November 2013

Viewing posts from November , 2013

Applied Art 101 (How I learned about life from a pie)

 By

Lori Hope Baumel

Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on November 1, 2013

Fading photo: Grandma Rae and her apple pie. Circa: Late 1970’s.

Fading photo: Grandma Rae and her apple pie. Circa: Late 1970’s.

 

“I shall pass through this world but once.

 Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.”

–          Mahatma Gandhi

Applied art is the application of aesthetics and design to objects of function and everyday use, whereas, fine arts serve as intellectual stimulation to the viewer and is often produced or intended primarily for beauty.

According to the Dewey Decimal System, there are hundreds of topics at the library in the applied arts section. In this column, it is most appropriate to discuss the Culinary Arts, as the month of November and the Thanksgiving meal have become synonymous.

True culinary artists are responsible for skillfully preparing meals that are as pleasing to the palate as to the eye. They are also required to have knowledge of the science of food. Increasingly, a formal culinary education is required for success in this field. The culinary industry continues to be male-dominated, with only one out of five chefs and head cooks being female. Over time, with more women going into the field, the ratio will adjust.

Yet, on the home front, women have predominantly been the chief cooks of the family. Although this trend has been changing rapidly, most recipes passed down from generation to generation have been from mother to daughter.

WAIT! Enough of the pedantic rambling… rather than discuss the virtues of the skill and technique required within the culinary arts:

 

Let me tell you about my Grandma’s apple pie…

 

Autumn, of course, is harvest season. Apples are abundant. Especially baking apples. My late grandmother, Rachel Davis, used Cortland or Macintosh apples to create an eastern European style apple pie. Well, it really wasn’t a pie, it was more of a cake, but we can debate that another time. Instead of baking it in a circular shape, she used a large rectangular pan.

No one could create this epicurean masterpiece like my grandmother did. Grandma Rae, as we called her, would cut the apples in a specific shape and size. She would say that her own (Russian born) mother helped her perfect the process. The recipe was not an exact formula, but the results were magnificent. When we would peek in the oven, a rectangular ring of bubbling caramel on the circumference of the pie would be an indicator that it was just about done.

Yes, the dough contained lots of eggs and oil. From what I witnessed, she used bottled lemon juice and the flour was bleached. By today’s standards, it would not be considered the most organic of ingredients. Regardless, everyone in the family would fight over the last piece. The crust was perfectly moist, the fruit was tender and there was a flawless balance of sugar, lemon and cinnamon. Just thinking about it brings to mind a sense of nostalgia. I can almost smell it cooking as I write this.

In my grandmother’s later years, I tried to write down the recipe in order to replicate it in the future. Over time, my results have been hit or miss. Why? Because simply following a recipe does not make you a culinary artist. Can a trained painter reproduce a Picasso or can a composer write a fugue in the style of Bach? With the proper training, anyone can do anything. Obviously, the original work would have more value, both aesthetically and financially. If I were to parallel Grandma’s pie to a painting, it often resembled a piece by Jackson Pollack. To my family, abstract as it appeared, it was a genuine work of art. The passion and love that went into making that pie could never be duplicated. It was worth more than money could buy.

After my grandfather passed away in 1983, Grandma Rae lost her desire to cook large meals. Three years went by without her celebrated pie. In January of 1986, I convinced her to bake it one more time. I propped a big lug of a VHS video camera onto a tripod and recorded the “process.” I’ve since transferred the videotape to DVD and distributed copies to family members. To this day, I watch that video every time I attempt to bake “Grandma Rae’s apple pie.” It’s rather helpful. Sometimes, I actually come close to baking it the way she did.

I truly believe that the Thanksgiving holiday is not “all about the food.” My grandmother would cook for several days in anticipation of the arrival of those she held closest to her heart. Patience and sincerity were the secret ingredients that went into her preparation. Unfortunately, those virtues are not available on the shelf at the supermarket. As the Davis family’s chief cook, Grandma Rae put those incredible ingredients into every holiday meal she made.

