33 1/3 Series of books

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whatever, guys. the point is there's a shit ton of great rap albums that don't already have 33 1/3 books that would sell as well as any other rap-themed entry in the series, and they're considering greenlighting shit about poorly aging mid-'00s heirlooms like The Documentary and The Grey Album.

kel ler/pharmacists (some dude), Sunday, 3 June 2012 10:33 (five years ago) Permalink

The rap books (except Beasties) are some of the worst sellers for them

rock the swagon and g.o.a.t. it (Whiney G. Weingarten), Sunday, 3 June 2012 13:06 (five years ago) Permalink

Actually pretty much any book about a black person who isn't Hendrix

rock the swagon and g.o.a.t. it (Whiney G. Weingarten), Sunday, 3 June 2012 13:07 (five years ago) Permalink

Any 331/3 that is: check the stats, and that goes for the AWESOME James Brown book that everyone ( including me) loves, and the awesome sly stone book

rock the swagon and g.o.a.t. it (Whiney G. Weingarten), Sunday, 3 June 2012 13:09 (five years ago) Permalink

the fact that the rap books sell bad no matter what doesn't change the fact that when they do them they should be as good as yours or the other worthwhile ones -- if anything that means why bother with fucking Thank Me Later

kel ler/pharmacists (some dude), Sunday, 3 June 2012 14:27 (five years ago) Permalink

That league table goes to show that most people don't read reviews or recommendations. They love OK Computer and they're going to buy a shitty book about it no matter how many one-star Amazon reviews it gets. Meanwhile some of the best-loved ones - PE, James Brown, Prince, Sly, Throbbing Gristle - languish in the bottom half. Celine Dion looks like the only one in the Top 20 that's clearly selling off the back of its prose rather than the album.

Get wolves (DL), Monday, 4 June 2012 09:18 (five years ago) Permalink

I would never avoid a book on the basis of a zillion one-star Amazon reviews. The 33 1/3 brand is supposed to be a guarantee of quality, so it makes sense that the best selling books will be about the best selling albums on the list. You'd expect to see a correlation there.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Monday, 4 June 2012 10:00 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, that's why multi-platinum international superstars Neutral Milk Hotel are at the top of the chart

typhus in Corfu (Noodle Vague), Monday, 4 June 2012 10:10 (five years ago) Permalink

if the 33 1/3 brand is a guarantee of quality, i'd like my money for the atcq book back.

The Reverend, Monday, 4 June 2012 10:12 (five years ago) Permalink

xp It's not the best-selling albums - it's the most significant ones to a certain audience.

I've never seen this brand as a guarantee of quality. It's always been wildly variable.

Get wolves (DL), Monday, 4 June 2012 10:38 (five years ago) Permalink

I see this brand as a guarantee that the odds are against you.

Lil' Kim Philby (Call the Cops), Monday, 4 June 2012 12:53 (five years ago) Permalink

like American justice

go down on you in a thyatrr (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 4 June 2012 12:54 (five years ago) Permalink

I've never seen this brand as a guarantee of quality. It's always been wildly variable

sure, you and I and ILM realize that but I'm not sure the casual browser in Waterstones or Amazon would.

my father will guide me up the stairs to bed (anagram), Monday, 4 June 2012 13:42 (five years ago) Permalink

personally i think one of the series' greatest strengths is that each volume is such a relatively small investment of time/money that it's not a huge disappointment if a book here or two misses the mark, if it enables them to take a risk on publishing so many (often great) little books by mostly unknown authors on pretty niche topics. consistency is sacrificed for the sake of other virtues.

kel ler/pharmacists (some dude), Monday, 4 June 2012 13:50 (five years ago) Permalink

That league table goes to show that most people don't read reviews or recommendations the books that have been available for the longest amount of time have generally sold the most copies--with a few notable exceptions. The league table thing is more of an interesting thing to look at, sort of like amazon "sales ranks" (which may or may not have anything to do with sales), but as a piece of information it's not incredibly useful.

I agree that some are better than others, and the series IS wildly variable, but it's interesting to see how many people both love and hate the more outre books and how many people both love and hate the volumes that focus on mic placement and chord progressions, etc. So it boils down to different strokes/folks, really. I'm of the opinion that that variability is a big part of the reason the series has continued, where other similar projects have fizzled out.

JMB, Monday, 4 June 2012 14:28 (five years ago) Permalink

Maybe. I'd be interested to know how many owners of the OK Computer book really rate it though - I haven't heard a good word about it. Even taking into account the obvious advantage of being published earlier (hey I noticed that too), sales suggest that a mediocre-to-bad book about a prestige album will sell more than a brilliant one about a more niche one. (Unfortunately for the purposes of 33 1/3 buyers albums by black artists, even when they're the biggest stars of their day, count as niche.) Unsurprising, perhaps, but discouraging. The good news coming out of the figures as that the books continue to sell, albeit modestly. A lot of music books published the same year as the first 33 1/3 batch are out of print by now.

