I’m sure this is why the documentary playlist inflated to 8 hours — because there is no easy way to summarize the 60s.

For folks who are much more interested in the Music, I’d stick to watching the first and last videos — the time commitment is only a couple of hours and these two are music documentaries, not documentaries that cover the history that was tied into the music.

The YouTube playlist for the documentaries (in this order): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkoXqXAGvkE&list=PLT6vaQUDmjIKO2×04aSYCoW10pQ6xc93v

Born To Be Wild – The Golden Age of American Rock | 1960s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkoXqXAGvkE

(the video above is the first of three parts: if you want to finish that story check out the 1970s and 1980s chapters as well. Each is about an hour.)

“The 60s, The Beatles Decade” from the BBC. Each of the 5 episodes is 45 minutes.

The 60s, The Beatles Decade – Episode 1: Teenage Rebels
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6_Qm7aX3kw

The 60s, The Beatles Decade – Episode 2: Sex, Spies and Rock and Roll
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btQzNak8ZMM

The 60s, The Beatles Decade – Episode 3: Swinging Britain
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ke3RtWdKvM

The 60s, The Beatles Decade – Episode 4: Street Fighting Years
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04nZHGqnre8

The 60s, The Beatles Decade – Episode 5: The Party Is Over
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v8Z2aUIqh4

Counterpoint, also from the BBC
Why I Hate The Sixties (59min)
Embedding is disabled on this one, so you’ll have to click the link to watch it on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJM-xA8PcQ8

The Sixties – The Years That Shaped a Generation (2hrs)
This video can and likely will be taken down at some point for blatant copyright infringement; the DVD rip that was uploaded even includes the piracy warning. Until such time as it disappears: enjoy. To be fair to PBS, I won’t embed the video here.
link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJM-xA8PcQ8

Last one — and as I noted at the top of the post, if you only have time for one this might be the most accessible (and will only tie up one hour of your day).
Forever Young: How Rock n Roll Grew Up (BBC) (59min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls6V4v6wMxo



Jazz is a performance art.

To me, there is no more faithful “documentary” of music than the live performance. I love the behind-the-scenes stuff, too — and the interviews, people who love music talking about music — but the actual concerts? There is nothing like a live show. If you stop and consider classics like The Last Waltz or Stop Making Sense, the strength of these feature-length, film documentaries is that they point the camera at the stage and don’t look away. The concert is the document.

While the category I file these posts under for the blog is ‘music documentaries’, the draft folder I use is actually titled “Sunday Long” — long clips to share with friends on twitter, which includes both the excellent behind-the-scenes documentaries and also these concerts.

##

The first video (that led to the search for the others included below) was either James Carter or Medeski, Martin, & Wood. I can’t recall now (6 weeks later) (yes, I have a pretty big buffer for these posts) which of the two I bookmarked first. Each was a pretty solid clip, but there wasn’t quite enough there to hang a whole post on. When I later tripped over the Ray Brown Trio, then I knew I was onto something. I started to assemble a Jazz Fest — not an all-time best-of or top-ten, because honestly I wouldn’t know where to start — but instead a batch of contrasting and complementary live performances that’d fill a whole-day-long playlist and scratch a jazz itch.

If that sounds as good to you as it did to me: all the clips below are in a YouTube playlist — you can have it play in a background tab all day today.

While obviously there are many great jazz albums out there (and we’re all richer for that) jazz is a performance art, meant to be seen and heard live. There is skill is mixing an album, too, don’t get me wrong, and there are many fine albums that one could say were assembled in studio, the whole becoming more than just the sum of each player’s part. The producer is part of the creative process, in addition to the band — if there was a band, and it wasn’t just session musicians working for scale, along with machines, samples, and loops. Good music is good music, regardless of how it was made — the old Duke Ellington quote applies, “If it sounds good, then it is good.”

Much more so than nearly any other form of music, though, Jazz is often a conversation, a form defined in part by improvisation. Not that taking a solo and going off the chart is new — organists have been doing so since at least Bach’s time, and the highlight and one defining characteristic of the concerto is the cadenza — but pipe organ improvisation is almost always the organ in solo performance, and for a concerto cadenza the orchestra gets out of the way, often literally sitting with their instruments in their laps.

A really solid small jazz group, a bass-piano-drums trio for example, might feature all three musicians improvising or otherwise riffing on the chart — not just a feature performer taking a single solo but the whole song, spontaneously generated, live. This can be hard to listen to; some fans of jazz aren’t really fans of 50s bebop for this reason, and later mutations like “smooth jazz” chuck this idea right out the window. But for many bebop is the real jazz, or at least the one branch of modern jazz that has to be confronted and digested, if not accepted.