I hope you sense that this column is not just about a simple pie. Rachel Davis gave me the recipe for life. As a role model, she was consistently compassionate, generous and affectionate. Her smile lit up a room and her love for her family was immeasurable. She mentored me as I continue to mentor others.

My family and I wish all of our Around Wellington readers a Thanksgiving filled with traditions and recipes passed down from generation to generation. At the festive meal, look around you and treasure the moments. Try to eat mindfully and slowly. Take plenty of photos. Remember, you are creating memories that will be passed on for many years to come.

My Apple Pie - 2010.

My Apple Pie – 2010.

03Rachel Baumel's Pie

My Daughter’s Apple Pie – 2012.

Live… Go… Do!

 

The following is an edited (3-minute) version of the video I recorded of Grandma Rae baking her pie with me on January 23, 1986. It seems like it was yesterday. Enjoy!

 See:

http://youtu.be/ZTKh9J66BdE

 

 

Top Five List For November 2013

1) Read:

04 Art Hive Logo

 

05 Art Hive Cover

 

“Art Hive Magazine is a true labor of love! We are an arts and entertainment magazine made by creative educators and art lovers. Based out of the Palm Beaches, our mission is to spread the love of the arts throughout the community by showcasing our own creative folks as well as exposing our readers to other interesting stories and art forms. From local street artists to world-renowned musicians, Art Hive magazine has something interesting for everyone.  We give creativity a voice in South Florida.”

                              – Art Hive website

In October, I attended a performance of two one-act plays by Woody Allen at the Lake Worth Playhouse Stonezek Theater. Amongst the free print magazines available there, I picked up a copy of Art Hive and truly enjoyed their coverage of cultural arts in our county. Luckily, the magazine is also available online.

Check it out at:

arthivemagazine.com

2) See talented musicians perform classical music at affordable prices:

Lynn University’s Conservatory of Music Invites the Public to Four Musical Performances in November

Guillermo Figueroa. Photo: Lynn Univ.

Guillermo Figueroa. Photo: Lynn Univ.

 

Jon Robertson, Dean of Lynn University’s Conservatory of Music and Philharmonia Orchestra Guest Conductor, today invited the public to attend four different musical performances during the month of November. “The talented students and extraordinary faculty of the Lynn University Conservatory of Music look forward to sharing the beautiful world of music next month,” said Robertson. “We urge fans of classical music to join us on the Lynn University campus for some magnificent presentations.”

                                                                                                – Lynn University Press Release

November 14 – 7:30 p.m.  (Thursday)

Chamber Music Palm Beach No. 3 

Come join the musicians of The Palm Beach Chamber Music Festival in Boca Raton, as they partner with LynnUniversity to present their premier fall series. Continuing their two decades long tradition of varied programs and mixed ensembles, the group will perform great masterworks of composers ranging from Mozart to Stravinsky. Concerts will include several side-by-side performances with some of Lynn’s most talented students.

Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center

Tickets: $20

 

November 16 at 7:30 p.m.  (Saturday)

November 17 at 4 p.m.  (Sunday)

Lynn Philharmonia No. 3

Guillermo Figueroa, Conductor

Featuring winners of the annual Conservatory Concerto Competition.

Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center

Tickets:   Box: $50 / Orchestra: $40 / Mezzanine: $35

 

November 21 at 7:30 p.m.  (Thursday)

Dean’s Showcase No. 2

Amarnick-Goldstein Concert Hall

Tickets: $20

 

How to Purchase Tickets:

Tickets are available for purchase at the Lynn University Box Office, located in the Wold Performing Arts Center at 3601 N. Military Trail. Tickets also may be purchased online at http://events.lynn.edu or by phone at 561-237-9000.

 

3) Watch:

The 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

07 Macys

Set your alarm clocks! Join in the Baumel family tradition and watch the 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. It’s the next best thing to being there.

 

When: Thanksgiving Day, 9 AM to Noon

Channel: Your NBC affiliate station

Macy’s has set up a terrific website that includes information on the parade’s history, games, and the names of those who will be performing in this year’s extravaganza.

