Post-Gutenberg Book Launch
Initially, after such a long time of study and writing, I think the Post-Gutenberg launch of The Parliament of Poets is off to a good start. There has been a considerable amount of interest in the book through social networking and otherwise, on Facebook, Google+ and so forth. A fair number of review copies, digital and hardcover, were sent out during the summer; the summer serialization resulted in people hearing about the book and purchasing individual chapters for 99 cents apiece; many editors and intelligent readers have responded into the fall, and hardcover copies are selling. I managed to contact much of the old traditional review magazines, journals, and newspapers that count, in terms of serious literary discussion and interest, or thought of as such by many, and gave them the opportunity to consider and review what I believe can only rightly be recognized as what it is–the first global, universal epic poem, and the first epic poem in the English language in 345 years, though I’m well aware that it’s up to critics and readers to judge it. Inevitably, I am the thoroughly immersed and partial author of my child.
I’ve enjoyed immensely, too, exploring the possibilities of the Post-Gutenberg moment, finding what I hope are new ways of reaching readers and the culture, of making my book available for readers, as we all try to figure out where and how we go from here. It’s a very exciting time to write, just from that perspective.
I’m grateful, too, that there has been some interest among South Asian Indian readers and journals. While Robert Frost, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and so many other American writers, had to go east, back to the old world, if you will, to find and receive a hearing, I have always felt and experienced an attraction to Asia, Japan, China, and India, on many levels of my being. That interest is reflected in my epic. Often I have thought that perhaps for me, if anything like recognition ever finds me, maybe it has to come first somehow from Asia, given what literature and the academy have so often become in the US and Western world.
When I look back at 2012, I can only think it’s been a remarkable year for me, quite a journey on the lived level, really, covering a lot of ground, reading my epic as I finished various drafts, in Buffalo and Albany, and then in Austin, Texas, a number of times. With the epic finished and setup worldwide in hardcover and digital formats, I hope somehow in 2013 to be able to travel more and begin to live my dream of reading and reciting it throughout first Michigan and the United States, and, God willing, around the world, becoming a modern exemplar of that rhapsode on the Berlin Painter’s great and matchless amphora.
Now an ePub on Kobo and Google Play, The Parliament of Poets
Kobo (many devices, iPad, smartphones, tablets, etc.)
Google Play (many devices, iPad, smartphones, tablets, etc.)
Both ebook sellers have numerous affiliates around the world and with time availability of my epic poem will spread to them as well. They both also provide their ebook list to independent booksellers and local bookstores in the USA. For one list, see IndieBound.
With the full setup now on Kobo and Google Play, I consider my epic poem fully published and distributed. I don’t anticipate making it available through other outlets. I have all the bases covered, if you will, to my satisfaction–Amazon, hardcover and Kindle; Barnes & Noble, Hardcover and Nook ePub; Kobo, ePub; Google Play, ePub. Through Ingram’s Lightning Source, the epic is available worldwide, or will be soon, as a hardcover book, through many booksellers in the USA, the United Kingdom, all over Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, India, and many more locations. For specific countries, see my web site page, Order Books.
I don’t really like the way Apple allows independent publishers to place their books on iTunes, i.e., through Smashwords, which has a stigmatizing association that I don’t think highly of and uses what I consider to be an inferior format to the ePub2 that I want my ebooks published in. The reader deserves the best. If iTunes were to allow writers to publish directly through an Apple account, I would then make my books available on it. Unless or until that happens, readers with Apple devices can read my ebooks through the apps for Kobo, Google Play, and Kindle, or the hardcover.
The Parliament of Poets, An Epic Poem, Hardcover, now on Amazon:
The Parliament of Poets, An Epic Poem, Kindle, now on Amazon:
August 12, 2012
Sam Tanenhaus, Editor
The New York Times Book Review
620 Eighth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Dear Mr. Tanenhaus,
I write to ask you to reassess the policy of The New York Times Book Review, as stated on the submission help page, that “we only review books . . . available through general-interest bookstores.”
Such a policy does not serve the best interests of readers, writers, nor the general culture. It serves the economic hegemony of largely New York corporate publishers and corporate distributors and bookstores, as well as the library journals of review and acquisition, and other outdated gatekeepers. It prevents new voices and ideas from reaching the nation. With the development of online booksellers and ebooks and the demise of Borders, the policy is no longer defensible, if it ever was.
