Where to Get Your Book Fix

With all the closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have lost physical access to libraries as well as chain and local bookstores. Our access may be diminished, but our need for entertainment—or if we can’t be entertained, at least some kind of distraction—has wildly increased.

But fear not! Just because we can’t physically browse for new books doesn’t mean we’re left to lament a lack of bookish entertainment, or even wait for physical books we order online to be delivered to our home (a recipe for disaster as postal services are overwhelmed with delivering necessities, causing longer wait times than usual). Instead, I present to you in this trying time a fun way to get your book fix without ever leaving your home: ebooks.

You might not have an ereader, but that’s okay! Nowadays, if you’re able to read this blog post, you’re able to access an ebook. Most, if not all, of these options will provide you with some of that good book stuff!

The first option for accessing ebooks is also the most economical: your public library. Many libraries have now partnered with one of several online services to provide their members with access to ebooks. All you need is your library card. Don’t have that? Check with your local library. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, some libraries are offering residents in their area the option to sign up for a card online.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks to being able to access your local library digitally, like limited selection and long waitlists. If you run into these problems and can’t easily access what you want, there are a multitude of other places where you can get ebooks depending on what device you’re using as well as your personal preferences. For Apple users, there’s the Apple Books marketplace, where you can buy pretty much any ebook you can imagine. For other users, there’s the Google Play store and, of course, Amazon. You can access all of these through your device’s app store or through a web browser.

And for those of us passionate about supporting local bookstores, I present you with another option: Kobo. You can find local bookstores that work with Kobo on their website and support them with your ebook purchases. Kobo does have an ereader, but their app is also available on most systems. Not only can you get the bookish entertainment you need, but you can also help out your local bookstore!

So, while we’re all staying inside and helping to flatten the curve, we can all use these resources to make sure we have no shortage of books to read.

Kobo Dives Headfirst into Audiobook Market

On September 6, 2017, the ebook company Kobo officially launched themselves into the audiobook market. In recent years, audiobooks have been one of the few publishing sectors that have had substantial growth. This trend appears set to continue this year, with Publishers Weekly reporting that audiobook sales in the first four months of 2017 were 24.5% higher than in the same period of 2016. It’s no wonder that Kobo decided to expand their business into this sector; audiobooks have proven that they are here to stay.

Amazon’s Audible has long been the dominant force in the audiobook world; for the price of fifteen dollars per month, subscribers receive one free audiobook monthly, plus 30% off of any additional audiobooks that they purchase. However, Kobo appears poised to undercut Audible’s business by pricing their plan at ten dollars per month and a free audiobook. While their plan does not provide any discount on subsequent audiobooks that users purchase, lower title prices in addition to a lower subscription cost will make Kobo’s new service appealing to many casual audiobook listeners. According to The Daily Beast, the average audiobook listener consumed fifteen books in 2016. If those users have a subscription so that twelve of those are no additional cost, Kobo’s plan will offer them substantial savings over the course of a year. Kobo’s plan shows their confidence in their expansion into the audiobook market and should demonstrate that audiobooks will be an important sector for publishers to reach moving forward.

The appeal of audiobooks lies in their ability to give someone the experience of a novel within the always-on-the-go lifestyle that our culture has embraced. Prior to the wide availability of audiobooks, for many there simply wasn’t enough time in the day to sit down and read a book. A book’s greatest strength—its ability to allow one to escape from reality—was also its greatest weakness, as it meant that time couldn’t be spent doing other things. Audiobooks on the other hand, allow for multitasking. People can take them wherever they go: to the gym while they exercise, in their car during their daily commute, or home while they do various chores. For the first time, books don’t have to prevent someone from completing their to-do list for the day.

What publishers need to take away from all of this is that audiobooks may well be worth investing in. While they present an extra cost up-front to record them, audiobooks also reach a new market of people—those who are hesitant to buy books in print. While print books appeal primarily to those who are dedicated to reading, audiobooks can also pull on demographics of people too busy to sit down and consume a print copy. Publishers Weekly noted that backlist titles have also proven to have strong sales in the audiobook market, holding many of the slots of bestseller lists in places like iBooks. Republishing backlist titles as audiobooks would allow publishers to give their older titles new legs again, even introducing older books to a new generation. As more and more people choose to listen rather than read, publishers need to take that important step in publishing books in an audio format to remain competitive in today’s world.

40 Years of Poetry Publishing

Founded in 1972 by Sam Hamill, Tree Swenson, William O’Daly, and Jim Gautney, Copper Canyon Press started out selling hand-bound, letterpressed limited editions of poetry books out of the trunks of their cars.  Today, over forty years later, with nearly 500 poetry titles under its belt and operating out of a white clapboard house in Port Townsend, Washington, Copper Canyon is one of the country’s largest and most renowned publishers of poetry. Given poetry’s reputation of posing a challenge for even the shrewdest of sales managers, the press’s continued success seems astounding. How, one wonders, does Copper Canyon manage to continually bring poetry to readers in a marketplace marked by short-lived sensations and digital oversaturation?

