A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Holding Pattern

You'll have to bear with us a little while longer, I'm afraid. There are some economy related goings-on here at Continuum, and I can't progress the 33 1/3 proposals any further until those are properly taken care of. Thank you for your continued patience, and your understanding. We'll have a further update on here next week, I hope.

In the meantime, you might want to take a look at Bruce Eaton's nascent blog in support of our upcoming Big Star 33 1/3 book.

97 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bugger. Hope things carry on as normal soon!

jakob dorof said...

man, that´s awful! if the economy hurts the flow of my beloved 33 1/3s, well, i´m not sure what i´ll do...

billykek said...

Hey David and 33 1/3ers. Just wanted to say that this series provides both for music lovers and for readers an invaluable service. You know, it seems to me like a lot of companies in every industry are cutting back to meet short term financial goals, and it helps, but I think when you have a product as great and as timeless as yours, you've got to be aware of long term goals. These books will continue to have readership long past this economic meltdown and I think it's the hope of most of your readers that it be treated that way. In other words, keep on keepin on. We love you guys.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say also that I think a Bill Fox book would be pretty recession-proof... just something to think about

Anonymous said...

Ha ha. Serves you right for turning mine down in favour of 'high concept' books on fucking Britney Spears!

...only joking...;) ;(

Anonymous said...

^ Of course, if your proposal hadn't been turned down and instead, shortlisted and chosen by 33 1/3 for publishing, it would have single-handedly turned around Continuum's economy-related issues, wouldn't it?

Puhhhhllleeeeeeezzzze! GET OVER IT!

Anonymous said...

^ Aren't books on Britney (rather than on, say, Hex Enduction Hour) just what Continuum needs to keep the wolf from the door?

Wish I'd proposed it now. Bah.

Bill Fox will keep no wolves at bay either, on so many levels.

Anonymous said...

You leave Hex Enduction Hour alone...

Anonymous said...

In reference to the latest Bill Fox book plug - by 'recession-proof' do you mean that no one would buy it no matter what the world economic situation was like? If so - I fully agree.

Anonymous said...

I think quite a few proposals dealing with big artists or big selling records will make the final list this time around. They will choose guaranteed unit shifters. Sorry Bill Fox, I don't fancy your chances. Can't wait to find out, though. Does anyone want to make a guess at the final list?

Anonymous said...

I don't really agree with the last post here - somewhere on this blog David posted the best-selling titles in the series, and it wasn't at all the obvious big-selling albums or artists. In fact, if I remember correctly, the best selling book at one point was Kim Cooper's Neutral Milk Hotel book - an album that probably sold an awful lot less than most of the other titles in the series.

I think the integrity of the series can only be maintained by Continuum picking what they think are likely to be the best books - and at this stage all we've seen is a list of *proposals*. The authors still need to spend maybe a year getting the book together. The economics of book publishing, I'm sure, depends on manuscripts being delivered to the publisher on time, and within the schedules of the publisher. So, I think that they will still fall back on which ones out of those still under consideration will be likely to be brought in, and brought as scheduled. So, I still think - I hope - it will be the quality of the proposal.

Anonymous said...

Yup - here was one such list with Neutral Milk Hotel the best-seller. The others in the top 10 were well-known names, but Led Zepplin and the Beatles (probably bigger selling albums) were not the best selling books. Here's the link:

http://33third.blogspot.com/2007/07/one-through-forty-nine.html

Anonymous said...

Assuming these proposals are especially well written, and assuming Contiuum's budget will still allow them to sign 20-25 of these proposals into contracts, here are my predictions for the final cut.