I have enclosed a second letter that introduces myself and my accompanying epic poem, which I believe is the first epic poem in the English language in 345 years and the first global, universal epic. I invite you to consider reviewing it.
As a Post-Gutenberg writer and publisher, I reject the old model and ask The New York Times Book Review to embrace the new one now struggling to be born.
– Second letter enclosed –
August 12, 2012
Sam Tanenhaus, Editor
The New York Times Book Review
620 Eighth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Dear Mr. Tanenhaus,
I invite you to review The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem, which will be published in November, and takes place partly on the moon, at the Apollo 11 landing site, the Sea of Tranquility. I believe it is both the first epic poem in the English language in 345 years and the first global, universal epic.
Apollo calls all the poets of the nations, ancient and modern, East and West, to assemble on the moon to consult on the meaning of modernity.
All the great shades appear: Homer and Virgil from Greek and Roman civilization; Dante, Spenser, and Milton hail from the Judeo-Christian West; Rumi, Attar, and Hafez step forward from Islam; Du Fu and Li Po, Basho and Zeami, step forth from China and Japan; the poets of the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana meet on that plain; griots from Africa; shamans from Indonesia and Australia; Murasaki Shikibu, Emily Dickinson, and Jane Austen, poets and seers of all ages, bards, rhapsodes, troubadours, and minstrels, major and minor, hail across the halls of time and space. One of the major themes is the power of women and the female spirit across cultures. Another is the nature of science and scientism, as well as the “two cultures.”
I studied writing with the poet Robert Hayden, who was one of W. H. Auden’s students at the University of Michigan in the early 1940s, edited both Hayden’s prose and poems, and have written or edited several books.
I lived for more than fifteen years outside Michigan—in Japan, where I taught at Gunma University in Maebashi; in Arizona, on the Colorado River Indian Tribes Reservation, site of one of the largest internment camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII; in Illinois, on the central farmlands and on the Mississippi; ultimately returning to my suburban hometown of Rochester. A Fulbright-Hays scholar to China in 1994, I studied at Beijing University, the Buddhist Mogao Caves on the old Silk Road, and elsewhere in China, including Hong Kong and the Academia Sinica in Taiwan. While a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar in 1995 on India, I further explored the conflicts between the traditional regional civilizations of Islamic and Hindu cultures and modernity. (See in the Contents “About the Author” for further details.)
I have been extensively involved with Post-Gutenberg publishing for well over a decade, and all my books are available worldwide, in printed and electronic form, as will be The Parliament of Poets in November. It will be marketed through over a hundred and fifteen advance review galleys, worldwide, both printed and digital, and through Google Adwords, my website and blog, Facebook, Google+ and other social networking, along with a national author tour and radio interviews, including epic poetry readings and lectures. In January 2009, I was mentioned in Rick Stevens’ Poetry Foundation study, “Technology: Poetry and New Media,” as “a dynamic presence among the advocates of self-publishing and adopting the independent music model of direct purchase from artist to consumer.”
Nexus 7 Tablet
My first ereaders were Palm Pilot handheld devices in the mid 1990s, on which I read such authors as Shakespeare and Mark Twain, despite their crude screens, the earliest of which was green, about 3″ x 4″.
So I was thrilled when I stumbled on the Sony 505 ereader at the Ann Arbor Borders Bookstore in 2007. I immediately recognized it as a significant upgrade in technology and a new home for my roughly thousand or more ebooks I had already downloaded from Gutenberg.org and elsewhere. Though I read many books and articles on it, the Sony 505 had lots of defects. It was slow, crashed a lot, and basically had no support from the manufacturer.
In May of 2011 I bought an Aluratech LIBRE Touch eBook Reader, with WiFi and a 7 inch TouchScreen. It was many generations of upgrading from the Sony 505, and I enjoyed it for a while, but then the fact that Aluratech never upgraded the software from Android 1.5 really degraded the experience. I plan to keep it, but it doesn’t handle PDFs efficiently enough, leading to frustrating delays and repetitions when resetting the size, requiring tedious moments of waiting while the processor crunches the numbers…. Still, the 7 inch screen and overall size and weight makes for very pleasant reading, especially of ePubs, which don’t have the problems of PDFs.
I held off buying a conventional tablet, such as the iPad, which to me is huge and clunky. I had had a Netbook for years, and the size of the various tablets were all too big to attract me. I felt I was duplicating what I already had, but without a keyboard.
