Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Book by Danny Schechter: When South Africa Called, We Answered

As South Africa just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of apartheid, author and award-winning journalist, Danny Schechter is back with a new book, and Cosimo is proud to announce the release of When South Africa Called, We Answered: How the Media and International Solidarity Helped Topple Apartheid 

In this book, Schechter describes the crucial role media played in anti-apartheid achieving worldwide recognition, which enabled outsiders to support the anti-apartheid movement. In Schechter's view, it were ultimately the joint efforts by leaders like the late Nelson Mandela, freedom fighters, activists and media that led to the downfall of apartheid in South Africa.

With When South Africa Called, We Answered, Schechter shows he is not only a media veteran known for his work on radio, television, books and blogs, but is truly an expert on South Africa and apartheid. His expertise is previously shown in his other works such as his earlier book Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (Seven Stories Press, November 2013), a story-telling biography of Nelson Mandela, and in his numerous documentaries about South Africa and apartheid, including Mandela in America

In this book's Foreword, Tony Sutton (Editor of Coldtype in Toronto) aptly describes Schechter's role in South Africa:

" Look back at the major events in South Africa during the final decades of the apartheid era and you'll keep coming across the name of Danny Schechter --- organizing, cajoling, pulling strings and reporting the truth that an evil regime would have preferred to hide from an often ignorant and uncomprehending outside world"

Also other well-known public figures and journalists have praised Schechter for his work on South Africa:

“Danny Schechter's life-long involvement with the freedom movement in South Africa is very well known and respected."          
Reverend Jesse Jackson, Civil Rights Leader and President of Rainbow Push

“Here is story-telling that is unique, refreshing, and revealing, and the Nelson Mandela who emerges is someone you will want to know. You will be both surprised by Mandela’s profoundly complex personality and grateful for Danny Schechter’s creative journalism."
Bill Moyers, leading veteran journalist on Madiba A to Z.

When South Africa Called, We Answered is an inspiring and educational read for those interested in the role of the media in historic world events, the history of South Africa, journalism, and activism that mobilizes people for the greater good.

When South Africa Called, We Answered is available in paperback and eBook at leading online bookstores, including Amazon (Paperback, Kindle) and Barnes & Noble.

Please see our press release for more information.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Classic of the Month: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

In honor of Black History Month, Cosimo is proud to offer Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup as its Classic of the Month.

This riveting and harrowing memoir, originally published in 1853, was a best-seller and groundbreaking work during its time. In 1841, free-born African American Solomon Northup was offered a job within his hometown of Saratoga Springs, only to find that it was a trap---leading to him being beaten, drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery by his employers. He eventually ended up on a Louisiana plantation owned by Edwin Epps, where he became friends with Canadian carpenter Edward Bass, who was doing work for the plantation owner at the time. Bass secretly contacted Northup's family, who informed New York governor Washington Hunt of his kidnapping. The state was able to use a law passed in 1840, to rescue Northup, that allowed the recovery of free black men who were sold into slavery. Solomon was finally made free again on January 4, 1853.

In 2013 Twelve Years a Slave, a movie based on an adaptation of this autobiography was produced and directed by Steve McQueen: it ended up winning three 2014 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay,and Best Supporting Actress.

This incredible journey is a must-read for all, but may be of particular interest to historians, librarians, or anyone interested in African American History.

About the Author:
SOLOMON NORTHUP (1808-c. 1875) was a free African American from New York who was deceived, drugged, and sold into slavery in Washington, D.C. in 1841. He was transported to New Orleans and sold to a plantation owner in Louisiana. For several years, he was passed around between slave owners before winding up with plantation owner Edwin Epps. There he met Canadian carpenter Samuel Bass, who helped him regain his freedom in 1853. Solomon spent the rest of his life as an abolitionist. He also assisted with the Underground Railroad in the early 1860s.

Cosimo is thrilled to offer Twelve Years a Slave in hardcoverpaperback, and eBook formats at leading online bookstores including Barnes & Noble (paperbackhardcover, and Nook) and Amazon (paperbackhardcover, and Kindle).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln!