I’m not a purist – I like a lot of different forms, from ragtime to funk. If you pushed me into a corner, I’d pick the post-war 1940s sound as my favorite, but I also love the stuff coming out of the late 60s and early 70s, as “hard bop” combined the stronger rhythmic feel of R&B with free-rolling bebop and eventually got real funky. Kenny G can go die in a fire.

##

That’s it for the lecture: lets get down to some music.

[btw – if you get 20 minutes into a set and go, “woah, that’s too weird for me” – just skip ahead 5 minutes. Odds are good the band’ll be back on track. Or just skip on to the next video in the playlist. I won’t be offended. heck, I won’t even know. Not all jazz is the same, and even if you like some of it, not everything will be to your taste. That’s cool, and you learned something, so it’s good all ‘round]

Ray Brown Trio + James Morrison – Umbria Jazz 1993 (53min)
http://youtu.be/tuxNWkHsmYQ7

James Carter Organ Trio – Montreux Jazz Festival 2012 (55min)
http://youtu.be/TEa4WGMVo8A?t=24s

Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood – Estival Jazz Lugano 2007 (1hr16min) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAr8nTePQso

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Sanremo, Italy 1963 (50min)
http://youtu.be/dwpph2h8jD8?t=4m29s
[if you want to skip the musician introductions in Italian, cue the video to 4:30]

Chucho Valdes & The Afro-Cuban Messengers – Jazz à Vienne Live 2010 (1hr56min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJi0KwXs6tE

Soft Machine & Allan Holdsworth – Montreux Jazz Festival 1974 (58min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdYB8FU2p4Y

Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, & The Giants Of Jazz – Copenhagen 1971 (54min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUVuX3lLrdg

Miles Davis – Montreux Jazz Festival 1986 (1hr49min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wc_Gjndpk_0
- By 1986, the “Miles Davis Quintet” was at least an octet, and Davis had long since gone electric (for his backing band) and his style was jazz fusion (and funky). Definitely a different Miles than the one you might be familiar with.

Miles Davis & Quincy Jones – Montreux Jazz Festival 1991 (55min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3zbcoNjeuw
…when Miles came back to Montreaux in 1991, he was also back to playing more classic material — a return to the songs and his sound from the 1950s. He died less than 3 months later; a recording of the concert performance was released posthumously as his final album.



"By the way, which one's Pink?"

Behind Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here (59min)

…Lots of interviews, and covering the recording, the circumstances, the pressure, and even the cover art. Wish You Were Here was both a follow-up to the classic Dark Side of the Moon, and also a postcard of sorts (that’s the title of the album, after all) to former band member Syd Barrett, who had left the band in 1968 amid creative disputes and who also became seriously withdrawn from the world-at-large by 1974.

I personally think Wish You Were Here is very much the equal to Dark Side, and in fact (when given a preference) I usually listen to the two albums back-to-back.

This feature comes to us via TYWKIWDBI (“Things You Wouldn’t Know If We Didn’t Blog Intermittently”, a lovely little corner of the internet) — http://tywkiwdbi.blogspot.com/2014/01/pink-floyds-wish-you-were-here-backstory.html — do yourself a favor and add Tai-wiki-widbee to your bookmarks or rss feeds.

For those looking for more Floyd after watching the documentary, iTunes awaits, or your local record store if you have one (I need to add more of Floyd’s early, Syd Barrett stuff to my personal collection, and was hard pressed not to drop $50 on this right away) but there is also this largely-unknown gem, Dub Side of the Moon.

“Dub Side of the Moon is a dub reggae tribute to the Pink Floyd album, The Dark Side of the Moon, co-produced by Easy Star All-Stars founder’s Michael G (Michael Goldwasser) and Ticklah (Victor Axelrod).”

The YouTube poster is not the rights holder, and has a lot of balls posting the album in full, so if the video gets taken down at some later date we all know why – but enjoy it for now and consider buying that album, too.



