Our CODEX Hackathon Soirée and Pop-Up Gallery at GitHub Headquarters

Recovering the Classics posters on easels | Photo by Michelle Cheng.

To kick off our CODEX Hackathon on Friday evening, we threw a soirée and pop-up gallery at GitHub headquarters where almost  200 literary, library and tech folk mingled together before getting together the next day to hack.

 

GitHub’s headquarters is a beautifully decorated warehouse in SoMa, one of the most stunning offices in San Francisco. The first floor resembles a bar more than an office. That night — thanks to work Kathy Jaller, Craig Reyes and Rachel Myers —  we transformed the space into a gallery.

We put dozens of Recovering the Classics covers on easels and dispersed throughout the space. We had live music by singer-songwriter Daniel Park from Las Vegas. He played in the background as he sung indie songs and strummed away on a guitar.

Thanks to publishers and literary goods folks, we had a schwag table filled with T-shirts, totes, socks and pouches from Out of Print and temporary tattoos from Litographs. We had open bar with literary cocktails and a buffet that included yummy dumplings from Shanghai Dumpling King (highly recommended for catered events)

Soirée at Github Headquarters | Photo by Michelle Cheng.

And this being a publishing soiree, of course we had a literary cocktail menu.

  • Tequila Mockingbird: Z Blanco Tequila, Grapefruit Juice, Topo Chico, Salt
  • Catcher in the Rye: Bulleit Rye, Angostura Bitters, Fine White Sugar
  • Vermouth the Bell Tolls: Botanist Islay Dry Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Dry Vermouth, Shake, Served Up
  • Margarita Atwood: 3 Caballos Blanco, Cointreau, Fresh Lime Juice, Salt, Served Up

With a lovely menu.

Literary Cocktails at Github

 

Best of all, Margaret Atwood retweeted the literary cocktail menu!

 

CODEX Hackathon during ALA in San Francisco in June

We’re throwing a literary/publishing/library/book hackathon in San Francisco called CODEXduring the American Library Association conference on the weekend of June 26-28, 2015.

It’s a gathering of people who want to imagine the future of books and reading! Programmers, designers, writers, librarians, publishers, readers.

You can apply and register via Submittable. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we have travel stipends!
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Recovering the Classics partners with the White House, NYPL and DPLA

Our Recovering the Classics project has teamed up with the NYPL, Digital Public Library of America and the White House  
as part of Obamas eBook initiative for low-income kids.
Here is our cameo.
The Digital Public Library of America: Their network of librarians will volunteer with the New York Public Library to help make sure popular books reach the most appropriate audience. DPLA, in conjunction with Recovering the Classics are also add age-appropriate public domain titles whose text and cover art has been redesigned by leading graphic designers and artists
Jennifer 8. Lee, a cofounder, also recently joined the board of the DPLA.

We’re in the Best American Short Stories 2014!

We’re excited to announce that four of the stories we published were highlighted in The Best American Short Stories 2014 collection, which was guest edited by Jennifer Egan.

They were:

  • “Chairs in the Rafters” by Julia Glass
  • “Love on Mars” by our own Justin Keenan
  • “ILY” by Tova Mirvis
  • “Seibert” by Adam Haslett

There are 100 notable stories that are first selected by the series editor, Heidi Pitlor, from submissions across the country each year (in print!). Then they are further whittled down by the series editor. So we’re surprised and excited that so many of our stories made it in.

 

 

A Pairing for Valentine’s Day: Plympton Joins Forces With DailyLit

dailylit logo png

We are thrilled to announce at the TOC conference in New York that Plympton is joining forces with DailyLit, the oldest and largest digital distributor of daily serialized fiction. Chosen as the #1 book website by the Sunday Times in London, DailyLit has been delivering great books and series  in short installments directly to readers’ inboxes since 2006. Hundreds of thousands of readers have received over 50 million installments through DailyLit.

This combination of DailyLit’s worldwide distribution platform together with Plympton’s original serial fiction presents a unique and exciting opportunity in cutting-edge publishing. The DailyLit library ranges from classics like Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick to modern treasures by writers like Jhumpa Lahiri and Margaret Atwood. Our ambition is to commission and add to that library.

DailyLit was founded by Susan Danziger, formerly of Random House, and her husband, Albert Wenger, a partner at Union Square Ventures whose birthday is this week. The initial idea behind DailyLit was to integrate quality reading into people’s busy, daily lives — through “byte-sized ebooks” as The New York Times put it — a notion that is even more pertinent today.

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Announcing The Twitter Fiction Festival Selection Panel!

