As late summer sets in, I find myself lazy, distracted. Like the stockbrokers and lawmakers who spend August relaxing or taking their “recess,” I, too, will be taking it easy. Expect posting to be lighter than usual in the coming weeks, and try to take things slow, if you can.
Though Garth made his first appearance yesterday with his post about the Illustrated Pynchon, I'd like to formally welcome him aboard. I've known Garth for a long time - at least a dozen years, I think - and we've always talked about books, so I'm glad he decided to join us. He'll have other reviews and dispatches up soon. Let the hazing commence.
After about three days of tinkering, cutting and pasting, and banging my head against the wall, I'm happy to announce that The Millions has a new address, a location on the internet from which I'm hoping it will not move.Before I go any further let me ask you to please update your bookmarks to www.themillionsblog.com. I've set it up so that visitors to the old blog will be redirected to the new blog automatically, but that will only be in place for a limited time. If you read The Millions via its RSS feed, that has changed as well: this is the new feed.Now, why did I do this? Well, the previous address, my Realistic Records address, was meant to be temporary. I moved my young blog there to get it off of Blogspot. At the time I knew very little about registering domains and FTPing and things like that, so I just had my friend Derek set me up on the domain he had bought for our little record label project. Well, the record label project is ancient history, I was tired of my blog's unwieldy address, and I figured it made sense for The Millions to be on a domain that was owned by me and not someone else.Some housekeeping issues. In moving the site, I took the opportunity to change a few things, including switching commenting systems. I think the new setup will be better for conversation on the site, but unfortunately all the old comments are gone. I wanted to save them but there wasn't any way. Also, the site search will not work for a while until the new site is indexed in Google. Finally, please let me know if you are encountering any difficulties viewing the new site or if you find any broken links. You can email me here.Thanks!
The NYC Walking Tour is this Saturday, May 2nd, and we've got an update to the itinerary and a couple of other notes. First, the itinerary - we have swapped McNally Jackson and Housing Works because Housing Works opens at noon that day. The times listed here are our best guesses, so if you are hoping to meet up with us partway through, keep that in mind. Here is the updated itinerary:11:00 - 11:30: Three Lives (154 West 10th Street at Waverly Place) - we'll meet at Three Lives at 11am.25 minutes walking11:55 - 12:25: McNally Jackson (52 Prince St. between Mulberry and Lafayette)12:30 - 1:00: Around the corner to Housing Works Used Book Cafe (126 Crosby St. between Prince and Houston) Housing Works is generously offering a free cup of coffee from their cafe with the purchase of any book.10 minutes walking1:10 - 1:25: Bluestockings (172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington)1:25 - 2:35: Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge (about 3 miles - folks who are daunted by the distance can take the F train from Bluestockings to BookCourt)2:35 - 3:05: BookCourt (163 Court St. between Pacific and Dean)3:15 - whenever: And we'll wrap things up at Freebird Books & Goods (123 Columbia St. between Kane & Degraw), which will host a little backyard party with refreshments.A note on the weather: Right now, the forecast is for "showers." Unless the outlook worsens considerably, we will most likely go ahead with the tour as scheduled on Saturday and brave a few raindrops (if it's bad enough, we can take the F train from Bluestockings to BookCourt instead of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.) I'll post a last update late Friday or early Saturday, and if you want to be sure to get the info, RSVP to [email protected], or join our Facebook group.
The Millions was started on this day seven years, four urls, and umpteen layouts ago. Though it is now unrecognizable to anyone who hasn't visited since nudging their Internet Explorer 6 over to that long gone blogspot address, the core mission that I developed in that first year for this project largely remains unchanged. In those early months, when I was nearly broke and working at a bookstore, before I was married and went to grad school, and before I had much notion that this site would be anything at all (let alone what it is today), I wrote what would probably be the closest we've ever come to a manifesto (going against my subsequent preference to let The Millions' larger purpose be self-evident). The nut: "Given that you and I will only be able to read a finite number of books in our lifetime, then we should try, as much as possible, to devote ourselves to reading only the ones that are worth reading, while bearing in mind that for every vapid, uninspiring book we read, we are bumping from our lifetime reading list a book that might give us a profound sort of joy." I've probably not lived up to that lofty goal in the years since, but it's a nice sentiment to aspire to. Funnily enough, at the end of that piece I wrote something that nearly seven years later is like a time capsule from an internet stone age: "Anybody know of any decent book blogs or websites about books?... I haven’t been able to find any besides Arts & Letters Daily and the various newspaper book sections, of course." Granted, this could be partially chalked up to my being an online neophyte at the time, but by any measure the last seven years have been a period of proliferating discourse about books and arts. And though the gloom in many corners of the publishing and media industries is sometimes warranted, I maintain that there's never been a better time to be reader in terms of access to books and communities of fellow readers. While this is a big day for The Millions, it's nowhere near as big as August 16, 2009 was. That was the day that we relaunched The Millions in this new incarnation and the site, almost overnight, grew up and became something different (and thankfully our loyal long-term readers came along for the ride, in no small measure because our designer Sean Tice understood what The Millions was all about when he embarked on the design.) In future years, we may point to that date as when The Millions really came into being, everything up until then being a long period of gestation for the site you see today. I wouldn't have expected this, but two things happened right away after the redesign. First, the more magazine-like look unconsciously pushed us farther in the direction of focusing on standalone, long-form content. With the Curiosities section offering the perfect repository for interesting links and one-off