Stories indexed with the term ‘publishing’

Column: Book Fare

Natalie Jacobs was 35 when she died, suddenly, in January 2008.

Cover of "When Your Song Breaks the Silence"

Cover of "When Your Song Breaks the Silence."

She left behind a novel. And her parents, Stan and Judith Jacobs of Ann Arbor, have published it, in ebook form, as a memorial to her.

“When Your Song Breaks the Silence” is an elegantly imagined life of Austrian composer Franz Schubert, distinguished by an articulate sensitivity and meticulous research. The completed novel’s existence was a surprise to her parents – its subject was not.

When her daughter was 11 years old, Judith Jacobs writes on the website she created for the book, “she wrote a story about the composer as a young child trying myopically – Natalie was also very near-sighted – to interact with his family and surroundings.” A graduate of Community High School, Natalie majored in English literature at the University of Michigan and was still working with the Schubert theme in the mid-1990s; when Stan and Judith traveled to Vienna in 1995 they made a point to visit the house where he died (in 1828, at age 31).

“A lilac bush was in full bloom in front of the building,” Jacobs says. They took a photograph. [Full Story]

Column: Book Fare

Steven Gillis got lucky. Twice.

In the 1980s he was practicing labor law with a big firm in Washington, D.C., and writing in his spare time. The stock market was booming.

Steve Gillis

Steven Gillis, in his home office on Ann Arbor's east side. Gillis is founder of Dzanc Books as well as the nonprofit 826 Michigan, which are both based in Ann Arbor. His latest novel, "The Consequence of Skating," came out last week. (Photo by Mary Morgan)

“I started making some money and I got people to invest it for me – I’m smart enough to know I didn’t know how to invest it,” Gillis says.

“And I got lucky.”

As his writing started to take off, Gillis decided to practice law part time and devote more time to his fiction. A Detroit native and University of Michigan alum, he decided to move back to Michigan and settled in Ann Arbor. His first novel, “Walter Falls,” published by Brook Street Press in 2003, was well-received by critics and a finalist for a pair of literary awards. (Brook Street would publish his second novel, “The Weight of Nothing,” in 2005.) And he founded 826 Michigan, a nonprofit aimed at encouraging young people to develop their creative writing talents.

And then, in early 2005, he met up with Dan Wickett, who, like Gillis, was a regular at Shaman Drum Bookshop and at other local readings. And Gillis got lucky again. [Full Story]

Column: Dead Duck for Thanksgiving

At Thanksgiving, a flesh eater’s fancy turns heavily to thoughts of a dead bird. What better time of year, then, for cartoonist Jay Fosgitt to serve up a pair of them?


Panel from Jay Fosgitt's "Dead Duck." (Image links to higher resolution file)

Meet Dead Duck, the title character of Fosgitt’s debut graphic novel, and his sidekick, Zombie Chick. They work for the Grim Reaper (aka J. P. Yorick); their task is to haul the reluctant chosen over to the other side (aka Rigormortitropolis) by any means necessary.

Happily for us all, bringing in the dead has always been a rich lode for historical references, literary allusions and rude humor.

“Dead Duck” takes off on all three, with riffs on the Salem witch trials, Beatlemania, the Canadian health care system, the Crusades, Punch and Judy, the “Vagina Monologues,” Chaucer, SCTV’s Doug and Bob McKenzie (Fosgitt has great affection for the Great White North), Nazi porn and blaxpliotation flicks, just to skim the colorful surface.

“Dead Duck,” Fosgitt freely advises, is “not profane, but it’s certainly not for little kids.”

The book, published by Ape Entertainment, is due out next month – though Fosgitt is expecting a FedEx delivery of 200 copies to his home today, according to his blog. The weekly comic also has been appearing since February at That’s where you’ll find Fosgitt’s commentary on his inspirations for that week’s strip and the technical aspects of cartooning, as well as other observations. And you’ll find Fosgitt at Ann Arbor’s Vault of Midnight on Main Street from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, where he’ll talk about “Dead Duck” and sign copies of his book. [Full Story]

City Council Begins Transition

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (Sept. 8, 2009): It did not look like a lot was going to happen at Ann Arbor’s city council meeting on Tuesday.

