Monday, December 12, 2011

Best Music Writing to be independently published starting in 2012

My copy of Best Music Writing 2011 arrived in today's mail. I look forward to this book each year, knowing I'll read writers I admire and those I've never read from publications famous and obscure on music I know and don't.

For music writers, and aspiring music writers, this annual compilation is a banquet of styles and opinions, personal responses and approaches to a topic that's almost impossible to put into words. How can you write about sound and emotion? About rhythms that change your breathing and heartbeat, and melodies, notes, lyrics, or moments in time that make you want to dance with joy, scream with rage, join a revolution, burst into tears, laugh out loud, confess everything, change your life, kill yourself, or kiss someone?

The series editor is Daphne Carr. This year's guest editor is Alex Ross, esteemed author of The Rest Is Noise. (A short list of past guest editors: Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Matt Groening, Nick Hornby, Jonathan Lethem, Peter Guralnick.) The 312-page book includes writing by Nate Chinen, Sasha Frere-Jones, Ann Powers, Nancy Griffin, and Kelefa Sanneh. Topics range from Beethoven to Duke Ellington, Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Parliament-Funkadelic, the vocoder, and program notes. I can't wait to dive in.

Meanwhile, Jazz Journalists News reports that as of 2012, this annual anthology—which has been called "one of the most eagerly awaited annuals out there," "music journalism at its finest," "as close as rock scribes get to the Oscars," and "a holy grail for music nerds and writers alike"—will no longer be published by Da Capo Press but instead "will be independently published."

Carr has launched a fundraising campaign. $15 gets you a digital copy of the 2012 edition. $30 gets you print and digital copies.

I'll be sad if this book goes away. I'd love to know the backstory. Is Da Capo losing money on it? Aren't enough libraries and individuals buying copies? Do Carr et al. really believe that the "new editorial structure" will "better serve the music writing community and create a more dynamic, wide-reaching book for music fans"? Can it be better? Will it survive? I'll send my $30. I want a print copy.

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