The Real Story is better than the Movie, and it was a pretty good movie

I’m not sure exactly where or why I came across Almost Famous again this week — the click trail on that one has to be convoluted, because for the most part I was researching bland mass-consumption European Pop of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

Having happened upon the movie again, though, it seemed like an excellent topic for an extended YouTube excursion, especially with the Academy Awards tie-in:

Cameron Crowe accepts the Oscar® for “Almost Famous”

The moment we all remember is the solo-slow-clapper of music videos, Tiny Dancer

Cameron Crowe interview (ignore the French subtitles)

The great thing about “Almost Famous” is that it’s based on a true story, which you might have heard once or twice a dozen years ago and then promptly forgot. The band ‘Stillwater’ in the movie is a fictionalized composite, I’m sure, or at least will always be presented as such for legal reasons, but the band I think Crowe used as his primary inspiration when writing the script has to be the Allman Brothers. Here, read the article yourself, from the December 6, 1973 issue of Rolling Stone, The Allman Brothers Story

Allman Brothers Band – Live- 2-11-70 Fillmore East (audio only) (1hr11min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1XfYC9Dq1I

Allman Brothers – Live – 9-23-70 Fillmore East (33.8min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eqSFMOZxeY

Since the point of the exercise is to feature some great music documentaries, here’s the great music documentary: History of Southern Rock (1hr4min)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E1I-ERdJYU

If you only have enough time to watch one video, I’d make it that last one.



Amazon, the Book Utility Company

filed under , 1 March 2014, 11:07 by

“Therein lies the rub. Publishing on your own website is still just too damn geeky. The siren-call of the silos is backed up with genuinely powerful, easy to use, well-designed tools. I don’t know if independent publishing can ever compete with that. In all likelihood, the independent web will never be able to match the power and reach of the silos. But that won’t stop me (and others) from owning our own words. If nothing else, we can at least demonstrate that the independent path is an option—even if that option requires more effort.”
In dependence : Jeremy Keith, 28 December 2013, Adactio.com

“I made a million dollars last year from self-publishing. I’ve found that, without gatekeepers, I can reach readers much easier. And readers are much more eager to buy me when I control cover, cost, and jacket blurbs, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve made 8x as much as a self-publisher as I did with my legacy contracts.
“Readers don’t care who the publisher is. They don’t care if the work is agented. They care about quality and price, and are able to find books they like without any gatekeepers other than each other and the increasingly adaptive ability for websites like Amazon to understand readers’ tastes.
“As an agent, you could be helping your clients make important decisions about self-publishing. That is, if you are pro-client. That might mean advising them to pass up a bad deal and go solo.”
Questions for Literary Agent David Gernert : Joe Konrath, 24 January 2014, jakonrath.blogspot.com

Neither online sales nor ebooks were original to Amazon, but Amazon has had a lot of success selling their brand to the public and have gained mindshare that in a way is even more important than their market share.

Amazon’s user base makes it a default social media site, smaller than Facebook or Twitter but more important because every Amazon account has a real name, address, and credit card attached — and that’s even before we consider Amazon also knows every shopper’s browsing and buying history.

“One-third of consumers now begin their online shopping expeditions on the site, comparing models, specs, prices and customer reviews for an expansive assortment that spans not just Amazon’s inventory but that of its more than 2 million third-party Marketplace affiliates, which comprise nearly 40 percent of the company’s unit volume. Other features like one-click ordering, tailored product recommendations, a no-hassle return policy and free two-day shipping with a $79 membership in the Amazon Prime program has made it the go-to merchant for more than 200 million regular shoppers worldwide.”
Amazon.com Growth Creating New CE Retail Paradigms, Challenges : Alan Wolf, 2 June 2013, Twice Magazine

“Combine the 2 formats and Amazon may have a market share for some categories of books over 50%. And that market share will continue to grow as more and more books are sold in electronic form, since Amazon’s market share for ebooks is even greater than for print. So we should not be surprised to wake up one day to find that Amazon is responsible for the sale of as much as two-thirds of all the books sold outside of libraries in the U.S. (Note to DOJ: I said ‘wake up’ for a reason.)
“A rival to Amazon will be hard to come by.”
Who Can Rival Amazon? : Joseph Esposito, 22 January 2014, The Scholarly Kitchen

“Amazon has succeeded building an ecommerce and customer relationship platform that customers love. It’s a combination of a superb user interface, extraordinarily skilled analysis of customer data and a genius logistics system.
“The comment in the article about ‘the tools of ecommerce’ being readily available for competitors reflects a lack of understanding about how hard it is to do what Amazon does. Randy Penguin doesn’t have the money or talent to do it. Neither does Apple. (Yes, PG knows Apple sells a bazillion apps and songs each year, but do you really think iTunes is even in the same universe as Amazon’s store?)
“Nobody in the publishing business can displace Amazon at this point and probably forever. The intellectual and technical bandwidth is just not there.”
Commentary on the Scholarly Kitchen post above, at The Passive Voice

