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Jim Cox Report: February 2023

Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:

As I've often mentioned, one of the perks of being the editor-in-chief of the Midwest Book Review for the past five decades is that I receive a lot of useful information on the state and status of the publishing industry. Here are two surveys that arrived in my email box that I particularly want share with you:

American book reading statistics for 2022 and 2023 (complete USA survey data):

Global book reading statistics for 2022 and 2023 (complete survey data):

This is a fascinating and informative survey with results that will prove interesting to authors, publishers, and dedicated bibliophiles alike.

Another little item to cross my desk recently is a rather interesting study of library usage nation wide from the folks at Overdrive and something they have developed called 'The Libby App'. I thought it might be of interest.

OverDrive is a mission-based company that stands with libraries. Named a Certified B Corp in 2017, OverDrive serves more than 88,000 libraries and schools in 109 countries with the industry's largest digital catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, video and other content. OverDrive empowers libraries and schools by expanding access for all through tireless industry advocacy and consistent innovation. Award-winning apps and services include the Libby library reading app, the Sora student reading app, Kanopy, the leading video streaming app for libraries and colleges, and, which offers one of the largest catalogs of supplemental materials that enhance literacy outcomes.

Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA, they have a website at

David Burleigh is their Director of Brand & Communications.

Public Libraries Lend One Billion Titles with the Libby Reading App

Accessing libraries for reading is a "joyful" antidote to inflation

CLEVELAND January 25, 2023 As public libraries continue their mission to serve their communities, a major milestone was reached for the most popular ebook, audiobook, magazine and comics app for library patrons: one billion digital books borrowed in Libby, the library reading app. The Libby app, created by OverDrive, is used in over 22,000 public libraries and thousands of colleges, universities, corporate libraries and learning centers.

The one billionth checkout in Libby occurred on January 21 through a member public library of the Arkansas Digital Library Consortium. The title An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena, a murder mystery released in 2018 reinforces the growing reality that readers of all ages use their local library to enjoy digital books of all genres, in addition to the most popular and trending new releases.

"This is the happiest of accidents," said Jennifer Chilcoat, Director of the Arkansas State Library. "The Arkansas Digital Library Consortium has exponentially expanded the reading and learning choices that are available to Arkansans, and providing Libby's billionth checkout is a joyful reminder of that impact. We are proud to be a part of Libby's success story, and even prouder to be part of the success story of Arkansas' great public libraries."

Libraries played a critical role during COVID, providing essential services even while most buildings were closed. Consequently, more people than ever discovered the benefits of borrowing ebooks and digital audiobooks from their public library. As inflation has increased and families struggle with household budgets, free content from the public library has become a staple for many readers throughout the country and around the world.

Launched in 2017, Libby provides 24/7 access to library ebooks and audiobooks in a streamlined reading app. Libby's intuitive user interface provides an easy and enjoyable user experience for fiction or nonfiction books (ebook or audiobook), comic books, graphic novels, magazines, cookbooks and Read-Alongs. Libby has been downloaded by millions of readers and earned thousands of 5-star reviews, a 4.8 Apple App Store rating and a 4.1 Google Play store rating.

With the scheduled discontinuation of the legacy OverDrive app in April 2023, millions more readers will upgrade to Libby. New features are consistently being added in Libby, including the Notify Me feature which is currently being piloted by 60 libraries. This allows patrons to discover and express interest in titles that are not yet in their local library's collection. Libraries use Libby to reach their community and introduce their valuable programs and free online services.

To find a public library near you, download the Libby app (iOS, Android) or visit

Here are reviews of new books that will be of particular interest and value to authors, publishers and bibliophiles:

The Writer's Room Survival Guide
Niceole Levy, author/reader
Dreamscape Media
9781666626704, $22.99, CD (8 Hours, 26 Minutes)

Synopsis: Writers' rooms for television shows or film projects can be a heaven or hell, depending on a few things. The best rooms foster inclusive and productive creative flow. The worst create a toxic stew of bad feelings and doubt. Both kinds, and all the ones in between, require basic knowledge of how the room works. These fundamentals are best learned before you go in.

What Niceole Levy provides in her complete and unabridged audio book "The Writer's Room Survival Guide: Don't Screw Up the Lunch Order and Other Keys to a Happy Writers' Room" is a true insider's insightful account of how to make it as a screenwriter working with others in close and confining quarters.

