I’ll be reading from A Field Guide to the North American Family this Saturday, as part of New York’s 20th annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair. The Indie Author Read-a-Thon runs from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and I’ll probably only be reading a couple of short chapters from the book; I can’t recommend that anyone schlep to 44th Street just to see me. That said, I had a blast at this book fair last year, trolling the beautiful wares of such publishers as Akashic Books, New York Review Classics, and Gingko Press. You know… the kind of books that don’t lend themselves to the Kindle. I emerged $40 poorer, but with half of my Christmas shopping done. My favorite find? An anthology of scam emails from Africa. So: Come for the books… stay for the reading!
I just got off the phone with Liane Hansen of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. The show asked me to be a part of their Summer Reading series, which asks a guest each week what they’ve been reading, what they’ll read next, and what they’d read if they had all the time in the world. Hopefully, I don’t sound too nervous (it was my first time on the radio – a little nerve-wracking). But if you want to tune in, it’ll be on midway through the show’s second hour tomorrow. The segment will be posted on their website as well, so I’ll post a link here after it airs.Update: You can now listen to the segment online if you missed it on the radio.
Stockbrokers and art gallery owners take off for half the summer. Maybe bloggers should too. Due to my impending wedding (T minus 4 days), and a busy schedule of traveling and moving (for the second time in three months), I will have to cut back on my blogging for the next month and a half or so, at least until we get settled in Chicago. In the meantime, expect approximately one post per week, and also a more relaxed attitude as befits the time of year. You should try it, too, and maybe we’ll run into each other among the gallery owners and stockbrokers in the Hamptons, on the Vineyard, or in the South of France.
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.
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!
After nearly two years in Chicago, we’re picking up and moving again. For the rest of the summer, we’ll be in temporary digs in Maryland until we find ourselves a place in our as yet undetermined final destination. Packing is going much better this time around. We didn’t wait until two days before to get started; there’s no storage unit involved; we’re not getting married in a month; and we don’t have to go halfsies on a rental truck. We’re also driving a fraction of the distance, a measly 696 miles according to Google Maps, though I’ll be behind the wheel of the rental truck this time around as we watch Chicago get smaller in the rearview mirror.Ah, Chicago, I don’t think we ever fell in love with it the way did LA, but it served as an excellent weigh point on our long journey from the West coast back to the East, where we both grew up. I will miss a few things, though. Chicago has a magnificent skyline that I never tired of looking at. Along the same lines, Lake Shore Drive is an incredible road, flanked on each side by Chicago’s two great wonders, its architecture and Lake Michigan. I’ll also miss the weather here. After four years of no weather in LA, the weather here was a great entertainment, from blizzards to thunderstorms. I did a lot of walking in Chicago (at times in the weather conditions just mentioned), and I’ll miss that too, along with my rides on Chicago’s rickety “L,” which is both charming and frustrating in its rickety unreliability, but it’s certainly the only public transit system I’ve ever seen that offers such a great view.Sure there was some bad stuff about the place. After getting used to freewheeling, progressive LA, Chicago, big city though it is, felt a little slow and, dare I say it, unenlightened. At the same time, since I was immersed in a rigorous graduate program, and Mrs. Millions was working hard to pay the bills (thank you!), I will leave here knowing that I never appreciated the place as much as I could have.But, alas, it’s time to move on. Accordingly, there won’t be much posting here for the next couple of weeks. In fact, it’s possible that the site will go completely dark until July, but do not be alarmed. I’ll be back soon enough.Housekeeping Note: To those who send me catalogs/books/other random stuff, my Chicago address is no longer valid, so please don’t use it any more. Since I’m going to be at a temporary address for a bit, I don’t have a new address to share, but as soon as I get one, I’ll put a note here, and I’ll let people know by email. Thanks!
Tomorrow, March 11, at 7 p.m., readers who find themselves in or near Brooklyn are invited to come here two of our “Year in Reading” participants, Lydia Millet and Martha Southgate, read at the Pacific Standard Fiction Series. The series (which I host) was just named “Best New Literary Event” of 2008 by New York Magazine, and this latest installment should be outstanding. Hope to see you there. (Pacific Standard is located at 82 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, between Bergen St. and St. Mark’s Place, convenient to most trains).
As you may have noticed from the review we ran yesterday, there’s a new contributor at The Millions. I’ve known Ben since college, and we’ve talked about collaborating on projects in the past, so it’s good to finally work together on something. Since college Ben has spent a lot of time living in and traveling around Asia, and he’s spent a lot of time in Japan. Here’s his bio:Ben Dooley is a translator of Japanese and an aspiring novelist. He spends much of his time traveling with his trusty laptop. In his spare time, Ben makes beer, pontificates, and obsessively applies to graduate school programs in obscure subjects of dubious worth.Welcome Ben!