“8. It has been happening quietly but it has been happening: we increasingly have two separately-operating book businesses: Amazon’s and everybody else’s. This starts with the numbering system: Amazon uses its own ASINs, rather than depending on everybody else’s ISBNs. It extends to the titles available: Amazon has an untold number, but certainly hundreds of thousands, that it either publishes exclusively or which authors or small presses publish exclusively through them. And it has service offerings from Kindle Owners Lending Library to its recent Matchbook offer to pair ebook and print sales, which range from ‘extremely difficult’ to ‘impossible’ for any other publisher-retailer combination to match. How far can this go? Can Amazon create a closed world which is more profitable for an author or publisher than the whole world that includes everybody else? Or have they already?”
Nine places to look in 2014 to predict the future of publishing : Mike Shatzkin, 1 January 2014, The Shatzkin Files www.idealog.com/blog
“1. What’s going to happen with retail shelf space for books? The market for the kind of narrative reading that comprises the bestseller lists has gone anywhere from half to three-quarters online, ebooks and print combined. The rate of movement has slowed, but it hasn’t stopped. It has now been two full years since Borders shut. Barnes & Noble continues to close stores as leases expire. Independents are, anecdotally, reported to be holding their own, but they’re definitely challenged to deliver on the online component and, so far, the successes have depended on individual entrepreneurs running good local stores, not any formula that is replicable or scalable. When will we see a stable ‘floor’ for bookstores, a sustainable foundation from which year-to-year fluctuations won’t persistently be down? I don’t think it will be in 2014, but it’s the most important bunch of tea leaves to read for some segments of the business.”
ibid.

“There’s this tendency among advocates to compare the absolute worst of the enemy with the perfect, best case scenario on your own side. The crowd that is hostile to self-publishing often likes to compare the worst dinosaur porn (which still sold, though, and made more money than many other titles) to one of those wonderful, Never-Neverland publishing companies that to this day invests massively in editors, doesn’t use exploitative covers, spends its untold riches on making the book’s typography absolutely perfect, has a workflow that spits out beautiful, error-free ebooks with ease, gives every author a personal PR rep, and has a multi-million dollar marketing budget for every title.
Of course self-publishing looks bad when you compare it with a piece of fiction that’s less realistic than the more deranged parts of Alice in Wonderland.
“The reality is that book retail has been steadily deteriorating over the years and publishers themselves have been compromised by decades of cost-cutting. Most book sales are online. Titles today get much less editorial attention than similar titles did years ago. Covers have always been completely disconnected from the book’s actual content.
“In terms of marketing, quality, distribution and design the difference between a competently published book and a competently self-published one is now less than you think. Competent self-publishing is getting easier every year as tools and services improve. Publishers offer less and less as they try to stay competitive through cost cuts and ‘optimisations’. Over time publishers seem to be devolving into self-publishing services that offer little but demand everything.”
Except, except, except : Baldur Bjarnason, 23 January 2014, Studio Tendra

We may already be at the point where Amazon is Too Big To Fight. Not that it can’t be done; I’d be willing to bet most stupid/funny t-shirts are sold from non-Amazon sites and iTunes (which truly and horrifically sucks) still beats Amazon in music sales. Freedom is still possible even under the Eye of Bezos, so long as his attention is elsewhere.

“Amazon is the largest online retailer globally, and it got to be that way because of books. Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1994 after identifying a market that was poorly managed by traditional stakeholders, and made it more convenient for consumers to access the products they wanted. Early investment in the Kindle platform, consisting of ereading devices, tablets, and apps, took foresight that was lacking in the traditional book industry and helped Amazon come to dominate the ebook market worldwide.”
Comment: How I learned to stop worrying and love Amazon : Anne Treasure, 21 November 2013, sbs.com.au