observations, our writers set themselves to the task of putting out essays and reviews that (in my biased opinion) are with few peers in the world of cultural coverage. The Millions has never been shy about posting longer (if not always weightier) pieces, but this year the site seemed to find its calling as a regularly updated font of such things. Second, pitches from writers all over the world began flowing into my inbox. It was as though the redesign was also a huge "writers wanted" sign. The Millions has long had a tradition of publishing terrific guest contributions, but since the redesign especially we have posted many dozens of thoughtful pieces by both talented "beginners" and established pros. A look at our "About" page reveals The Millions as a place where precocious college students (and younger) can be published alongside National Book Award winners. I don't know what this means, necessarily, but it makes me happy. With the redesign, the securing of our domain name just prior to that, and our ongoing commitment to paying our regular writers, this year also represented the first year of significant investment back into The Millions. Without caveat, this was made possible by the generous patronage of our readers and we sincerely hope that you'll continue to lend your support going forward. Click here to find out how. Finally, because anniversaries are a nice moment to look back, I'll leave you with some of my favorite things from The Millions over the last year. Garth updated his "Walking Tour of New York’s Independent Bookstores" and we joined readers in taking the tour. Fun was had by all. We hope to do something like this again one day. Garth and I put together a three-parter on the future of book coverage online (starting here). We named our favorite reference books. We learned about finding Indie opportunity on the Kindle, the overseas frenzy over Haruki Murakami's forthcoming opus, and what goes into getting your book cover designed. We tallied up the prizewinners and wrote an open letter to Kanye West. We asked, what's your "just one book?" We tried to determine the best book of the millennium (so far) and our readers helped. Edan ogled author photos, Emily M. worked the double shift, and Emily W. prized apert Twilight. We had our Year in Reading. I interviewed a book pirate and Anne interviewed John Banville. Kevin reflected on his parents' bookshelves, Andrew his grandfather's papers, and Edan her own. Lydia reviewed Pamuk and won a prize. And Patrick, once and for all, devised a unified theory of reality TV. Look for more in year 8. Thanks for reading The Millions. Birthdays Past: An Historic Day; The Millions Turns Two; Thanks for Three Years from The Millions, Four Years of The Millions, Anniversary: The Millions Turns 6.
Millions Readers: Max here. When I last wrote in these pages, I was introducing our talented new editor, Lydia Kiesling. Since then, we have added a number of new staff writers (Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Zoë Ruiz, Il’ja Rákoš, Ismail Muhammad, Chigozie Obioma) and a new social media editor (Kirstin Butler). We also have exciting projects in the works that we hope will usher in a new era at The Millions. As is likely not news to anyone reading this, it is very challenging to maintain an independent, culture-focused online magazine. Today, we are asking our readers to support the site, not because we are in dire straits but because now, more than ever, we believe it is time for you and us to take our destiny into our own hands as much as is possible. Please visit our new Membership page and sign up now. It’s a very quick and simple process and we have a number of tiers that should be manageable for any budget. The three main tiers are annual recurring donations. There is also a monthly option. The Millions is a unique place. Over the last nearly 14 years, we have helped launch many great writers, and we have improved the reading lives of many thousands. We have helped countless books, small and large, find their audiences. The Millions is home to curious, thoughtful, sometimes long and untimely pieces that might not find a home elsewhere but that are important to our readers. It is likely an accident or an anomaly that The Millions grew to occupy its current role and has survived as other independent sites have failed. One truism that has emerged over the last decade on line is that sites and services that are not supported by readers and users are destined to fail. The Millions has managed to avoid this fate thus far. We have never had a source of outside funding -- no quiet benefactor or behind-the-scenes corporate sponsor -- nor, before today, have we asked the readers to support the site monetarily in any meaningful way. Instead, the site has survived on various forms of online advertising, options that seem to grow more constrained by the month, and we have increasingly relied upon Amazon's affiliate program. And while Amazon's program has been a good fit for The Millions, many an online business has failed when an online giant changed the rules. It is not inconceivable that Amazon could alter or even eliminate its program without warning. Such an event would effectively shut down The Millions overnight. The bottom line is that The Millions, under its current model, could one day need to shut down unexpectedly. A reader-supported Millions won’t ever have to worry about that. Rather than ask for your support at some future moment, when The Millions is under duress, it has become clear to us that it makes much more sense to ask for your support now, when we are doing well, producing great work, and hopeful about our big plans for the future. What will we do with your money? First and foremost we'll ensure that we can stick around for many years to come. But we'll also use it to get better. One way to do that is to keep paying our staff writers and make The Millions an attractive place for them to write. Financial stability would also enable The Millions to take more risks and expand what we do. Some final notes: We have been thinking of taking this step for quite a while, but, frankly, have been nervous about how best to present the idea and execute it. Jason Kottke's recent decision to go this route helped us shake off some of these concerns and take this step (please read Jason and support him as well!). Also - to be clear - we are not putting the site behind a paywall, nor will we ever. For those who subscribe, we'll look at offering site-related updates and perhaps a more robust newsletter at some point down the line, though the plans on that are not firmed up at this time. Finally, a small number of you have supported us in an ongoing fashion via Paypal. We are going to cancel those "subscriptions" and will email you with instructions for subscribing via this new system, should you be interested.
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