The diversity of Copper Canyon’s catalog is noteworthy. It includes original collections and translations of heavyweight poets—including Nobel laureates (like Pablo Neruda and Rabindranath Tagore), Pulitzer Prize winners, and National Book Award winners, among them Ted Kooser, W. S. Merwin, and Lucille Clifton—as well as work by emerging authors like Ben Lerner, Natalie Diaz, and Kerry James Evans. Also featured is an impressive number of bilingual volumes of poetry translated from Arabic, Chinese, Belarusian, and other languages. To a considerable extent, Copper Canyon’s bestsellers—former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser’s Delights & Shadows, for example, sold more than 70,000 copies—allow the press to keep on publishing work by lesser-known authors, such as Lucia Perillo’s Inseminating the Elephant.

The press is also embracing digital formats, moving broadly and fearlessly into the e-book market since spring of this year. So far, more than eighty titles are available for the Nook, Kindle, and Kobo. For Copper Canyon’s marketing and sales director, Joseph Bednarik, the dialogue with readers and their (intellectual, emotional, and spiritual) experience with poetry is the main motivator. Over a glass of beer, he told me that nobody has quite figured out where the publishing industry as a whole will go, but that it is an exciting time for the business and that it would be foolish not to be open to exploring digital publishing venues.

In an effort to keep quality standards high and make submissions more manageable for its employees, Copper Canyon has moved away from an open submission system. Before switching to a fee-based submission process, over 1,500 manuscripts were sent in to the press each year, an amount that was simply unmanageable. Now, there are two-month reading sessions throughout the year, during which about 400 manuscripts are submitted. Poets pay a $35 reading fee, which entitles them to pick out two Copper Canyon titles for their own library as well as paying for a thorough reading of their manuscripts by Copper Canyon’s editorial department and their team of volunteer readers all over the country. Copper Canyon’s executive editor, Michael Wiegers (who took over from Sam Hamill in 2005), then has the final say in choosing which manuscripts will get published.

At the Wordstock 2013 poetry publishers panel, Bednarik also reported that the publishing house has tight control over books’ marketing. For example, authors will have a say in their book’s cover design, but Copper Canyon reserves the right to pass the final decision, often after presenting several versions to and consulting with their distributor, Consortium. Design and marketing here go hand in hand: it is important, for instance, how book covers look on the small scale, because readers will mainly come across them online first.

Numbers are a big part of Bednarik’s work and the day-to-day reality of the press, he conceded. With a staff of eleven, Copper Canyon—a non-profit organization, like most other poetry publishers—relies on grants and private donations for about half of its revenue. Technically, he said, every book Copper Canyon sells is underpriced; “it just doesn’t seem to work any other way.”

After over forty years of going strong, what’s next for Copper Canyon? Parallel to their printed books, they will keep expanding their e-offerings. An upcoming collection that I, personally, couldn’t be more excited about is Richard Siken’s War of the Foxes, slated for publication in spring of 2015. Siken’s debut, Crush, sold well over 20,000 copies—if this doesn’t bode well for Copper Canyon, then I don’t know what would.

Coastal Reading

By Kacie Peterson
What better way to spend your vacation than immersed in a good book, eating seafood at its finest, and having a beautiful ocean view all in one? It’s a perfect place to buy that paperback you’ve wanted to read while lying on the beach. Upon entering this lovely little hidden treasure, one is greeted by an old, loveable tabby cat who spends most of his days sleeping among the books on a little foot stool in the corner of the shop.Spring break is upon us, and it’s time to relax and escape from the drudgery of student life. If you’re looking for a fun vacation idea that won’t cost a fortune, you should head to Seaside and check out Beach Books! Beach Books is a quaint little independent bookstore in downtown Seaside, right next to the ocean.
There is something for everyone and a wide selection of books for people of any age. They also have many useful books for a beachside vacation. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation involving bird watching, beach combing, and exploring the history of the area, there are many helpful books available at Beach Books. This can come in handy to those who want to learn more about the area and explore the coast.
When asking Paul Leech, a regular Seaside visitor, what he thought of Beach Books, he said, “I love going to Beach Books when I’m in Seaside, there’s always good service and interesting books I find while browsing. My girlfriend and I love to bird watch, and it’s nice to get locals’ expertise when looking for a book to purchase on the topic. I really like to support the little independent bookstores, I feel they have so much more to offer than people realize.”
It is true, small bookstores have a wealth of information and a cozy inviting atmosphere that beats any kind of online sale. Owners of small bookstores are also knowledgeable about the books they sell, and their opinions are valued by their customers. This kind of advice is more reliable than reviews someone could read online.
Some folks like their books fast, easy, and cheap, however; and for those travelers who aren’t fond of print books, Beach Books also offers Kobo eBooks and eReaders. These eBooks correspond with every other eReader except for Kindle. Of course, when dealing with the coastal climate, one never knows what to expect when going for a visit. Luckily, when it comes to reading it doesn’t matter.
One can be inside as a storm is blowing, and tuck in with a good book and big bowl of clam chowder, or enjoy a lovely sunny day lying on the beach and soaking up the sun as the next chapter starts to get really good. There is nothing more relaxing and stress-free than taking some time to oneself to sit down and escape into another world with ocean breezes and the call of gulls calling out to all who will listen.