Duck Dynasty/Free Speech; Bookshops Hang In; PA Gov Supports Gay Rights

Duck Dynasty/Free Speech

This all started yesterday and I waited to post about it to see if anything would happen. Action: reaction. Someone named Phil Robertson, from a reality TV show I’ve never seen called Duck Dynasty, made hate comments about gay people in GQ Magazine that weren’t exactly positive and don’t send out the right moral or ethical signals, and as a result a firestorm erupted into what resembles the recent gay slurs by Alec Baldwin. Like Baldwin, Robertson was suspended, his network apologized to viewers and disassociated themselves from him, and even HRH of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, weighed in on the topic.

In an interview with GQ’s Drew Magary, the head of the family in the wildly popular A&E series expressed his view that homosexuality was immoral, likening it to bestiality. Some of the remarks were made using off-color language.

Robertson is a good Christian who has repented from his sinful ways from the cliched 1960’s counter-culture where he did drugs and claims he “hit bottom.” He replied to what’s been happening this way, in part.

My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.

Aside from the sad fact that this is clear proof of what doing too many drugs can do to a person, Robertson made no excuses, no apologies, and he stands by his vituperative statements against gays.

HRH Sarah Palin said this on Twitter:

Free speech is endangered species; those “intolerants” hatin’ & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all

Aside from the fact that I personally think the Republican Party should distance itself from Palin if they know what’s good for them, I don’t “hate” Palin and I actually find her interesting. She’s an extremely clever, bright person who knows how to twist and turn anything to her advantage. And she twisted the concept of free speech to suit her needs this time. Free speech is not an endangered species. In fact, never in the history of the world have people all over the globe had this much free speech thanks to the Internet. Phil Robertson made his highly offensive statements proudly and without going to jail for them. There’s nothing illegal about what he said, and he can continue to make all the gay slurs he wants and no one’s going to stop him from doing that. Palin is free to do the same and no one is going to stop her.

However, what Ms. Palin fails to add to her little tweet is that with free speech comes responsibility. And when you can say anything you want you should also be prepared to deal with the results. In Robertson’s case he lost his job and the respect of millions of people. I don’t even know who he is and I’ve already mentally dismissed him. He exercised his right to free speech and no one wants to take that away from him. They simply choose not to pay attention to him anymore. And in its most basic form, that’s what free speech is all about, Ms. Palin.

You can read more about free speech here.  And the rest of the article about Robertson is here.

Bookshops Hang In

I’m in the middle of writing the next novella in the Second Chance series and I found this next article interesting because the main character in my novella owns a small brick and mortar bookshop in Hudson River Valley, NY, and he’s constantly up against the constant changes in publishing which mostly trickle down to e-books. But my character is a good businessperson and he’s not ready to give up without a fight. And this article I’m linking to now reminded me of how sometimes people in small business have to learn how to be creative in order to survive.

Marlene has not ventured outside to offer the doomsayers a retort, but if she did, it would be this: Independent bookstores are not dead. In fact, in some of the country’s most urbane and educated communities, they are making a comeback.

In an e-tailing world, their resurgence is driven by e-book growth that has leveled off, dyed-in-the-wool print lovers who won’t (or can’t) abandon page flipping, a new category of hybrid reader (the latest mystery, digital; the latest John Irving, print) and savvy retailers such as the Englands, positioning their stores squarely in the buy-local movement and as a respite from screens.

I actually don’t disagree with this. Even though I wouldn’t invest my money in a small bookshop, I do think there is still a market for small bookshops that are owned and operated by good businesspeople who are not only willing to accept change but embrace it in creative ways. In the same respect, e-books were not the beginning of the challenges small bookshops started to see in recent years. It was the big chain bookstores that started popping up all over in the 1990’s that hurt them the most. In fact, I personally saw more than a few people lose their nest eggs by opening small bookshops when I owned my art gallery in New Hope during the 90’s. It was often painful to watch them in the beginning, knowing how it would end for them a year later. And now most of those big bookstores have shuttered their doors thanks to changes in technology and in publishing. Younger generations embrace technology without thinking twice about it. The world changes and we stop riding in buggies and start riding in cars. And yet I still think the creative businessperson can make a small bookshop work in the right location and with the right mind set. At least my character in the next novella believes he can do this with his little bookshop.

PA Gov Supports Gay Rights

This is interesting for me because Tony and I live in Pennsylvania, on the border of New Jersey, and gay marriage is not legal here and is legal in New Jersey. It places us in an interesting situation, one where good friends who live about three miles away are considered equal and we’re not because of the state in which we live. I posted about PA Gov. Tom Corbett making comments about gays, and how he compared gay marriage to incest. And now he’s flipped in the opposite direction and he’s supporting a bill that makes it illegal to discriminate against those incestuous gays. He’s also running for reelection and his numbers are dismal in the polls.

He is now saying he would be in support of proposed legislation in his state that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

Interesting. You can read more here.

All LGBT issues aside, compared to previous governors like Ed Rendell, I can’t think of one significant thing Corbett has done for Pennsylvania offhand.

Side note: Corbett has a daughter in an interracial marriage, a marriage that would have been considered illegal in many states not more than fifty years ago.

Joanna Trollope: Guess She’s Not Too Fond of E-books

According to Ms. Trollope, “you cannot love a library of e-books.” I read about it in The Telegraph.

The article says this:

“She (Trollope) also claimed the rise of e-books was “homogenising” literature by putting the works of Leo Tolstoy and Katie Price, the glamour model, on the same screen.”

