Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beyond Books

It's no surprise that the big bookstore chains are leaving books behind. This has been a strategy for years. Amazon has been most upfront about it, but Borders and B&N are following the same trajectory. They come in, they discount books and give coupons so they can undersell the local independent, and then, when they've cornered the book market, they sell you stationery.

In an article by Matt Townsend at Bloomberg, the newest detail in this strategy is laid bare - pardon the pun.

Borders will now begin selling Build-a-Bear items. Yes, you read that correctly. So when you run to the bookstore to pick up that new novel everyone is talking about, you might just forget about it upon entering Borders and instead end up with a vente mochiato and Jimster, a specially stuffed bear wearing a gingham dress. On the ride back, you might realize your error but hey, did you really need that book anyhow? You can just wait for the movie version.

Sorry to sound bitter, reader, but living in a city where we have two amazing independent bookstores - Brookline Booksmith and the Harvard Bookstore - both a train ride away, but downtown we have two Borders and a massive Barnes & Noble, I'm very irritated to once again find this trend so visible.

One anecdote on this topic: a Facebook friend who works in NYC publishing posted about the bad B&N earnings recently posted, wondering how we could save "our industry." Read: crappy B&N earnings = people aren't reading. What's that now? Let's just say... simplistic.

I commented that B&N is turning into a mix of Toys 'r' Us and Best Buy anyhow, as I indicated in my last post. Someone else commented back, "STOP BETTING ON THE HORSE THAT'S ALREADY WON. the game has changed. there is fecundity in change." Note that this started with the B&N earnings report. I'm not trying to resist change, and therefore fecundity, but instead asking us all to question these assumptions. B&N earnings are more complicated than a single independent bookstore. There are executive bonuses, extreme expansion, all kinds of factors impacting their bottom line. If Amazon and B&N and Borders invest in e-readers and e-reading, does it then follow that all readers want to read in the electronic format? No. That's corporate forecasting, and I'm not going to have my reading choices dictated by it, nor am I going to assume that to be the only way forward.

These chain bookstores can morph into something much less book-related, but excuse me and people like me if we don't then follow the market without remembering what we like and what we don't like. I'm not saying I'll never read an e-book, but I am saying that I do not foresee getting a bear stuffed for my beloved at a Borders anytime soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Convince Yourself of the Lie Already!

I have gone on and on, ad nauseum, about the fact that in a press release, Jeff Bezos of Amazon did not, did NOT say that the online store had sold more e-books than printed books. He did not. I am sick of this error being misquoted everywhere as lazy journalists make the case that what you want, reader, is an e-book. You want it more than you even know.

As I said here, this error was noted in an article from Slate, but now, in a major new article making the rounds, it appears again!

Andrew Rice's New York Magazine article on Barnes & Noble offers an interesting and fairly in-dept look at what exactly is happening right now in the major offices, and amongst major shareholders of the bookselling giant. But Rice states outright:

Amazon launched the Kindle in November 2007, and Barnes & Noble has been trying to play catch-up ever since. It introduced the Nook last October. After a bumpy rollout, it has begun to make inroads with book buyers, and the company says the Nook is now its best-selling product. Still, Barnes & Noble is running far behind Amazon, which claims a 70 to 80 percent market share. Earlier this summer, Amazon announced that it now sells more e-books than physical books.

Can anyone see the problem? I've put it in bold so it really pops.

Amazon is not selling more e-books than physical books, just more e-books than hardcover books. This is a much different fact!

It's particularly irritating to see this error appear when journalists are discussing the supposedly inevitable move from books to gadgets, as Rice is doing here in the case of B&N. At B&N, similar to what has happened at Amazon (as recounted in part in Ted Striphas' fascinating book, The Late Age of Print), the powers-that-be are being replaced by non-book people - men who have made their fortunes in grocery stores and the Home Shopping Network - who clearly have plans to expand the bookstore's offerings. Says the new CEO of B&N, William Lynch, as quoted in this article,

“We’re morphing into a retail and technology company. We’re purveyors of content, and I don’t think anybody at this company would say we sell physical books. We do sell that, but that’s not how we define ourselves.”

Get it?

There are still those of us who read our books as books and are not in the market for e-readers and who like going into stores with books - many books, not just a few titles in the corner behind the greeting cards and book ends. As B&N turns into Best Buy, why don't we turn to independent bookstores? I don't hear owners of those misquoting bullshit statistics from that blowhard, Bezos.