See the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade link.

http://social.macys.com/parade/?cm_mmc=VanityUrl-_-parade-_-n-_-n

 

4) It’s harvest time! Buy local or grow your own fresh fruits and vegetables:

Williams-Sonoma has a beautiful Harvest Calendar available online. It can help you anticipate what fruits and vegetables are “in season.” If you are ambitious, gardening is an applied art we can enjoy all year round in south Florida.

08 Harvest Calendar

 

Check out the calendar and click on your “zone” to see the chart of seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Go to:

williams-sonoma.com/shop/agrarian-garden/agrarian-harvest-calendar

Here’s the specific link for the “zone 8” annual harvest calendar for south Florida:

See:

rk.wsimgs.com/wsimgs/rk/images/i/201336/0016/images/pdf/agrarian/harvest-calendar-zone8.pdf

5) Research your family roots at:

09 Ancestry

 

A few years ago, my husband and I were curious about delving deeper into our family history. We decided to try the 14-day free trial at ancestry.com. The results were fascinating and ultimately, we paid the annual fee. Granted, the least expensive membership is $20 per month or $200 per year, but for me it was well worth it. I ended up connecting and corresponding with family members and strong new bonds were formed. The investment was priceless.

Researching your family tree is rather absorbing. We spent much more time than initially expected during the 14-day trial. Be prepared for an immersive experience. To view your options go to: ancestry.com

Another link on ancestry.com allows you to start your own family tree. This feature is free.

“Start your family tree. Organize facts. Find answers. Why start an online family tree? We think it’s not only the easiest way to organize, preserve and share your family history, but it’s also a direct link to missing information about your roots. And while accessing most of the record collections on Ancestry.com requires a paid subscription, your online family tree is completely FREE.”    – ancestry.com website

To view this feature of the ancestry.com website go directly to:

trees.ancestry.com

A Reader’s Paradise – Part II

 

By Lori Hope Baumel

Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on November 1, 2013

Video preview of the Miami Book Fair International 2013:

See the MBFI video! Go to: http://youtu.be/d05tLUW3m3M 

Video photos courtesy of MBFI 2013

 

Readers from all over the world with authors from all over the world will meet, talk and share ideas.

As I mentioned in A Reader’s Paradise – Part I, earlier this week, hop in the car and head south to the Miami Book Fair International (MBFI). The MBFI is the oldest and largest gathering of authors coming from all over the world with an attendance of 250,000 people of all ages over a period of 8 days.

 

It’s important to reserve your tickets now! The prices are reasonable and many of the ticketed events are free. There are programs, concerts and activities for the entire family. For more information about the weeklong event go to:

http://www.miamibookfair.com/

To review A Reader’s Paradise – Part I

Go to: http://aroundwellington.net/?p=23465

A Conversation With

Poet Julie Marie Wade

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Julie Wade  – Photo courtesy MBFI

“I always try to think about the person who, out of love or friendship, has come to a poetry reading for someone else… My hope is that we can, as poets, excite that person to form a new relationship with poetry.” – Julie Marie Wade

“Born in Seattle in 1979, Julie Marie Wade completed a Master of Arts in English at Western Washington University in 2003, a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry at the University of Pittsburgh in 2006, and a Ph.D. in Humanities with creative dissertation at the University of Louisville in 2012. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Without (Finishing Line Press, 2010) and two collections of lyric nonfiction, Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures (Colgate University Press, 2010) and Small Fires (Sarabande Books, 2011). Julie lives with her partner and their two cats in the Sunshine State, where she teaches creative writing at Florida International University.” – The Marie Alexander Poetry Series Website

Julie Wade will be reading from her latest book, Postage Due, along with poets James Allen Hall, Orlando Ricardo Menes and Jen Karetnick on Saturday, November 23 at 3:00 PM at the Miami Book Fair International 2013. For more information see:

http://www.miamibookfair.com/events/james_allen_hall_on_emnow_youre_the_enem.aspx

Recently, I was fortunate to interview Ms. Wade about the upcoming event. The following is most of our enlightening conversation.