These would not be my choices, and again it all depends on the quality and vision of the proposal. But after reading many of the books and knowing what's been done in the series so far, here are my guesses:

AC/DC-Back in Black
Bob Dylan-Time out of Mind
The Cars-The Cars
D'Angelo-Voodoo
Devo-Q: Are We Not Men
Husker Du-Zen Arcade
Johnny Cash-American Recordings
Lauryn Hill-Miseducation
Liz Phair-Exile
Madonna-Ray of Light
Mothers of Invention-Freak Out!
New Order-Power, Corruption & Lies
Paul Simon-Graceland
Portishead-Dummy
Radiohead-Kid A
Slint-Spiderland
Talking Heads-Remain in Light
Television-Marquee Moon
We Are the World
Zombies-Odessey & Oracle
Wilco-Yankee Foxtrot Hotel
Reservoir Dogs soundtrack
White Stripes-White Blood Cells

Anonymous said...

Ha! I made a bet with myself about what i thought they would choose. Weird - similar to above list. Not my personal choices again, but what i think will make it.

AC/DC - Highway to Hell
Britney Spears - Blackout
The Cramps - Songs the Lord Taught Us
Daft Punk - Discovery
ELO - Out of The Blue
Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Johnny Cash - American Recordings
Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Leonard Cohen - Songs of Leonard Cohen
Madonna - Ray of Light
Metallica - Metallica
New Order - Power Corruption and Lies
Phish - Junta
The Police - Synchronicity
Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magic
Richard Hell - Blank Generation
Smashing Pumpkins - Melon Collie & The Infinate Sadness
USA For Africa - We Are The World
The White Stripes - White Blood Cells

Anonymous said...

Many insightful comments from all the bitter betties out there. Regardless, given all the hype about my Bill Fox book, I'm pretty sure it'll get through simply because of the recession. Why? I'll tell you - because when people are spiritually hungry and in need of hope, as many people are during this tough economic time, they don't want to stuff their face with McDonalds (Britney Spears), they want some good down-home cooking (something more along the lines of Bill Fox).

maura said...

So your comment *was* a clumsy attempt at "viral" self-promotion! Well, I guess that Bill Fox book won't rank so high on the "subtle, yet good writing" meter.

Anonymous said...

how's this for subtlety, maura: screw you!

Anonymous said...

Oooooooeeee - things are starting to liven up again ...

Anonymous said...

Can you just tell us who made the cut? Or at least tell the 150 or so that didn't make it- put those poor sods out of their misery.

Anonymous said...

Further to the above post on what the best selling titles in the series are / were - here is the July 2008 post from David:

http://33third.blogspot.com/2008/07/league-table-june-2008.html

Anonymous said...

I don't even know who Bill Fox is.

David said...

Anon: good point about the poor sods and the misery. Still no decision here on who made the final cut - or, indeed, what that final cut might involve - but I'll use my Friday evening/night to send out emails to those who definitely are out of the running, at this point. (Note to those who *don't* get an email from me -yes, it's a good sign, but please don't take it as anything concrete!)

Anonymous said...

To the civilian above who offered this jewel:

"The authors still need to spend maybe a year getting the book together. The economics of book publishing, I'm sure, depends on manuscripts being delivered to the publisher on time.."

Kitty Kat, I sure hope you aren't planning on writing one of these broadsides.

It boggles the mind that it would take a year to write one of these books, I mean, for chrissakes, they are 25,000 words, hardly "book length," and you would think that anyone who submitted a worthy proposal has already thought it out... a real pro should be able to turn one of these babies out in a matter of a few months, if not a few weeks... but it's pretty obvious to anyone who has read the comments or bothered to read some of the passed-over proposals that have been posted on the various writers' blogs that a lot of the submissions are from, uh, well, "bloggers" who have never written professionally and have no real track record writing either 2000 word features let alone actual books... as an editor, I would always roll the dice with an unproven if the talent were there, but hell's bells, nothing beats someone who already has a book or two under there belt. The first one is always the hardest, and to anyone who has been around the block writing a 100,000 word book, these books (and I am not demeaning them, they present their own awesome challenges) should be a relative breeze.

Anonymous said...

Re: comment above.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Anonymous said...

