Books are Back: Romanticism Lives!

by Cynthia W. Moore

I Love Books

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Digital Book World published an article on their blog entitled “Who Cares How You Read? Just Read.”  Writer Laura Brady wrote that “There has been a lot of press lately about data that looks like it’s pointing to declining book sales and surging print sales.”  Well, if third quarter data counts as data, she is, indeed, correct.  Publisher’s Weekly recently posted that third quarter eBook sales were “down” at HarperCollins and “weak” at Penguin Random House.  Is the ever-climbing eBook sales graph line headed to the long tail?  Perish the thought!

The digital publishing industry is just hitting puberty and suitors of all kinds are lining up at the door.  Brady writes that, although she is now an eBook developer, she “loves books [and] started working in publishing because of a romantic idea of what books and the people who publish them are all about.”  She even admits that she doesn’t “apply the same romanticism to the business she works in now.”  Ah, there’s the rub.  People really do have an attachment to their books.  Reading books digitally is utilitarian.  You can’t really cuddle up to an e-reader, but you can get your work done.

Even playground bully Amazon has weighed in on the disruptive mess it has created by changing its status to brick-and-mortar bookstore owner as well.  Many “Like” the move and the comments are overwhelmingly favorable.

Laura Brady, though, is really addressing publishers and doing some much-needed PR for eBooks:

“I think there are certainly a lot of misconceptions about ebooks—that they can’t be nicely-designed, that they are worth less than print, that reading them is a “less-than” experience. None of these things are true. But they will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if publishers believe them and put little to no energy or creative attention into their digital publishing programs. Just like mass market paperbacks upended a staid publishing culture in the ‘30s, ebooks aren’t going anywhere and need to be a critical part of the publishing planning process.”

Brady goes on to say that “Some of us are working constantly to make future-proof ebooks that are nice to look at and easy to consume despite the confusing proliferation of specs and devices.”  Apparently it is up to publishers to save eBooks’ fourth quarter sales and thereby the industry overall.  Sometimes, though, I like rooting for the underdog and unlike Brady, I do “get jazzed by the smell of paper” in a newly purchased book.



Cynthia Moore is a writer and former educator who joined the M.P.S. in Publishing program at The George Washington University to gain cutting edge industry know-how to launch her own publishing venture.


Gene Yuan Lang Puts the Pep in Your Step for NaNoWriMo!

by Maddie Lowman

November 1 is the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (AKA NaNoWriMo, or NaNo as it is affectionately called by its writers).  The mission: to write 50,000 words in a month, logging 1,667 words a day.  There is quite a bit of backstory to the month, but one thing always remains the same: 50,000 words is quite the intimidating number.

Not to fear!  One of the best features of the NaNo website is the community.  With message boards, local groups, and more, a writer is not really alone in their struggle, even when they are sequestered in their room, fueled by protein bars and energy drinks, trying to pound out the last 10,000 words in the meager three hours before November ends.  But, of course, NaNo hopes you won’t have to do that.

This is where authors like Gene Yuan Lang step in.  Throughout the month of November, NaNo has famous authors give tips and tricks, or “pep talks” to try to nudge each new or seasoned wrimo along their way.  The very first talk to kick off the month is by the well known author and artist of “American Born Chinese,” as well as other titles.

In his talk, Yang begins by assuring wrimos that what they are doing is an important act, no matter what other people in their family or friends circle may say.  Because NaNo is so time consuming, many wrimos face opposition in the form of friends and family who feel rejected or neglected because their wrimo is so focused in on their work.  Not to worry, this is normal!  Don’t let them discourage you; they just don’t understand.

Yang then gives a few tips for how to get through the month relatively unscathed, coming out the other side of the tunnel with a fully-finished pieced-together rough draft that you have an entire year to edit into something not hacked out in a mere thirty days.  These tips are anywhere from how to power through writer’s block to write like a well-oiled machine, where to find inspiration in things happening beyond your tiny square of a desk, and to keep in touch with the community, so they can lend you strength to fight your demons.

I won’t go into more detail, because it’s a short and entirely worthy read (Once again, it can be found here), but I will say this one thing: I completely agree with Yang when he says, “Just so you know, when it’s you versus demons, I put my money on you every time.”  Happy writing, Wrimos!

