Youngblood Blog

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Weathering the Digital Storm: e-book, Durabook or Leatherbound?

Monthly IWSG Corner: or
Are [Insecure] Writers better at weathering stormy times than other people? 🙂

There is no doubt that—if one watches the news at all—we are all heading for hell in a handbasket, according to media-directed focus on the negative aspects of our economy, environment, life-expectancy and statistics on survival. But, quietly, behind the scenes other aspects of our lives are changing for the good… if we but extract ostrich-like heads from sand and look around to see what we may have achieved.

Some years ago, the book publishing industry used toxic solvents, bleach compounds, felled a lot of non-regenerating trees and had no interest in recycling materials or finding alternatives to the [sometimes candy-coated] printed page. In fact, if we are honest, since the days of the Gutenberg press, we (writers) as a race, have probably been addicted to the sensation/smell of a good book in our hands.

Cradle-to-Cradle (2000) by McDonough & Baumgart revolutionized recyclable printing

Cradle-to-Cradle (2000) by McDonough & Braungart revolutionized recyclable printing

“Achieving the great economic transition to more equitable, ecologically sustainable societies requires nothing less than a design revolution beyond today’s fossilized industrialism. This enlightened and enlightening book—Cradle to Cradle—shows us how and indeed, that ‘God is in the details.'”
Hazel Henderson, author of Building a Win-Win World and Beyond Globalization: Shaping a Sustainable Global Economy

Cradle to Cradle

Then, in 2002, along came William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s seminal edition of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things, manufactured from ‘upcyclable’ material. The ‘Durabook’ feels substantial, pages wipe clean and at the time (before the great upswing to e-books), it was the darling of all ‘progressive’ universities. It looked so good on the second-hand book shelf!

With the advent of the e-book, electronic art, IT-in-all-schools, mass web access, we writers may have been guilty of continuing to keep our heads buried in the sand: not wanting to see what was happening: while the industry was changing—writers and indy publishers taking the business under their own wing; writers providing platforms, support systems for fellow-writers—we may even have rebelled internally, determined not to lose that most elusive of pleasures (to an author), the sensation of holding a ‘good book’ in one’s hands.

Durabook from Bill McDonough and Michael Braungart launches April 16th

Durabook from Bill McDonough & Michael Braungart launch April 16

Now, eleven years after their first Durabook (a synthetic made from recycled plastic resins and inorganic fillers), McDonough and Braungart launch their ‘sequel’ from Northpoint Press, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability—Designing for Abundance, on April 16th. The foreword is by former president William T. Clinton. Northpoint is a subsidiary arm of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

In the early 1990s, then President Bill Clinton asked Bill McDonough to help with the White House ‘Greening’ program, to make drastic reductions in presidential fuel bills. The former president enthusiastically contributes to the new ‘durabook’ with a foreword clearly showing his support for the architect-chemist team’s solution to the world’s ills:

“Bill and Michael proposed that a better-designed world would be good for business, good for people’s health and good for the environment. Their first book introduced these ideas to the broader public and gave momentum to the sustainability movement, urging us to eliminate waste and consider no resource dispensable… essence of Bill and Michael’s work is the genuine desire to help others, coupled with intellectual curiosity and a deep commitment to transform ‘good enough’ into the very best. They focus on making the right things the right way.” President William T. Clinton

While the publishing industry may be slow (almost as leviathan as the banking industry, if we are being honest), there is certainly a sense of camaraderie developing among fellow writers-bloggers-authors by the fresh breeze blown in by indy publishers and independent e-book self-publishers in the last decade.

“We do not want sustainability, because that is not enough. We want real quality”
Michael Braungart

Judging by the press releases, the sequel to Cradle-to-Cradle may be even more inspiring than the original. Eleven years worth the wait? I am not totally confident that we insecure writers—led always to our fearless Alex J Cavanaugh, will succeed in plunging—all at once—into the new world of Durabooks or plastic substitutes, because of … our insecurities, you know: our favorite ‘feel-good’ and ‘smell-good’ sensations are indulged in when we curl up with our… well …you-know-what …

… Or do our insecurities insist that a good book isn’t the same if it doesn’t come from a tree? We shall have to wait and see. Thanks for listening, IWSGers and Alex. And great achievement, Michael Braungart and Bill McDonough.
©2013 Marian Youngblood