I don’t really understand that statement. I really don’t. I’ve read Tolstoy and Snookie on my e-readers and never even thought of comparing the two. In fact, had it not been for the e-reader I probably wouldn’t have read half the classics I have read in the past few years. Then the article goes on to quote Ms. Trollope about the weight of books and something about how authors visualize books while they are writing them. Maybe it’s generational, but I don’t get anything about the these preferences between print and digital. The only thing I didn’t see in the article…I may have missed this because to be honest I skimmed a good deal…was that she didn’t get into the smell of print books. This is a smell that has passed me by. And I don’t think I’ll ever understand why so many people crave this smell.

Of course Ms. Trollope has a right to her opinion and I do respect it. The great thing is now we can all choose between print and digital and get the best of both worlds. The problem is that’s not going to last. If you don’t believe me, take a look at little kids these days and see what they are doing. Right now the discussion about e-book and print book is relevant. But fifty years from now, when all kids will be reading digital, and will be reared by parents and grandparents who started on digital books, I doubt this will even be a discussion. It might even be a joke.

But what really surprised me were the comments left on this article. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such strong opinions about e-books.

Absolute balderdash! EBook sales are already way ahead of hardback sales, and before long eBooks will dominate the publishing market. So no matter what she thinks, the iPad and the Kindle will pretty much replace paper, and soon…. And the idea that the heft of a book is an indication of quality…. good grief! Obviously a woman who thinks that size matters 🙂

Stupid woman. “You cannot love a library of e-books”. Yes, I can. I do. Welcome to the future, Ms. Canute! I suspect that the real reason why she is against e-books is financial – something to do with the royalties.

There are more comments and most seem to be in favor of digital over print. I think it’s worth checking out. Just for the sake of the fact that there seems to be one thing in common among published print authors who’ve been around for a while: they don’t like e-books, and they will give you tons of emotional excuses as to why they don’t like them, but I’ve never seen a practical reason. And I have to wonder if one reason they don’t like them is because of all the competition they’ve been getting in recent years.

In the article, Trollope also said this:

I don’t think we should worry. There is a great excitement at the moment [about e-books] but I’m not sure we’ll be so excited in three years’ time. And children like books. They like looking at a line of Anthony Horowitzes and saying, ‘I’ve read every one of those’.”

I’ve wondered about this, too. I’ll admit that I wasn’t sold on e-books in the beginning either. But, like I said earlier, if you have any doubts take a look at what kids are doing these days. I doubt Ms. Trollope, or anyone else, is going to make them stop reading e-books, working/playing on computers, and finding ways to learn in a world that is constantly moving forward. And when you see what these kids can do nowadays…as young as two years old…it’s fascinating to watch.

The Debate Between E-books and Print Books Continues at The Philadelphia Public Library

This morning I watched the local news and saw a piece about The Philadelphia Public Library. It was fast, but the gist of the piece said the library was thinking of putting book and DVD kiosks all over the city. This way people can just use their library card and get books or DVD’s without actually having to enter the library. The only written article I could find was this one, about the Chicago Public Library doing the same thing.

Now, if I’d heard something like this ten years ago I would have been excited. But I’m one of those people who have made the switch to e-books and I don’t see myself going back. I still read a few print books from my own personal library. But I haven’t actually purchased a print book in almost two years. And, like I said, I don’t intend to purchase anything but e-books unless something drastically changes and I’m forced to go back to reading print books.

But there’s still a huge debate going on about what people prefer. At this point, at least half seem to prefer print books over e-books, and the other half, like me, wouldn’t even consider reading a print book now. And the debate seems to be more physical than anything else. Evidently, people love holding their print books, they love turning the pages, and they love the way they smell. Even the newscasters this morning started to argue about it. Two said they only read e-books. Two said they only read print books, and they actually became a little defensive about it…while the two who read e-books were almost apologetic. It looked as if it would get nasty for a second or two.

I used to think I’d never make the switch to reading e-books. But then I started reading a few e-books and I found there were so many advantages. I can adjust the print. I can read on bed without using a light. E-books tend to be less expensive and they are immediate. And I can take my entire personal library with me when I travel. E-readers are light and don’t take up any space at all.

The main reason I switched wasn’t because of my own personal preferences. I just figured I didn’t have much of a choice. If you’ve been around at least forty years like I have, history always repeats in one way or another. Records became 8-tracks, 8-tracks became cassettes, cassettes became CD’s, and now I just download all my music to my ipod. Same thing with the film industry. There aren’t even any physical video stores left in my community.

Which makes me wonder how this new library kiosk idea will work. Will people actually stop buying e-readers and e-books and start taking books out of library kiosks? Are e-readers just a passing phase like hoola hoops and poodle skirts? Or is someone getting paid a lot of money by these huge public libraries to come up with some very bad, outdated ideas?

I guess this falls under the category of only time will tell.

Quick Post: One Huge Difference Between E-publishers and Traditional Publishers

Version One: E-publisher

Me: Dear E-publishing Editor,

Something important came up and we need to talk. You know I never e-mail you about these things unless they are important. I’ll be around all day.



E-Publisher response within an hour after contacting them:

Hi Ryan,

Here’s what I think we should do. I’m glad you contacted me. It is important and we should take care of this immediately. Readers care about these issues.



Simple. Fast. To the point. No one is left hanging. And everyone knows where they stand.

Version Two: Here’s the same exchange with a traditional print publisher. (Picture me bowing and genuflecting to the Pope.)

Me: Dear Grand Editor with Traditional Publisher,

I’m getting back regarding your questions about the matter we discussed the other day. Below you should find everything you need. If you need anything else, please let me know.

It sounded as if you wanted to discuss this right away.



Traditional publisher response from Grand Editor, day one:

Traditional publisher response from Grand Editor, day two:

Traditional publisher response from Grand Editor, day three:

Traditional publisher response from Grand Editor, day seven:

And so it goes…

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