A new NPR article about book blurbs points out that they aren’t “exactly meant for readers,” and that by the time a book is actually published, the blurbs have “already done most of the work [they’re] supposed to do.” Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette, says that agents get potential publishers to look at a manuscript by listing endorsements “from authors you’ve heard of. That’s the way the agent is getting the publishing community to read this book ahead of all the other thousands of books on submission at that time.” The article also interviews novelist Gary Shteyngart, who has written more than 150 blurbs, about his criteria for endorsement. “I’ll look at a first sentence [of a galley], I’ll look at the cover and it just comes to me,” he says. “Reading randomly from a book is also very helpful. Sometimes I try to read further—but you know, how far can you get? Does anyone even read these books anymore?”
In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, M Train, Patti Smith explains how she gained admittance into the Continental Drift Club, “an obscure society serving as an independent branch of the earth-science community.” She was invited to join the society, much to her surprise, after sending written requests to photograph the boots of the CDC’s founder, the explorer Alfred Wegener. “I am certain I didn’t quite meet their criteria, but I suspect that after some deliberation they welcomed me due to my abundance of romantic enthusiasm. I became an official member in 2006.”
The winners of the fifteenth annual Online Journalism Awards have been announced. The top honors in the breaking-news category went to recent start-up reported.ly for its coverage of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, The Baltimore Sun for its reporting on the Baltimore riots and the Freddy Gray case, and to the Globe and Mail for its reports on the shootings in Ottawa. The winners of the general-excellence category were the Missouri public-radio station’s website KBIA, Quartz, and the Washington Post.
The staff of Atavist magazine explains why they’re “discontinuing our native mobile apps to place all of our focus on the web.”
New York’s McNally Jackson bookstore is hosting two highly recommended author events this week: On Tuesday, Choire Sicha interviews Eileen Myles, who has just seen the re-release of her classic novel-in-stories Chelsea Girls and the publication of her collected poetry collection, I Must Be Living Twice; and on Wednesday, Lydia Davis and August Kleinzahler discuss the stories of Lucia Berlin, recently collected in A Manual for Cleaning Women.