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April 3, 2013 Posted by | authors, blogging, culture, environment, fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Social Networking: Pause before Entry…

Monthly IWSG Linky-thingie
As some of you know, I failed to support our fearless leader–and several of his extremely potent|writerly| minions during the April A-Z marathon, for reasons of edit-mania. Now, at least, I can bring my head up for air (edits complete, MS returned to publisher for ?more edits?) and take a look around. But we know that the Universe never likes to see a busy person unbusy, and so, almost as soon as I divested one multi-POV project, another surfaced.

Most of us respond to call for help... ...p.s. so you don't all have nightmares: a kindly passerby DID raise the drain brander, and rescued four pairs of webbed feet from the tumbling waters...

The point is: I have never been able to turn down a genuine request for help; and because the project involves writing and publishing, I am/was drawn in irrevocably; isn’t it always the way? So perhaps my friend will forgive me if I share here some of her misgivings; and who knows, some of you may be able to help her decide.

My friend is a fellow Scot exiled in Japan where she founded, teaches and supports an energy healing center: with its main adherents coming to a peaceful country setting to learn how to heal themselves, and returning home equipped to continue the process. Alongside this laudable enterprise, she mistressminds an indy publishing house, with titles simultaneously appearing in both English and Japanese.

I am not exaggerating when I say their output is prolific, but, probably–honestly–not world-shattering, when compared with the Big Five. But I think I am preaching to the congregation when I say that most people reading this are big supporters of Indy Publishers because, as writers, we believe we have gone it alone for so long; along come brave-new-worlders bringing publishing to a more human level (less hype, more oomph); and we are delighted that the indy field is opening out to include more individuals–like us. It seems not only logical, but the most writer-friendly way to go.

What is the problem, you ask?

Well, maybe not a problem, but my friend has–in the eighteen years she has been running the initiative–never dipped into social media. I know; you think that’s funny. But that is seriously the position where she now finds herself.

I immediately thought of Alex’s great innovation: the IWSG; but then realized she is probably too shy to plunge in straight off; so I hinted that getting her own personal blog out there was a priority; because currently, she runs production, classes, editing and publishing under the corporate banner, mystically calling herself CEO–that’s her acronym for Chief Energy Officer!! And she’s doing that. But she believes her social media skills are nil. In fact, I believe she could knock the socks off any of us venturing to publish in the Japanese market, but that’s not the point.

Social media has, after all, the ability to link up personalities from pretty diverse backgrounds...

Trying to look with fresh eyes at what we–in the West–consider the norm: bloghops, blogtours, Alex’s amazing 150-blogs-a-day visits [we forgive you for taking time for yourself, Alex; you deserve it; we’ll still be here when you come back]; I realized it can’t be easy to plunge in on the Facebook, Twitter, Google+, what-have-you circuit. So, while she doesn’t know I’m writing this, I feel sure that when she discovers the multitude of diverse author/publishers in our IWSGroup, she might forgive me for whispering the word around.

I felt rather daunted myself when I first signed on with Alex–did you know that you guys are almost ninety-percent Blogger bloggers? repetition intentional, as I am a WordPress person, and linky-lists between the two are non-user-friendly. I’m not complaining; it is what it is. But it did make me look through the eyes of a child at the world we now take so for granted. Many of us have caught the blogging bug and communications craze and mastered the art (sortof) in under a decade. And, some of us are really in an age bracket where we didn’t think we could… but that tale for another time…

I believe it's her move...

I told her some of us are NOT on Facebook, don’t tweet, and succeed in being prolific, only after hours of a dedicated cave-like existence, or a week of sleepless nights. I hope she got the idea. She signed on for G+ but not FB; LinkedIn, but not MySpace (I wasn’t advocating that she did!). And I feel sure she will fit right in here, when/if she finally finds out I told you all this behind her back.

That said, may I wish all my fellow bloggers on Alex’s growing and ever-fruitful linky-list a brilliant month of May and happy warm-up for great ideas in the summer of 2012.
@2012May Marian Youngblood

May 2, 2012 Posted by | authors, blogging, publishing, writing | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments