Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Books, Libraries and CNET

I was recently at a fundraising event and the topic of eBooks came up.  As it is does when the fundraising event is for a library.  I found myself in the position of passionately defending eBooks, eReaders and the technology involved.

Not too long afterwards I found myself in another conversation where I found myself passionately defending good old-fashioned paper books.  The kinds with covers and pages and the smell of dust and glue that you just can't emulate.

To parse this out, I love and adore my eReader.  It's loaded with approximately 120 books spanning all genres.  Just in case.  (I live in perpetual fear of being stuck somewhere with nothing to read, don't you?)  I love the ease of acquiring new material, either purchasing from the cloud or borrowing from my library,  And I REALLY enjoy the fact that I can bump up the font size at the end of the day when my eyes are suffering from computer fatigue. When I travel it is one of the first things in my bag.

But...that doesn't mean it will ever replace physical books in my life.  Books are so much more than words, they are an experience bound in pages. They have a feel and a personality that you can't match with simple words on a screen.  Books are visceral, wrapped up in memory, a physical manifestation of Proust's madeleine.  Just catching a glimpse of my neat row of yellow-spine Nancy Drew's recalls lazy summer afternoons underneath the Norwegian Maple in my front yard.  Drips of peach juice stain the pages of Anne Sexton's To Bedlam and Partway Back.  I devoured the book during lunch breaks and was careless in my enthusiasm.  My copy of A Separate Peace  has a dented corner from where I threw it down in a fit of aggravation.

Both mediums have value and I don't plan on giving up either.  I don't understand the concept of "either/or" when "and" is so much more satisfying.  Here's another "and" - both of these mediums are available from your local library. Along with other content and services too numerous to mention.  In fact, your local library is pretty much the King of "and".

Unfortunately "and" is a concept under attack.  Don't believe me?  Read the LISNews report on CNET's Brian Cooley's recent podcast interview.  Who needs libraries when we have the internet, right?  I'll leave you to draw your own opinion of the piece but I think an appropriate lesson would be to lock Mr. Cooley in a room with a group of teachers who have spent the last few years grading Wikipedia-based reports.  They might have a few things to add to the conversation.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Whedonistas vs. The New York Times

It’s been exactly a month since the official launch of Whedonistas and nearly two months since it’s unofficial launch at the Gallifrey One convention in Los Angeles.  Since the calendar and, shockingly, the weather is crying out for a bit of spring cleaning, I can’t move forward in this space without taking a moment to reflect on both of these amazing events.
Whedonistas Signing at Gallifrey One Convention
Bottom, from left: Jane Espenson, Lynne M. Thomas, Me, Teresa Jusino. Top, from left: Nancy Holder, Jenn Reese, Kay Shuttleworth, Kelly Hale, Racheline Maltese

First, a huge, huge, thank you to all of the amazing women who were able to panel and signing in Los Angeles.  The panel was well attended, well received and just plain fun.  But how could it be anything else with this line-up?  The only thing that would have made it better was having ALL of our awesome contributors in attendance.

Second, thank you to Shaun Lyon and his fabulous staff of volunteers.  Not only for giving us the forum to launch Whedonistas, but for creating a truly memorable convention.  I can’t honestly recall when I’ve had more fun, laughed so hard and met more people who would quickly become friends.  

There's so much I could say about the process of this book, of how the lessons I learned from editing and what a valuable experience it was to work with my co-editor Lynne Thomas.  Instead I want to talk about what an honor it was to work with this group of fierce, talented women who not only unabashedly shared their love for these creations, but declared them to be important in so many ways.

This message can't be repeated enough considering we still live in day and age when a reviewer from the New York Times classifies the wildly popular fantasy series The Game of Thrones (adapted for HBO and premiering this Sunday) as "boyfiction" with a bit of titillation thrown in to interest the ladies who couldn't possibly be bothered otherwise.

I know a bunch of women who would beg to differ.