OK, I could see taking a year to untangle Leonard Cohen or Dylan or a few others.. but the Cars??? Or AC/DC? And I pray for the soul of the would-be Britney writer, no matter how long it takes.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you write it in a month or so, anon, I guess it will show in the kind of book it is. Some books in the series come in at almost double the word length you quote and look like they involve a lot of work.

Of course, if you are saying it is possible to write 25,000 words of blog-type drivel in a month or so - YES, I agree. Of course.

Anonymous said...

The average writer could probably wank off 25,000 words in a few months, but some of these books actually involve heavy *reporting*, which can in fact take a very long time depending on what you need and which elusive geniuses you need to track down and get good material from. Also, most people can't quit their jobs or other bill-paying projects for this. I would guess the ability to turn it around in a year is probably on the plus end.

Anonymous said...

FYI, I've already written my Bill Fox book - it's about 31,000 words and took me four days to "wank out." Just waiting for the final approval. Anyone who wants to read an excerpt can e-mail me at billslyfox@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Good point. Some books could probably be done quickly and not suffer, others take lots of time-consuming research... as a fan of this series, though, I have to say they can be inconsistent, some being very well researched but kind of boring, others being more about the author's opinion or about the experience of the record, but really entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I can definitely see why the editors would want authors who have already written books, or who at least have significant music journalism (or other form of) publishing experience. Especially since it seems like a lot of these books get commissioned and then dropped for whatever reason.

At the same time, though, part of what makes the series refreshing is that it seems so open to new voices, even to the voices of people who are not really writers per se.

And now having said all of that, I have to add in that while it is refreshing to have the writing novices getting their voices heard, many of the books in the series are actually poorly written. In several cases I put them down after a few pages or few chapters because the writer's lack of command, and clumsiness, kept me from remaining interested in the subject.

A tangled web.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please have the decency to take the Bill Fox guy down a peg? He is severely harshing my mellow.

Anonymous said...

David - after you've let down the latest round of cut people, could you possibly run a revised list on the blog so we can see (and no doubt furiously debate) the remaining however-many... (We've got to have some entertainment in these cash-strapped times eh?!?)

Anonymous said...

"It boggles the mind that it would take a year to write one of these books [...] as an editor, blah blah blah under there belt."

Indeed, you're darn tootin' to be so indignant about other folks' abilities. Good for you.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has never made a typo or confused a homonym in a quickly-typed blog comment or email may now throw stones.

Anonymous said...

Before the police come storming in, I said "homonym," I meant "homophone.'

Anonymous said...

Hey, Bill Fox guy here. If your mellow is being harshed, might I suggest you take a big hoot from your stoner bong and a couple spins of For Almost Ever Scooter by The Mice? Your mellow will be nice and tender again in no time!

David, I've sent you an e-mail making my case for why my Bill Fox book would sell like hotcakes even in the most pillowy-soft market!

Anonymous said...

Woah! I bet Dave would love to take time out of his busy schedule to read a self-aggrandizing e-mail! Then again, maybe I'm just sooooo stoooooned maaaaaaan!

Andrew said...

I just want to say that as a blogger, vlogger and house DJ, I kinda resent ppl who don't think I've got the chops to write a book. Maybe y'all haters should go back to Cornell and get your second phD in ethnomusicology instead of criticizing us bloggers/vloggers online. Also, note how I'm brave enough to use my real name and not take the anonymous route like most of you cowardz!

Anonymous said...

Andrew - that's so brave of you. Especially when your blog sucks ...

yours in admiration,

Anon

Anonymous said...

It's getting warm up in here.

Andrew said...

Fuck you

Anonymous said...

(adjusts collar)

Anonymous said...

Highlight from Andrew's blog:

"We had a ball at the Britney concert. We had rocking floor seats, and as you can see from the video, some pretty hot up-close sexy time with Brit :)

" And we were right by the exit ramp, so getting within 10 feet of Britney was pretty effing sweet!"