Get wolves (DL), Monday, 4 June 2012 15:32 (five years ago) Permalink

Let's just say that I agree that some are better than others and leave it at that... but your point about the books continuing to sell and stay in print is a good one.
It's also worth noting when looking at the league table that when the series began in 2003, the economy was strong, there were many more indie and chain bookshops, and e-books were more of a futuristic notion than a reality. Kindle sales aren't tallied into the league table list. I would venture to guess that it would look VERY different if so.

JMB, Monday, 4 June 2012 15:45 (five years ago) Permalink

[Though I will also say that while publishing a not-good book about a prestige album may be a safer bet, the editor is in no way cynical enough to do that on purpose.]

JMB, Monday, 4 June 2012 15:50 (five years ago) Permalink

Of course. Nobody publishes a bad book on purpose. They still have to pay the writer the same. And I haven't read anything unpublishably bad - dull or gimmicky seems to as bad as it gets.

Interesting that ebook sales aren't counted in that table.

Get wolves (DL), Monday, 4 June 2012 19:10 (five years ago) Permalink

I didn't know you could even get these as eBooks. Are they Kindle only? Because they certainly aren't available for the Nook.

heated debate over derpy hooves (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 4 June 2012 21:25 (five years ago) Permalink

I got some Kindle ones during that sale and put them on my Nook. Problem solved.

EZ Snappin, Monday, 4 June 2012 21:53 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah, i missed out on that sale and i'm not sure i would have figured out how to transer them without screwing it all up

heated debate over derpy hooves (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 4 June 2012 21:55 (five years ago) Permalink

I just googled how to remove it with Calibre plug-in and Voila!

EZ Snappin, Monday, 4 June 2012 21:56 (five years ago) Permalink

Another review of Lethem's book, which I totally forgot about. Will Kindle it today: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/159606-fear-of-music/

Fastnbulbous, Thursday, 14 June 2012 14:08 (five years ago) Permalink

Portishead book is overlong and goes nowhere basically.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Thursday, 14 June 2012 14:42 (five years ago) Permalink

there's really no way of telling which ones are considered any good/ better than any other with these things you know, when you're in a shop. usually front and back covers of music books (in the UK at least) are covered in rave quotes but there's rarely (if ever?) press quotes on a given 33.. book, just usually chatter about the series in general inside somewhere. i know some ILX folk might consider themselves above all that stuff and that's fair do's, but if i read say, a real rave from The Graun, The Indy or whatever on a cover, or from a writer i like then it will get me that bit more psyched.

piscesx, Thursday, 14 June 2012 15:39 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah it's not like there's a lot of easy ways to observe or measure consensus about diff't books in the series outside of, like, this thread

bronytheus (some dude), Thursday, 14 June 2012 15:40 (five years ago) Permalink

Even this thread isn't totally in agreement about all but like maybe the top five.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Thursday, 14 June 2012 15:51 (five years ago) Permalink

I'm still pissed I missed the Kindle sale. Most of these are priced at $8.99, which I think is too high for a mini e-book. That said, along with Fear Of Music, I do want to buy one of the following: Marquee Moon, You’re Living All Over Me, Another Green World, Pink Flag, Horses, Swordfishtrombone, Troutmaskreplica, Rid Of Me. Decisions, decisions.

Fastnbulbous, Thursday, 14 June 2012 16:22 (five years ago) Permalink

Don't buy YLAOM. Another Green World is great.

Fig On A Plate Cart (Alex in SF), Thursday, 14 June 2012 16:36 (five years ago) Permalink

Marquee Moon and YLAOM aren't great books but i enjoyed them well enough as a fan of the albums

bronytheus (some dude), Thursday, 14 June 2012 16:38 (five years ago) Permalink

Me too on the Dino Jr, not great lit but really satisfying if you love the album. I couldn't get into the Eno one...

Iago Galdston, Friday, 22 June 2012 01:13 (five years ago) Permalink

The Paul's Boutique one I've just read is in the enjoyably solid category. The prose is rock-crit boilerplate but it's a great story, thoroughly researched, which shines a light on A&R man Tim Carr and co-producer Matt Dike, who, to my shame, I didn't realise was such a big part of the sound of the album. The second half is, again, methodical rather than inspired but does a good job of explaining the samples and lyrical references: basically extended sleevenotes.

Lethem's Fear of Music is one of the best I've read. It wrongfooted me into thinking it would be a quasi-memoir but it's really a story of obsession spanning 30 years. So many ideas, so wittily put across. It made me hear the record with fresh ears, which is what all the best 33 1/3 books do.

Get wolves (DL), Friday, 29 June 2012 15:55 (five years ago) Permalink

four weeks pass...

