Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Because what we need is fewer facts faster

Two things, and I promise to be briefer than my last, long-winded post.

One, The Daily Beast (Tina Brown’s latest project) and Perseus Books Group have combined to publish books more quickly.

Instead of taking a year to write and another year to publish — the current standard — these Beast Books will be written in one to three months and published (first, as an e-book; then, in paperback) in another month. The Beast Books writers will be from the Daily Beast stable.

This move should not surprise anyone. The rest of the world has sped up. Why not publishing?

Newspapers and magazines constantly create new content and update their Web sites. The Internet has made it possible for people to publish their thoughts instantly.

Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites ... there are a dozen ways to immediately disseminate facts and opinions. By comparison, the book publishing industry looks sluggish.

Two years to write and publish something? In two years, no one will care about vampires or Heath Ledger’s death or Kanye West’s errant behavior.

If there is money to be made, it pays to be punctual; and Beast Books intends to be the first to each party.

This isn’t Perseus’s first foray into speed publishing. It created Book: The Sequel on a shortened timeline for the BookExpo America annual event.

While this is a smart business move, it doesn’t promise more quality writing. A faster timetable means less research, less editing and more dependence on knee-jerk reactions. If you think the Internet ruined responsible reporting, I suspect you’ll also have a bad opinion of Beast Books.

Second, literary magazine Wasafiri asked 25 international authors what was the most influential book of the last 25 years. Three authors said Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. No other book was named more than once.

I agree that Marquez had the most influential book. Literature (both popular and critically acclaimed) has moved toward a combination of the fantastic and realistic. I’d attribute that to Marquez.

Solitude isn’t the first book to insert fantastic elements into the “real world.” But Marquez revolutionized fantasy by treating it as commonplace. He offers no apology or explanation for the improbable things that occur in Macondo.

People come back from the dead. So what? A sleeping sickness swallows the town. Sure, why not?

By treating the impossible as normal, Marquez made everything possible.

-Jason Lea, JLea@News-Herald.com

P.S. I hate when people say "At the end of the day." It make Hulk want smash.

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Blogger Seth said...

Apparently math isn't the strong suit of acclaimed international authors. 2009-25>1967 (One Hundred Years of Solitude) or 1955 (Lolita).

September 30, 2009 at 11:33 AM 
Blogger Harold said...

Seth is correct.

What are we missing about what they are missing?

"One Hundred Years" wikipedia page already states: "The novel topped the list of books that have most shaped world literature over the last 25 years, according to a survey of international writers commissioned by the global literary journal Wasafiri as a part of its 25th anniversary."

Yet if it is which books have shaped international writing the past 25 years, then we're talking about translations?

Explain yourself Wasafiri.

October 2, 2009 at 4:08 PM 

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