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Jim Cox Report: December 2023

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

One of the things I like to do, with the help of the Google machine, is to seek out information and websites that have relevance to the publishing industry in general, and the writing, publishing, and marketing of books in particular.

Last month's "Jim Cox Report" focused on website resources specifically concerned with selling books to libraries and library systems. This month I thought I'l do the same focusing on the question of "Where & How Do Libraries Get Their Books"

How Do Libraries Get Their Books?

3 Interesting Places Where Libraries Take Books From

Just Curious: Where do libraries get their books?

Each of these three websites are run by experts in the field of publishing and marketing and library acquisitions. I solidly recommended them as information resources for authors, publishers, publicists, bibliophiles, and community/academic library enthusiasts wanting to know about how libraries function, and where their books come from.

Now onto two new features of the Jim Cox Report:

Quote of the Month:

“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.” -- Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid

Website of the Month:

Clay Bottom Farm

Now here are reviews of books that will be of special interest and relevance to writers, publishers, and dedicated bibliophiles:

Artists Making Books: Poetry to Politics
Venetia Porter
British Museum
Casemate Publishers
9780714111971, $37.50, PB, 160pp

Jim Cox

Synopsis: In the hands of artists and poets, books have been taking a radically different form since the advent of the artist’s book in Paris in the early 20th century. Appearing in a variety of shapes and sizes, as one-offs or small print editions, books offered artists and poets a novel form of expression. In the words of Indian artist Nalini Malani (b. 1946), the book is ‘a carrier of experience’, in which whole worlds are encapsulated.

"Artists Making Books: Poetry to Politics" by Venetia Porter is beautifully produced book comprised of works made by artists from New York to Damascus and beyond which highlight the relationship between artists and writers and the influences that inform their work, from family to politics and everything in between.

Lebanese artist Abed Al Kadiri (b. 1984) conceived his book during the first month of the pandemic to explore his family history, while through the eyes of Iraqi artist Kareem Risan (b. 1960) we see the shocking aftermath of a deadly explosion on the streets of Baghdad in 2005.

These artists also find inspiration in classical poetry and literature. Here you will see works that respond to and that are informed by the medieval Persian poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi and Hafez, as well as the tales of The Arabian Nights.

Critique: This large format (8.58 x 0.59 x 9.84 inches) paperback edition from the British Museum, "Artists Making Books: Poetry to Politics" is a simply beautiful showcase of the British Museum’s little-known yet extensive collection of artists’ books from the Middle East and beyond. "Artists Making Books: Poetry to Politics" accompanied an exhibition at the British Museum in 2023, which was the first time the diverse and various works were presented together in the context of the British Museum’s collection. Exceptional, fascinating, informative, thought-provoking, "Artists Making Books: Poetry to Politics" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Calligraphy, Mixed Media, and Art History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Venetia Porter ( is an Honorary Research Fellow at the British Museum. Formerly Curator of Islamic and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art at the British Museum, her published titles include Reflections: contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa, The Islamic World: a history in objects, Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam and Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East.

Creating Your First Novel
Hank Quense
Strange Worlds Publishing
9798985309799, $24.99, PB, 165pp
9798989116300, $6.99 Kindle

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

"Creating Your First Novel: A comprehensive guide spanning the entire long-term project: from planning through marketing and starting your author business." joins many other advice titles for authors, but arrives with a difference—it points out that writing any book involves not a singular attempt to put pen to paper, but a series of steps that make the act of writing only one part of the greater project.

Few authors would stop to consider that the act of writing a book is the same as one of creating a business; but when viewed in this light, one's first novel assumes a very different prospective that needs the particular enlightenment and explorative focus that Hank Quense presents here.

The nuts and bolts of a novel-writing effort are explored through insights that embrace all aspects of a novel's production, from the problems with too many subplots ("Subplots shouldn't stop the main plot from going forward. By this I mean, don't insert an entire five-thousand-word subplot in between two main plot scenes.") to understanding the difference between story design and storytelling.

Aspiring authors receive advice that can be broadly applied to a range of endeavors, yet embraces the typical challenges, writer's blocks, and sticking points that too often keep a novel from fruition:

"...creating a story is a complicated operation. What with the characters, plots, setting, scenes and other stuff, new writers sometimes get paralyzed by wondering where to start."

Formulas for success embrace literary, business, and practical skill sets that many authors may not be fully versed in, creating opportunities for learning approaches and techniques that can bring a creative effort to publication success and public attention.

Creating Your First Novel is a lesson in bigger-picture thinking that moves from the art of creative writing and editing to the nuts and bolts of marketing, promotion, and business savvy.

Libraries and wannabe writers seeking an all-in-one approach to a first attempt will find Creating Your First Novel a winner.

Mid-Century Type
David Jury
Merrell Publishers
9781858947075, $55.00, HC, 240pp

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Mid-Century Type: Typography, Graphics, Designers is a visual art reference to the history of typography. It gathers some five hundred examples of typefaces, literary ads, signs, book and magazine covers, and more into a survey that captures the style and usage of 20th-century type and graphic design by American and European typographers. Any art library interested in historical reviews of designers, influences, and changing approaches to typography will find Mid-Century Type an essential reference containing captivating color visuals that reinforce its historical survey.

"The Midwest Book Review Postage Stamp Hall Of Fame & Appreciation" is a monthly roster of well-wishers and supporters. These are the generous folk who decided to say 'thank you' and 'support the cause' that is the Midwest Book Review by donating to our postage stamp fund this past month:

Scott Homer
S. Yerucham
Mark Brown
Shari Borkin -- "The Movie Chair"
David Rife -- "Jazz Fiction: Take Two"
Mark J. Engels -- "Werecats Convergent"
David Buzan -- "In The Lair Of Legends"
Nicole J. Smith -- "Diagnosis: Dementia"
Gail B. Kuhnlein -- "How Happy is a Lark?"
Michael McGrath -- "Never Said I Love You"
Cynthia Todd-Takeyama -- "Watch Our for the Elephants!"
Jeffrey Glover -- "The Wildebeest and a Bunch of Crock & Other Animal Story Poems"
Lisa Niver -- "Brave-Ish: One Breakup, Six Continents, and Feeling Fearless After Fifty"
Nicolette DiMaggio -- Stock Explore LLC
Elizabeth Frazier -- Waldmania! PR

In lieu of (or in addition to!) postage stamp donations, we also accept PayPal gifts of support to our postage stamp fund for what we try to accomplish in behalf of the small press community.

Simply log onto your PayPal account and direct your kindness (in any amount and at your discretion) to the Midwest Book Review at: SupportMBR [at] (The @ is replaced by "[at]" in the above email address, in an attempt to avoid email-harvesting spambots.)

If you have postage stamps to donate, or if you have a book you'd like considered for review, then send those postage stamps (always appreciated, never required), or a published copy of that book (no galleys, uncorrected proofs, or Advance Reading Copies), accompanied by a cover letter and some form of publicity release to my attention at the address below.

All of the previous issues of the "Jim Cox Report" are archived on the Midwest Book Review website at If you'd like to receive the "Jim Cox Report" directly (and for free), just send me an email asking to be signed up for it.

So until next time -- goodbye, good luck, and good reading!

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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