Today, "Five Questions" are put to Rynda Laurel, who will be moderating a panel at the upcoming SXSW entitled Books Are The New Vinyl. We wholeheartedly agree with that notion and spoke to her prior to her event, which features Public Enemy’s Chuck D., author and musician Danny Bland, singer/songwriter Frank Turner, who has just released a book, and literary agent Marc Gerald. The discussion will take place on Friday, March 20 at the Austin Convention Center at 5:00 PM.
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The death of vinyl was obviously premature. Books have also received that death knell. Why do you think it’s too early to give up on printed books?
I think there was a death of vinyl for a short time and then it was resurrected when music lovers realized they really missed the entire art package that went along with the album. Then movements like Record Store Day created more awareness and it became a matter of supply and demand. I think the same thing is happening in the book space. There are still books that you’d rather just read on your ipad/kindle (like listening to something digitally) but there is a quality that is missed with holding the art in your hands and having it on your coffee table — especially when it comes to books that feature art, poetry, photography, story telling with images, and soon social media content in physical form.
There’s a time and place for everything. MP3's and e-readers are great for bus or subway commuting, running or flying, But it’s not the same as curling up with a good book and a record in front of the fire — as you mentioned, it's just a different experience. The question is does today’s audience have the time, desire or attention span to do that?
I’m looking at this much more as a visceral and visual experience, and yes I think we miss that. Look at it this way: one listens to iTunes or a streaming service in the background all day, it’s a third screen experience really. But when one pulls a vinyl record off the shelf and places the needle in the groove and that rich sound comes out (or even just looks at the art!) it is a completely different experience — it’s a connection. In this super connected world, we are still craving real connection. The same happens with a physical book. It does something different to us neurologically and emotionally to engage in the physical realm. I think people will crave it and make the time.
It seems like there’s a takeaway for everyone; publishers, writers and consumers. Things like deluxe packaging, bonus content and self-publishing seem to be the wave of the future for books, as they have served as contributions to the resurgence in vinyl? Agree? Any other similarities?
Yes, I think artist will be artists, and creatively there are a million ways to express art. Pop music and digital singles aside, most fans that love an album love the artwork and are hungry for more content and more beautiful design. We’ve already seen this with the deluxe sets and amazing album art as you mentioned. Smart publishers, artists, managers and record labels can extend this into the publishing world with beautiful, innovative, interesting content the artist is already creating, or encouraged to create, curated into a physical form.
You mentioned how some artists are using social media-inspired content to create physical books. Can you elaborate on this concept?
Yes, a fine example is Danny Bland & Greg Dulli’s haiku/photography book I Apologize in Advance for the Awful Things I’m Gonna Do from Subpop. Most of the haiku were taken from Danny’s daily Facebook posts, and most of the photography was taken from Greg Dulli’s Instagram account. Combined together they make a dark beautiful book.
By pure coincidence (as I had this panel approved last year) I am starting an Artist, Entertainment and Lifestyle division with My Social Books. My Social Books allows anyone to create books based on Facebook and Instagram content. We’ve decided to take this a step further and get the artists and entertainers involved to not only have creative control, but to share in the revenue stream! I’m really excited about this venture for the artists and for the fans! Fans can follow along on our newly created twitter account @mysocialbooksAEL and artists who are interested can contact me via twitter @rynda.
Can you give us some teasers as to what insight someone like Chuck D. might have to offer to your panel and its audience?
Besides being a genius? Chuck is considered one of the top MC’s and Hip-Hop lyricists of all time. He is an entrepreneur beyond Public Enemy with his online Radio platform Rap Station and his digital distribution company SPITDigital and he has started Enemy Books. Enemy Books is in its infancy stages and will no doubt expand hip-hop culture and icons into the digital and physical book realm. Chuck will also be one of the first releases through the AEL division of My Social Book with content based on the Facebook posts during the Hip Hop Gods tour through The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. We will launch it next week and offer a special SXSW discount so follow @mysocialbookael @rynda and @mrchuckd for details!
Last but not least, follow along on social media #sxsw #BooksMatter or #NewVinyl. Join the conversation maybe we’ll make a book out of it. :)
#sxsw #booksarethenewvinyl #ryndalaurel #chuckd #publicenemy #dannybland #gregdulli #subpop #facebook #instagram