Critique: Professional screenwriter Niceole Levy's ably narrated and impressively informative, complete and unabridged audio book edition of "The Writer's Room Survival Guide: Don't Screw Up the Lunch Order and Other Keys to a Happy Writers' Room" from Dreamscape Media must be considered essential and invaluable for anyone one aspiring to or hoping for a career of writing scripts from television, the movies, or the stage. It should be noted for personal reading lists and community library collections that "The Writer's Room Survival Guide" is also available in a paperback edition (Michael Wiese Productions, 978-1615933464, $29.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.49).

Editorial Note: Niceole Levy ( completed the NBC Writers on the Verge program in 2012 and the CBS Writer's Mentoring Program in 2011. She is also a 2-time graduate of the University of Southern California. A devotee of television, she wrote her first solo original pilot, "Thin Air" during the CBS program. She was a staff writer on NBC's "Ironside" in 2013 and is currently working on two new pilots. In addition, Niceole has completed a variety of projects, including pilots, specs, original plays, and original short stories.

Psychology for Screenwriters
William Indick, author
Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781615933471, $29.95, PB, 312pp

Synopsis: People's lives are made up of good and bad decisions, histories filled with triumph and pain, behaviors formed from a lifetime of experiences. A screenwriter's characters should be no different.

But writing psychologically complex characters requires an understanding of human behavior. Fortunately, as a screenwriter you will not need a PhD in psychology to add complexity to your work.

With the publication of "Psychology for Screenwriters: Building Conflict in Your Script", William Indick (an author, active screenwriter, screenwriting consultant, and an Associate Professor of Psychology at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey) will help you add psychological depth to your script with insights from brilliant psychological theorists like Freud, Jung, and Adler.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, a careful reading of "Psychology for Screenwriters: Building Conflict in Your Script" will enable even the most novice of screenwriters to create memorable characters and engaging conflicts that will have their audiences enthralled. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections in general, and supplemental Screenwritng curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "Psychology for Screenwriters" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.45).

Editorial Note: William Indick ( earned his bachelors degree in psychology (1993) and masters degree in music therapy (1996) from New York University. His other books include Media Environments and Mental Disorder (2021), The Digital God (2015), Ancient Symbology in Fantasy Literature (2012), The Psychology of the Western (2008), Psycho Thrillers (2006), and Movies and the Mind (2004).

Mining Your Past
Richard Lee Zuras
Belle Isle Books
c/o Brandylane Publishers
5 South First Street, Richmond, VA 23219
9781958754030, $17.95, PB, 194pp

Synopsis: No one has ever seen the world the way you have. This is a truth that noted author, poet, and professor Richard Lee Zuras knows well.

As a writer, mining your past for its characters, its lessons, its regrets, and its joys can feel intimidating, but it leads to authenticity in any writer's work that simply cannot be replicated. No one has seen the world the way you do, and so learning how to tap into that world as you create new stories is an invaluable way of finding your voice.

"Mining Your Past: A Creative Writing Professor's Guide" is an accessible and informative writing guide in which Professor Zuras skillfully combines his previous written works and personal histories with concrete tools for any readers looking to integrate their own pasts into authentic writing.

Refreshingly reader-focused, "Mining Your Past" provides the aspiring writer with tangible methods for uncovering their unique world view in order to create more compelling and genuine storytelling. The reader will step away with a greater faith in their potential as writers and with a better understanding of their own pasts, making this an essential read -- especially for novice writers searching for a way to share their stories, as only they can tell them.

Critique: A complete course of informative and practical instruction for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections, "Mining Your Past: A Creative Writing Professor's Guide" will be of special and enduring value for anyone with an interest in writing stories, poetry and song lyrics. In full compliance with the old adage of 'Write What You Know', this throughly 'user friendly' DIY instructional is unreservedly recommended for novice writers and has a great deal of insightful and thought-provoking value for even the more experienced author, essayist, song writer, or poet.

Editorial Note: Edward Lee Zuras ( is a professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of Maine at Presque Isle where he has taught creative writing for more than twenty years. His own stories and poems have appeared in dozens of literary journals including Story Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Weber Journal, Big Muddy, Jabberwock Review, Lake Effect, Chicago Quarterly Review, Laurel Review, Yemassee, Xavier Review, Confrontation, Red Rock Review, and Passages North. Richard has held writing conference scholarships at Bread Loaf, Wesleyan University, and Pirate's Alley Faulkner, and is the author of the novels The Bastard Year, and The Honeymoon Corruption as well as the poetry collection Birds at the Post Office (all from Brandylane Publishers).