And I will try to continue calling out these journalists for this repeated error, refusing to be convinced that I must read electronic books or die. Like many good readers, I can't really stand group-think, or bad research producing inaccurate information.

PS Please find the press release in question from Amazon here. Note the second bullet point under "Highlights." Thank you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Us, and New Home!

As I head out the office door on this sunny Friday for what I am hoping is a pleasant (rather than painfully hot) bike ride home, I'd like to make two points:

1) Earlier this week, we had our four year anniversary here at SotB! My first post went up on August 17th, 2006. Oh how far we've come... humor me.

2) This should require no work on your part, dear reader, but please notice we have lost that annoying "blogspot" business and can now be found at simply www.booksurvival.com. Exciting, right? We got rid of the training wheels!

Happy weekend reading!

Experiment Fail in University Press World

We don't often wander into the university press world here at SotB, but this story is worth publicizing. Rice University has decided to suspend operations of its experimental press, which was entirely digital. Scott Jaschik has the story and does a nice job providing context over at Inside Higher Ed.

I won't go into all the ins and outs as this really is part of such a bigger debate, which Jaschik summarizes in the last part of his article, but it is worth pulling this quote, from Eugene Levy - no, not *that* Eugene Levy, but the professor who just completed his time as Provost at the University:
The results leave him wondering about the ability of small publishing operations, he said. While the hope was to save money by not printing books, he said that there "are base costs that are irreducible" for a publisher "and printing is only one of them."
Curious, eh? In the UP world, this means considering moving administrative functions into the library - like I said, a whole world of debate in and of itself. For now, I just want to point this out to show how many small presses not attached to universities don't have this option. Folks of varying kinds - readers, even writers - say to publishers that they shouldn't be so uptight with selection, with pricing, because the digital future means no costs. That's just not the case.

The closing of Rice University Press follows more bad news from earlier this week: Scranton University Press, RIP. I hardly knew ye...

Sorry to be a downer. Maybe Christopher can come along and post a video of a kid picking his nose while reading Curious George or something. I'm sure he can cheer us up on this sunny summer Friday!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Writers, writers, and writers

We're in a bit of a panic, right readers?

Last week, I was sitting in lovely Provincetown, having quite a gay evening in every sense with ridiculous appetizers being served along with a special cocktail for the evening - see photo - and a novelist who was also joining us mentioned the Anis Shivani article from the Huffington Post about the 15 most overrated contemporary American writers. A friend of mine, it turns out, had already emailed me this post by Alison Flood at the Guardian about the piece. Clearly everyone was talking about this literary Molotov cocktail, clumsily pitched at middlebrow readers across the country. The novelist that first mentioned this article noted that Shivani is a poet, which explained it to her. He had an ax to grind. As Flood notes, "I also think it's a little unfair to describe any poet as overrated – poetry sells so very little that I feel we should rejoice in any rating it gets at all."

I will only make one point about Shivani's piece, and I'm pleased that many others have said it as well, though I'm not surprised since it's so friggin' obvious. The part on Junot Diaz is just so racist. Anyone that has read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - a heartbreaking novel that moves from pop culture to Haitian/Dominican history, from Spanish to English, from teen tragedy to proper literary melodrama.... Shivani boils it down to a voice that "describes everything with the same faux energy, the ear-shattering ghetto volume, as though there were no difference between murder and puking." We clearly need to call foul. Okay, that's all the time worth spending on this lame attempt to get attention, though we must give him credit (thanks to HuffPost) for getting it.

And so I was pleased to see Publishers Weekly writing up the most underrated writers, which is a much more exciting and less nasty list. I'll just list the cream of the crop here, though be sure to click through to see all sixty - sixty! - writers:

Here are the top 15 Underrated Writers According to PWxyz (in alphabetical order)

  1. Donald Antrim
  2. Jo Ann Beard
  3. Anthony Doerr
  4. Deborah Eisenberg
  5. Stephen Elliott
  6. Steve Erickson
  7. Brian Evenson
  8. Percival Everett
  9. Mary Gaitskill
  10. Tessa Hadley
  11. Kelly Link
  12. Sam Lipsyte
  13. Lydia Millet
  14. Christine Schutt
  15. Matthew Sharpe

We've got a lot of reading to do, folks.

