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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Interview With The American Library Association

Interview With Jazzy Wright, Press Officer, American Library Association

1.      How does the American Library Association, as the oldest and largest library association in the world, with approximately 60,000 members in academic, public, school and government, service its members? The American Library Association keeps members informed on what is happening in libraries, communicates best practices, teaches members how to use new technology in their libraries, and leads advocacy efforts around issues crucial to library services. The current issue for libraries is making digital content available to library users in the format that they want, when they want it. This means talking to economists, content providers and technology leaders so that digital content, and the skills to use that content, remain affordable and accessible. 

2.      What new initiatives have you launched? The American Library Association is taking the lead in transforming libraries to better serve the needs of the American people. We are working on improving nationwide digital literacy, a growing issue for the organization that focuses on the growing importance of user-generated content and the changing role of authorship in a digital age. The American Library Association continues to advocate for libraries on this issue, knowing that libraries offers assets to support learners in gaining the digital skills necessary to thrive online. Right now, the American Library Association is also leading the charge against current cybersecurity bills that allow the wholesale sharing of library patron records and other personally identifiable information among private companies. Additionally, we are working with Congress as they change the Workforce Investment Act to ensure that public libraries get access to funding to be able to continue the work they are doing to help the American people find jobs. Finally, we are also working with America’s publishers to get e-books into public and school libraries.

3.      What are the rewards and challenges of dealing with more digital content? In the future, the rewards should make content available quicker and easier in ways that people can use information better to manipulate and enhance, but now the challenge is working with the content providers (i.e., publishers, authors and musicians) to come up with business models that allow libraries to affordably use information. Right now, many people do not know what libraries have to offer. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of people don’t know they can borrow e-books from their library. On the publishing side, many publishers will not license e-books to libraries because of their fear that library lending with cut into their e-book sales.  Yet, many publishers and authors want to work with libraries to experiment with business models that will be workable for all parties.

4.      How can libraries better serve their communities -- if they had greater budgets?  With greater budgets, libraries could go back to being open nights and weekends as they prefer. They could purchase more materials, which would include books, e-books, databases, music, movies and subscriptions. They could offer more in-depth programs for small children, making sure that every child enters school ready to learn. With a complete staff, the library could offer more programs for children and adults, and more training classes to address the needs identified by the community, such as computer training, job assistance, GED preparation genealogy and homework help. A fully staffed library can teach childcare givers how to read to children and work with them so they are prepared to enter school. With larger budgets, more libraries could serve as community centers, providing teens with a place to learn critical digital literacy skills and find fun, engaging activities to participate in and interesting materials to read for pleasure.

5.      What can or should publishers and authors do to work with libraries to market their books and promote the library? All authors should be promoting our nation’s libraries because libraries introduce people to their work. Publishers should be trying every way they can to get books in every format into all libraries and not restricting certain authors and current e-books.

6.      Where do you see book publishing heading? In trade publishing, publishers will have to develop an entire different mental model of how to sell books and be willing to take some risks. Initially, I can see new players entering the “publishing” market – they will be entrepreneurial in nature.

7.      What skills do librarians need now that weren't on the radar 20 years ago? Librarians need to become better marketers and public relations people and promote library services. The reading marketplace is crowded with options and librarians need to aggressively market what their library has to offer to the public. Libraries are so much more than just books and information. We are teachers and community activists. Libraries are the connection to technology, e-government and all kinds of learning. They need to look for every opportunity to get outside the box to tell their story because it’s a good one.


Authors, Take Note That Roger Federer Slams Advertising Win

To the champions go the spoils. And to Roger Federer, who added to his illustrious tennis career with another Wimbledon victory while capturing his 17th Grand Slam. He also is the endorsement king.

Federer won the tennis championship on Sunday in London and by Wednesday the Wall Street Journal featured him in a full-page ad hawking Rolex watches. That very same day he was featured in another full-page ad, this time for USA Today to pitch Mercedes Benz automobiles. These two brands complement one another but it shows that you can sell more than one thing at a time.

The same can be true for authors. You can promote more than one book at a time and you can cross over into other genres. Like Federer, you can talk about your romance novel on one blog, and discuss your crime dram on a radio show – all in the same day.

If Federer keeps this up he will soon promote a product in between sets at a tournament. Why not? Imagine him doing a live commercial while on a break from playing a major match? Or maybe he will pitch two products at the same time. Anything is possible.


Interview With Fiction Author DEBORAH COONTS

1.      What type of books do you write? I write funny, sexy murder mysteries set in Las Vegas--think Sex In the City meets Elmore Leonard.  Publishers Weekly said of the series..." Sin City with a dash of Evanovich and CSI."

2.      What is your latest or upcoming book about? The latest is a digital novella, LUCKY BANG, available on Kindle only, at least until September.   It is a "between the big books" story set over the 4th of July where things get...explosive.  When Lucky's father disappears, it becomes personal.

3.      What inspired you to write it? Vegas and a need to delve a bit more deeply into some of my characters.

4.      What did you do before you became an author? I have career ADD. I've been an accountant, a business owner, a lawyer, a tax lawyer, a pilot, a flight instructor...and always a mom.  The bright side is I have a multitude of experiences to draw from.

5.      How does it feel to be a published author? Sort of like having a birthday--it's a special day, but really, the world doesn't stop and the work continues.

6.      Any advice for struggling writers? Perfect your craft and storytelling, then never give up.  And, most of all, be able to think outside the box.  Your best opportunities may lie outside of traditional publishing.

7.      Where do you see book publishing heading? I don't think the printed book is dead, by any means.  Nor is its death imminent.  However, I do think the traditional publishing model is not for every writer or every story.  Publishers are continually squeezed and no longer have the budget or the time to build a writer.  Perhaps digital publishing will serve that purpose--writers will, in effect, build themselves.  Then, when a story has enough velocity, NY may get interested.  At that point, it is the writer who needs to decide which model is best for them.  However, with the retail outlets for print books decreasing almost daily, and libraries looking toward digital lending, it seems that digital publishing is growing exponentially and will be a significant force in the future.  Perhaps a hybrid model will be where we all end with writers publishing some stories digitally and selling others to be traditionally published, depending on the commercial appeal of the story.

There will always be a market for stories--that demand is not going away.  However, how stories are consumed, the preferred length, the price that readers will pay, etc. are changing.  And the appetites of the readers will alter the product of the writers, and the publishing path we choose


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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