We’re super-excited to note that Plympton’s own Yael Goldstein Love has been announced as part of the selection panel for the Twitter Fiction Festival. We’ve seen a sneak peak of some of the submissions, and they are good!

Reminder, the festival runs from November 28-December 2, 2012.

Andrew Fitzgerald’s’s note about the panel is below in entirety.

With the submission deadline for our Twitter Fiction Festival coming up on Thursday, now’s a good time to introduce you to the people who will help us decide what to showcase. They come from all across the writing world, and we’re thrilled to have their input.

 

  • Ben Marcus’ most recent book is The Flame Alphabet. His stories have appeared in Harper’s, Conjunctions, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review. He teaches at Columbia University.
  • Emily Raboteau is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Professor’s Daughter, and the forthcoming Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora. Her fiction and essays have regularly appeared in the Best American series. Raboteau also teaches creative writing at City College, in Harlem. Her website is www.emilyraboteau.com.
  • Lee Ellis (@lhe2103) is the Assistant Fiction Editor at The New Yorker. For the magazine he has edited Michael Ondaatje, Paul La Farge, and William Gibson, among others. He is the recipient of The Henfield Award at Columbia University, where he completed his MFA in fiction.
  • Meg Waite Clayton (@megwclayton) is the nationally bestselling author of four novels:The Four Ms. Bradwells, The Wednesday Sisters, the Bellwether Prize finalist The Language of Light, and the forthcoming The Wednesday Daughters. Find out more atwww.megwaiteclayton.com.
  • Ryan Chapman (@chapmanchapman) is the marketing director for The Penguin Press. His recent campaigns have been for books like Zadie Smith’s NW, Nate Silver’s The Signal and The Noise, and Thomas Pynchon’s work in e-book format.
  • Sean McDonald (@neverrockfila) is Executive Editor of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Teju Cole (@tejucole) is currently Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College. His novel Open City won the PEN/Hemingway Award. “Small fates,” his Twitter storytelling project, has been featured in the New Yorker and other magazines.
  • Yael Goldstein Love (@ygoldlove) is the Co-Founder and Editorial Director of Plympton, a publishing house devoted to serialized fiction. Her first novel, Overture(paperback title: The Passion of Tasha Darsky) was published by Doubleday in 2007. She graduated from Harvard University with an honors degree in Philosophy.

 

Looking at the incredible array of submissions from around the world thus far, our panelists certainly have their work cut out for them. In addition to the stories they elect to spotlight, we hope to hear from many other voices sharing their stories throughout the Festival with the #twitterfiction hashtag. There’s still time to get your submission in front of the panel — if you have a big idea that could revolutionize storytelling on Twitter, submit it here!

Andrew Fitzgerald (@magicandrew)
Media Team

Join Plympton’s brainstorm for the #twitterfiction festival.

Plympton will be taking part, somehow, in the Twitter Fiction Festival (11/28-12/2). As we’ve mentioned before. Anyone can apply: published, not published, self-published.

They really want to push Twitter as a creative platform for storytelling. What does that mean? Well we are just beginning to brainstorm. If you want to join in, sign up below for our twitterfiction[at]plympton.com discussion email list, or jump in on our Google doc.

Need inspiration? A great example discussed was Pulitzer Prize-winner Jennifer Egan’s short story Black Box, which was published both on Twitter and in the magazine this past May. As Deborah Treisman, fiction editor of The New Yorker, explained at the #twitterfiction NYPL event: Egan spent over a year on it, with an intent to be published on Twitter, even though she was not herself a Twitter user. The  8,500 word story was parceled out between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.  for 10 days. It was an example of “tune in” fiction.”

Another great example of narrative fiction on Twitter is Arjun Baju, winner of the Shorty Award, who tells terse narratives in exactly 140 characters.

Last, similar to Baju, The Guardian recently asked novelists to write a complete story in 140 characters (in the spirit of Ernest Hemingway, and”Six Word Memoirs“?). Some of our favorites:

James Meek: He said he was leaving her. “But I love you,” she said. “I know,” he said. “Thanks. It’s what gave me the strength to love somebody else.”

 

Helen Fielding: OK. Should not have logged on to your email but suggest if going on marriedaffair.com don’t use our children’s names as password.

Announcing the Twitter Fiction Festival! Online from Nov. 28-Dec. 2, 2012 #twitterfiction

Today at an event at the New York Public Library, Twitter’s Andrew Fitzgerald announced the first ever Twitter Fiction Festival, which will take place from November 28 to December 2, 2012.