This battle of the lists is obviously a result of the gluttony of reading material available. I mean, who can sort through it all? We're all excited that "publishing" is becoming more available to more people, in its many (print / electronic) forms. But what to do with it all? So literary folks start generating these lists and prizes, anything to separate the supposed wheat from the chaff. But I suspect larger things will need to change, and I'm still intrigued by the concept mentioned by some, that there is a role for some enterprising soul - and yes, I'd love love love to be that soul - to find a way to take on the role of sorter, in such a way that is effective. One must be trusted, and honest, and skilled at pairing readers with writers in a variety of creative ways, and technology must be involved in a way that doesn't make the reader feel a million miles away. It's a kind of horizontal editor role - one edits across a genre, not by one publisher but by one type.

In the short term, we also have the staff picks at your favorite independent bookstore. I know Harvard Bookstore and Brookline Booksmith here in the Boston metro area both have fantastic staff picks.

Any of these on the short list strike your fancy? I already love Millet and have liked Percival Everett. Who should I go to after those two? Maybe I should go get a book by one of those "overrated" poets.

In truth, I have finished one book and am, in fact, in a bit of a panic, with no cocktail (such as the photo, above) to be found. Help?

Our 1st NSFW post! This is too hilarious not to pass around...

"Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury" by Rachel Bloom. No, he's not the first writer who comes to mind for me either but the heart wants what the heart wants, no?

Seriously, though, this isn't for work unless you are like Brian and work all alone in a basement space next to the boiler room in a large, impersonal, nondescript university office building then it's probably ok. I'm not judging...

Oh, since it is Ray's 90th birthday on 8/22/10 you might as well read this.

"Something wicked this way comes..."

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Look who's watching the fort this week!

While Brian is away on the Cape this week, I will be pulling the strings behind the curtain. I shall have a few more substantive posts coming later but for now I wanted to make sure that everyone saw the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I LOVE MY LIBRARIAN 2010 Award. Are there any cooler people on earth than librarians? Ok, well, yes, Brian and I are pretty freaking awesome but, please there is no need for an award, we do this for you...

There are nearly 123,000 libraries nationwide, and librarians touch the lives of the people they serve every day. The award encourages library users like you to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians. We want to hear how you think your librarian is improving the lives of the people in your school, campus or community.

Up to ten winners will be selected this year and receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and $500 travel stipend to attend an awards reception in New York hosted by The New York Times. In addition, a plaque will be given to each award winner’s library.

The award is administered by the American Library Association with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The New York Times.

It is important to note that in order to nominate a librarian from a public library, school library, college, community college, or university librarian you must *MUST* use their automatic form on the web page above. Think of all the times a librarian has helped you with a paper for class or found you a book you really love or were just there to lend you a pencil...they are the coolest. They deserve recognition and this is a delightful way to honor a group of professionals who, in my opinion, are the heart and soul of the library system not just here in the United States but in every library in the world.

Nominations will be open from August 2 to September 20.

Do it. Now!

Friday, August 06, 2010

UPDATE on the Justin Bieber book.

Now that my anger has subsided after writing this post, I am happy to report that there are a series of book jackets under consideration for the new Justin Bieber-ahem-autobiography. Which do you like? I am partial to #2, myself.

Justin Bieber book jackets

Resources for Indies

Just a quick note before vacation - vacation! - to show some appreciation for Jill Priluck's article on Slate about small, independent presses adapting to our digital world. Priluck explains how these small presses, including Featherproof Books which apparently publishes just two books a year, are nimble in dealing with the changing publishing landscape. She also talks about Small Beer Press, which is now based (in the hands of the Gavin Grant and Kelly Link) in Boston, it seems. Welcome to our fair city! I had no idea.

[Edited to add this sidenote: it's interesting to note that the editor at Small Beer is Jebediah Berry, who himself is a novelist (The Manual of Detection) represented by agent Esmond Harmsworth (Boston-based) and had his first novel published by Penguin. Nice to see someone who has made it big but remains committed to this small press in terms of his labor.]

Priluck makes the point, though, that these small presses are adept at knowing their readers, but this does not typically result in making money beyond what it takes to run the place. There is not a lot of growth or expansion, even when these places are able to take advantage of digital advances. Even without shareholders making unrealistic profit demands, it still would help these folks to grow rather than just survive. Perhaps someone needs to come along to string these independents together and make the work available digitally in a way that's more fair financially to the presses and their authors (as compared to, say, Amazon). Perhaps such a network is already in place.