The Authors Guild Should Embrace Amazon as a Friend to Writers and Readers. Until publishers make these changes, the Authors Guild should be celebrating Amazon for increasing readership, increasing the diversity of published voices, lowering prices for readers while also increasing royalties for writers, and revolutionizing reading in a way that keeps it relevant. Blaming Amazon for the move of goods out of physical stores and onto online stores is ridiculous. This is the inevitable result of the creation of the internet. This is the freedom of shoppers to choose. It was going to happen, no matter what. And here’s something that I doubt has been said before: Thank God it was Amazon.
“Think about it for a moment. It could have been WalMart or Costco or a number of other massive retailers who began shipping books at a discount through an online portal. It could have been a retail giant that sells everything that began to sell books online. Instead, it was an online bookseller who branched out into other products. There is a massive difference. The love of books remains at the heart of Amazon. Those who have worked with the people behind that smiling logo know this. From Jeff Bezos (who married a writer and started out by selling books out of his garage) down to the people I met on the factory floor of the CreateSpace printing facility, I’ve never been around a group who loves books more. The Authors Guild should be championing Amazon for what they’ve done for readers and writers. The pressure for fairer contracts and wages is coming primarily from here. The champion for the status quo and more abuses is coming from the guild of my profession. Dystopian novels can’t satirize this sort of thing without being mocked for being ridiculous.” [emphasis in original]
Bread and Roses : Hugh C. Howey, 24 January 2014, hughhowey.com

To Howey’s point, Bezos may love books; I have no way of confirming or denying that. But my bet is that Bezos loves money more.

“I have seen the future of Amazon.com, and it looks like Wal-Mart. This may come as a surprise to those who are accustomed to thinking of Amazon.com as a bookstore. After all, books are what the company is known for, and Amazon.com promotes itself as ‘Earth’s biggest bookstore.’ But books are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s widely known that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, when he was starting out, made a list of products that would be well-suited to Web sales. Books topped that list — but they’re clearly not the only things on it. In fact, Amazon.com’s recent acquisition of Junglee Corp. (announced as this column went to press) confirms the bookseller’s intention of getting into a broader retail market: Junglee makes software agents that facilitate online shopping. Why do you think Bezos chose a generic name like ‘Amazon’ anyhow? It’s sheer size that Bezos cares about, not just books.”
No mere bookstore, Amazon.com wants to be an online retail giant : Dylan Tweney, 10 August 1998, Net Prophet [dylan.tweney.com]

[blockquote]

“Amazon had three things going for it in the early days (four, if you count the drive and ambition of Bezos): Books already had a computerized database (since 1986 in fact), books already had a nation-wide distribution network built to service bookstores (Ingram et al., op. cit.), and one of those book warehouses (one of the largest) was just six hours away in Oregon.
“Amazon’s twist on book delivery was the cash conversion cycle: they sell you a book, then they buy it and ship it, then they charge your card, and only at some later date do they lazily get around to paying their source for the book. (standard payment terms on books used to be 90 days – plenty of time to deliver book, claim payment, and then sit on that cash or park it in a short-term CD.)
“Amazon didn’t even need a lot of inventory to launch (they used a garage) because of this neat trick — and of course I know they do things differently now, with distribution centers all over the place and same-day delivery in some markets (integrated verticals are more efficient, and cost effective) — but this is how they built an empire on nothing. Well, not nothing nothing, I mean: Bezos was a former investment banker (presumably not worrying about rent or groceries) and was able to tap his Dad for a quarter million. (well, that’s not quite true: $100,000 came from his dad, the other $145,000 came from his father’s trust fund — the more I dig into this the more it spikes my blood pressure)
“So Amazon was a truly Great idea (though not 100% original) and had some really great implementation — but the ‘great idea’ wasn’t the website or the back-end software or servers, or even the product. Amazon succeeded because of timing, luck, starting with ‘a’ (a big deal in the pre-Google Yahoo Directory days), and most importantly: because of creative accounting. Amazon was not launched by a genius and engineeer who invented something amazing — Amazon was not a new iteration of an old service, computer-aided and internet-enabled, to add value to an older sales model — Amazon was not the obvious and organic outreach of a bookseller determined to reach all readers, no matter how isolated —
“Amazon was the brainchild of a banker, and exists to make money. (Extra points go to Bezos for figuring out how to make money without returning any to his shareholders.)”
[/blockquote]
Let’s Talk About The Business, Then. : Rocket Bomber, 8 May 2013 — minor edits for clarity.

