. Stop. It's survey time.
Two companies have banded together to solve a little puzzle: Content Connections and eWomenPublishingNetwork say that women buy 70 percent of all nonfiction, yet the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list, over the past year, has held less than fifteen percent women authors. (Less if you disqualify Ann Coulter on grounds of being inhuman). I quote:
The "Women and Books 2007 National Study" will help:
--Publishers focus on the unique preferences, needs, and behavior of female book buyers.
--Booksellers better understand how and why women buy and recommend books.
--More women adopt a successful strategy for becoming published authors
I'm mighty curious to see what they turn up.
Go ahead and take the survey here. They'll announce the results at Book Expo America, May 31-June 3 this year, and participants are promised their own copy of the report.
. So, I read in the current Newsweek that Thomas Jefferson may have had some Jewish ancestry. I live in Charlottesville, home of Jefferson's Monticello and the University of Virginia; they are indeed mitzvahs to our tourism industry. But I never quite understood the people who are really into ancestry. I'd always suspected them of wanting to be Special in an irrefutable, undemocratic kind of way.
I'd also been thinking about Jill Niemarks's piece on Edge.org, about the epigenome, the place where genes and environment mix. According to her, the epigenome might hold some of the answers to why we are the way we are. She thinks it's going to reveal a whole new map for human nature. (I think that, and also that the future's self-help is going to have to re-invent itself in light of what the epigenome reveals. Don't worry. I suspect the experts will adapt just fine.)
To recap: Thomas Jefferson. Genes. Genome. Epigenome. I'm sorry. That was a rocky trip through my thought process, no? Let's continue.
. I'm on some media list because of Brain, Child, and I got this email in my in-box today: "Opinion Available." Girlfriend? Have you seen the Internet?
. From my sister Erin: "Last night, Jeff and I flipped the channel and we stopped on Fox 5 news. The 'breaking' story was about a woman and her six children (ages 6 months to 6 years). The reporter went on to say how their dwelling (a basement) was sealed up and padlocked after someone reported that the place was filled with human and animal feces, rotten food, and broken furniture. Of course, the police allowed the camera crew to come in and video tape before the padlock was put on. Here's what pissed me off. Instead of finding help for this woman and her children, they embarrassed her on TV. Obviously this woman needs help if she and her family are living in that kind of mess. I hate Fox News."
Now, Erin and I both have dogs. There has been, and there will be, animal feces in our homes, but apparently this was old animal feces, which is a different story. (See how I drew the line?) And Erin's right--it's a sad cultural fact that instead of offering help, we offer shame as an incentive for this woman to help herself. Which she clearly could not.
Erin's story also reminded me of The Mommy Myth, a 2004 book by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels. In it, Douglas and Michaels take a good hard look at how motherhood is portrayed in the media. They have a lot of fun with celebrity mothers, but it's their section on poor mothers that really makes the book. The pair makes the case that the sorry state of U.S. social spending depends quite a bit on Us seeing Them as different. So we get the woman with the six kids and old animal feces, not the working mother who still can't afford asthma medicine for her kid.
Douglas and Michaels--they break it down so you can learn the moves.