Could this be our would-be Britney scribe? Can't wait to read that book...

Anonymous said...

Hey Bill Fox guy - nice shovel you got there...

DJ Bookchops said...

Y'all should take it easy on Andrew. I thought this blog excerpt was pretty good writing, "...just walked by Britney's pink bus. It was barricaded by a circle of other old busses. Like a heard protecting their young/weak."

Like a *heard* protecting their weak, indeed.

Andrew said...

k, you know what? You guyz can criticise me all you want. All I know is my life is awesome - I travel constantly, get to hit up totally amazing parties and concerts, meet great new people all the time, and then share my experiences with the world via my blogs and vlogs. So maybs we can chalk up all ur nasty comments to a case of jealousy because all you guys do is sit at home and read Sylvia Plath books while I'm out there havin the time of my life? Yeah, I think so. That's why I'm here laughing at you guys and ur negativity. All I was trying to say that u guys shouldn't undermine bloggers and vloggers - we're just as valid as u academic types. End of story.

Ps. All your disses of my writing just add up to more hits for my vlog, and more spins for my house mixes. So keep the hate coming, bitches!

Anonymous said...

WTF?

Is this what we've become?

James said...

Just a hunch...Bill Fox guy isn't the real Bill Fox guy.

I could care less about a Bill Fox book, but I just don't buy it.

James said...

To clarify, I don't buy that the Anon.Bill Fox guy is actually the person who sent in the Bill Fox proposal.

There be trolls in these here woods.

Don McLeese said...

As someone who actually wrote one of these, and had a ball doing it, i spent a good four months gathering material (with the help of a research assistant) and then three months writing (and rewriting). it isn't as easy as it looks, and it definitely isn't cost efficient as far as the financial reward, but i loved doing it and am proud to be part of the series.

Elmo Keep said...

I really enjoyed the resulting MC5 book. Am jealous of your snagging a research assistant!

Don McLeese said...

Thanks. I should have clarified. The research was conducted while I was teaching classes, and the research assistant received credit. So it wasn't four months of straight research. But the writing was during a summer break when I did little else--I've tried writing books while also working a job, and I'm not sure how those who do it can.

Anonymous said...

For a second there, Don, I thought you were saying you and a research assistant spent 4 months preparing for the proposal. That would be impressive.

Peter Wild said...

As someone who straddles both the blogger and the published writer/journalist side of things, I can't help but be a bit depressed when the blogging community is defended by someone who can't spell and thinks living a life is more important than the words on the page when what we're talking about is the words on the page. It dosn't matter how incredible your life is (or how incredible you think your life is), when it comes to the writing of books things like spelling, punctuation and the ability to write a sentence are extremely important. This feels like one of the absolute basics to me. But I'm sure there are people who disagree (cue the 'Spelling and punctuation are for squarez, Grandad' comments...)

Pete Wild said...

And the spelling mistake - 'dosn't' - was deliberate, alright! I included that just to rile people. I did...

Anonymous said...

I'm with Pete Wild. I'm neither a blogger/Dj nor an eggheaded academic, just a lifelong music nut who who is also a book lover. No matter what a book is about, whether it's done by a Ph.D. or a high school dropout, the writer has to have some kind of basic command of the craft for the book to be worth reading. Literary outlaws and experimentalists who take artistic license in how they write can only pull this off if there's some kind of creative vision behind what they're doing, and only if they have a general mastery of the written word behind their pen. Writing is hard work - you have to have the basic knack for it, and even when you have that knack you have to be disciplined and have a vision of some kind. Not everybody was meant to write for publication.

Anonymous said...

Ah, some sense prevailing. Jolly good. Not that we don't enjoy a little bit of word-based fisticuffs, of course...

Don McLeese said...

since the series was considerably less competitive when i stumbled in, i think i spent 90 minutes writing the proposal.

Anonymous said...