LHB: Your new book, Postage Due, is sincere, heartfelt and innovative. How did the use of the “postcard” concept come to you?

JMW: I’ve always been interested in epistolary literature in general. In graduate school I read A Postcard Memoir by Lawrence Sutin, and in that book he uses random postcards as occasions for musings. I’m sure that collection put certain ideas into my head about how I might use postcards in a more compressed way in my poetry. Typically [on] a postcard, you don’t have a lot of space to write very much… If you were literally sending out postcards, not just using the concept, you are forced to either write very small or compress what you want to say… boil your message down to its essence.

Because I am a long-winded person, I realized this approach would be a really good challenge for me. I’m always looking for some kind of formal challenge. As writers, we tend to circle around a lot of the same themes in our work… The only way I have to know that I’m keeping my work fresh is to try new things formally. The postcard for me was the ultimate challenge… For the literal poems in the book that are postcard sized, I knew I had to force myself to say something very brief and very precise to significant people from my past.

I also reasoned, if I wasn’t fortunate enough to find my way into an academic job, that the next best thing might be becoming a postal carrier… I just thought it would be interesting to work with the mail since I’m fascinated by correspondence. I’m curious about the kind of things that we send to each other and also the kinds of things that we don’t send – maybe the letters that we wished we could send?

And I love all the different stamps that they have at the post office. I always look at the different things that you can stamp on a letter, and “postage due,” to me, is the most fascinating one. How vexing to have something come back postage due! If you’ve mailed it out and hoped that it would make it, but also, if it makes it to someone else, that person will have to pay in order to get at the content. I imagine a lot of letters and parcels slip through the cracks that way in the postal system? This book is interested in those things… with those letters that don’t make it there.

LHB: What attracted you to participate in the Miami Book Fair International?

JMW: I’ve been aware of the Miami Book Fair for years and after I moved to South Florida last year, it was an honor to be asked to participate. What is a special honor for me is that James Allen Hall, one of the other poets on the panel, is a long-time friend of mine. We have overlapped in our careers many ways…  We just found out a couple weeks ago that we’d be reading together for the very first time. So that is thrilling news for me because I’m such a big fan of his work and also of James as a person. Orlando and Jen are two writers whose work I don’t know yet. There’s something lovely about this panel because it’s both a reunion for James and me, [and it’s] also a chance to have the best seat in the house for readings from two new poets.

LHB: What would our readers learn if they attended your panel discussion? What question do you want those who attend the discussion to be asking themselves?

JMW: I think that it’s fantastic to get a book of poems and to savor it on your own…

There’s something fabulous about the private communion you can have with a book of poems. But I also love a poetry reading… My friend James [Allen Hall] is a very dynamic reader, and I would hope and assume that other readers on our panel will be, too. I try to be a reader who would make poetry something that would catalyze you, that would be exciting even if you’re not a person who tends to pick up a book of poems and read it to yourself…

To me, there’s nothing better than hearing any literature read aloud well. It’s captivating. But I always think, for poetry in particular, that it’s meant to be read aloud. I hope that we, as a panel, can deliver that experience – not just for people who are already initiated… I always try to think about the person who, out of love or friendship, has come to a poetry reading for someone else… My hope is that we can, as poets, excite that person to form a new relationship with poetry.

LHB: Is there anything else in particular that you, Julie Wade, the writer or the person, would like our readers to know about you before the Miami Book fair? When they’re thinking, “Hmm… what panel discussions am I going to sit in on?”

JMW: Wow, that’s a hard question!

LHB: It’s insightful. (I then repeated the question slowly).

JMW: A fantastic question… I DO have an answer for this! A huge amount of serendipity has brought me from Seattle, where I was born and raised,to South Florida, which is about as far away within the continental U.S. that you can get.

