The love and hate of The Giant Joshua

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In 1941 when Maurine Whipple’s The Giant Joshua was released, her publishers anticipated huge sales and an endorsement from Church leadership. Whipple doubted this very much. In the end—and the publisher blamed this on the advent of WWII—the book was not the breakout success New York anticipated.

The only official statement in a Church organ was John A. Widtsoe’s review in the February 1941 Improvement Era. Based on the vitriol the novel allegedly had hurled against it, I expected this review to be dripping with anger and outrage. That’s not what I found: Continue reading “The love and hate of The Giant Joshua

Make Known His Wonderful Works: The LDS international art competition and a failure of web-imagination

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I could be wrong, but I don’t think there is a big crossover between AMV readership and Thumblr (my Tumblr blog, natch). On Thumblr for the next few days, I’m posting art from the Church’s international art competition; theme this year, “Make Known His Wonderful Works.”

With each piece I post, I’m directing people to the competition’s website where they can view other pieces and vote for their favorite[s]. (I’m unclear on whether you are allowed to vote for multiple pieces.)

Notwithstanding the Church’s clear interest in social-networking Internet efforts (eg, mormon.org), this effort of mine is likely to prove an abysmal waste of time.

Behold:

This is a shot from one of my favorite pieces, a painting of Joseph Smith holding the baby Jesus, by Brian Kershisnik. If you’re having trouble making out the image, it’s because the Church website has broken the painting into several jpgs and by copying the image’s URL, this is all I was able to share. This is, I presume, to prevent people from stealing the images, I suppose? Continue reading “Make Known His Wonderful Works: The LDS international art competition and a failure of web-imagination”

Deseret Book creates an app–but why?

0-a-mzl.msdqpioj.175x175-75Last week the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Deseret Book has produced its own eReader app to make its books available on Apple iPhones and iPads. Since its ebooks were already available on the Kindle, I’ve been thinking about why many publishers have decided to do this, and what it might mean for the future of publishing and for the LDS market.

Continue reading “Deseret Book creates an app–but why?”

Cracroft to stop writing Book Nook

Richard H. CracroftAfter 20 years of writing about books written by “BYU faculty, staff, alumni, and members of BYU’s Board of Trustees,” emeritus BYU professor Richard H. Cracroft will stop writing his Book Nook column with the Summer issue of BYU Magazine.

This move ends one of the more consistent and long-term sources of information about Mormon literature, which makes up a significant portion of Cracroft’s coverage. The columns mention as many as a dozen titles, meaning that over 20 years Cracroft has covered something approaching a thousand books. His column was especially valuable for the first decade of its existence, before the AML review archive was started and reviews of LDS books became much more common.

Most of the columns are available online in the BYU Magazine archives, which go back to 1996. For the first 5 years of Cracroft’s Book Nook column, you’ll have to find them in a library or private collection.

If I get a chance, I’ll call BYU Magazine later today and ask if the column will be continued by someone else. [I called — see comment #11 below.]

What’s happened with LDS audiobooks?

I’m not sure that I know the answer to this question, so I thought I’d outline what I think I know, and ask others for their takes about what’s happened to LDS audiobooks.

I have the impression that the market for LDS audiobooks has faded away. Despite a relative revolution in audio, due to technology, LDS spoken-word audio materials are somewhat difficult to come by and not a bit part of the market. Deseret Book seems to be the only producer and, for downloads, the only place to purchase.

Continue reading “What’s happened with LDS audiobooks?”

Mormon Literature’s Once and Future King?

If you look at Mormon Literature in terms of how many church members interacted with it–i.e., how many members were involved either in its production or its consumption–one literary form was likely the King of Mormon Literature from the 1930s through perhaps 1970: Drama.

Continue reading “Mormon Literature’s Once and Future King?”

Distinguishing between Distribution and Deseret Book

Last month the Church announced that it will close about a dozen Distribution stores this year (and more over the next few years) and instead sell materials through Deseret Book outlets. The move continues and expands a two-year-old program that started with Deseret Book stores in Ogden, St. George, and Salt Lake City, Utah, Idaho Falls, Idaho, Las Vegas, Nevada and Portland, Oregon. The Church’s Distribution Services says that the arrangement is more convenient for shoppers and is more efficient.

Continue reading “Distinguishing between Distribution and Deseret Book”

The Difficulties Faced by an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore

A couple of weeks ago Jonathan Langford posted his vision of an online Mormon Lit bookstore–something I’m also quite interested in. I very much believe in that vision, and if I had the resources and connections necessary, I’d start the bookstore he describes as soon as possible. I think such a bookstore could be successful, and would likely be a great help to building and audience for Mormon literature.

There are, however, some large hurdles to overcome.

Continue reading “The Difficulties Faced by an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore”

The Concept of an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore

Many of us (here and elsewhere) have lamented over the problem of trying to reach and/or create an audience of Mormon readers who might have an interest in fiction reflecting a Mormon perspective but grittier or more realistic than what standard LDS bookstores can or will carry.

I don’t have any new ideas about how to find those readers. However, I do have an idea about a different piece of the puzzle. At the moment, there’s no single place to send people where they can browse for authors and titles that might interest them. My suggestion: an online store that caters specifically to Mormon literature, organized to make browsing easy — like a good brick-and-mortar bookstore — with a broad and inclusive enough selection that people could explore with a fair confidence of finding what they’re looking for.

Continue reading “The Concept of an Online Mormon Lit Bookstore”

How Vulnerable is the LDS Market?

What will the LDS market look like 20 years from now? Will there even be an LDS market? Will there still be LDS books, music, film and other cultural goods? If they exist, will they simply be sold as part of the national market in the U.S.? What about outside of the U.S.?

Continue reading “How Vulnerable is the LDS Market?”