“Back in 1994, Jeff Bezos was a young senior vice president on the rise at a thriving Wall Street hedge fund. But when the explosive growth of the World Wide Web caught his eye, he saw an even bigger opportunity: online commerce. Two years later Bezos, CEO of the Internet bookstore Amazon.com, is one of a crew of young entrepreneurs using cyberspace technology to steal real-world customers from traditional businesses with strong consumer and industrial franchises.”
The Next Big Thing: A Bookstore? Amazon.com is leading a wave of digital shops out to invade established industries. : Michael H. Martin, 9 December 1996, Fortune Magazine archived at money.cnn.com

“Bezos first got the idea to start an Internet enterprise in 1994. While surfing the Internet in search of new ventures for D.E. Shaw & Co. to invest in, he came across the statistic that World Wide Web usage was growing by 2,300 percent a month. Bezos immediately recognized the expansive possibilities of selling online and began exploring the entrepreneurial possibilities of developing an Internet business.
“He drew up a list of 20 potential products he thought might sell well via the Internet, including software, CDs and books. After reviewing the list, books were the obvious choice, primarily because of the sheer number of titles in existence. Bezos realized that while even the largest superstores could stock only a few hundred thousand books, a mere fraction of what is available, a ‘virtual’ bookstore could offer millions of titles. The die was cast. Bezos passed up a fat bonus, packed his wife, MacKenzie, and their dog, Kamala (named after an obscure ‘Star Trek’ character), and headed for Seattle.
“For Bezos, Seattle was the ideal city for his new business. Not only was it home to a tremendous pool of high-tech talent, it was also in close proximity to Ingram Book Group’s Oregon warehouse. While MacKenzie drove, Jeff spent the trip pecking out a business plan on a laptop computer and calling prospective investors on a cell phone. With $1 million raised from family and friends, Bezos rented a house in Seattle and set up his business in the garage.”
Jeff Bezos: The King Of E-Commerce, unattributed and undated (from ’5 years ago’) article at Entrepreneur Magazine’s website [entrepreneur.com]

I Don’t Hate Amazon. No, really. I’m coming to terms with them, and of course, like everyone else, I’m an Amazon customer. [primarily for MP3 music files; iTunes sucks.]

But is Amazon a “savior” of authors and readers, rescuing us from the predations of the Evil Publishing Companies and leading us to the promised land?

“Amazon achieved the position it has in the book ecosystem through a combination of brilliance, execution, natural forces, and some good luck but, above all, focus. It had to take some big chances with pricing and margin to get where it has gotten, but that’s not really necessary anymore. Doing some very logical and natural things, like the new Matchbook program and rolling out more subscription and pricing offerings (like their new ‘Countdown Clock’ discounts for new Kindle titles) will keep their share growing and their competitors scrambling. They will also almost certainly be coming after publishers for more margin (as will their equally dominant counterparts on the store side, Barnes & Noble), but it would seem unlikely that they’ll see the need to extend themselves to sign up authors or build out their ability to distribute print to other people’s stores.

“[T]he good news for publishers is that the business they now have will look less and less appealing compared to other worlds Amazon might conquer. That should save them from having a bulls-eye on their backs, but it will remain a very challenging environment where their biggest customer is the most powerful force in the marketplace and growth outside that customer is harder and harder to achieve. The publishing activities of Amazon will continue to get bigger; the industry of other publishers will continue to get smaller. But we are probably in for a period of slow and steady shifts rather than cataclysms.”
Amazon might lose interest in total hegemony over the book business before they achieve it : Mike Shatzkin, 5 November 2013, The Shatzkin Files www.idealog.com/blog

“I think printed books and eBooks will exist side by side for a long time yet, even as LPs are still around alongside the iPod. And they will definitely come in handy after the zombie apocalypse, because they don’t require batteries. Just be careful with your glasses, Burgess. There’s no adjusting the font size on paper.”
Scott Pearson, 3 November 2013 : Enemy Lines: Dispatches from a Cranky Writer scottmpearson.tumblr.com/

“Still, I don’t think it’s really fair for publishers to blame Amazon for the fact that people like to do their shopping online, and that easily-digitizable content is going to exist mainly in a virtual world rather than the real world. Indeed, there’s an argument that Amazon has saved the publishing industry from going the way of the record labels — that it’s made buying e-books so easy that the number of free pirated versions out there is still tiny. (Amazon has made it easier to find second-hand books, which publishers don’t directly benefit from, but at the same time it’s at the forefront of pushing e-books, which can’t be resold after you’ve bought them. Net-net, let’s call that one a wash.)
“Publishers have always been conservative, and Amazon represents a massive change in their industry. What’s more, the move from small booksellers to B&N to Amazon has been a move where the booksellers have ever-increasing amounts of leverage over the publishers; it’s understandable that the publishers don’t like that. But I just can’t believe that Amazon is, or would ever want to be, an existential threat to the publishing industry.”
Is Amazon bad for publishers? : Felix Salmon, 3 November 2013, Reuters Analysis & Opinion blogs.reuters.com/us/; Felix Salmon blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/

