Searching Out the Interesting

In my weekly editor’s letter I have four sections that offer links to places and things I think are of sufficient interest to BiblioBuffet’s readers to make them worth talking about.

The first one is “Upcoming Book Festivals.” This lists the fairs that will begin during the week or, more likely, that will take place on the next weekend following their announcement. I keep a database of these with the date, festival name, state, city, and URL for each fair I find. Where do I find them?  Mostly through research. The Library of Congress has a list, though it is not as extensive as mine. Sometimes people will post a notice in a blog or website I find. At other times, I simply google “book festivals” to see what comes up. Or doesn’t come up. A few festivals have folded and some have gone to bi-annual. Dates get moved around too and not always by a month or so. Some have moved their dates by as much as eight months.

It’s worse when a festival uses a different URL for each year. That not only means digging to find the new one, but possibly waiting to dig until the organizers decide to put the new one up. It’s surprising how many don’t bother to list the next year’s dates on it as soon as they know it.

When it is time to list the festival, I go to the site, look around, gather information about who is attending, what events are being offered, what the feel of the festival is (which determines how I write about it), and discover if there is a focus. Then I drool a bit. I would love to attend every single festival that makes it into my letter. Some day. Maybe.

The second section of the letter is called “The Pub House.” Each week I feature a different publisher, almost all of them being independent (that is, non-mega houses). They may range from small to medium-large, and may publish a variety of genres or just one. These can be harder to find, but I have complied a current total of 183. I am still missing many university presses, and some more small ones that crop up on my radar occasionally from blog posts, links, or industry newsletters. The database on which these are stored include their names, genres, URLs, and the date it ran as the featured publisher in the letter. I try to vary them from week to week, going from a SFF/horror publisher one week to a children’s publisher the next, and perhaps an arts publisher after that. I also look through their current catalog and seek out books that I think some of you might like and mention and link them. This is one of my favorite researches because I often find books I like and add to my own To Buy list.

“Of Interest” has no special focus. What lands here is stuff that is mostly, but not entirely of literary interest. You could say it’s of interest . . .  to me, which would be accurate. This section has featured a wide-ranging set of links including radio shows, blogs, speeches, articles, online exhibitions, magazines, and literary toys and gadgets. I find the material that goes here in as nearly as many ways as I find the things that go in it. Recommendations from friends, websites, blogs; newspaper and magazines articles; advertising; trade newsletters; and more. I have on occasion wondered if I might ever run out, but given the limitless expanse and offerings online I know that isn’t likely to happen. As of now, the folder I use to temporarily  store links to be used later (Links for BB Pages) has thirty-nine, and more are added all the time.

The final section, “This Week . . .” is not much different from the “Of Interest” section. Originally, I intended it to be for listing things that were, well, something going on in that particular week. It worked for a while, but I found that it was hard to sustain. For one thing, timely events tended to be in a physical location more often than not and that meant they were pretty much limited to the local populace. Now while I do look for things that might be opening that week I don’t use that as a criterion.

When I began adding these sections I posted a couple of places more than once. To avoid that I began another database in which I keep names of the latter three sections and each week list what I used for each one. It’s easy now to do a search if I am ever uncertain. Because while I do have a phenomenal memory I also read far too many books, publications, and online material to be certain about why something sounds familiar. Is it because I’ve bookmarked it to be used, or is it because I have used it? Sometimes, to paraphrase an old television commercial, only my database knows for sure.

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