Paula Hendricks

Author ~:~ Writer ~:~ Book Designer ~:~ Book Producer

Archive for November 2008

Our President-Elect reads books

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It matters to those of us in the book world that people read, or don’t read, books. We have all read the sad statistics* about books and reading, such as:

  • 58% of US adult population never reads another book after high school
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year
  • 42% of college graduates never read another book
  • 33$ of high school graduates never read another book
  • 57% of new books are not read to completion

And yet… our president-elect, Barack Obama, reads books. And there is a great picture of him (http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/what-obama-is-reading/) at the airport in Bozeman Montana – he has his finger in a book to mark his place. What a great image!

Why does this matter to us?

Books are important. Books are about ideas and about communicating ideas. Some have called Obama brilliant, curious, and prepared. I believe books are part of who he is and who he has become. Reading is a critical act and helps train our brains to be critical as well. Words allow our minds to imagine things as we read, where pictures and TV and videos can often limit this activity.

It matters because the president leads us by example. Others will copy him. More people will read books because he does. The fact that he reads books and talks about what he reads and his staff talks about what he reads makes me believe that the statistics about reading books may well rise over the next few years. They may even rise in our poorer communities. He even admits he reads books more than once. This has to be good for everyone in the book world.

There also seems to be a book bubble right now. I see books by the left and the right and everything in between – by reporters and professors and intellectuals.

It’s good to know many are reading books and that books seem to be in the news more now. But, in some ways this doesn’t really affect us. We still need to go through the steps of publishing – making sure our books are written, edited, designed, and produced professionally. And to succeed, we need to market our books and our authors well.

But what it does do that helps us is perhaps give us confidence that we are moving into a time when books matter, when ideas matter, when thoughtful consideration of issues matters. This is true no matter your point of view. And this is true for fiction as well as non-fiction. I find myself interested in what progressives and economists and conservatives have to say. I find my brain lighting up with all these points of view and this sense, this deep sense, that all these words printed on pages matter and I am at a feast.

What a great time to be in the book business!

* Sources for statistics about books, the book industry and reading:

http://www.parapublishing.com/sites/para/resources/statistics.cfm

http://www.bookpublishing.com

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Written by phwebnet

November 30, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Where is my bailout? Who’s looking out for me?

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I look at all these economic experts and I don’t see anyone who represents me. Where is labor represented? Where are the unions? Where are the folks who can help the underemployed, the self-employed, and the ones who will not get any unemployment benefits? Where are the folks who can advocate for green solutions? Where is the oversight?

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Progress is made in jumps not gradual increments

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I am struck by how we move — in jumps not smooth gradual progressions. For the last 6 months I’ve been reading geology books and in some of them the scientists talk about how the earth systems change in leaps – jumps – and that one of their concerns about climate changes is that the rest of us think somehow the warming will occur in small incremental gradual increments over a long period of time. And they believe the systems leap into new territory in much shorter time frames.

I picked up a book called the Black Swan and while I have not read it yet, I see from the flap that it talks about how the assumptions underlying our system models do not account well for sudden, unpredictable abrupt change. Just look at the recent financial crises to see this in action.

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Thanks for leaving us alone to vote

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We owe the world a big thank you. They left us alone to vote. There were no attacks on American soil, and as far as I know, there were no attacks on embassies or consulates. The world watched, but didn’t interfere. Thank you — all of you.

I had wondered if we would need UN poll watchers. I had been holding my breath that AlQaeda would attack or do something to push us in one direction or another. I had heard rumors that we might have troops in our streets to keep the peace. I was afraid someone somewhere would do something to draw our attention from our own election. And they did not.

Thank you. I hope we can return the favor.

Written by phwebnet

November 6, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Middle aged white women in tears on the phone

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I am still digesting last night. I chose to stay home and watch the election results alone — so I could channel surf as I wished. I was a bit concerned that I wasn’t reaching out, going out, that my being alone was not a good sign. But I wasn’t alone.

The first call I got was from a woman from the old neighborhood. Our parents were friends and she called, wasn’t even sure she had my right phone number — wanted to connect and reminisce about our parents and how much they would have loved this.

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Written by phwebnet

November 5, 2008 at 10:24 pm

I am so proud

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Barack Obama has been elected President. I’m in tears. I see all these faces on TV and I am so proud. This is a reflection on how we have changed and how we are changing. I so deeply believe this will change how we are in the world and I hope this represents how we can be with each other here at home as well. Wow.

Written by phwebnet

November 5, 2008 at 4:12 am

Vote! It’s important

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I’m sitting at the League of Women Voters here in San Francisco – answering phones about voter registration, irregularities at the polls, offering up phone numbers to others who can help.

1.866.687. 8683 (866 OUR VOTE) is the hot line for voter irregularities provided by The Election Protection Coalition.

The Huffington Post has a  whole section just for voting problems.

Later today I’ll be glued to the TV and my monitor and my crackberry – getting the latest info from everywhere. How exciting! How scary! How hopeful!

Go vote. It’s important.

Written by phwebnet

November 4, 2008 at 8:03 pm