In 2012, Publishers Weekly chose E. L. James as its Person of the Year. James’s Fifty Shades soft-porn trilogy was a sensation that boosted global print and e-book revenues, with at least 100 million copies sold (and counting). According to Forbes, James topped its annual list of bestselling authors with earnings of $95 million, including movie rights.
This year’s selection for PW's Person of the Year represents a wholly different approach to the honor. It is Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, and the ABA's board of directors, the organization that represents the country's independent book stores. The fact that these traditional brick-and-mortar, mainly locally owned bookstores are being recognized as outstanding contributors to publishing is not merely a sympathetic gesture to old-fashioned commerce in a generally downward trajectory. The accolade is justified by results defying the odds that so heavily favor the Amazon juggernaut and the chain stores, still led by (the struggling) Barnes & Noble.
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“Steel is King of all building materials. Plywood is the Queen,” says the narrator. A short film by the artist and provocateur Tom Sachs, A Love Letter to Plywood instantly captivates the viewer with its deadpan delivery and whimsical enchantment à la Wes Anderson. Directed by Van Neistat, the film implores you to learn about the virtues of this “studio matriarch” via a step-by-step construction process in Sachs’s Brooklyn-based studio. Albeit a little quirky, the film illustrates Sachs’s creative muse: Ostensibly ordinary objects (cue plywood) mixed in with abstract cultural phenomena. Watch it and you are guaranteed to want to sand something afterwards.
[Images: MPI’s Zara Matheson]
Everyone and their uncle (particularly the kind of uncle who was into new wave back in the day) has seen the iconic cover for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, which has become one of the most identifiable pieces of cover art of its age and beyond. But have you ever wondered how this textured virtual landscape came to be? As part of their upcoming conference in New York, Visualized interviewed graphic designer Peter Saville about how this legendary cover became the image to represent Joy Division.
In its latest episode, PBS’ Off Book series explores the creativity and innovation at the frontier of independent video game design. “In the beginning, video games were actually independent ventures,” Jamin Warren, a journalist and editor of gaming magazine Killscreen, explains. As game design grew into the multi-billion dollar industry it is today, he says, creative teams became larger and lost some of the freedom that smaller studios have. Like indie film, however, independently created games are flourishing. With the rise of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, creators have been able to raise six-figure budgets directly from fans to create games outside the mold of mainstream games.