Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Sorry, I fell asleep while reporting this news as it bored me to death while typing.
Here's the story.
Here is a video of Roth accepting the award on Youtube.
Seriously? That is the best the Man Booker people could do? Roth sucks.
That is all.
Oops, nope, that isn't. Carmen Callil is now my new favorite writer.
Friday, May 13, 2011
I deduct this from the experience I’ve been having in trying to sell my novel, which tells the story of a young September 11th widow who discovers a secret involving her late husband and some of their closest friends. While the story is fiction, it is driven by emotional truth–namely, the emotional truth of grief and mourning–and this is the aspect of the novel that most editors have expressed concern with.
I think the primary reason is that Hollywood and the publishing industry have learned just one historical lesson from the Depression: people want entertainment in tough times.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Physical book sales will decline at a compound annual rate of 5 percent. While e-book sales will rise during that same period, the increase won’t cover the revenue gap created by the decline in the physical book market. By 2014, the research note predicts, e-books will occupy some 13 percent of U.S. book publishing revenue, more than twice its current level.
Ever since 1983, when one of the earliest book cart drill teams formed in Virginia, teams have been sprouting up at libraries across the country, rehearsing synchronized routines and making occasional appearances at conferences, festivals, and parades.
But keeping the spirit of book cart-pushing performance alive has been no easy task. Recruitment and education are key. Deyermond concedes that the past two years have been tough. When there weren’t enough teams to field a real contest last year, she held a tutorial session instead.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Undergraduate students generally were unconcerned by the news that the bookstore may close. Of 14 students interviewed, seven said they did not buy any books from Labyrinth in the past year, and six more had bought five or fewer. Marisa Karchin ’14 said she bought 10 books from Labyrinth Books in the past year, but said the closing would only be a minor inconvenience, as she would have shopped online instead.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
"Writers by definition spend a lot of time on the inside of books, which is why what happens on the outside—namely, cover art and blurbs—can feel precarious and daunting. Often these elements are beyond an author’s control or expertise, which can be painful to admit, particularly when the "expertise" of graphic designers and marketers seems so subjective or at odds with an author’s “vision” for a book."The "author's vision" for a book is a phrase that makes me wanna stab my eyes out. If y'all out there knew how many times an author told me that the cover they were sent was "horrible" you'd never have time to read anything else ever again. “How,” I would ask them, “is it possible that every instinct they have telling them that the cover in question is horrible but that the press’s other books are selling and winning awards for design?” No answer. Or, better yet, another answer from the author in question that every person in publishing has heard a million times: "I showed the design to my family and friends and they all had the same poor reaction to it that I did. They, too, all hated it" OK, case closed. If your buddies say it’s horrible it really must be as one of your close friends is Chip Kidd, right? I digress.
To get some advice on navigating these issues, we asked a handful of writers—including Kate Christensen, Bennett Madison, Stefanie Pintoff, Mark Jude Poirier and Tom Scocca—who have been through the process these questions:
- How important are covers in terms of selling a book?
- Have your publishers asked you for your opinion or “input” on your covers, and to what extent do you think they listened? Did you ever meet with the designer? How important was “marketing” in making decisions about the cover of your book(s)?
- Did you ever receive a cover that made you unhappy and if so, what did you do about it? Did you ultimately end up with a cover that made you happier?
- How important are blurbs, particularly for a first-time author?
- How did you go about getting your blurbs? Did your agent or editor help, or did you rely more on personal connections?
- Have you ever offered someone else a blurb?
"I offered cover ideas to people at Simon and Schuster for The Worst Years of Your Life, an anthology I edited, and I’m grateful they went in another direction. The cover they chose features a diagram of a frog dissection that looks as if it were made on a '70s ditto machine. Created by Catherine Casalino, the cover went on to win design awards. While I approved the cover and approved the covers from Bloomsbury, it took me a while to believe that sometimes book-jacket designers, people who actually get paid to design book jackets, people who actually have a lot of experience designing book jackets, often know better than I. Because of my sour experience with Modern Ranch Living, I’m a little touchy, but I have come to let the experts do their jobs."
Sunday, April 03, 2011
Under the helm of long-term book editor James Concannon, and now his replacement Nicole Lamy, it’s long been a bizarre boycott in a town that has more colleges per square inch — about 100 within the city limits alone — that is full of writing programs (at Harvard, MIT, BU, BC, Emerson, UMass and Northwestern, to name a few), is the home to numerous award-winning literary journals (such as Ploughtshares, Post Road, Agni, and others), and is generally, as my grandfather used to say, lousy with writers. It’s clear the audience is there, and a huge part of the newspaper’s demographic, but the Globe has clearly decided to ignore that part of its readership.
