Stack Exchange has launched (in beta) a wonderful new community at ebooks.stackexchange.com. It’s a fantastic and free resource for all questions related to ebooks – reading, writing, publishing, buying, selling, and lending. Anyone can ask a question, anyone can answer, and the best questions and answers get voted to the top. I encourage you to come check it out and get involved!
Since I’ve mentioned the popular novel The Shack in a number of posts, it seems worthwhile to mention the latest real-life twist in the novel’s story. According to the LA Times, The Shack‘s author, William Paul Young, has sued pastors Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings; the start-up the three created to publish the book initially, Windblown Media; and the book’s current publisher, Hachette. Young alleges that he is owed $8 million in royalties through December 2008, as well as other relief. Windblown has counterclaimed for $5 million. Meanwhile, Jacobsen and Cummings have filed an amended copyright filing with the Library of Congress.
I will refrain from commenting on the legal issues (or the legal posture of these cases, which is more than a little muddled in the article), but am posting this merely for general interest.
h/t: Tim Challies
Scott Lindsey has a great review of The Shack.
EDIT: Don’t miss the scathing review of The Shack from James DeYoung, a good friend of the author (William P. “Paul” Young). Also check out Chuck Colson’s review, Al Mohler’s radio broadcast on the book, and Tim Challies’s booklet.
(h/t Tim Challies)
Tim Challies has posted a follow-up on his review of The Shack [ed.: link updated to an archived link because the original was broken]. As expected, it prompted a vigorous discussion in the comments. (See also this post [ed.: link updated to an archived link because the original was broken] for another discussion, which Challies cites.)
The one thing I have never figured out about the way people talk about this book is the insistence that The Shack is allegorical. It patently is not, but that does not seem to prevent lots of insistence from supporters that it is.
I have been thinking a lot lately, as my last few posts may have indicated, about just what American Christians are reading. This has been fueled not only by my own reading of The Shack, but also by my discovery of two great websites. One is a blog by an author named Tim Challies, the other a companion site called Discerning Reader. Neither site is perfect, of course, but both are very interesting.
Anyway, this got the nerdy side – it’s a big side – of my personality fired up, and I started wondering what American Christians are reading, and what they think of it. So, I conducted a little study of Amazon reviews of popular Christian books to see how various books were rated. (Warning: extreme geekery follows…) Continue reading “The Popularity of Christian Books”
I posted a short review of The Shack here, earlier. I would love to hear from my readers about another, related topic: the book’s marketing. In my opinion, the way in which The Shack has been marketed raises some disturbing questions, of a kind I don’t normally associate with “mainstream” “Christian” books.
First, there is the Missy Project, which is explained in a two-page blurb at the end of the physical copies of the book, as well as on the book’s official site. (Missy, for those who have not read the book, is the name of a little girl who is abducted and murdered in the book.) This blurb encourages people to blog about it, write reviews (especially positive ones, of course), display it, seek positive reviews from others, buy multiple copies to give away, and so on. My favorite:
Talk about the book on email lists you’re on, forums you frequent and other places you engage other people on the Internet. Don’t make it an advertisement, but share how this book impacted your life and offer people the link to The Shack website.
To me, this sounds like straight-up viral marketing. The proceeds of the book, so far as I can tell, are not being donated to any charitable cause, but are going to the publisher and the author. So, either the author and others are really very convinced that the book is life-changing and are committed to bringing their message to a wide audience (which, conveniently, sells more books), or this is a shameless plug.
Then, there is the author’s site, the home page of which opens with this:
If you are so inclined and would like to write a review for Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, especially a 5 star review, we would greatly appreciate it.
If that’s not a shameless plug for a book, I don’t know what is. In fact, the entire site feels like one big marketing device. Look at it for yourself.
Loyal readers: what are your thoughts?
After watching a truly horrifying self-produced commercial, I felt compelled to recommend again a book which everyone in business should read. It’s a classic, called Tested Advertising Methods, and it basically tells you all you need to know about advertising (what works and what doesn’t, why, etc.). Do yourself or the business geek(s) in your life a favor, and pick up a copy. It’s actually very entertaining and informative reading, even if you never put together an ad in your life.
An example of what does not work, when advertising a local Internet access provider, is video of strangely dressed people in an echoing room looking at TVs showing your old ads (which, by the way, consisted almost entirely of your logo) and saying things like, “We’re looking at 10 years of [COMPANY] ads!” Seriously, that was the entire commercial. Geeks, in a room, with TVs, saying stupid things do not make me want broadband any more than I did before, much less provided by said geeks…
I have added a fun new feature: on certain pages (the home page, Music page, EdBlog, and books section), my current and most recent reading and listening selections will appear on the left side. I have always thought this was a cool feature on other sites, because it’s (a) interesting to see what makes people tick and (b) a good way to learn about good books and music from people with similar interests.
Let me know what you think!
“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.” (German: “Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.”) — Heinrich Heine, from his play Almansor (1821)
I saw a report on CNN Headline News, earlier, about the (midnight, last night) release of the latest Harry Potter novel. Forget for a moment that 300,000 Britons felt the need to hang around British bookstores in the middle of the night to buy a supposed children’s book at the earliest possible instant; what bothers me is how the debate over the value of these books is carried on.