February 5th, 2009

From mimeographed to a half-million copies

I’ll bet some people reading this blog don’t even remember mimeographs, a forerunner to the photocopiers we know today. [Full disclosure: they had the most yummy smell. When we got something that was mimeographed in grade school, I used to hold it up my nose and just sniff and sniff.]

Holt Uncensored features the tale of a book that was self-pubbed in the 1960s via mimeograph. “The original, the self-published edition that we mimeographed in my Connecticut basement, collated in my house with the help of my mother and all her friends and sold ourselves with a reorder form in the back. We had sold almost 3000 copies before Collier came to us, having seen some of the publicity we also did on our own.”

To read more of this story (including how some editions had a picture of a crown roast on the cover, when there was no recipe for it inside), click
here .



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The Love That Dares Not be Put on a Shelf

School Library Journal has an interesting article about self-censorship. School librarians only have so many dollars at their disposal. They can't buy every book. So how often does self-censorship factor in: librarians choosing not to buy a book that they feel might lead to parental challenges and protests?

"In the first survey of its kind, School Library Journal (SLJ) recently asked 655 media specialists about their collections and found that 70 percent of librarians say they won’t buy certain controversial titles simply because they’re terrified of how parents will respond. Other common reasons for avoiding possible troublemakers include potential backlash from the administration (29 percent), the community (29 percent), or students (25 percent), followed by 23 percent of librarians who say they won’t purchase a book due to personal objections."

Librarians "tend to be skittish about book purchases for obvious reasons. Sexual content ranks number one, with 87 percent of those surveyed by SLJ saying it’s the main reason they shy away from buying a book. Objectionable language (61 percent) comes in second, followed by violence (51 percent), homosexual themes (47 percent), racism (34 percent), and religion (16 percent)."

Read more here.

I chose to self-sensor a tiny bit with the paperback of Shock Point, after a middle school student in Texas raised his hand at a school visit and asked me why I used "the b word." When I thought about it, the word wasn't needed. The book was suspensful enough whether or not the bad guys said it. So I asked that it be taken out.

The series I'm writing with Lis Wiehl is for Thomas Nelson, so it is squeaky clean. Characters can't even say "Jeez," let alone "the f word." It's frankly more of a problem to think of how a bad guy would talk in those books and not swear.



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Pay to play?

I’m kind of torn about this idea:

“The Dallas Public Library has launched a new program called the StreetSmart Express that lets people check out popular books and DVDs for $5 each. Other items can still be checked out by Dallas residents at no cost. Library officials say the program is designed to eliminate or shorten wait times for people who want to borrow popular titles rather than pay hefty retail costs. Not every best seller or top-selling movie is part of the program, but many of the hottest titles 28 books and 40 DVDs -are now available at all branches the same day they hit bookstores.”

Read more here.

What do you think?



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