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, was one of the nation's greatest success stories. Born in Hardin County, Kentucky, his family moved frequently forcing Lincoln to gain what education he could along the way. While reading law, he worked in a store, managed a mill, surveyed and split rails. As a result of his passion for hard work, Lincoln developed great ability in law, a ready grasp of argument, and sincerity, color, and lucidity of speech evident during his long and distinguished career in public life.

In honor of his birthday, February 12, 1809, we celebrate one of the most famous men (and let's face it, our favorite man) to wear a top hat, with a selection of books, from Cosimo, all about the life and history of Lincoln.

Here you'll find Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address, both inaugural addresses, the Emancipation Proclamation, a selection of correspondence, his last public speech, and other notable papers. Also included are: an 1891 essay by Carl Schurz, a prominent and trusted member of the Lincoln administration, a stirring and emotional 1864 defense of Lincoln's prosecution of the Civil War by his friend, poet James Russell Lowell, Ralph Waldo Emerson's eulogy of Lincoln, and poetry in honor of the fallen president by Lowell, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendall Holmes, and Walt Whitman. Written by those who knew him, loved him, and witnessed his dramatic impact on United States during its most perilous crisis, this collection offers us the invaluable perspective of his contemporaries and the beginnings of the towering image we have of Abraham Lincoln today. 

Abraham Lincoln by Lord Charnwood from 1917 is a rich, evocative portrait of the man and how actions as a leader were shaped by his character and ideals. From its British perspective, offering a fresh angle on an American legend, to its charming readability, Charnwood's treatise- which was called, in 1947, "the best one-volume life of Lincoln ever written" by historian Benjamin Thomas - today remains one of the most intriguing examinations of the great president, and a keystone for understanding the evolution of Lincoln scholarship. 
Ingersoll published this lecture in 1894, a stirring tribute to the honesty, courage, and genius of a beloved leader at a time when his life and works were still within living memory. Focusing in particular on Lincoln's abhorrence of slavery and his work to defeat it as a national institution, Ingersoll offers readers today an invaluable perspective on the great President from the era immediately after his own, when his legend was being cemented in the American imagination.
The Lincoln Year Book containing the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln spoken and written on various occasions throughout his extraordinary life, The Lincoln Year Book is a timeless collection of proverbs and dictum from "The Great Emancipator" of American history. Each entry is preceded by appropriate Scripture texts and followed by first-rate poetic selections and charming illustrations for each day in the year, including particular reference to anniversary dates.

Considered one of the best treatments of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln of its time, this 10-volume portrait of the man and his administration of the United States at the moment of its greatest upheaval is both intimate and scholarly. Written by two private secretaries to the president and first published in 1890, this astonishingly in-depth work is still praised today for its clear, easy-to-read style and vitality. This new replica edition features all the original illustrations.

Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February Book of the Month: African Unconscious by Edward Bruce Bynum

In  honor of Black History Month, Cosimo presents African Unconscious by Edward Bruce Bynum, with an introduction by Linda James Myers, as its celebrated Book of the Month.

In this controversial and captivating work, Edward Bruce Bynum offers his viewpoint on the roots of human existence. He believes that all humans at their deepest core are variations on the African template. In effect, we possess a shared identity and collective unconscious. This magnificent work is a blend of modern and ancient psychology that provides a relevant backdrop to humanity and our daily life. Looking at phenotypes and psychic structures that form and identify us as human beings, this book is ideal for psychologists and those interested in African American art and culture.

About the Author:

Edward Bruce Bynum, Ph.D., ABPP, is a psychologist, diplomat in clinical psychology, and director of the Behavioral Medicine & Anxieties Disorders clinic at the University of Massachusetts Health Services in Amherst. He is the author of five texts in psychology and three in poetry. Some of his other books include The Family Unconscious, The Roots of Transcendence, and Families and the Interpretation of Dreams.  His last volume of poetry, Chronicles of the Pig & Other Delusions, won the national 2010 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. Dr. Bynum received the Abraham H. Maslow Award from the American Psychological Association for “an outstanding and lasting contribution to the exploration of the farther reaches of the human spirit.”

