7 Life Lessons I Learned From Children’s Books

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By Dee Donavanik, Publicity Director

There has been lots of discussion about why YA books are gaining popularity among adult audiences, especially as several blockbuster adaptations are hitting the theaters. We’ve accepted that YA books have mass appeal and are not just for “young adults,” but what about the books from our childhood? Maybe it would serve us well to go a bit farther back and revisit the stories we loved as kids. When life gets hectic and we start to get cynical, we can think back on some classic tales to remind us of the bigger picture.

Here are some of my personal favorites and the lessons I learned (though there are many interpretations). Also SPOILER ALERT if you’ve never read any of these classics.

 

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Kindle Unlimited: Critics Weigh In On Amazon’s New e-Book Subscription

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By Nicole Martineau, Publicist

 

Last week, Amazon announced the launch of Kindle Unlimited, a new e-book service that allows customers to read as many books as they want from a digital library of over 600,000 titles and thousands of audio books. The service is available for $9.99 a month and works on all Kindle devices and any device with a Kindle Reading app.

While this may sound like a great deal to consumers, many industry professionals have been very critical of the service in recent days, especially with two successful start-ups already on the market: Scribd and Oyster Books.

According to Associated Press technology reporter Anick Jesdanun, Kindle Unlimited beats competitors in several ways, however, Scribd and Oyster both offer better value for avid readers of popular books:

“It turns out that the library of 600,000 is a bit like a small bookstore with a few current titles such as The Hunger Games, attached to a block-sized bargain bin of obscure stuff mixed with Robinson Crusoe and other classics that are in the public domain and available for free online anyway… Though Oyster has only 500,000 books and Scribd has 400,000, both offer extensive libraries from two of the largest publishers, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Kindle Unlimited doesn’t.”

That brings us to another weakness of Kindle Unlimited: the absence of several top publishers. This topic was hard to ignore as media outlets began to report the absence of the ‘Big Five’: Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.

While this absence is most likely due to the on-going feud with Hachette, Darrell Etherington of Tech Crunch  explained that it could also be due to several on-going negotiations between Amazon and top publishers:

“The biggest publishers ask for a large (read: at least seven figures) up-front fee, and services have to pay each time a user reads a book, plus new releases are kept for traditional sales methods. Amazon is likely looking for a better deal from publishers, or for greater access to current titles, which could be why they aren’t included in these test pages.”

Other critics of the service were quick to point out that Kindle Unlimited is yet another way Amazon is taking advantage of self-published authors. In his recent post on Digital Book World, publishing veteran Michael Sullivan compares Kindle Unlimited’s roster of self-published authors to ‘second class citizens’:

“What Amazon is offering traditional publishers (full wholesale price without exclusivity) is a pretty good deal… But the self-published authors can be had for much less. They have been conditioned through several years of Select and those in Select are more than willing to give up other venues for higher visibility on Amazon. I can’t help but think I’m Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, trying to tell people at the Bedford Savings and Loan that Potter isn’t offering them a deal; he’s buying them cheap.”

Dino Grandoni of Huffington Post points out that you can already rent e-books from your local library, just like from Amazon. He argues that Kindle Unlimited is just “a $120 glorified library card.” Chances are you can probably find several e-books at your local library that Kindle Unlimited is unable to offer, but if you are still curious to check it out without signing up for a subscription, Amazon is offering a free 30-day trial.

 

 

Related: Meet our MC Team: Nicole Martineau

 

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5 African Writers You Should Read Now

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By Johanna Dickson, Digital Publicist

 

There was a time in my life when the only books I read were by African writers. I was an African Studies major in college, and in addition to my coursework on campus I spent a semester living in Cape Town, South Africa and traveling throughout the country and its neighbor Mozambique. When I returned for my senior year I took a course on African literature that introduced me to many phenomenal writers.

Here are five to check out if you are new to African literature:

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Getting Support For Your Book

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By Brian Feinblum, Senior Vice President and Marketing Officer

 

To promote your book you need time, money, ideas, a good book, a market and support. Who will help you become a book marketing machine?

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Summer Reading Requirements: Why It Shouldn’t Be Just for Kids

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By Cori Cagide, Associate Publicist

As kids most of us were assigned the dreaded required summer reading list sometime towards the end of the school year. I remember choosing which of the three uninteresting books I wanted to read, and preparing to procrastinate as long as possible before having to read and do the assigned project that went along with it. Actually, that’s a lie – I was a goody-two-shoes and always finished my summer reading project within a week after the school year ended, and didn’t think about it again until the first day of school. However, I know at least 90 percent of my friends held off until the very last minute to get it done.

Shouldn’t that say something about the required material? Particularly with the younger generations. If we want them to read, we have to give them some incentive. I’m not sure how much things have changed since I was in grammar school, but I remember having very few options to choose from, and having to get extra creative in the project portion of the assignment in order to peak my interest.

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Do You Need to Read the Book Before You See the Movie?

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By Johanna Dickson, Digital Publicist

 

In early June my mother notified me via email that she needed to see The Fault in Our Stars when it came out. She works in a middle school library and often reads many of the popular books they lend to students. It took her no time at all to finish the book, and as much as she sobbed her way through it she loved it. She could not wait to see the movie. As I am her frequent movie date, she was alerting me that she wanted us to see the movie together. There was just one issue: I hadn’t yet read the book myself.

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Tequila Mockingbird: MEDIA CONNECT Hosts Finn Parners Happy Hour

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By Anna Patrick, Digital Publicist

 

Yesterday our division put on our first Finn Parnters happy hour, a literary-themed bash with bookish bites and literary liquor, fittingly named Tequila Mockingbird!

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New Additions to my Bookcase: A Book Lover Steps Outside her Comfort Zone

By Alexandra Israel, Publicist

 

Book lover’s confession: I have a ton of books that I haven’t yet read on my bookshelf, and I tend to be pretty consistent in terms of what I read. All summer I have been reading the works of 19th century English authors such as Thomas Hardy, Theodore Dreiser, and Henry James. There are so many good books out there that I decided for the month of July I won’t be confined to my bookcase or the 19th century! Here are some new additions to my book case, ones that I can’t wait to read:

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Four Ways a Speaking Event Helps Authors

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By David Hahn, Managing Director

I’ve often been asked over my career, “What is the best way to sell books?” And the “Chauncey Gardiner” in me loves to respond by saying, “The best way to sell books is to sell books.”

By that I mean yes, of course, having a rave review run in the New York Times is naturally the best way to sell a lot of books. But when you consider reality as an author and what you have control over, the best way to sell books is to get out and “handsell” through speaking engagements.

Here are the benefits and some tactics:

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Revamping Reading Rainbow for the Digital Age

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By Nicole Martineau, Associate Publicist

 

If you grew up in the ‘80s or ‘90s, you’ve probably heard the exciting news that Reading Rainbow could be making a triumphant comeback, all thanks to LeVar Burton’s Kickstarter campaign. The mission of the campaign is to raise the $5,000,000 needed to bring Reading Rainbow back for “every child, everywhere” through the Web.

“You take advantage of where kids are. Back in the ‘80s that was in front of the television set,” Burton told The Verge in a recent interview. “Today, you have to have access to the web.”

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