On Writing and Failure
Stephen Marche
9781771965163, $12.95, PB, 128pp

Synopsis: Failure is a topic discussed in every creative writing department in the world, but "On Writing and Failure: Or, On the Peculiar Perseverance Required to Endure the Life of a Writer" by seasoned writer Stephen Marche is the book every beginning writer should have on their shelf to prepare them for rejections from the publishing industry.

Less an instruction guide on writing and more a 'how-to' manual on what you need to continue existing as a writer, "On Writing and Failure: Or, On the Peculiar Perseverance Required to Endure the Life of a Writer" aptly describes the defining role played by rejection in literary endeavors and contemplates failure as the essence of the writer's life.

Along with his own history of rejection, Marche offers stories from the history of writerly failure, from Ovid's exile and Dostoevsky's mock execution to James Baldwin's advice just to endure, where living with the struggle and the pointlessness of writing is the point.

Critique: Simply put, "On Writing and Failure: Or, On the Peculiar Perseverance Required to Endure the Life of a Writer" must be considered essential reading for anyone seeking to write for a living, be it as a novelist, essayist, poet, columnist, or any other writing genre. Itself exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "On Writing and Failure" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Writing/Publishing collections. It should be noted that "On Writing and Failure" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.79).

Editorial Note: Stephen Marche ( is a novelist, essayist and cultural commentator. He is also the author of half a dozen books, and has written opinion pieces and essays for the New Yorker, the New York Times, The Atlantic, Esquire, The Walrus and many others.

How to Write Erotica
Rachel Kramer Russel
Cleis Press
101 Hudson Street, Suite 3705, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
9781627783194, $18.95, PB, 222pp

Synopsis: Have you had intimate fantasies or simmering plotlines you've wanted to write but weren't sure how or where to start? With the publication of "How to Write Erotica", renowned erotica author and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel shows the aspiring writer how to turn those fragments into fully fleshed out erotic stories, novellas and novels.

An indispensable nonfiction DIY craft guide to writing erotic short stories and novels, Bussel draws upon her 20+ years of experience in the genre and walks writers through the ins and outs of erotic writing. Whether you want to see your work on the shelves of bookstores, pen sexy stories or letters for a partner or simply explore your creativity, "How to Write Erotica" is a thorough instructional guide and 'how to' manual.

Having taught erotic writing workshops at universities, conferences and sex toy stores across the world and online, Bussel knows how to make even those who blush at the word "sex" feel comfortable putting pen to paper. Her easy-to-follow method to penning erotica is broken down utilizing helpful tactics that include: Practical examples from her own writing process; Illustrative erotica excerpts; Interviews with over a dozen successful erotica authors; Numerous writing tips and prompts.

Aspiring erotic authors of all genders will learn everything they need to know about gaining inspiration from their everyday surroundings, breaking into publishing, promoting their work and making a name for themselves. From pseudonyms to BDSM, overcoming writer's block and crafting sultry, believable characters, Bussel's advice will have you seeing erotic possibilities everywhere. You don't need an advanced degree, previous writing experience or sexual experience to write good erotica. All you need is a keen imagination and a willingness to follow your lusty mind wherever it takes you.

Critique: A seminal, unique, and expertly written writer's guide to a specific genre that has always been a lucrative market, "How To Write Erotica" is particularly recommended for aspiring writers working in both erotic and romantic fiction. While unreservedly recommended for personal and professional Writer Instructional Reference collections, it should be noted that "How To Write Erotica" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.49).

Editorial Note: Rachel Kramer Bussel ( is the editor of over 70 anthologies featuring over 700 authors, including The Big Book of Orgasms and the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture, and has contributed to over 100 erotica anthologies, including Best American Erotica 2004 and 2006. She teaches erotica writing workshops online and in person and consults with authors via She can be followed on Twitter @raquelita. Her books have won the IPPY (Independent Publisher) Award for Erotica and the Samois Anthology Award from the National Leather Association-International and she is also the winner of the Living in Leather John Preston Award.

"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:

Nancy Lorraine
Dawn Mc Intyre -- "Paper Pirate"
Kathy Vincent -- "Blog Post Planner"
Kim Cousins -- "And Heavenly Things
Tracy L. Smoak -- "Arranged With Love"
Edna Cabcabin Moran -- "Honu and Moa"
Kathy Vincent -- "My Year In Books: 2022"
Rodney G. Miller -- "Communication Essays"
S. T. Haggerty -- "Norman Rockwell's Models"
Donovan's Literary Services
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
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James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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