Actually, Priluck talks about an iPad app from Electric Literature, which they are thinking of licensing to other independent presses. What was kind of bad-ass about this idea was that Electric would charge a one-time licensing fee without royalties, allowing customers to recoup the expense easily rather than having it hold back their revenue forever more. Nice one, Electric!

One other point about Amazon that I found interesting in this article. Priluck has an asterisk early on in the article:
Publishing is a business plagued with manyafflictions—except a lack of media attention.Reports that the Wylie Agency—among others—is launching an online imprint, that Amazon's e-book sales outpaced hardcover* sales, and that its digital sales will surpass paperback ones in the next nine to 12 months underscore a new reality: the age of the publisher-turned-digital-curator.
So what is the footnote here? Glad you asked:
Correction, Aug. 5, 2010: An earlier version of this article stated that Amazon e-books had outsold print books over a particular period; they outsold hardcover books only.
Interesting error. This further makes the case that the media in general is eager to report big statistics showing how digital products are taking over the world, because it's such news. Fine, Amazon exaggerates because there is more money for them - clearly - in e-books rather than printed books, but I hope more journalists are careful when writing on these issues. I think it's entirely fair to ask journalists not to embellish how much of the market digital books take up.

Anyway, glad to see Slate mentioning some good small presses. And now, I wait my final couple of hours at work before heading out to vacation. Happy reading, suckers!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Getting to Balance

Americans have a tendency to take everything too far. We have this drive that's entirely market-driven. Where is the market? What does it want? What does it need? What will it support - but not support, what will it overuse? How can I master the market and become a billionaire? This crazed thinking has been building and building in post-war America, and when it hit a hiccup with the recession of the 1970s and 1980s, it came back bigger and stronger and badder than ever, with Reagan at the helm. We're of course still coming out of the ugly daze of the Bush years, when once again, free enterprise and competition reigned supreme. (And let's not kid ourselves, President Neo-Liberal Clinton didn't impede the progress much - hello, NAFTA.)

And now look at us, and by "us" I mean the publishing community. We're in a real effin' slump, it sometimes seems. We watched the massacre at HarperCollins last year, with layoffs across the board. We've seen beloved community bookstores close. Remember when one major publisher just stopped acquiring new books? The last couple of years have seen job losses and store losses, and many a pissed off author has picked up her ball and announced she was going home - home to publish her books herself. Stephen King did it at the turn of the current century, and John Edgar Wideman did it in the last few months, both taking the initiative to screw their usual publishers and publish their newest works themselves. On top of all that, the two biggest bricks and mortar bookstores are on shaky ground. Borders was on the brink of collapse in 2008 until they managed to restructure some debt, and now news comes out that the board of directors at Barnes & Noble might put the chain up for sale.

I would love to make a big announcement here, have the big answer to solve these huge problems, but of course I can't. And my reaction is rather anti-climatic to type out. It seems to me that the answer is moderation, something foreign to most Americans.

We're clearly in the midst of a very painful transition, and one that's going to mean people lose their jobs and lose their publishers and lose their local (chain) bookstore. But the people we need to blame are not the ones locking those doors to the now-empty stores or shuttering that imprint at a major house. These corporate bodies got too big, too fast. They're unmanageable, and they are asking too much of books.

I'm reading Jason Epstein's Book Business, a book published by Norton in 2001, based on three lectures he gave in October 1999 at the New York Public Library. Epstein worked his way up at Random House after starting there in 1958, when it was (as he describes it) a charming, quirky publisher located in the Villard mansion in Manhattan. It even had parking! And authors could crash right in, with some even spending wayward nights on the couch in his office. It then gets bought and sold and bought again, and imprints are spawned, and massive changes take place. This was a major growth period in publishing when bestsellers sold by the millions and media corporations saw books as more products to pitch, to sell in new locations, to incorporate into other media - synergy!