“Amazon has always been about disintermediation and squeezing margins. What better way to do so than by cutting out one of the foodchain’s biggest pieces, the publisher. Horror stories have always been told of how certain bestsellers were rejected by editors from multiple publishing houses. And just how much value does the typical publisher add to a book these days? That’s become a very difficult question for publishers to answer, especially in light of all the self-publishing options that offer significantly higher royalty rates. Amazon continues creating new imprints and adding staff. Don’t let flops like Tim Ferris’ latest book throw you off; Bezos always takes the long-term view, so a few high-profile disappointments won’t deter Amazon’s plans.”
Kindle Singles and the future of ebooks : Joe Wikert, 21 October 2013, jwikert.typepad.com

“In an Amazon world, particularly with free Prime shipping, the idea of a shopping trip begins to feel inefficient. If you think of something you need, just pull up Amazon and order it, then get on with more important things in your life. PG routinely orders all sorts of non-book things from Amazon that he formerly bought at various retail stores.
“If you hear about an interesting book (or, more likely, read about one online), why worry about making a mental note to look for it out the next time you visit a bookstore? Just download the sample and check it out at your next break. Watching TV and see someone talking about an interesting book? Pick up your tablet and download a sample or buy the book if it really sounds great.
“Browsing for books is something PG sort of does all the time, not just when he’s visiting a bookstore. For him, serendipity happens constantly and almost everywhere.”
The Absence Of Serendipity, Or, Why I Hate Shopping At Amazon : 22 November 2013, The Passive Voice

The Guardian reported that 98 UK publishers went out of business over the past year, an increase of 42% over the year before

“Indeed, as the paper points out, it is ‘niche academic and educational publishers’ that are ‘particularly vulnerable,’ because their business model is under attack by digital piracy as well as secondhand book sales on sites like Amazon Marketplace. Cork said, ‘The arrival of Amazon has transformed the secondhand book trade from a fairly minor nuisance to a serious threat. Where once you had to trawl the secondhand bookshops if you wanted to get hold of a cheap hardback or academic book, you can now be fairly certain of getting hold of what you want at the click of a button, and the publisher will not make a penny.’
“Another factor, of course, is the explosive growth in sales of ebooks, whose lower price has also helped to undermine publisher’s margins.”
What’s Driving UK Publishers Out of Business? : Dennis Abrams, 8 November 2013, Publishing Perspectives : The Guardian article cited is “Ebooks and discounts drive 98 publishers out of business”, 4 November 2013

“After writing more than 20 books, with major publishers behind them, I have found it increasingly difficult to get new ideas accepted. It is also frustrating as a writer to have a non-fiction book that is up-to-the-minute when ‘completed’, only for it to come out maybe nine months later and seem slightly dated.
“So I have ventured into the self-publishing ebook market with Breaking the Silence: The Films of John Pilger. My original book about the journalist’s documentaries was published by Bloomsbury in 2001, but that was 12 years ago and Pilger is still going strong, with an even greater body of work. Suggestions that the book might be updated have been declined – the general feeling of publishers seems to be that it has ‘been done’.
“In setting about doing the job myself, I soon discovered some major advantages. Once written, an ebook can be published at the click of a computer’s mouse. When I started, Pilger was making his latest documentary, Utopia (in cinemas now and on television and DVD next month), and I have been able to give the book added impact by tying in with its release. How many of the big publishers can do that?”
Fact: Self-publishing my non-fiction as ebooks makes sense : Anthony Hayward, 19 November 2013, The Guardian online, books section http://www.theguardian.com/books

“A friend of mine who is a longtime independent sales rep says that even the successful indies are finding it necessary to sell books and other things — cards, gifts, chotchkes — to survive. The mega-bookstore with 75,000 or 100,000 titles or more was a magnet for customers in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. It isn’t so much anymore because the multi-million title bookstore is available through anybody’s computer. This is a fact that makes the number of successful stores a weak indicator of the distribution potential available to publishers. If replacement stores carry half the inventory of the ones that go out, we can have a lot of indie retail success stories but still a shrinking ecosystem into which publishers distribute their books.”
The future of bookstores is the key to understanding the future of publishing : Mike Shatzkin, 23 January 2014, The Shatzkin Files www.idealog.com/blog