 

Anyone can apply, published, not-published, self-published. An estimated 12-20 authors will take part, judged by the strength of the creativity of their submission. The festival, which will have a schedule of events, will take place entirely online. (With a few fun events IRL, including one at NYPL on December 2!)

Fitzgerald, who himself is a fiction writer, argues that Twitter is a platform ripe for experimentation and that we are only in the early stages of learning what we can do with the 140 character tweet. Great examples of authors experimenting with Twitter include Jennifer Egan and Teju Cole.

Why is Twitter doing this? As Fitzgerald explained, Twitter believes that it “is a platform that could be exceptionally powerful for storytellers,” Fitzgerald said. “Fiction is part of that.”

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Jenny on “The Third Tier” of Publishing

The Seattle Times just published this piece by Jenny on the emergence of the “third tier” of publishing, and what we can learn from the blogging revolution.

WHEN I was a young New York Times technology reporter at the turn of the millennium, we scrupulously defined “blog” as short for “web log,” followed by helpful descriptions now wince-inducing in their narrowness — “a personal website” or an “online diary.”Within six years, blogs and online-first media have become an ascendant force in the political — and cultural — landscape.

The book-publishing industry is now going through the same painful transition, as the world’s largest book fair, Frankfurt Book Fair, opens Wednesday in Germany. It’s a perplexing time for authors. Opportunities are shrinking with the publishing houses who have long underwritten the livelihoods of writers. Meanwhile, Amazon.com and other e-reader and tablet platforms beckon with promises of potentially lucrative self-publishing that bypasses traditional gatekeeping and distribution.

Of the 100 best-selling titles of all time on the Kindle, an astounding 27 were directly released through Amazon.com’s self-publishing platform. But do-it-yourself publishing is burdened by DIY marketing, copy editing and cover design. It’s a distressing path for writers who just want to write.

But a new choice will emerge, if changes in journalism over the past decade serve as a guide.

In journalism, a watershed moment came in 2004, when the Democratic National Convention credentialed 36 bloggers as members of the media. (My article headline: “Year of the Blog? Web Diarists Are Now Official Members of the Convention Press Corps”). And by the 2008 presidential election, blogs and online-first media had come to dominate politics. One-person endeavors, such as Talking Points Memo and Daily Kos, matured into full-fledged businesses.

Investor-backed ventures such as The Huffington Post and Politico were launched (now both have won Pulitzer Prizes). And by then, The New York Times and other media stalwarts had taken the cue, rolling out their own expanding suites of blogs.

So we see a sequence: Legacy media organizations — in this case newspapers, magazines and cable networks — are buffered by a Cambrian explosion of individual voices initially viewed with a “not-one-of-us” disdain by the establishment. In between, a third tier is rising that combines the scale and rigor of enterprise with the nimbleness of the newcomers.

That third tier is now emerging in book publishing, bringing together the production quality and professional aesthetic of the imprints with the flexibility and speed of a digital-first mindset.

Startups, such as the Atavist and Byliner, started with short-form nonfiction, and are expanding. Hollywood producer Scott Rudin and media mogul Barry Diller recently announced a headline-grabbing $20 million investment in their new digital-publishing venture, Brightline. New companies are targeting romance and erotic literature, one of the most vibrant areas in e-publishing.

My first book was published by a traditional publisher. My new literary studio, Plympton, is making a bet on serialized fiction for digital readers.

These digital opportunities will be good for writers, and readers, in the long run. More efficient distribution and “printing” frees us from the cost constraints of paper, brick and mortar. Publishing can open itself up to creative new formats and the resurgence of old ones. Just as television allowed for a viewer experience distinct from that in movie theaters, digital readers can give us a different experience from the dead tree. Already, we are seeing experimentation with serials, novellas, subscriptions and lending libraries. Books can be re-imagined. Novels can be updated.

To be sure, there are worrisome trends that come from a shifting landscape: concentrated market power, fragmented platforms, incompatible and rival formats, demands for exclusivity and a drumbeat of legal battles.

Marketing of e-books (unless you are Amazon.com) is still an amazingly hard nut to crack. There is no effective equivalent for the front table at a bookstore and accelerating readers’ discovery of new titles along an infinite digital bookshelf is neither art nor science yet.

The publisher who solves that challenge will discover a large part of the formula for long-term success.

Jennifer 8. Lee is co-founder of Plympton, a literary studio focused on serialized fiction. She is the author of “The Fortune Cookie Chronicles” and a former New York Times reporter who splits her time between Boston, San Francisco and New York.