The Ides of March!
5 Silent Comics - Worlds Without Words

Barbershops, Bookshops, Histories and Bad Math

This is a lovely idea - a service that puts books directly into kids' hands - at barbershops. You can back them here:

"One day, I was getting a haircut at the barbershop across the street from my school," Irby said. "One of my first-graders came inside, and he plopped down on the couch. He was staring out the window, looking bored. As I watched this all unfold, I was thinking to myself, 'he should really be practicing his reading right now.'"

Imagine though: Barbershops, doctors and dentists offices, DMV waiting rooms, post offices - everywhere that people (especially kids and parents) might be stuck... what if there was a sort of 'big box' of children's books that could be ordered for any one of those at cost (or less)? Including, I dunno, comics, The Phoenix, a couple classics, etc. Do these exist? If so, please share.

On the other end of the spectrum, I'd like to have a snoop around this East End concept shop, but it seems to treating reading like it is the aesthetic appreciation of an esoteric craft rather than, I dunno, reading. Given the two different paths illustrated above, I much prefer the former.

Barnes & Noble had another not-so-bad quarter, which these days counts as good for the struggling bookstore chain.

Barnes & Noble isn't going away just yet - in that, its losses are... levelling off. Which is kind of a yay! (Yay?) This is largely thanks to a 12.5% increase in sales of non-book items like vinyl records and adult colouring books. (Interestingly, the first time I've ever seen the latter categorised as a 'non-book' item. Controversial, but, at least for calculating 'industry health', I tend to agree.)

Meanwhile, Amazon are doing QVC. Not book related, but Style Code is so... old-school. I can't tell if this is genius or ridiculousness, but I guess if you've got the platform and the cash, it is sensible thing for them to try, right? If you think of this as a giant Amazon-sponsored vlog,...

Stela seems interesting. They want to be the Netflix of Comics. But I'm not sure how this fits alongside the bigger publishers already having their own subscription-and-digital-back-catalog services. The bit that intrigues me - ditto the Polygon article's author - is that these comics are formatted specifically for mobile devices, which means rethinking and reshaping how comics work. This, given that's where the folks (especially them thar pesky teens) are doing their reading, seems particularly insightful. 

Last week, I put up a fake book on Amazon. I took a photo of my foot, uploaded to Amazon, and in a matter of hours, had achieved  “No. 1 Best Seller” status, complete with the orange banner and everything.

"Amazon Best-Selling Author" is a crock of shit. And I say this as a #1 best-seller in several categories, including, for quite a long time, "Science Fiction & Fantasy / Fantasy / Myths & Legends / Asian". Which should tell you everything you need to know.


"The Secret History of the Girl Detective" is fantastic. I'd love to see this continued all the way through to the present day: the impact of things like the Nancy Drew Files and The Baby-Sitters Club and, hell, the modern YA resurgence and Veronica Mars. There's a lovely bit in here about Anna Katharine Green's Violet Strange which reminds me that I've got an illustrated and typeset reprint of those mysteries that I should actually publish at some point. Ha.

Speaking of complete histories of cultural icons - the Millennium Falcon!

Less exhaustive, but more useful - "A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction".

Also awesome - "The Greatest African American and Afro-American Martial Artists in History".

And one more - the 1980s media panic over Dungeons & Dragons. I was too young to remember this first-hand, but I do remember getting into gaming as a kid in the late 1980s and still dealing with twitchy adults. One friend wasn't allowed to read the books and had a secret stash of Dragon that we had to hold for her. Meanwhile, another, a budding Satanist, was always disappointed by the lack of practical instructions... You just can't please everyone, can you? I've since read a lot around the Dear case (although I've yet to see Mazes and Monsters, darnit), and it is... actually rather fascinating, especially given how gamer culture has evolved from a series of disconnected physical subcultures to a massive, over-connected megaculture. 

Links worth perusing

"A manifesto of gym literature" by Ka Bradley 

Hayley Campbell on the resurrection of the Doves typeface. The Builders is set in Doves, because, goddammit, I paid for a print license and I was going to use it for something.

If a field is 50% male, the likelihood that a Top-10 list will be entirely male is .098%.

All-male lists aren't just pernicious - they're also really bad math. This is a great article I'll be linking to again and again.

And, finally:

There is no inherent “goodness” that puts one hobby above another. There is no inherent class or group that anyone must be restricted to. There are only people, always and forever. Some are nice, and some are mean, and most are both at different times in their lives, so try to judge everyone you encounter for what they are—as an individual, not as a label.

Chris Kluwe on the false division between jocks and nerds.