This sounds like an apocryphal story, but it really is true. When I started my PhD program in 2008 at the University of Louisville, my partner’s sister and brother-in-law asked me, “What’s your dream job? Where would you most like to teach when you get done with your PhD?” The big elephant in the room of course is that if you’re looking for an academic job, everyone [around you] is getting a little nervous, too, knowing there are so few of them.

My first choice school was Florida International University. I thought that there was something really magical about a place where all the faculty stayed… It is a hugely talented faculty in the creative writing program at FIU,… and I reasoned there must have been something special worth staying for when surely other schools would have wanted to hire these faculty members as well.

I dreamed of coming here, and I ended up being hired onto the creative writing faculty at FIU in 2012. I try to remember what a gift it is to have my dream job, even when I get busy and stressed! I am, in fact, working at my dream school.

LHB: Lucky you!

JMW: Lucky me, truly.

***

A Conversation (between planes) with Brad Meltzer!

AW PT II _03 Brad Meltzer

                                                        

Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/BradMeltzer

 Brad Meltzer in the green room about to go on at CBS This Morning.

I believe that ordinary people change the world. I hope that my work speaks for that and I speak for that and I hope I stand for that.”

                                                                                                      – Brad Meltzer

“What’s really going on at Area 51?  Did John Wilkes Booth get away?  Based on his popular History Channel show, Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, Meltzer presents History Decoded:  The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time (Workman Publishing). Each chapter is illustrated and includes an envelope containing removable facsimile documents.  Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Inner Circle, as well as the bestselling novels The Fifth Assassin, The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires, The Zero Game, The Book of Fate and The Book of Lies. His first non-fiction books, Heroes for My Son and Heroes for my Daughter, were also bestsellers.”  – MBFI website

Mr. Meltzer will be presenting History Decoded:  The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time at the MBFI on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 10 AM on a panel that includes Dave Barry and Roy Blount, Jr. For more information go to:

http://www.miamibookfair.com/events/dave_barry_on_eminsane_city_em_roy.aspx

You can hear it in his voice – the enthusiasm that most of us wish for. A man so busy, that the only way to have a conversation (in time for our deadline) was to catch Brad Meltzer between planes after a speaking engagement with two thousand teachers in attendance. I initiated the dialogue by informing him that we both were born in Brooklyn, NY and graduated from the same high school, North Miami Beach Senior High (only about a decade apart). After reminiscing about terrific teachers we both were fortunate to have, I attempted to conduct an interview between the beeps and announcements often associated with airport ambiance. Brad was an excellent sport and seasoned trooper. The following are some snippets of that conversation.

LHB: What brings you to the MBFI and what do you have in common with your fellow panelists Dave Barry and Roy Blount, Jr.?

BM: Well, I think that we all think that Miami is the craziest place on earth and one of the very best places on earth! I don’t know Roy, but I know Dave well and, I can tell you, I grew up reading Dave Barry. He was one of my early influences as a writer. In fact, the very first piece I ever wrote that got published was in response to a Dave Barry contest that was in Tropic Magazine years ago. He’s always been one of my writing heroes. I tried to get him to speak at my graduation at North Miami BeachSenior High School!

I think what the fun will be with us together is: it’s not just a perspective from authors and it’s not just someone trying to talk about their book, but it’s someone who has a very intimate knowledge, all of us, of Miami and the beautiful chaos that it is.

LHB: What would my readers learn if they attended your panel discussion?

BM: I think that they’ll learn about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the truth about UFO’s and they will absolutely hear my theory on who really killed John F. Kennedy.

LHB: What questions would you want your audience to be asking themselves after attending your panel’s presentation?

BM: The question I would want them to ask is, “How did I get to have so much fun for free!” How did they get to enjoy a day of books and have a big smile on their face – and they didn’t have to pay a thing!

LHB: That’s great!

BM: It’s more important to learn something about history and themselves. Because every time you learn about history you always learn about yourself.

LHB: Whose idea was it to include the envelopes filled with historical facsimiles in the book? The concept is brilliant.