Sandi Smith (Ward 1) indicated early in the meeting that action on the Near North development would be postponed. A speaker during public commentary noted that a controversial resolution affecting the municipal airport had been yanked from the meeting’s agenda. And Mike Anglin (Ward 5) announced a delay in his intention to bring a resolution that would make publicly available numerous city council emails dating to the early 2000s. Council did not contemplate any resolutions in connection with the Argo Dam. [The Chronicle will report separately on the work session held immediately prior to the council meeting, which focused on Argo Dam.]

But as it turned out, on Tuesday night a lot happened: Ann Arbor’s city council began a transition – to what will perhaps be a different way of doing business and to a new set of leaders. [Full Story]

Column: A Charter Change on Publishing?

WordPress Publish button

The word on the button is bigger than it appears.

At last Thursday night’s work session, city council members reached a consensus on a city income tax proposal. Their consensus was this: They did not want city staff to place on their Monday agenda an item that, if passed, would have put a city income tax question on November’s ballot.

So based on the agenda posted on the city of Ann Arbor website, and in light of the Sunday night caucus discussion among council members, it appeared there would not be any really substantive issues before that body at its Monday night meeting.

Yet council ended up voting on three substantive items – all introduced late in the day on Monday. One was a reconsideration of a historic district study committee resolution passed at the council’s previous meeting – it  amounts to a wording change. But it’s a wording change that has a material affect on what projects homeowners in the district can undertake on their properties during the study period. The original resolution at the previous council meeting had also been introduced late in the day, with no public discussion beforehand surrounding the resolution.

A second item introduced late Monday concerned a new transit center on Fuller Road. It entailed the authorization of around $200,000 – about half of that from the city’s economic development fund, which was originally established to pay for parking spaces that Google had demanded as a part of its decision to locate offices in downtown Ann Arbor.

And finally – even though councilmembers had decided at their work session they didn’t want to contemplate putting an income tax before the voters – they decided to put something else before the voters: a charter amendment that would give council the authority to decide how certain notifications are published.

The amendment would change current requirements that certain items are printed in a newspaper, instead allowing for a broader range of options, including online publications.

How could an online enthusiast like me, the editor of an online publication, be against this move? Easy. [Full Story]

Zingerman’s Press Has a Ball

Jillian Downey and Ari Weinzweig

Jillian Downey and Ari Weinzweig meet with The Chronicle at Zingerman's Deli Next Door.

Elizabeth Kostova often sits in Booth 104 at Zingerman’s Roadhouse – it’s a detail that Zingerman’s co-founder Ari Weinzweig mentions in passing, a little insight into a much deeper connection between the best-selling novelist and the popular family of food businesses.

It’s a connection that plays a role in yet another enterprise that could be added to the mix: Zingerman’s Press. [Full Story]

Library Now Printing Books

After Wednesday, Oct. 1, visitors to the University of Michigan Shapiro Library will be able to leave with a book and never have to return it – because it was just printed off with a perfect binding on an Espresso Book Machine from On Demand Books and paid for right on the spot. The option to have a book printed is restricted for now to out-of-copyright books from the university’s digitized collections, which currently includes over 2 million volumes.

At a cost of about only $10 per book, the entire digitized collection (as it currently stands) could be recreated in physical form by an Espresso Book Machine for $20 million. Put a different way, for the $700 billion price tag of the currently proposed bailout of our core financial institutions, we could instead reprint the digitized collection of the UM library 35,000 times. At 5-7 minutes per book, that project would, on a low estimate, take one Espresso Book Machine [70 billion]*[5 minutes], or 665,905 years. [Full Story]