Monday, March 28, 2011
This is the cover.
That is all.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I’m horrified by these pictures of what was the library of my childhood. I spent many happy hours sitting and reading in the children’s room here while my mother tended to other business in the grown-up books section or at the nearby Sears store.
I’m also furiously angry. The reason why there are so many books left here and so much furniture is that this library was only supposed to be temporarily closed. The people in the neighborhood just wanted the roof and the heat repaired swiftly, but the DPL insisted that they should do a major renovation and that we’d all have a beautiful like-new library when they were done in about a year. If anyone here remembers the late ’90s “empowerment zone” years, the money seemed to be there to do it then.
Well, a year dragged out to 2 then 3, and little progress was made. There were apparently “contractor problems” Some of the books were moved to the “annex” library in a nearby church hall, after people in the area complained and complained. And then asbestos was “discovered” (what, they didn’t know it was going to be there in a 70 year old building?) which was used as an excuse to discontinue all work. We were all promised that this stoppage would be temporary too, while they worked out a plan to deal with the asbestos. Yeah, right.
Then the building sat… and sat… and sat… and the library people and the city stopped answering our calls, and acted like they’d never heard of the building when we did get ahold of them. The interior got progressively more damaged by the original problem that had never been fixed – a leaking roof – and then, of course, the scrappers and ‘explorers’ came, and it ended up in the state you see today.This city can make me so sick sometimes.
And for the historical record, the building bears his name in direct commemoration of the man – by that I mean he was given the honor in person. His daughter Clara Clemons (she was married to the director of the DSO) lived in Boston Edison, and Mark Twain was therefore a person who was associated with Detroit during that time period. I believe the building itself deserves historic protection due to its history, as well as being a Wirt Rowland design.
Monday, March 14, 2011
If you want to grace the masses with your witty and smart writings about books, technology, and culture, we’d like to connect with you.
inReads will be a new online home and social community for those of us who love books and can’t get enough talking about them, but also recognize the myriad of ways that reading is changing—young, cool, and plugged in nerds who listen to NPR, read the New York Times daily, have diverse, yet refined literary tastes, but also engage with the highs and lows of pop culture.
inReads is a production of WETA, the Washington DC public television, media and radio entity, and the producer of such notable works as the films of Ken Burns, In Performance at the White House and Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal.
We’re looking for writers, bloggers, book/product reviewers, and content producers who want a platform to riff on all things books, technology and culture in a thought-provoking and entertaining way. Our content won’t take itself too seriously. Serious is for the other guys.
We want content of all types—from text to video to audio—and we like when they’re paired together. We’re slated to launch in March.
Interested? Send us a few links to your work online and include some pitches for stories via email: email@example.com. We look forward to the possibilities.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Four days after sending out my farewell closing letter, Bob Proehl put out a well considered and passionate proposal asking our community if they would consider creating a community-owned cooperative bookstore, and if so, to make a non-binding monetary pledge.
It’s now two weeks later and the proposed financial target has been reached!
Monday, March 07, 2011
I have long held that Melville House is one of the coolest independent publishers out there, led by the a great director, Dennis Johnson. They have proven to be innovative, open-minded, progressive, intelligent, and mouthy - all qualities I admire in publishing.
Friday, March 04, 2011
From the Guardian UK:
Here are the books being given away. Here is a ton more about the Trafalgar Square event.
World Book Night 2011The first ever World Book Night is being held on Saturday, with events across the UK being held and at least 1million free books being given away.
Still, there are always
Vanessa Robertson, who owns the Edinburgh Bookshop in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh, has claimed that, far from spreading the joy of reading, World Book Night will simply flood the market with free books and devalue the work of authors in the eyes of the public.Curmudgeonly? Nah. One book per person isn't going to crash the book trade in the entire UK and if it does then they were fucked already. Sorry, but that's the truth.
In a highly critical blog posted on the website State of Independents Robertson says many booksellers are "horrified" by the "misguided and misjudged" venture.
"One million books flooding a struggling book trade; one million copies of books which make up a good part of many bookshops' sales (David Nicholl's One Day; Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; Case Histories by Kate Atkinson; Fingersmith by Sarah Waters to name a few); one million books being given away, further reinforcing the notion that we're all there to provide a public service and that authors, publishers and booksellers don't deserve or need to make a living," she wrote.
