Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Houston, we have a cover

At long last my book, The Late Age of Print, has a cover. I absolutely love it.

The cover is designed around an image by the photographer Cara Barer, whose work my friend Rachel turned me on to. (Thanks, Rachel.) I like how it captures both the beauty and grunginess of printed books--their persistence and decay--in our time. This is one of the key themes or tensions that I explore throughout The Late Age of Print. I'm thrilled with how the designers at Columbia University Press have managed to capture and convey it with such simplicity.

The other bit of good news is that The Late Age of Print is now listing on, with a release date set for sometime in March 2009. You cannot yet pre-order it, unfortunately, since the book hasn't been priced. You can sign up to be notified by email when it becomes available, though.

I just received the final page proofs yesterday, incidentally, and the book is being indexed as we speak. What a joy to watch the text's transformation into an artifact! Stay tuned for more.

P.S. A quick update to say that The Late Age of Print is now available for pre-order on It costs $27.50 in hardback, which, given the price of academic books these days, is a pretty good deal. Kudos to Columbia University Press for keeping the price down.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Books and the business of business models

My friend Dustin Howes alerted me to this recent Q&A with author Seth Godin, who talks about the future of the book biz. Here's an excerpt:
Q: What's the most important lesson the book publishing industry can learn from the music industry?

A: The market doesn't care a whit about maintaining your industry. The lesson from Napster and iTunes is that there's even MORE music than there was before. What got hurt was Tower and the guys in the suits and the unlimited budgets for groupies and drugs. The music will keep coming. Same thing is true with books. So you can decide to hassle your readers (oh, I mean your customers) and you can decide that a book on a Kindle SHOULD cost $15 because it replaces a $15 book, and if you do, we (the readers) will just walk away. Or, you could say, "if books on the Kindle were $1, perhaps we could create a vast audience of people who buy books like candy, all the time, and read more and don't pirate stuff cause it's convenient and cheap..." I'm a pessimist that the book industry will learn from music. How are you betting?
I'm so pleased to hear someone else saying to the book industry, "lower your prices to generate interest and increase sales." This was my basic argument when I blogged last June about the Amazon e-reader, Kindle, and the possibilities it opened up for the book biz to rethink its pricing strategies.

The rest of Godin's Q&A is definitely worth checking out. He has lots of interesting material there on "content" versus "book" publishing (the latter he refers to as "the life and death of trees"), as well as on the importance of publishers servicing, rather than simply making money from, their markets.

Here's hoping his thoughts don't fall on deaf ears.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Transversal on translation

You may not know this, but one of my ongoing side projects revolves around the idea and practice of translation. I've written about it in a short chapter in the volume I co-edited called Communication as...: Perspectives on Theory. (Surprise, surprise--my contribution is called, "Communication as Translation.") I've also presented some other work on the subject here and there at various conferences.

Anyway, I was pleased to receive an email announcement this morning alerting me to the latest issue of the journal Transversal (pictured above), whose theme is, "Talks on Translation." Definitely check it out.

Like Traces (Hong Kong University Press), which is easily one of the most thought-provoking book series in cultural studies today, Transversal publishes all of its articles in multiple languages simultaneously. The result is a remarkably multilingual and heterodox forum for intellectual exchange about culture, politics, and the politics of culture.

In contrast to most books and journals in cultural studies and beyond, these publications don't merely pay lip service to principles of difference, decentering, and globalization. Instead, they embody them. They do so by compelling authors, editors, and readers to engage a diverse global intellectual community, with all the difficulties and opportunities that entails.

Remarkable stuff.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thank you, America, for...

  • voting in record numbers.
  • recognizing that your vote does make a difference.
  • showing us that red can indeed become blue.
  • understanding what "change" really means.
  • knowing when enough's enough.
  • lifting the veil of tyranny.
  • celebrating last night in the streets.
  • bringing out your best selves when you were baited to bring out your worst.
  • choosing someone unashamed to utter the word "peace" in public.
  • showing that Presidents need not only be named John, Bill, James, or George.
  • determining before bedtime who would be the next President of the United States.
  • electing Barack Obama!
From the bottom of my heart, America, thank you. Now help this list grow by adding to it in the comments, posting it to social networking sites, and circulating it via email.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

"Acknowledged Goods" now live

Last May I posted a short snippet of a paper I was working on to the Differences & Repetitions Wiki. It was called "Acknowledged Goods: Cultural Studies and the Politics of Academic Journal Publishing." The title summarizes the principal focus of the piece. Essentially I wanted to ask: why hasn't the field of cultural studies given its instruments of scholarly communication--journals especially--more critical scrutiny?

I was encouraged by the many comments and questions I received in response to the two pairs of paragraphs and tables that I had posted online. I kept plugging away at "Acknowledged Goods" into the summer and finished a draft sometime in late June. I've been meaning to post the completed piece to D&RW, but unfortunately other responsibilities have gotten in the way.

Until now, that is. I've finally managed to get "Acknowledged Goods" properly formatted for the wiki, so at long last you can read the whole essay by clicking here. Since this is a longer and much more nuanced version of the work I posted back in May, I'm still very interested in hearing your feedback. Indeed, "Acknowledged Goods" remains a work in progress, so your comments, questions, and concerns will only help as I keep tweaking the piece.

I hope that you enjoy "Acknowledged Goods" and, more important, that it spurs you to action. Academic journal publishing is at a critical crossroads right now, and cultural studies ought to weigh in on its present and future directions.