Just as long as no one mentions Bill Fox again. I'd never heard of the guy before this call for proposals, and now I never want to hear of him ever again. Kudos to whoever's pushing their book on him, it's really blown up in your face.

Anonymous said...

Can we get back to guessing the final list?

Anonymous said...

Yeah. I put my guesses up and I want to see others' predictions.

Anonymous said...

Okay. Here goes:

The 10 I’d like to see:
Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth
The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle
The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour
The Chills – Submarine Bells
Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville
Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night
New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies
Slint – Spiderland
Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Television – Marquee Moon


And 10 I think we’ll see
AC/DC – Back in Black
Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us
Garth Brooks – (in…) The Life of Chris Gaines
The Jam – All Mod Cons
Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express
Massive Attack – Blue Lines
Radiohead – Kid A
The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Anonymous said...

Don McLeese - I was just reading your book last weekend, and finding it very enjoyable, too. I was driven back to listen to my vinyl copy of Kick Out the Jams. I dunno, call me weird, but I find I prefer the original censored version to the CD version with the censored content restored. Same thing with 'Break On Through' by the Doors - prefer it in the original censored version ...

Anonymous said...

Okay, Slint's 'Spiderland' is a pretty good album on a basic sonic level - they've got guitars and they make 'em sound interesting, but I can't see why people keep thinking it will be picked - what's to write about, really. It's a bunch of angular guitar shapes with nary a lyric in sight. And it's pretty short, too. What great poetic, historic or musicological insights could it possibly give rise to ...

The Jam ... All Mod Cons. Good album, but it won't sell in the US.

Springsteen - wrong album. Nebraska or Born to Run. Can't believe that someone published a Born in the USA one before those two.

Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I love the record, but is there much to be said about it after the film 'I Am Trying to Break Your Heart'?

AC/DC, 'Back in Black' I can see. Lead singer dies, two months later record biggest-selling album of career and one of the biggest-selling albums of all time with a new singer ...

Anonymous said...

I think what's to write about Spiderland is that it's possibly the greatest most obscure record ever. It's high fashion - dosn't translate well to the mass market but massively influential on scores of IMPORTANT bands. As a touchstone, as an obscure jewel - that's where the interest lies...

Andrew said...

k, this is a messege for Peter "Born To Be" Wild (tee-hee) and also the anonymous coward who agreed with him. There is a diff between blog-writing on the internet and like regular writing on paper. On the internet, there's no rules, K? U don't need to spell proper, ur just more goin off. Do u think I would write in my casual style here in a book? Trust me, when I wrote my proposal, I used a spellchecker! So, that's stupid. Trust me, I have " general mastery of the written word behind their pen" prolly even more than u.

And as for the comment that it doesnt Matter that my life is awesome, um, personal life expereince is what shapes the interestingness of the writing in your work. Any bozo could tell u that , and you don't need a PhD from Cornell to know it!

Andrew out

Anonymous said...

(adjusts collar, again)

Anonymous said...

(adjusts cummerbund)

John Mark said...

(adjusts spats, shoots cuffs, checks pocket watch and places monocle in left eye)

There's certainly some spirited debate up in here the last few days.

Let's try to keep it civil, though, shall we?

Anonymous said...

(adjusts monocle and diploma from Cornell, raises pinkie, and sighs)

Pete Wild said...

hey andrew

I don't think it's cowardly to be anonymous - it's a choice that democracy allows us. People are free to be anonymous or named just as you are free to turn on and off your mastery of the written word. For me, I wouldn't claim a mastery of the written word - so 'prolly' you are right to claim a superiority over me. I also don't agree that 'personal life expereince is what shapes the interestingness of the writing in your work'. For me it's craft that shapes work. And craft requires more than spellchecker. You have to have a little intelligence too. But that's just me. So we disagree. Isn't life wonderful? Have to go now. Britney is due any minute and I've got to warm up the canapes...