The “Come Write In” Program


by Jacqueline Hatch

With National Novel Writing Month upon us, this is the perfect time to get up-to-date on all of the events taking place in your area. Whether you’re looking to write the next “Great American Novel”, host an event or work as a volunteer, the NaNoWriMo website is stocked with information on how to get involved.

“Come Write In” is one of the outreach programs associated with National Novel Writing Month, meant to connect libraries, bookstores and local spaces with NaNoWriMo participants. The goal of this program is to build writing communities and support both artists and local businesses.

You can visit the National Novel Writing Month website to sign up your business as a “Come Write In” location. Libraries, bookstores, coffee shops and universities have all been featured as “Come Write In” locations in past years. Participating businesses get posters, bookmarks and the chance to be connected with local volunteers to help manage events.

The NaNoWriMo website also has a Library Outreach Guide, a NaNo University Guide, as well as a blog filled with relevant information. Once the 2015 list of “Come Write In” locations has been finalized, you can visit this page to find a writing space near you.

If you are located in Washington D.C., you may want to participate in events at the DC Public Library, which is committed to supporting local writers, “from providing space and some friendly competition to fantastic incentives for registered participants who meet their word count goal.” Featured events include writing workshops, Twitter chats, movie showings and prize giveaways. Just for registering, you will receive:

  1. A DC Public Library Tote Bag
  2. A Special Edition DC Public Library bound journal printed on the Espresso Book Machine
  3. A DC Public Library Flash Drive
  4. Earbuds for listening to music while you write
  5. The Finish-It Toolkit: A punch card to the Digital Commons for:
    • A class in creating book cover art
    • A class in typesetting and preparing for publication
    • A printed copy of your book from the DC Library POD Book Machine!

Many libraries in the D.C. area will participate in NaNoWriMo events this year. In fact, twelve DC Public Library locations will serve as sites for local NaNoWriMo writers as part of the “Come Write In” program this year. Participants are welcome to bring their own laptops or make use of the library computers available.

If you have any specific questions about events or locations and want to get in touch with someone involved with the “Come Write In” program, you can email If you cannot participate and still want to contribute to NaNoWriMo, you can also visit this donation page to help support the literary community.


NNWM: Creative Outlets


by Emily Powers

Chris Baty created national Novel Writing Month in the summer of 1999, and is celebrated the entire month of November. The challenge came about by jokingly making a near impossible deadline for writing a novel in a month’s time. Baty and twenty-one writers participated in the original challenge and were successful.

When interviewed, Baty said, “I’d seen writers pull off miraculous feats when given impossible deadlines. To help make the whole thing less scary, we all got together after work and on weekends to write. That camaraderie, coupled with the stupid deadline, gave all of us the high commitment and low expectations that turn out to be a godsend when you’re writing a first draft of a novel.”

In the years since, the challenge has grown leaps and bounds. In 2014, an estimated three hundred, twenty five thousand participated in the challenge. Since this is a growing phenomenon, more programs have opened up to encourage writers to construct their own first drafts of novels.

Grant Faulkner (National Novel Writing Month executive director) said, “National Novel Writing Month is a wonderful opportunity for people to dive into their imaginations and do one of the most crucial things in life: create.” Faulkner works with roughly one thousand volunteers who facilitate writing events for aspiring authors and for all those who wish to learn and create.

The liaisons understand the work and pressure on students and adults who have life outside of writing, but they give great advice on goal setting and follow through. For example, Chelsea Brown, who was recently a college student, has participated in NNWM and knows the pressuring demands of school, work and wanting to write. She sets a word goal (for each novel) at fifty thousand words for the month of November. Brown states that pacing yourself and having a strict schedule for writing will make this goal achievable. In other words, writing about sixteen hundred words per day, which averages to about four double spaced pages, will allow a writer to reach the fifty thousand word goal by then end of the month. An easy way to keep track of progress and words written is on the NaNoWriMo website.

Even though the creative writing process may be done solitary and in front of the computer, the liaisons, like Chelsea Brown, facilitate places and events to collaborate and workshop.

Brown states, “NaNo is about more than just getting the words on the page, it’s about linking writers together, about creating a community.”

In addition to the goals, the purpose of this celebration of writing is to be creative, enjoy your imagination and spread it on paper. “Brown’s advice to potential novelists is simple: “Just write. Don’t edit. Don’t let your mind make you feel like what you’ve written isn’t good. Just write it. You can go back and edit later. But you have to get it down on paper first. You can edit what isn’t good, but you can’t edit what isn’t there.”