BM: Thank you. Full credit goes to Peter Workman – who passed away this past year. We were talking to different publishers – we went to lots of different publishers… and we went to Peter and to Bob Miller, who was the original editor on the book and they said, “What do you think of doing something completely different with this book and giving people pullouts from the book?” … and I said that’s exactly what I’d love to do. I loved that idea immediately. I had gone into the treasure vault at the National Archives where they keep the most important documents and they gave me an old oath of allegiance that the revolutionary war soldiers had signed. Our troops today still take that oath of allegiance.

What they showed me there was the oath of allegiance by a man named Benedict Arnold… and Benedict Arnold, for all of us, has become a curse word. It’s almost something bad that you call someone. When I saw that document in front of me and I saw that pen on that paper I could imagine a man with a pen writing on this sheet of paper and Benedict Arnold suddenly became a real person to me. History in that moment came alive. That’s what I wanted for the book. The goal of the book is to bring history alive and let people look at those documents themselves.

When you see the document about Lee Harvey Oswald and what the state department knew about him… when you hold that in your hand and you look at the date [1959]. All those years… you feel like – oh my gosh – you’re uncovering this incredible piece of history. I love that we get to do that for the readers who take the time to play with this book. Now, people said it’s like a pop-up book for adults and I’ll take that as the best compliment.

LHB: Does being involved with The History Channel make it easier to get into the National Archives to see these types of things or does every American have this kind of access?

BM: First of all, anyone can go to the National Archives and see the Declaration of Independence. I highly recommend it. You can also see other incredible documents. Will they take you through a private tour of the treasure vault? For me, it had nothing to do with the History Channel. I went because I was researching my novels. How did I get in there (?)  – Because of thrillers that I write. People know that I do research on my thrillers… everywhere from the secret tunnels below the Capitol to the ones beneath The White House. As a result, they were kind enough to let me inside.

LHB: Is there anything else that you, Brad Meltzer, the writer or person would like our readers to know about you?

BM: Everyone is getting on board. Sorry, they’re about to take off…  Listen; if I want to tell anyone anything… It’s not about book sales; it’s not about something I want to sell. What I want people to know about me, and about themselves, is the power of ordinary people. I believe that ordinary people change the world. I hope that my work speaks for that and I speak for that and I hope I stand for that.

It’s why our new children’s books that are coming out in January, I am Amelia Earhart and I am Abraham Lincoln are exactly on that subject.

Mr. Meltzer then stepped onto the plane.

***

To hear an incredibly detailed podcast about Brad Meltzer’s History Decoded: The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time listen to NPR’s Topical Currents recorded on November 24, 2013.

Listen to the interview at: http://wlrn.org/post/10-greatest-conspiracies

To See Brad Meltzer’s recent appearance on CBS THIS MORNING go to:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57608154/history-decoded-brad-meltzer-talks-conspiracy-theories/

For EVERYTHING Brad Meltzer go to:

bradmeltzer.com

A Reader’s Paradise – Part I

 

By Lori Hope Baumel

Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on January 1, 2014

Video preview of the Miami Book Fair International 2013…

See the MBFI video! Go to: http://youtu.be/Q7DqJFSRuww

Video photos courtesy of MBFI 2013

Readers from all over the world with authors from all over the world will meet, talk and share ideas.

Yes, readers, “Wellyworld” is a comfortable, beautiful place to live and play. For the first time, as your cultural arts columnist, I am going to give you a very good reason to cross the county line. Download an audiobook to play in the car while you head south to the Miami Book Fair International (MBFI). The MBFI is the oldest and largest gathering of authors coming from all over the world with an attendance of 250,000 people of all ages over a period of 8 days. Thus far, such luminaries have confirmed their attendance:

Dan Brown, Angelica Huston, Reza Aslan, Dave Barry, Christopher Kenneally, David Kirk, Paul Pope, Karen Russell, Darrell Hammond, Nikki Giovanni, Richard Russo, Roy Blount, Russell Banks, Wally Lamb, Amy Tan, Cristina Garcia, Patricia Volk, Pat Conroy, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Edna Buchanan, Tom Healy, Patricia Engel, James Reston, Ann Hood, MK Asante, Dr. Paul Farmer, Erica Jong, Jennifer Weiner, Ben Katchor, Adam Mansbach, Geoff Dyer, Mark Halperin, Brad Meltzer, Lori Roy, Mitch Albom, Jamaica Kinkaid, Diane Ladd, Robert Pinsky, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many, many more.

