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Jim Cox Report: January 2021
Dear Publisher Folk, Friends & Family:
Finally the worst single year of my 78 year old lifetime is history. But before rejoicing I'm going to have to make it through the next 4 or 5 months until I and my 75 year old wife can be vaccinated against the deadly plague that is COVID-19. Just a quick note to remind you (and myself) that if I'm taken out by this damnable pandemic, that my beloved Midwest Book Review will continue under the editorship and leadership of my talented daughter Bethany.
The pandemic of 2020 has well and truly hammered the publishing industry in all the diverse sections of the business. Bookstores had to close, reopen, close again, see dramatic decreases with in-store customers, some surprising increases in on-line sales mail order fulfillment, and the suspensions (especially for the independent bookstores) of such prized and essential marketing features as Author Events, Saturday morning children's reading programs, midweek evening poetry gatherings, etc.
The publishers (particularly the major houses) experienced pandemic driven and economically disastrous closures of their warehouses, postponement of publishing runs, canceled shipments to bookstores, closings of their offices, substitutions of Zoom in-house staff meetings for in-person communications, layoffs of key personnel, etc.
Librarians with closed libraries and drastic budget cuts.
Authors with canceled meetings with their publishers, literary agents, book tours, book fairs/conventions, and other marketing events.
And then there were the book reviewers.
Here at the Midwest Book Review we saw around an 80% plunge in revenues requiring laying off one of our two employees. But here's one of those little blessings that life can provide you with even in the midst of the worst crisis in our little company's history -- that minimum wage paid employee of more than 15 years, upon having to be laid off, decided to continue with all of his Midwest Book Review duties and tasks as usual as an unpaid volunteer.
Plus there was (and continues to be) a welcome increase in people making 'thank you' donations to our postage stamp fund -- which I also had to sometimes tap into to cover a utility bill to keep the lights on.
So for the last 5 or 6 months we've been able to soldier on and produce all nine of our monthly book review publications without interruption.
Another unexpected serendipity is that although the pandemic forced the major publishing companies to cut back severely with respect to their publication schedules, and to suspend sending out review copies (largely because of their warehouses having had to shut down), there was a significant increase in the numbers of self-published authors sending us their books to take the place of the major publishing houses.
I think this was largely because a lot of aspiring self-published authors were laid off from their day job and/or home bound because of the pandemic -- giving them time to finish their versions of the Great American Novel and other writing projects.
So farewell and good riddance to 2020 and all its lethal insanity. The only thing I want to remember about you is all those good people who are now gone, and the ones that expressed their support and continuing appreciation of what we here at the Midwest Book Review try to accomplish in behalf of authors, independent publishers, librarians, booksellers, and the general reading public.
Now here is a review of a book that will be of particular and special interest to writers and their publishers:
Richard Hughes Gibson, author
James Edward Beitler III, author
PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426
9780830854837, $22.00, PB, 248pp
Synopsis: Written words carry weight. Unfortunately, in today's cultural climate, what we and others write (especial in a social media format) is all too often laced with harsh judgments and vitriol rather than careful consideration and generosity. But might the Christian faith transform how we approach the task of writing? How might we love God and our neighbors through our writing?
"Charitable Writing: Cultivating Virtue Through Our Words " is not a style guide that teaches you where to place the comma and how to cite your sources (as important as those things are). Rather, it offers a vision for expressing one's faith through writing and for understanding writing itself as a spiritual practice that cultivates virtue. Under the guidance of two experienced Christian writers who draw on authors and artists throughout the church's history, we learn how we might embrace writing as an act of discipleship for today -- and how we might faithfully bear the weight of our written words.
Critique: Words can have the impact of a sledge hammer, the cutting edge of a surgeon's scalpel, the lethal consequence of a gun shot. They can also heal a hurt, restore dignity, invoke hope, give life meaning, purpose, direction and resolve. Anyone who writes and wants or has a readership for what they have written should give a close and attentive read to "Charitable Writing: Cultivating Virtue Through Our Words". While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Charitable Writing: Cultivating Virtue Through Our Words" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.51).
Editorial Note #1: Richard Hughes Gibson (PhD, University of Virginia) is associate professor of English at Wheaton College. He is the author of Forgiveness in Victorian Literature: Grammar, Narrative, and Community. With designer Jeremy Botts, he codirects Manibus Press, an occasional publisher of artists' books.
Editorial Note #2: James Edward Beitler III (PhD, University of Michigan) is associate professor of English at Wheaton College, where he is the director of First-Year Writing and also coordinates the Writing Fellows Program. He is the author of Seasoned Speech: Rhetoric in the Life of the Church and Remaking Transitional Justice in the United States: The Rhetorical Authorization of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Finally, "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:
C. M. Lloyd
Brynda Mara Grube
Kate Lloyd -- "Stage Fright"
Judith Hale Everett -- "Two in the Bush"
Joanna Kraus -- "The Blue Jeans Rebellion"
Portia Little -- Panntree Press
Michael Duda -- Small Dog, Inc.
Tracy McGhee -- Gold Fern Press
Nina Wisherd -- Cable Publishing
Stephen K. Partridge -- Argive Press
Joseph Brient -- Commonwealth Press
Jeff Howard -- Rand-Smith Publishing
David Parker -- Darwin Bay Publishing
Bruce L. Bortz -- Bancroft Commercial
Cynthia Kern Obrien -- Pickles House Publications
The Goal Setter's Club
Stoneman House Press
Source for Mindfulness
World Encounter Institute
Cooke Revivals Ministries
New English Review Press
New Shelves Publishing Services
Frank Martorana -- Vincharo Ventures, LLC
Karen Thomas -- Thomas Public Relations
Elizabeth Waldman Frazier -- Waldmania!
Barbara C. Wall -- The Barrett Company, LLC
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] aol.com
(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 www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/jimcox.htm. 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!
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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