Now I'm only 40 pages into this book, but Epstein points out something of interest here: as he discusses the ways in which new technology will dramatically alter the industry - and yes, he's quite prescient in this section - he states,
Trade book publishing has always depended on the generosity of patrons and the undercompensated devotion of employees and owners. It has never rewarded investors looking for normal returns, which is why the entertainment conglomerates - CBS, ABC, RCA, MCA-Universal - that acquired such distinguished houses as Henry Holt, G. P. Putnam, and Random House, including Alfred A. Knopf, in the 1970s and 1980s, deluded by the false promise of synergy, eventually found them a burden on their balance sheets and disgorged them. The million-copy sales of a few name-brand best-selling authors led these conglomerates to believe incorrectly that general book publishing is a mass-market business, like selling soap or razor blades or movies. Between 1986 and 1996 the share of all books sold represented by the thirty top best-sellers nearly doubled as retail concentration increased. But within roughly the same period, sixty-three of the one hundred best-selling titles were written by a mere six writers, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, and Danielle Steel - a much greater concentration than int he past and a mixed blessing to publishers, who sacrifice much of their normal profit, and often incur losses, to keep powerful authors like these.
I know that was a lot - the man uses long sentences. But I couldn't stop. This was just such an eye-opener for me - not shocking, I know, but made such sense.

Let me just quickly untangle and connect here. Epstein's larger point beyond this quote is that these authors can easily pack up and start selling their own books directly to their fan base, which is just what they've done now using the latest technologies (see Wideman, above). We also see the backlist, once the stalwart of publisher's accounts, getting scooped by folks like Andrew Wiley and Jane Friedman who are digitizing backlist books and getting them to readers, sans publishers. The big publishers are losing their big ticket players.

In another section, Epstein mentions how this leaves publishers scrambling for quick sales, acquiring crap books - as Christopher pointed out, the latest being the chronicles of Bieber - to get immediate sales because who knows where we'll be in five years? The publishers need the money now. In collusion with them, the big box stores need the money now and are turning books around with remarkable speed - if a book doesn't sell at B&N or Borders in a matter of 4 - 6 weeks, it may very well head back to the publisher's warehouse. They got rent to pay and shareholders to please, so there's not pussyfooting around, people.

My point is, this is so much to ask of a book. People that love books aren't sharks. People who like reading books are by their nature kind of slow movers, and maybe that's not so bad. In fact, if more shit hits the fan, the world will most likely need people who are patient and thoughtful and attentive to figure out how to fix some major problems. But we can be crap consumers. We like libraries, and used bookstores, and we hold onto books we love for far too long. You can't get us to buy a stupid gift card to give out on someone's birthday, because instead we pick out a book we love that makes us think of the birthday boy. We probably don't have much money anyhow - we work in things like publishing, we teach, we write, maybe we work in a cubical 9 - 5 but daydream during work about what we're going to read on the train heading home. That won't get us a big promotion and big raise, now will it?

But these big industries and these rich shareholders are staring at us and saying they want more from us. Well too bad. So leave us be. And for those of us who got jobs at Random House and B&N and Holt thinking, well, it's not ideal but I get to read here and be involved so I can overlook the evil... we'll have to use the skills elsewhere, because the writing's on the wall. The dinosaurs are falling, they're crippled. They may not recover. That big fat publisher could be one 12 year old pop star away from landing on his face and not getting up again.

But maybe it's time we evolved and created smaller, more manageable venues - publishers and bookstores, independent and run thoughtfully, conscientiously, with respect for authors and editors and readers. This may be the only way for books to survive.

Back to Epstein for more insight...

Monday, August 02, 2010

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bieber!

That's that. Publishing has finally collapsed under its internal contradictions-profits v. art-and now we have to see how the dust settles going forward. Tomorrow I am going to post the best rejection I have ever received but for today I must, must, must comment on this "breaking news" from HaplessCollins.

A PR blast:

HarperCollins Acquires Justin Bieber's Official Illustrated Memoir
NEW YORK and LONDON, Aug. 2 HarperCollins announced today the acquisition of the official illustrated memoir from multi-platinum selling superstar Justin Bieber. JUSTIN BIEBER: FIRST STEP 2 FOREVER: MY STORY will reveal Justin's amazing journey to superstardom. This beautifully designed hardcover book contains exclusive, never-before-seen photos -- a must-have for fans afflicted with Bieber-fever. The book will be published this October in both the United States ($21.99) and in the UK (16.99 pounds Sterling). "Every day I wake up and count my blessings. My fans have played such a large part in all of this and they help me live my dreams every day. I'm excited to share just a little bit more of my world with them through this book," says Justin Bieber. "Between the behind-the-scenes pictures and the story I think this is going to be something they can all enjoy. This is just another way for me to say thank you to my fans." Born in Stratford, Ontario, Justin Bieber is a multi-talented pop/soul singer and self-taught musician on drums, guitar, piano, and trumpet. As an amateur he posted renditions of his favorite hip-hop and R&B songs on YouTube.com, to the tune of 50 million views. Now, Bieber's video for "Baby" is the most-watched music video in YouTube history with more than 250 million views. Justin Bieber is the first solo artist in history to send four songs from a debut album into the Billboard Hot 100's Top 40 prior to the album's release. He is also the youngest male solo artist in the history of the Billboard 200 to chart a #1 album since 13-year-old Stevie Wonder did so in the summer of 1963. These accolades have resulted in total record sales to date exceeding 5 million. In 2007, his manager Scooter Braun introduced Justin to the music industry in Atlanta. Scooter Braun formed the RBMG joint-venture label with Usher and signed the 13-year-old Bieber to his first professional deal. RBMG in turn signed a deal with Antonio 'L.A.' Reid, Chairman of the Island Def Jam Music Group. Now, Braun and Creative Artists Agency have sold the rights to JUSTIN BIEBER: FIRST STEP 2 FOREVER: MY STORY to Anna Valentine, Harper Non-Fiction Senior Commissioning Editor (UK), and Emily Brenner, Vice President and Publisher of HarperFestival (US). "Justin's adoring and devoted fan base that started on YouTube now follows him to packed concert halls around the world," says Susan Katz, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books. "He is a force in the music industry and we are incredibly excited to be publishing this photographic memoir of his amazing journey." Valentine added, "This is a real coup for us and we are very excited about adding Justin to our autumn program. Justin is the hottest star of the moment and this book will be the perfect gift for his millions of fans worldwide."

(PRNewsFoto/HarperCollins, Pamela Littky)

Um, ok, where to begin. "A real coup?" I don't think that means what you think it does, Ms. Valentine. First, and most importantly he is 16. Who gives a shit what has happened in his 16 years? Second, who remembers Hanson? (M-m-m-bop) I know someone who doesn't: Justin Bieber. Can we just see how his "career" plays out before we start comparing him to Stevie Wonder? Third, instead of seeing this-Justin Bieber is the first solo artist in history to send four songs from a debut album into the Billboard Hot 100's Top 40 prior to the album's release-as something impressive is it possible that maybe, just maybe this is one of the saddest commentaries on the state of the recording industry ever written? I think it is an indictment of the way in which iTunes is ravaging the idea of the album but that is a story for another day. Really, it is just so sad. So, what would this "coup" look like in book form? Glad you asked! I happened to find a table of contents on the internets.

Chapter one: Burb. Milk time! I shit myself and mommy changed my diaper. (I'm a late starter.)
Chapter two: Drooled on myself and began my slow change toward being a tyrant. Time for rubber pants!
Chapter three: What is three?
Chapter four: Look who's talking!!!
Chapter five: The big J goes to kindergarten. Or gets a tutor...whatever...who needs to know what or where Germany is?
Chapter six: I feel funny "down there."
Chapter seven: The golden throated one starts to work the pipes.
Chapter eight: How do you like my hair? I told my mom not to cut it, jerk.
Chapter nine: Hey-oh, junior high school.
Chapter ten: Do I sound like Stevie Wonder (a.k.a. the other thirteen year old singer to hit the charts)?
Chapter eleven: Puberty!
Chapter twelve: Wow! This teen idol thing is hard...how's my hair?
Chapter thirteen: Zits!
Chapter fourteen: What is this "Germany" you keep asking me about?
Chapter fifteen: Hey, why is Tom Brady biting my style? Where is my motherf****n' black fur and leather jacket?
Chapter sixteen: C'mon ladies, I'm almost eighteen!

Ugh...just when I though publishing couldn't get any shallower the business manages to drain a little more water out of the tub. Listen, I am not saying that Justin Bieber is a bad guy-how the hell would I know-but I think we can all agree that right now there isn't anything in his life that anyone needs to know about. This book, the worst idea in the long, sad, sorry history of bad ideas is just plain stupid. It shows that the book business loves to stick Harper Lee in your face and claim that we are safeguarding the culture but really it is just a way block your eyesight while they reach around and try and grab your wallet.

Where is that Strychnine I bought for emergencies?