Check out your local university or college libraries to see upcoming events. Connect with other writers on the NaNoWriMo website, and let your creative side shine!

Chicagoland Public Library Supports “NaNoWriMo”

In a recent article, Northbrook library takes on novel-writing, The Chicago Tribune reports on one Chicagoland public library that is offering support and services for participants in National Novel Writing Month.

National Novel Writing Month, also known as “NaNoWriMo,” is a nationwide nonprofit effort that challenges people to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November.

In 2012 Kate Hall, executive director of the Northbrook Public Library in Northbrook, IL, decided to participate in her first NaNoWriMo at the last-minute, creating a sci-fi retelling of “Pride and Prejudice”.

“I had a friend who was doing it, and I thought it would be so much fun if we did it together, but then I got totally into it,” said Hall, who will be participating in her third NaNoWriMo challenge next month.

This year, Hall has decided to take her participation in this event a giant step further by launching a community-wide NaNoWriMo event, sponsored by the Northbrook Public Library. Every Sunday, the library will host write-in sessions to help keep experienced and novice writers on track.

“I’m writing the program, and we’re having weekly write-ins. … And we have over 350,000 volumes that you can access and professional librarians that can quickly help you find information so that you can get what you need and immediately go back to writing your novel.”

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been professionally published and, with the efforts of people like Hall, there may be many more to come. Whether someone is a veteran writer, aspiring novelist, or just looking to improve their writing skills, NaNoWriMo offers many tools to help writers achieve their goals. More information on National Novel Writing Month and how to participate can be found at If you’re in the Northbrook area, please visit for information on the Northbrook Public Library’s weekly “write-ins”.

La Jolla Library Sets Up Biotech Lab

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With the rapid changes happening in the literary world, everyone is scrambling to keep up. Libraries, as a public service, want to remain relevant in an increasingly digital age. According to the American Library Association, many libraries offer services such as digital literacy training and assistance with the usage of online government programs.

However, some libraries are thinking a little more out-of-the-box. The La Jolla branch of the San Diego public library has started the first biotech laboratory in a library, called Life Science Collaboratory.

According to the La Jolla branch website, “Qualified volunteers from local biotechnology firms, research institutions and DIY bio-enthusiasts are supplying programs to educate the public about the Life Sciences and encourage civic debate and interest in this revolutionary field.”

This program is part of the library’s Innovation Space, a program that includes 3D-printers, centrifuges, and a DNA analyzing and sequencing tool.

One need not be afraid of picking up any pathogens either. The lab is only a level 1 Biosafety lab, and according to library manager Shaun Briley on The Washington Post’s website, “The chemicals in the cleaning closet are more dangerous.”

Additionally, the lab is only in use when a qualified volunteer is present.

Briley hopes that other libraries will follow this example, not necessarily in Biotech, but in whatever fields happen to be of interest in their local area. “Every community has some focus, something they do in particular, and here it just happens to be biotech,” he said.

The statement the La Jolla branch makes on their site is that, “An enduring tenet of libraries is that an informed public with free and open access to information is a cornerstone of democracy.  Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning, be technology facilitators and guides to the future.”

We can safely assume they are doing just that.

Why Americans love their public libraries

Kind of ironic that in this e-publishing class, I came across this article for this assignment that proves that the printed book — and more so the physical library — is still going strong and is as popular as ever. And while sales of e-books continue to climb and some libraries contemplate closures due to budget cuts (, etc.), the public still loves going to the library!

Evidence to support this statement abounds. A 2013 report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project noted that in the previous decade “every other major institution (government, churches, banks, corporations) has fallen in public esteem except libraries, the military, and first responders.” The study also found that 91 percent of those surveyed over sixteen years old said libraries are “very” or “somewhat” important to their communities, and 98 percent identified their public library experience as “very” or “mostly positive.” Another Pew study found 94 percent of parents believe libraries are important for their children; 84 percent said because libraries develop a love of reading and books.

Along with the print product, libraries have been predicted to go the way of the dinosaurs, but numbers don’t lie —  in 2012, the U.S had more public libraries than ever — 17,219, including branches and bookmobiles. Time to make a new prediction: books and the libraries aren’t going anywhere.

Tom Lawson