Since I’ve had a Google Nexus S cellphone since late 2010, I immediately had an interest in the Nexus 7, upon good advice that it was coming out in late June. I bought one a few days after Google starting selling them online on June 27. Now that I’ve used Google’s Nexus 7 Tablet for nearly a month, I’m amazed at what an incredible advance it represents over the other ereaders I’ve had. It doesn’t matter to me that it doesn’t have a phone or camera capability. Of course, it’s more than an ereader, but that’s the primary purpose for which I bought one. That it has wireless and runs video exceptionally well are added advantages, as is its ability to handle email and surf the web. The enormous number of Android apps extend the device almost endlessly. The five built-in processors allow for instantaneous and efficient resizing of PDFs.
With the 16 gigabyte model, I copied my now roughly 5,000 ebooks and another 5,000 articles on to it with several gigabytes to spare, enough to probably more than double the number of books. A very seamless transition to a better and happier reading experience. The Android version is the current and most advanced, with free updates from Google, that support using the Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and the Kobo apps on it for expanded reading options, along with all the others. Google Books has built-in availability for many more millions of books.
For people with serious literary and cultural interests, Google’s Nexus 7 Tablet might be the one to consider if you have been holding off getting an ereading device.
The Decentralization of the Post-Gutenberg Age
“‘E-books make the Gutenberg system, which still characterizes the industry after 500 years, absolutely obsolete,’ insists Jacob Epstein, the veteran publisher who invented trade paperbacks and founded the New York Review of Books.” “E-publishing radically decentralizes the marketplace,” Jacob Epstein.
The decentralizing of post-Gutenberg publishing is something that I can speak about with intimate knowledge and ties in with my book of poems Into the Ruins and other books. In the mid nineties I became disgusted with the conventional avenues of cultural and literary publishing, both books, journals, and magazines. I had more than a decade of rejection slips from ignoramuses who demonstrated not the slightest understanding or familiarity with the manuscripts I sent them, along with a number from highly respected editors at major publishers, one, for instance, telling me he thought my book The Grove of the Eumenides should receive a hearing but did nothing to make it happen. I came to think very little of nepotism, especially in publishing. Other editors, publishing their post-modern drivel, enjoyed indulging themselves at my expense, they apparently thought. I quite consciously walked away from the whole conventional publishing scene, and the university in 1996, and began seeking ways to go around the stranglehold of both, directly to the reader.
I first thought the way to go around the decadent post-modern establishment and open a new path for literature, seeking to revive and renew its deepest humanistic traditions, was the time-honored route of typical self-publishing and brought out Into the Ruins through the printer McNaughton Gunn in 1999 under my own independent publishing company, Earthrise Press. While I sold some books through Borders and Barnes & Noble, through Baker & Taylor, I found them all to be opposed to an independent voice. A selection from the approximately twenty Reviews from that time are on my website. Despite a few insightful reviews, no one really understood what I was fully attempting with Into the Ruins. Thus far, the same has proven to be the case with The Bower of Nil in 2002 and The Grove of the Eumenides in 2007.
Along the way, I evolved into using POD (Print on Demand) technology through Lightning Source and thought the way around the stultifying post-modern status quo would lie in that direction, which nevertheless opened up the way to the global reach of the Internet booksellers to an amazing degree, shocking me that I could sell books around the world. Very early I recognized the value of Jason Epstein’s Espresso Book Machine, though it’s yet to fulfill its potential.
Along in there, too, ebooks increasingly became a possibility, and I published all of my books into ebooks, available worldwide and going around all of the conventional gatekeepers. The record of much of the evolution of my thinking is in my Publishing in the Post-Gutenberg Age
Like everyone else, I’ve evolved along the way with a website since 1998 and a blog, eventually Web 2.0 social networking… Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Through all that, I continued to study and work towards my epic poem, the earliest notes for which are from 1982, recently finishing the fifth draft in March of 2012. It’s not only the methods of publishing that I’m talking about, but how the identification and promotion of disparate views and visions of life, in literary terms and otherwise, evolve and reach the broader culture. I have not devoted over thirty years of my life writing an epic poem to allow a corrupt, conventional corporate publisher ever to touch it. Everything I’ve written is about the freedom of the individual soul, and the poem must be published in such a way as to affirm it.