Gita Wolf: The Art of Book Making

I’ve taken pieces of this from one of Shelf Awareness’s articles last week. Here is the link to the original article, which has more information and pictures than I was interested in saving and uploading here.

The eye-catching titles and artwork from Tara Books is utterly amazing and even more so to those of us who know how big publishing houses work versus Tara’s production. “I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail” is based on a 17th-century poem and illustrated by Ramsingh Urveti in the traditional Gond style from central India. It is gorgeous. But that’s not what makes the book amazing.

What’s so special about Tara books is, they’re handmade. Gita Wolf’s “The Very Hungry Lion,” painted in the Warli style from western India, has sold more than 49,000 copies, all of which were made one at a time. Tara also recycles misprints as “flukebooks.” These are unique notebooks (none are identical) for $11.99. Can we say early Christmas shopping? I thought we could.

Tara books and Gita Wolf are on a mission to save the art of bookmaking. Together with her collective of artisans, Wolf is establishing a Center for the Book Arts in Chennai. The center will house a gallery, a bookstore and work space for artists. Makes me want to move to Chennai.

The Great Race, coming in June 2012, by Nathan Kumar Scott,will use the Mata-ni-Pachedi painting style from Gujarat. It is the first time this style of artwork will have ever been seen in a book format. In the future, Tara Books plans to work with artists in Mexico’s Mayan community and presumably other ethnic peoples.

For obvious reasons, Tara Books titles have won the Bologna Ragazzi Award twice. Tara is not about the mass production of reading material, but about the art of each book. When books are made with such love and devotion, they become cherished items. In a world that’s increasingly widening the gap between those who are educated (or financially capable of education) and those who are not, what can be more important than cherished knowledge and thought?

I LOVED this whole concept. What about you?

Merry Christmas!

Sorry, folks, no post this week, but MERRY CHRISTMAS!

New Market

A new market/method of publication has come to town, but I’m honestly not sure I like it. It has too much room for misuse, but let’s see what you think:

PUBSLUSH is an entirely new kind of full service, social non profit publisher: readers decide what books get published, and for every book sold, a book is donated to a child in need.
The process is simple:

Writers submit the best 10 pages and a summary of their manuscript.
Users read, share, and support (a.k.a. pre-order) their favorite submissions. They’re only charged if a book is selected for publication.
Once a book reaches 2,000 supporters, we publish it (ensuring only the best books get published). PUBSLUSH provides all the services and support of a legacy publisher.
For every book sold, a book will be donated to a child in need.

Sounds like a good deal and it is. Kinda. A child in need receives a book. A struggling author is published. What can go wrong? Well, once upon a time my husband’s cover art for my book was in a competition. Don’t get me wrong, Dear Hubby is an AWESOME graphics artist and has done many Indie book covers as well as independent illustrations by now and I do think he deserved to place in this competition. But should I have asked friends and family to go vote? I’m not sure. I did NOT ask them to vote for Mourn Their Courage’s cover, but I’m sure many people did without checking out the other incredible covers. A fact that has haunted me. You see, that sort of competition ends up being one of how many friends and family do the individual competitors have. The DH won, but I’ve always been haunted by the question of, “Did he win fairly?” There was some stiff competition and it was a landslide vote. Not what we were expecting. So yes, I have problems with this sort of thing.

What do you think? If you do use Pubslush, how will you ask folks to vote?

Addendum to Dangdang

My friend Giora heard back from Dangdang, who is clearly responsive to inquiries.

Maria at Dangdang told Giora that they plan to publish 50,000 books next year and most of them will be in Mandarin. Giora believes they will accept some books in English, but tells me Maria didn’t give details on how to submit. However, Giora believes that’s probably because they are only in the planning stage.

If anyone does submit, please let us know what happens and good luck! Many thanks to Giora for going that extra mile. Or li. ;D

Amazon Review Policy Revisited & Growing International Markets

A slight follow up from a previous post. You remember I posted about Amazon’s changing review policy? Well, thanks to Lisha Cauthen‘s amazing Sunflower Scoop, here’s the latest response from Amazon, but it’s not particularly satisfying:

Last week, we reported how book review and publicty company Reader Views was banned from posting their reviews on Amazon.

The post garnered debate among our readers. According to an email from Irene Watson, the founder of Reader Views, Amazon has banned reviews from 15 sites.

In response to our posts, an Amazon spokesman emailed us explaining the policy for reviews posted on their site: “Paid reviews are welcome in the ‘Editorial Reviews’ section of a book’s detail page. Reviews written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product are not allowed in the Customer Reviews section.”
Amazon also gave us links to its Customer Review Guidelines and its Editorial Reviews.

We asked Amazon about why Reader Views specifically had their reviews removed, but did not receive a response.

And now for more heartwarming news:

As many of you know, I have a particular interest in China’s growing literary market. Earlier this year, the PRC announced that they are actively pursuing literature about China, but written in other countries. Specifically, they want positive views of China’s history.

Just last week, the following article was published on Shelf Awareness:

Dangdang, which is often called the Amazon of China, plans to launch its own e-book platform later this month. Yi Wen-fei, the company’s v-p, said there are currently 50,000 digital books ready for purchase from more than 100 publishers, PaidContent reported, noting that Dangdang’s digital books will be available “on its own apps for iOS and Android, which are believed to be launching soon, and on its own-brand e-reader which should appear in the first quarter of 2012.”

Dangdang now joins competitors Hanvon and Shanda in the Chinese e-book market, but will have a dramatic impact on those two companies, “who effectively have a duopoly on the digital publishing market to consumers in China,” paidContent wrote.

One of my readers and friends, Giora, has contacted Dangdang to see if this includes works in English. I’ll let you know if we here anything back. What about you? Would an opening market in China encourage you to submit overseas?