The BackList

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Black Images is Closing

It's been awhile since I've posted. Trying to get back into the swing of things after the holidays.

But on a sad note, Black Images Book Bazaar is closing. The store was a 30 year old institution in Dallas and worked hard to remain open. It will close on Saturday and I never had the opportunity to visit it.

It's a shame that bookselling is such a touch business.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New author website

Marie-Elena John, debut author of Unburnable, which was just picked as a best book by Black Issues Book Review, has just launched her website. Check it out to try to win a stay at Jumby Bay in Antigua (can't you use a little beach in your life?), or find out more information about the Literary Getaway to Dominica that she's planning.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Reaching the African American market

I wrote an article in this week's issue of PW about the different ways publishers are reaching the African American market. I definitely think that publishers are experimenting more with marketing ideas and realizing that the market is diverse and therefore a plan specific to one book, may not necessarily work for another (read: you can't market K'wan the way you market Edward P. Jones).

Here's the intro:

Publishers are exploring a range of strategies to reach African-American readers, blending traditional and innovative marketing techniques to concoct campaigns as varied as the books themselves. And they admit it's still more about experimentation than surefire tactics.

Read the entire article.

Also check out the list of upcoming books of African American interest.

Written vs Blacks and Books

Calvin Reid at PW wrote an article about Written, the newspaper supplement launched in early 2006 that covers African American Books. The article noted the competition from the recently launched Blacks and Books. Read the NYT article about the launch here. Currently, Written is bimonthly and distributed in four newspapers.

Michelle Gipson, the founder of Written, believes "there's plenty of room for everybody." Hmm, is that true? Are there that many African American newspapers to go around? Perhaps, I don't know the numbers.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wall Street Journal tackles Catch 22 of Black writers

The Wall Street Journal had a front page article about the struggles of Black writers to reach nonblack audiences. The article includes quotes from tons of folks but begins with Brandon Massey's frustations that his sales are limited by being published by a black imprint and automatically being slotted in the African American section. It then talks about how divided black books are within the publishing "food chain." It looks at the case that Millenia Black brought against her publisher, Penguin.

The article then goes on to discuss that Black fiction is doing well when overall bookstore sales have slumped.

I go back and forth on the issue and in a perfect world we'd all be shelved together in harmony (as we would also be living together in perfect harmony.) But this ain't no perfect world. Luckily Momma already told me that.

So one hand, I agree with Tananarive Due:

Tananarive Due, who writes supernatural suspense tales, says that when she
started out in 1995, she was embraced by black booksellers. Her book tour was
almost exclusively in black stores. "There is nothing worse than the release of
a book without an audience," she says. "Frankly I'm glad my books were launched
as they were. The African-American readership has been my rock and given me the
opportunity to expand."

And on the other, I feel for Brandon Massey:

Mr. Massey nonetheless worries he's being shortchanged by being shelved in
African-American departments. "Most nonblack readers aren't going to the
African-American section," he says. His goal, he says, is to compete with Dean
Koontz and Stephen King.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Angela Bassett and Kimani Press

Am I the only one that hadn't heard about Angela Bassett and her husband's Courtney Vance's new book entitled, Friends: A Love Story? It's being published by Harlequin/Kimani Press this January. PW interviewed Ms. Bassett.

When asked about the audience for the book, she said:

Probably people from 16 to—I don’t know, when do folks stop dating? Sixteen
to, maybe 68. I think people will see a bit of themselves. Relationships are so
varied and so many, and we’re all on a quest to be understood and to be loved
for who we are—and the good and the bad in us.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Post-Apartheid Fiction

I'm still reading this article (that's bad, I know) but wanted to pass it on. It's pretty eye-opening especially since so many writers complain about the publishing scene in the U.S. Consider the literary scene abroad. The NYT looks at post-apartheid fiction in South Africa. The article follows Niq Mhlongo, who is described as "is one of the most high-spirited and irreverent new voices of South Africa’s post-apartheid literary scene."

Check this out from the article:

Twelve years after the end of apartheid, the South African literary scene
remains as fragmented as ever, with writers exploring their own ethnic
experiences. Although more books are published than ever before, few create a
national conversation, in part because South Africa has been transformed from a
resistance culture to a consumer culture, where the novel is less vital.

The New York Times remembers Bebe Moore Campbell

Here's the NYT's remembrance of Bebe Moore Campbell.