Friday, June 27, 2008

Calling all those without flawless skin, hair and nails!

Dr. Susan C. Taylor, M.D., Havard-trained dermatologist extraordinaire, and author of DR. Susan Taylor's RX for BROWN SKIN:YOUR PRESCRIPTION FOR FLAWLESS SKIN, HAIR, and NAILS has recently launched a skin care line for women of color, that's being sold in Sephora.

But don't dash to the store just yet. Amistad/HarperCollins is running a sweepstakes with the lucky winner receiving Dr. Taylor's updated book and new RX for Brown Skin skin care line. (Too bad I can't enter).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Pursuit of Happyness film v. The Pursuit of Happyness book

I saw a screening of The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith a couple of months before it was released in theaters. Since I'd just started at Amistad, I hadn't read The Pursuit of Happyness book yet, but I had a nagging suspicion that the book and movie weren't very similar at all, and they really aren't.

Here are some major differences:

1. The real Chris Gardner wasn't that old.
In the film I thought Will Smith looked thoroughly middle-aged. In reality, Chris Gardner was in his mid/late 20s.

2. The real Chris Gardner received a stipend during his internship.
Readers of the book will know that Chris Gardner received a small stipend while during his internship with the finance company. However, it was still not enough to cover day care costs and housing costs in ultra expensive San Francisco.

3. The real Chris Gardner was not married to his son's mother.
The movie doesn't really delve into this, while in the book Chris Gardner is honest about his imperfections.

4. The book covers the author's entire life more or less and the film only covers the year or so during Chris's homeless period.

I could go on and on, but then I wouldn't really be doing a good job of of promoting our books. So of course, (just one click away!) you can check out the book.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


In honor of Father's Day, I've highlighted Rachel Vassel's DAUGHTERS OF MEN which includes full-color photographs and essays about successful black women and the role their fathers played in their lives. I asked Rachel to give us a little more insight into the stories in the book:

1. Naturally, the daughters and fathers featured in the book have very different backgrounds. However, were there any common threads you came across in most of the stories?

I found that all the father daughter pairs spent a good deal of time together. The fathers made it a priority, whether it was walking their daughter to school, taking trips together or bringing their daughter to their workplace. Also, many of the dads encouraged their daughters by telling them that they were smart or beautiful - and the daughters internalized these comments, building their self esteem. Half the battle of becoming a success is believing that you can do it and that you're worthy. What a gift these daughters received!

2. Was there any one interview you found particuarly suprising or insightful?

Being from NYC, I didn't know much about civil rights leader Hosea Williams, who was a legend in the South and whose daughter Elizabeth Omilami was profiled in the book. He was a chemist who quit his job to join the movement full time-which of course was a huge sacrifice that impacted his family. He also owned several businesses that financed his key initiatives, like Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, which is now run by his daughter. This was a man who was intelligent and determined enough to create the wealth that he felt was required to change the world. He didn't wait for somebody else to make things happen or to finance his ideas, but you wouldn't necessarily know that because he lived so modestly.

3.How did you choose your subjects, especially those who are not did you know they had a great father story to tell?

I either received a great referral on the individual or I would call them up and have a conversation before deciding. This is not the kind of thing you can learn about on the internet, since most of the women in the book told me that they'd never been asked about their fathers during an interview. It was hit or miss with the father stories and some of the daughters I wanted to include just didn't fit. We also wanted to ensure that we had women of all ages and professions represented, as well as dads with a variety of backgrounds.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The African-American Interest Section Survives!

Thanks a bunch to all of you who commented and voted on the poll from my initial Black Books in Controversy post.

"Shelve literary titles in the general interest section" (37% of the vote) narrowly beat out "Institute Post-Racial Bookstores. Eliminate the African-American Interest Section." (31% of the vote)

Black Books in Controversy: Putting images of Black People on Book Covers

You wouldn't probably believe it if you never have sat around a table and discussed whether or not putting an image of a black person on a book jacket will hurt a book's sales. But when it comes to a lot of literary titles and serious non-fiction, there is a strain of thought that having an image of a person of color on the cover will make the book less appealing to the general consumer.

That this is even taken into consideration disturbs me a lot, because if someone doesn't want to purchase a book because it features a black person on the cover, then I think the problem is that of the consumer, not the publisher.

Again, good readers of this site, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. What do you think? Do cover images influence your purchasing decisions?


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