“And there’s one presumption that seems like a real doozy: Knowing that a large portion of book sales are still in paper, Howey assumes the continued existence of bookstores. These days, that seems like a very shaky assumption. Recently, Jeff Jordan, formerly CEO of OpenTable and now an investor at the firm of Andreesen-Horozwitz, declared that the tipping point for e-commerce, particularly for media, has been reached. This is not a particularly data laden or insightful declaration; his post includes unsurprising monotonic trend lines for digital sales for consumer goods categories. However, Jordan is right to point out the inexorability of this transition: conversion to digital commerce is likely to be a unidirectional phenomenon, because at heart, digital distribution is cheaper.”
Been Down So Long : Peter Brantley, 25 January 2014, PWxyz blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/PWxyz/

“Here’s the hard truth about bookstores — and yes, I need to write a long post on this — no bookstore carries every book published that week, let alone that month or that year. When I was travelling last week, I stopped in bookstore after bookstore, from Hudson News to Powell’s to some other indies whose names my tired brain can’t remember, and none of them had one of my favorite mystery author’s latest book. He’s a New York Times bestseller and his book came out the day I left. I had special-ordered a copy, and figured I would regret it, because I’d see it everywhere. Instead, I saw it nowhere.
“That’s pretty common these days. Not even the Times bestsellers are getting physical shelf space.
“Why? Because bookstores now have virtual catalogs, and the authors their customers buy less frequently aren’t on the shelf, but in the virtual catalog.”
The Business Rusch: Pricing Part 2 Or (Discoverability Part 7 Continued) : Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 22 January 2014, kriswrites.com

“This has really been Amazon’s secret sauce from the beginning. The book publishing industry scratched its collective head for years as Jeff Bezos and his crew grew a giant online bookseller without keeping much margin and had Wall Street shovel money at them to grow and invest. The widespread wisdom in publishing in the late 1990s was that Amazon was performing some kind of parlor trick that would shortly come to an end. Instead, they built on their customer base, their tech, and their reputation for service to expand way beyond book retailing. And today they can afford to run a profit-less book retailing and publishing operation (if they want to; I have no evidence that they don’t make profits and don’t claim to know), taking the margin out of the game in a way that would squeeze any competitor trying to make a profit from book retailing.”
Book publishing may not remain a stand-alone industry and book retailing will demonstrate that first : Mike Shatzkin, 29 January 2014, The Shatzkin Files www.idealog.com/blog

Of course, I’m sure I’m just overthinking it.

“In the old days things were much clearer. All you had to do to call yourself a writer was publish a book, which meant you needed someone else to publish it – and someone else to buy it. It may have been a myth that published authors were making money out of writing, but the illusion left the word ‘writer’ meaning at least something. If the cosy settlement that existed for a while between copyright law and the printing press was ‘just a blip’, as Neil Gaiman suggests, if the prospects for making a living out of storytelling are as bleak as the surveys report, then we can’t expect to reserve the term ‘writer’ for authors who have found commercial success.
“Maybe we should just admit defeat. Maybe the digital revolution has simply revealed the tensions in a concept that exploded into meaninglessness long ago. Maybe we should abandon the idea of a class of people who are different, a class of people who are ‘writers’, and just get on with the glorious, messy business of reading and writing.”
Does digital publishing mean the death of the author? : Richard Lea, 23 January 2014, The Guardian online, books section http://www.theguardian.com/books



← previous posts          


menu

home

Bookselling Resources

about the site
about the charts
contact

Manga Moveable Feasts!
Thanksgiving 2012
Emma, March 2010
MMF [incomplete] Archives


subscribe

RSS Feed Twitter Feed

categories

5by8
anime
bookselling
business
comics
commentary
field reports
finding the narrative
found
general fandom
learning Japanese
linking to other people's stuff
manga
Manga Moveable Feast
metablogging
music documentaries
publishing
rankings
rankings analysis
RBGSX
recipes
recommendations
retail
reviews
rewind
site news
snark
twitter
urban studies


-- not that anyone is paying me to place ads, but in lieu of paid advertising, here are some recommended links.--

support our friends


Top banner artwork by Lissa Pattillo. http://lissapattillo.com/

note: this comic is not about beer

note: this comic is not about Elvis

In my head, I sound like Yahtzee (quite a feat, given my inherited U.S.-flat-midwestern-accent.)

where I start my browsing day...

...and one source I trust for reviews, reports, and opinion on manga specifically. [disclaimer: I'm a contributor there]

attribution

- Powered by Textpattern.
- Afterglow template ported by Stuart.



All articles as posted to RocketBomber.com are non-commercial CC licensed: just link back, and also allow others to use the same data.