It’s important to reserve your tickets now! The prices are reasonable and many of the ticketed events are free. There are programs, concerts and activities for the entire family. For information about the week-long event go to:

http://www.miamibookfair.com/

Also featured will be Generation Genius, Destination: Comics and much, much more…

AW MBFI 02 Generation Genius

For more info go to: http://www.miamibookfair.com/events/childrensalley/default.aspx

 DESTINATION: COMICS

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For more info go to: http://www.miamibookfair.com/events/destinationcomics/default.aspx

 

A Conversation with Christopher Kenneally

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“This is a story about a business – the book business. This is the story about a court case – and in America we do our court cases very well. This is really a story about human folly. This isn’t Athens verses Sparta. But when you really get down to it, Apple verses Amazon is the Athens verses Sparta of our day.”

                                             – Christopher Kenneally

“Christopher Kenneally is the host and producer of the Copyright Clearance Center’s (CCC) weekly podcast series, Beyond the Book, and for OnCopyright Education, CCC’s Educational Services brand, he presents a variety of programs on copyright and intellectual property issues. As a freelance journalist, Christopher Kenneally reported on education, business, travel, culture and technology for the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and The Independent of London, among many other publications. He also reported for WBUR-FM (Boston), National Public Radio, and WGBH-TV (PBS-Boston). Mr. Kenneally is also the author of Massachusetts 101 (Applewood Books), a history of the state “from Redcoats to Red Sox” CCC website

Mr. Kenneally will be moderating After the Apple e-Book Decision: The New World of Book Publishing and Book Selling at the Miami Book Fair International on November 23 at 2:30 PM along with Andrew Albanese and Oren Teicher. Recently, I was fortunate to interview Mr. Kenneally about his upcoming panel discussion:

LHB: What attracted you to attend the upcoming Miami Book Fair International and to lead the panel discussion on the Apple e-book court decision?

CK: Copyright Clearance Center and I have attended and presented at the book fair for a number of years now. I believe we began working with the fair organizers in 2005, if my memory serves me, and, over time we’ve presented a number of programs that are very much about what’s in the news. We always try to come up with a program that will be newsworthy and also devoted to readers.

What really impresses me about the Miami Book Fair is that this is a reader’s book fair. So many other book-publishing events are for the trade as they say; they’re for publishers, authors, for the insiders, “the inner sanctum,” if you will. My feeling is that what Andrew Albanese and Oren Teicher have to say about the case and its implications for the book business will be [of great interest].

People get into book publishing, not just to publish books, but to sell books. What we’re seeing today is a real revolution in the way that books are sold, in the kinds of value the people place in the book as an object and what does it mean when a book isn’t on your shelf any longer, but in your e-book reader? These are things that have changed the way we all read. These are questions we’ll ask that we really do not yet have the answers to. These are things that have changed the way we all read. Now the fact is, and this is a good thing to emphasize: people are reading more than ever. We’re seeing more books published than ever. We’re seeing more people buying, downloading and reading. So reading is doing great!

What we have to look at is: how are authors and publishers doing? How are booksellers, bookstores… how are they doing? They’re part of that whole ecosystem. Without the bookstores, without the successful publishers and authors, readers could be deprived of some really great stuff to read.

LHB: This is an in-depth subject that can be debated for hours. I know that I, personally, love Apple products. You are going to have a lot of people going in that loved Steve Jobs and those who hate the amount of control he wanted. Therefore, are you delegating members of your panel to present both sides of the debate?

