Archive for October, 2005


Are You There, Oprah? It’s Me, Erin

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

Dear Oprah,

First of all, I hope you don’t mind me addressing you this way. If the title of my letter reminds you of Judy Blume’s classic Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, that’s only because, in terms of the bookselling community, you really are no less than a god. And I mean that in an Old Testament, terrifying and power-wielding kind of way.

Secondly, did you get the book I sent? Of course, there have been a few, but I’m referring to the most recent one, An Unreasonable Woman by Diane Wilson. It came in a yellow Jiffy padded envelope with UPS Tracking number IZ 040 871 03 4495 6004. Have you seen it? I sent it out last Tuesday, attention: you.

In case you missed the package, or in the event it was snatched up by a rival book club host lingering outside your mailroom, here’s a brief reminder of its contents:
(more…)

Keep Diane Wilson Free!

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

Diane Wilson is up in Vermont this week, visiting our Chelsea Green offices and touring New England. While in the area she’s been visiting bookstores (she’ll be at Borders in Burlington tonight), speaking to students, and apparently being indicted. We’ve known for some time now that Diane had a 4 month jail sentence pending, since she was charged with trespassing during an action to hold Union Carbide (and its now-parent company Dow) responsible for its notorious chemical spill in Bhopal, India, and pollution worldwide. But everyone was a little surprised when Diane poked her head into a marketing meeting yesterday and announced that her lawyer was on the phone, telling her that her sentence would begin on Friday. It seemed a little curious that the Texas legal system had chosen this moment to put Diane away, immediately after her very public interview on NPR’s Diane Rehm

When library journal ran its “fall editor’s picks” piece, Wilda Williams wrote about Diane: “It’s not often that a publisher has to worry about scheduling a book tour around an author’s jail term, but then Diane Wilson is no ordinary writer.” Wilda was correct in saying that Diane is no ordinary writer, but maybe she was mistaken in her assumption that we would reschedule her author tour around the jail term. That is what a reasonable company would do. But what did Diane say? “I’ll go to jail when (former CEO of Union Carbide) Warren Anderson comes with me!” And what did publisher Margo Baldwin say? “They’ll take Diane over my dead body!”

A few legal questions later, we resolved to keep Diane out of Texas as long as possible, at least until after her keynote address at Bioneers next weekend.

Big Time Framing

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

As I was looking through our Chelsea Green website stats this morning, I found a curious link from Harvard’s “Institute for Quantitative Social Science.” The link came from an article in IQSS’s “Research in Progress” publication, called “Kevin Quinn on How Words Shape Democracy.” Interesting.

As it turns out, Kevin Quinn is a principle investigator in a new $749,000, 3-year research project funded by the National Science Foundation that aims to identify political frames.

“To be honest,” says Kevin Quinn, an assistant professor in the Department of Government, “political scientists really have very little comprehensive data on how politicians have used language over even the past 10 years, much less over the past 50 to 100 years.”

Surprisingly, the article made no mention of George Lakoff or his groundbreaking work on framing, and the link back to Chelsea Green actually led to the NY Times Magazine’s recent piece on “Framing Wars.” It seems inconceivable to me that these researchers wouldn’t already know about Lakoff, although the question is always there. When asked about framing, Kevin Quinn explained: “Republicans have for decades been “much better” at this than Democrats.” Isn’t that the exact message of Don’t Think of an Elephant? I guess we should feel honored that it is worth three quarters of a million dollars to prove Lakoff’s conclusions, two years after he wrote them down in a $10 handbook.


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