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping:

NWA - Straight Outta Compton
The Zombies - Odyssey and Oracle
The Monkees - Head
Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth
Television - Marquee Moon
Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
Slint - Spiderland
AC/DC - Back in Black
Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour

Anonymous said...

My tummy hurts

Anonymous said...

David,

Are the new e-mails going out individually, or as a mass-blast? When will they/it go out?

Nervous short-lister.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone gotten an email yet?

Anonymous said...

It's going to be a nervous 24 hrs. Whatever we all think of what ends up making it, there's no doubt that this is a unique publishing venture that gives opportunitites to unpublished writers.

I remain anonymous, so I am not currying favour with those who will choose, when I say that David Barker - for coming up with this idea - should receive some sort of gold plated award for services to the most important and possibly overlooked culture of the last 50 years - the rock/pop (call it what you will) album.

Anonymous said...

somebody say something.

Anonymous said...

I am a nervous, shortlisted author too. Anyone heard anything yet?

Anonymous said...

(crickets)

Anonymous said...

The question is, when do we stop agonizing and assume that we've made the "cut"...? 11:00? 11:30? THIS IS GRUELING!

Anonymous said...

I don't think we can stop agonizing yet...

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing by tomorrow afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Fellow nervous shortlisters,

1st off, congratulations on making it this far. You're all worthy writers and if we don't make it this time, there's always the next seemingly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Secondly, for now there is nothing we can do but wait. I suggest we spend the next 12 hours away from this blog and our inboxes and put our minds else where. Watch a movie. Roll a J. Call a friend and talk about anything but this. It'll do your blood pressure good and tomorrow afternoon will be here before you know it.

good luck. relax.

Anonymous said...

just got the thumbs down. oh well.

Anonymous said...

What was your idea?

Anonymous said...

aphrodite's child went down in flames. wrote a great proposal and made it to the short list but i suppose the album was too obscure to find a quick, paying audience.

Anonymous said...

I got the axe. My album was just too new/risky, I guess.

Rev. Mike said...

Melvins - Lysol is out of the running. It's a shame because it would have been good. I am grateful to have been along for the ride, it was fun.

Anonymous said...

one out of the two liz phairs is out!

billykek said...

my New York Dolls proposal is out too. For those keeping a tally. Good luck to those still in.

Anonymous said...

Disco Stu says "No Erykah Badu."

This is: said...

No Sleater-Kinney :(

Anonymous said...

I think the final list is going to play it really safe: established, well-respected bands with a decent following. I bet lots of books that would have made great reads were cut, but these are tough times and money is playing in a lot more, I assume

That being said, I think we'll see less books chosen in the end, and I'm sure they'll include:

Talking Heads - Remain in Light
Dinosaur Jr. - You're Living All Over Me
Radiohead - Kid A
Zombies - Odessey and Oracle
New Order - Power, Corruption and Lies

I don't expect any female artists to be chosen, either.

Anonymous said...

This process--particularly the chirpy, faux-sympathetic mass rejection--has really left a bad taste in my mouth. You know, those of us whose proposals were rejected represent a block of over 500 people who can collectively ignore 33 1/3 from here on out and tell friends to do the same. Might not totally counter the Colbert bump, but it's something. Get the small handful of books in the series that aren't overwrought and embarrassing at the library or read them in the store. The few that I owned--LATA, Bee Thousand, Let It Be--are literally sitting in the trash right now.

*cue "coward for posting anon" comments*

J said...

Personally, I've found this process hugely enjoyable, and the transparency refreshing. The tenor of the responses also has helped explain to me why most editors dealing with unpublished writers (such as myself) are generally aloof and inaccessible. There's no excuse for the childish behavior in these comments.

On the plus side, it's probably nice in some small way for the editors to know that their work has such a passionate following.

Anonymous said...

Thought: Would the fellow tossing away his collection mind picking them out of the dustbin and mailing them to someone who would actually read them? I can send you an address.

D. said...

... confused a homonym?? In writing? That's know excuse.