Cosimo is happy to offer The African Unconsciousin paperback, and eBook formats at leading online bookstores including Barnes & Noble (paperbackNook) and Amazon (paperback, Kindle).

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Changing Role of Publishers

Every day there are new views and discussions about the changing role of publishing, While browsing for the latest developments, I found this August, 2014 article "Authors should back Amazon in the battle with Hachette" by John Kay in The Financial Times. Kay's article is about change, the value of publishers and the strengthened role of authors. He describes the ebook controversy between Amazon and Hachette, which last summer was still unresolved after months of negotiations, and he disagrees with a group of leading Hachette authors who wrote an open letter intervening in that dispute. Kay believes the authors should understand that they are benefiting from Amazon's technology and distribution capabilities. Although the dispute between Hachette and Amazon has been resolved (see this November article in The New York Times,) Kay makes some worthwhile points. In his view it's all about change and how publishers and authors - and readers for that matter - deal with this ongoing change in the publishing landscape. He states (underlining added by undersigned):

"....Established companies in all industries are inhibited in their response to radical change by vested interests inherent in their existing business models. Music publishers tried to block new technologies, and were marginalised by better-run businesses: Apple, Walmart and Spotify. Book publishers responded initially with dismal reproductions on screen of their printed books. When these failed to sell, they retired into protecting the status quo........... 

....The role of the book publisher has been based on control of access to channels of distribution. The ambition of the aspirant author has always been to “get published”. Along with the decision as to what should be published, the company has traditionally provided a collection of associated services: identification, support and finance of the underlying literary project, editing of the draft manuscript, and marketing and promotion of the finished work. But the large conglomerates that have come to dominate publishing are run by people who love money more than they love books. These support-activities have been cut back in the interest of maximising the revenue, from control of access to distribution. "

Kay continues by saying:

"......Today’s bestseller lists are filled with imitations of books that have already been successful; footballer’s memoirs, celebrity chefs, vampires and female-oriented erotic literature."  I couldn't agree more, how many more celebrity chefs and recipes do we actually need?

".......Such publishers are ill-placed for the new environment. I do not know the extent to which the printed book will remain extant in two decades. But enough eBooks are already being sold to signify that being published by a company such as Hachette or Penguin Random House  is no longer critical."

In my view, Kay would be surprised to see how many printed books will still be sold and read twenty years from now, but at the same time it's clear that authors increasingly will find multiple ways to get published, also thanks to the advent of eBooks.

"What matters to the success or failure of a book is the quality of conception and execution of the underlying project, the competence of the editing, and the effectiveness of marketing and promotion. Most new self-published titles fail these tests; in particular, the lack of a competent editor is often obvious. But this is also true of many titles now published by established houses.

Some existing publishers will thrive on the basis of their strengths in author support services. But most will not. Savvy and well-advised authors, often helped by agents, will be able to buy editing and marketing skills with the receipts from a much larger share of the sales proceeds than the traditional royalty model allows. "

Kay ends as follows:

"Change is rarely an unequivocal benefit. But the (Hachette) authors who signed the open letter have missed the most significant business consequence of the evolution of the book industry. The author will now be placed where he or she should be – in charge."

Notwithstanding my agreement with several points Kay is making, I don't believe that every author wants to do everything by themselves and I believe they will need support and expertise from professionals. Neither is every author a Stephen King who can fund and execute his own publishing activities better than even big publishers. Biased and hopeful as I am, I believe that Cosimo is one of those publishers that are well-placed for the future and will continue to expand its role as publishing partner and supporter of our authors, new and old.

What do you think about the changing role of publishers and the future of publishing? Have a look at what some publishers said at last year's London Book Fair, and let me know what you expect for 2015 and beyond.