B Street Books, 2018 Reading Challenge … and Steve Wiencek’s online independent bookstore, Scholar and Poet Books

“The Bookshop has a thousand books,
All colors, hues, and tinges,
And every cover is a door
That turns on magic hinges.”
American poet, Nancy Byrd Turner (1880-1971)

One of the great fun things in life is popping into a used-book store and exploring the shelves, finding old friends and making new ones. Our local is B Street Books, a brave little independent that’s managed to keep its doors open when so many others are forced to close down.  If you live in San Mateo, California and haven’t been there, do go. Wherever you live in this world, be sure to support independent bookstores, whether they sell new and/or used books. They are as necessary to the spirit of democracy as schools and libraries.

“The replacement of independent bookstores by firms such as Barnes & Noble, Waterstones or Borders superficially provided a wide range of reading, but their policies further limited choice.” Sara Ayad, The History of the Book in 100 Books: The Complete Story, From Egypt to E-Book

B Street Books’ owner and staff put together a reading challenge for 2018.  It’s the bookish equivalent of Dr. Terry Wahl‘s functional-medicine challenge to eat two-hundred different fruits and veggies over the course of the year, something to force explorations beyond the easy, obvious and/or habitual.

“Read a book,” the B Street team encourage …

  • published in the year you were born;
  • published more than 200 years ago;
  • written by someone with the same initials as yours;
  • longer than 500 pages;
  • shorter than 100 pages;
  • in a genre you don’t usually read;
  • based on the cover art;
  • that challenges your views;
  • that you were supposed to finish in high school;
  • recommended by a friend;
  • recommended by a child;
  • on which a movie is based;
  • with a one-word title;
  • that you loved as a youngster;
  • that is set in or near your home town;
  • that has won a Pulitzer Prize; and,
  • that you bought a B Street Books.

The books I started out with this year are the ones I got for Christmas from my son:

I’ve linked you to Amazon for these books but that doesn’t mean you can’t scope them out at your local independent or check with Steve (below) to see if he has copies available.

Speaking of independents:

Check Out

Scholar and Poet Books

Steve Wiencek helped out with the September 2016 issue of The BeZine, which addressed environmental issues.  You can read his feature article, Nature … Place … Community HERE.  Steve says of his independent online store:  “We are experienced book, music and video sellers. Our extensive and varied inventory includes a large collection of classical music CDs, LPs and sheet music; colorful and hard-to-find vintage GGA pulp fiction paperbacks; vintage children’s books and more! Find us and like us on Facebook, please!”



Fire, Fury and Lots of Flurry

In response to reports that a lawyer representing President Trump attempted to halt publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel released the following statement yesterday.

“PEN America is deeply alarmed by reports that a lawyer representing President Trump is attempting to halt publication of Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which purports to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the Trump White House. The President’s attempt to ​halt​ publication of a book because of its content is ​flagrantly unconstitutional​. ​President Trump’s threats represent a ​brazen ​attempt at imposing unlawful prior restraint, a form of censorship repeatedly rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. For the President of the United States criticism comes with the territory. The President should immediately withdraw and repudiate this outrageous demand, allowing the American people to render their own judgement of the book.​” ​

Note: The book came out today and is available for purchase online and at brick and board stores should you care to read it. Before its release today, the book and e-book both reached number one on Amazon.com and the Apple iBooks Store. Michael Wolff is an Internet entrepreneur, a journalist and news commentator.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. PEN’s mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


A Glimpse into the World of U.S. Literary Translations

As 2017 came to a close, the Authors Guild  released results from a survey of U.S. literary translators. The survey, conducted in collaboration with the American Literary Translators Association, the American Translators Association’s Literary Division, and the PEN America Translation Committee, collected information from 205 translators on payment, royalties, copyright, and various other aspects of the literary translation profession.

“Advocacy for literary translators is increasingly important to us. Many of our members are both authors and translators, and with the number of books in translation growing each year, many of which are very high-profile titles, it is important for us to understand the landscape,” said Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger.

The Guild’s translator members are also working with Guild legal staff on a model contract for literary translation, which the Guild is planning to roll out early next year as part of its commitment to merge translators’ concerns into its ongoing Fair Contract Initiative.

The survey confirmed some long-held assumptions, while shedding light on new issues.

  • Contradicting the belief that royalties for translators are a rarity, nearly half of the respondents reported always or usually negotiating royalties in their contracts. Similarly, over half reported receiving royalty payments, and over half of those whose contracts did not stipulate royalties said it was because the publisher refused.
  • Two-thirds of translators reported always or usually retaining copyright to their work; over half of those who did not retain copyright said it was because the publisher refused.
  • Half of the respondents who translate prose (where pay, as a rule, is significantly higher than it is for poetry) reported receiving 13 cents per word or more—slightly higher than the rate the Society of Authors states that UK publishers are prepared to pay. On the other hand, a disturbing number of respondents reported working for subpar rates of 7 cents per word or less.
  • On the whole, the survey showed that income for literary translators has not changed significantly over the past five years. Although 39% reported spending more than half of their time on translation and translation-related activities, just 17% reported earning more than half of their income from that work.

“It’s so wonderful to have this detailed information about translation contracts and earnings finally available,” said Susan Bernofsky, director of the program Literary Translation at Columbia University and a past chair of the PEN America Translation Committee. “I hope translators across the country will take advantage of the Authors Guild’s contract-vetting service, and also that more publishers will step up as champions of translator-friendly contracts. I’m grateful to the team at the Authors Guild for this significant contribution to translator advocacy.”

About the Survey:

The survey was distributed online in April 2017, to members (approximately 1,200) of the Authors Guild, the American Literary Translators Association, the PEN America Translation Committee, and the American Translators Association’s Literary Division, and was also publicized on social media. The survey was open to all translators, but focused on those who work in the U.S. and/or work predominantly with U.S.-based publishers.

Click here for the main findings of the survey, with commentary and advocacy recommendations.

Illustration: Translation Icon by Ætoms under CC BY-SA 4.0 License

The Authors Guild has served as the collective voice of American authors since its beginnings in 1912. Its over 9,000 members include novelists, historians, journalists, and poets—traditionally and independently published—as well as literary agents and representatives of writers’ estates. The Guild is dedicated to creating a community for authors while advocating for them on issues of copyright, fair contracts, free speech, and tax fairness.



Wishing you pleasant end-of-the-year celebrations and peace-of-heart in 2018

“I give you this to take with you: Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again with pure joy in the uprooting.” Judith Minty, Letters to My Daughters

I am on vacation through January 3, 2018.

  • Wednesday Writing Prompt will resume on January 3rd.
  • Sunday Announcements will resume on January 7th.

The BeZine will go to a quarterly schedule in 2018:

  • March 2018 issue, Deadline February 10th. Theme: Peace.
  • June 2018 issue, Deadline May 10th. Theme: Sustainability
  • September 2018 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice
  • December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit

Look for updated submission guidelines after the first of the year.

Thank you for your support, kind comments and sharing through The Poet by Day site this past year. In a world gone mad, you are the hope, the grace, and the voices of sanity. Poetry is the flagpole around which we gather in compassion and acceptance.  You are valued.