CK: The happy role I have is to ask the kind of questions that the people in the audience are asking themselves. I’m a journalist by background and very keen to get to the bottom of things, so I think it’s a fair question to ask.  Andrew is a colleague and a journalist and I believe that he does his very best, as anybody would, to present the many sides… there are not just two sides. It’s not like Apple verses Amazon or that kind of thing. This isn’t a heavyweight grudge match. This is a story that’s a very complicated story with layer upon layer of players with people’s personalities as much as their professions involved.

It’s my own feeling that what drove some of the publishers to think that they could get away from Amazon was essentially a real personal matter. They held a grudge. They saw their business under attack from Amazon and they thought they could fight back. This is my own personal opinion. That kind of hubris led some of the people involved to do things that, I have no doubt, they regret today. That itself is a real human story.

This is a story about a business – the book business. This is the story about a court case – and in America we do our court cases very well. This is really a story about human folly. This isn’t Athens verses Sparta. But when you really get down to it, Apple verses Amazon is the Athens verses Sparta of our day.

LHB: Despite the lawsuit, do you think that e-books are good or ill for publishing?

CK: E-books are very good for the publishing industry. My feeling is, as a journalist, I have to believe in the first amendment first. I believe in freedom of expression and the opportunity that every human being should have to express themselves. Today, because of technology, you can realize your dream to express yourself so much easier and so much more directly than one ever could in the history of the world. That is a wonderful thing. We have more people writing today than ever before. Writing is in great shape. Reading is in great shape. However, this raises a whole wrath of questions about the business.

LHB: I wonder how you feel about the freedom of commerce, the freedom to sell products at the rate you choose to sell them? It is my understanding that Apple wanted to keep the prices up. They were forcing the hand of the publishers.

CK: That’s correct, you’re right. That is a complicated matter. I think that when it comes to what people will pay for a book today, there is no doubt, I mean the evidence is clear, that they will pay and want to pay less for a digital book, for an e-book, than they want to pay for a print book.

LHB: And the theory is that you don’t have to ship it or print it… there has to be some kind of discount for not having that book in your hand.

CK: That’s right.

LHB: On the other hand, you said that people are reading more. So isn’t that the goal?

CK: It’s going to be hard. There’s no question about it. The fact of the matter is, that while we may guarantee freedom of expression in this country, we don’t guarantee a business model for people. What’s happened is the business model has come under pressure and I don’t know any business that is invulnerable to the kinds of economic pressures that the Internet is bringing. Every business, every single business including your business as a journalist and musician, my business as a writer, any business one can think of has really kind of…

LHB: Forever changed.

CK: Forever changed, exactly.

LHB: As an author, what does this settlement or case mean for you? Bottom line… How does it affect authors and readers in general?

CK: The case was fought about competition. The case was brought by the Department of Justice to promote competition. In the economic world we live in, more competition, in general, drives down price. I believe authors should expect to see the price for e-books to fall. So, that’s a bonus for readers. That’s why the case was brought. For authors that’s tough. But again, unfortunately, this isn’t France where you can guarantee things to people by law. We don’t do that here.

LHB: Is it the same for self-published authors?

CK: I think so, absolutely. I believe that because of the downward pressure on price and because the market is seeing so many more titles, the traditional contract between publisher and author looks less and less attractive all the time. Self-published authors can go into business for themselves. They get to keep more money and they have the control over the work that they wouldn’t have in a more traditional environment. I believe we’ll see the ranks of self-published authors grow over time. Authors looking to maximize their potential “profit” will see the deal that’s being offered them in self-publishing is simply a better deal.

***

Are you due for a rebate? 23 million customers of Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google, and Sony have been directly noticed via e-mail or by postcard that they are eligible to participate in the settlement. To learn more go to:

http://beyondthebookcast.com/readers-reap-big-in-e-book-case/

To hear more about the Apple e-book decision listen to:

http://beyondthebookcast.com/e-books-case-not-even-close-for-apple/

Choose your topic! For a plethora of podcasts about e-books go to:

http://beyondthebookcast.com/category/podcasts/ebooks/

* This article is Part I of a two-part preview of the MBFI. Later this week we will feature interviews with South Florida author Brad Meltzer and poet Julia Wade.