Looks like the chosen few will be announced shortly. Just received my rejection email :-(

scooterboy, Saturday, 28 July 2012 19:40 (five years ago) Permalink

Me too. Neither 2112 proposal made it to the finals.

Nate Carson, Saturday, 28 July 2012 23:07 (five years ago) Permalink

That's a real bummer.

EZ Snappin, Saturday, 28 July 2012 23:11 (five years ago) Permalink

Never read the Replacements one. Some of the others are OK, nothing spectacular.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Sunday, 29 July 2012 02:10 (five years ago) Permalink

That is, do yourself a favor and never read.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Sunday, 29 July 2012 02:11 (five years ago) Permalink

Or whatever. Read it godgammit.

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Sunday, 29 July 2012 02:12 (five years ago) Permalink


You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. (hugo), Sunday, 29 July 2012 02:13 (five years ago) Permalink

lol @ "do yourself a favor and never read."

Nutri Grane (some dude), Sunday, 29 July 2012 03:51 (five years ago) Permalink

That's from Philip Larkin, innit?

Like Monk Never Happened (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 29 July 2012 03:54 (five years ago) Permalink

I also received an email yesterday rejecting my proposal. I simply can't understand it. I had such high hopes for my book about the Sulayiti Kalungi Ensemble of Kampala's classic album "Uganda - Music of the Baganda People" that I'd gone ahead and started researching and writing it. I'd already made two trips out to Kampala and was planning a third.

The thing is, the Ganda people - of whose daily life, rituals and spirit this album is the most transcendent encapsulation, as I explain in Chapter 36 - aren't doing too well at the moment, economically or spiritually. There was the big topsoil erosion last year, of course, then the desecration of their traditional burial grounds, a shocking atrocity I cover in depth in Chapter 70. Things are on a knife-edge. It could go either way for the Ganda.

Over the last few months, news that this book was likely to appear spread like wildfire through these disheartened people, and on my last trip I saw a new sparkle in the eyes of their children. "David Barker will give his assent to a book about the Ganda through Bloomsbury Publishing," said one little girl, her feet bare because her parents can't afford shoes. "At long last all is turning out for our people!"

I'm not a superstitious man, but I swear that birds in those desecrated burial grounds were heard singing again after decades of silence. There was even a rumour that Kintu and Nambi - the Adam and Eve of the Ganda - were said to be planning a great rally in Kampala to congratulate the fifty-two re-united tribes and preside over an entire week of feasting, music, dancing, jubilation and thanksgiving sacrifice to the ancestral spirits.

And then this. Civil war is a virtual inevitability in Buganda now, and the tribal heartlands will soon be an open wound searing with ebola, anthrax and vermin as orphaned children stagger between burning huts, screeching the names of parents whose machete-hacked flesh is already being stripped from their skeletons by wild dogs. Barker you bastard.

Grampsy, Sunday, 29 July 2012 13:01 (five years ago) Permalink

scoring from the judges on this one?

I dont even know that I think this sucks per se (forksclovetofu), Sunday, 29 July 2012 14:08 (five years ago) Permalink

I'm guessing they'll announce the final 18 on Monday morning. Curious.

Nate Carson, Sunday, 29 July 2012 16:08 (five years ago) Permalink

I am not in the writing business. What are the advantages of being a part of this series over self-publishing?

abanana, Sunday, 29 July 2012 16:15 (five years ago) Permalink

distribution. a brand that people recognize. and the fact that nobody reads self-published books unless they are about teen werewolves.

scott seward, Sunday, 29 July 2012 16:29 (five years ago) Permalink

OTM Scott.

Getting three rejections from Continuum has definitely made me re-evaluate how important it is to have a contract in advance though. I personally believe that if I just write a good book, it will get published. Time to quit putting the cart before the horse.

Nate Carson, Monday, 30 July 2012 21:10 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Latest batch to get commissioned:

Andrew WK: I Get Wet, by Phillip Crandall
Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Vol II, by Marc Weidenbaum
Beach Boys: Smile, by Luis Sanchez
Bjork: Biophilia, by Nicola Dibben
Bobbie Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe, by Tara Murtha
Danger Mouse: The Grey Album, by Charles Fairchild
Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, by Mike Foley
Devo: Freedom of Choice, by Evie Nagy
Gang of Four: Entertainment! by Kevin Dettmar
Hole: Live Through This, by Anwyn Crawford
J Dilla: Donuts, by Jordan Ferguson
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, by Kirk Walker Graves
Michael Jackson: Dangerous, by Susan Fast
Oasis: Definitely Maybe, by Alex Niven
Richard Hell and the Voidoids: Blank Generation, by Pete Astor
Serge Gainsbourg: Histoire de Melody Nelson, by Darran Anderson
Sigur Ros: ( ), by Ethan Hayden
They Might Be Giants: Flood, by Alex Reed and Philip Sandifer


Position Position, Friday, 31 August 2012 16:22 (five years ago) Permalink

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