Others echoed her view. One independent bookseller, who would only speak anonymously for fear of being labelled "curmudgeonly", said: "We're champions of the book and independent reading and people enriching their lives and bringing people to appreciate the value of books. I don't see how giving stuff away will help." He queried whether World Book Night would bring in new readers, saying: "I suspect it will be nice bookish people giving the books to other nice bookish people."
World Book Night has been accused by a number of authors and independent booksellers of damaging the struggling book trade, but Atwood – whose novel The Blind Assassin is among those being given away – responded by saying: "Other booksellers are enthusiastically participating, as it spreads the word on books and makes them available to people who would otherwise not have them or be able to afford them. Also: I gave a book by Kate Atkinson away recently and the person I gave it to liked it so much that she bought all the others."
Andrew Bentley-Steed, who manages Robertson's Edinburgh bookshop... suggested that a better event would be a "Fair Trade Book Fortnight" at which all retailers agreed to charge the full cover price for their books to support authors.Um, I know what we could call that: Tuesday. No, wait, Thursday. No, no, no, I've got it: Saturday. For the most part, I buy my books at a great independent bookstore in Cambridge and I always pay full price. Always. So how is "Fair Trade Book Fortnight" an event? The answer is it isn't. Wah, wah. However the charmingly named Nic Bottomley has the right attitude:
Nic Bottomley, owner of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, called World Book Night "a great idea" likely to inspire people who received a free book to buy others to give away in turn. "I don't buy the argument that the market will be flooded," he said. "Giving away a million free books sounds like a lot, but in the context of the 250m we sell across the trade each year, it's absolutely nothing. I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation and it works out at just three or four books for each independent bookshop. I don't think there's any independent that wouldn't give away that number if it encourages book-lovers."Phew! Haters just think of all the readers you might actually gain if you give an individual a book that changes their world and instills a lifetime love of reading . Anyway, I love this idea and for a nation like ours, which doesn't really read as much as we should, I think it would be totally cool to have something like this in the US but, of course, it would have to be more than 1,000,000 books since our population is a little larger than the United Kingdom. A little.
So, what books would you like to give and/or get? I would love to give copies of Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell. It is the best, clearest, most simple Marxist fable kids book of all time. We might as well start 'em early, eh, regressive right? "Moo, bah, cluck, and that was that."
Wonder what some of your favorite authors would like to give or receive? Glad you asked...the Guardian asked several dozen current writers what their choice would be. Check their suggestions out here.
Have a good weekend.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
From the Harvard Gazette:
The Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard University, died on Feb. 28 from complications arising from a stroke. He was 68 years old.
Gomes, an American Baptist minister, served in the Memorial Church since 1970. He was a member of both the Divinity School faculty and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. Gomes authored many books, including the best-sellers “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart” and “Sermons: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living,” as well as numerous articles and papers.
Widely regarded as one of America’s leading preachers, Gomes participated in the inaugurations of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He was named Clergy of the Year by the organization Religion in American Life in 1998; in 1979 Time magazine called him “one of the seven most distinguished preachers in America.” He received 39 honorary degrees and was an Honorary Fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “Peter Gomes was an original. For 40 years, he has served Harvard as a teacher in the fullest sense — a scholar, a mentor, one of the great preachers of our generation, and a living symbol of courage and conviction. Through his wisdom and appreciation of the richness of the human spirit Reverend Gomes has left an indelible mark on the institution he served with unmatched devotion and creativity. He will be sorely missed.”
“No one epitomizes all that is good about Harvard more than Peter J. Gomes,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s Alphonse Fletcher University Professor. The pair met in 1991 when Gomes was part of a recruiting committee that helped to bring Gates to the University. Gates quipped it was “love at first sight,” and said Gomes had been a loyal friend and adviser for 20 years.
“He was one of the nation’s truly great preachers and one of Harvard’s truly great scholars,” said Gates, who directs Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Gates also praised Gomes for his expertise on the history both of Christianity and of Harvard University and for his “keen storytelling capacity.”
“Peter has been a powerful presence in the University for more than four decades,” said William Graham, dean of Harvard Divinity School, who first met Gomes at Harvard in 1966.
Graham recalled hearing Gomes offer parting words to graduating College seniors during Commencement. Those speeches “are masterpieces, both humorous and moving valedictions. That was something very special for undergraduates,” said Graham, John Lord O’Brian Professor of Divinity and Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Gomes preached and lectured across North America and the British Isles. In 2010, he gave The Princeton Lectures on Youth, Church, and Culture. Harvard University in 2010 elected him Honorary President of the Alpha-Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. In 2009, he gave The Lowell Lectures of Massachusetts.
In 2007, he was named a member of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, the oldest order of chivalry in Britain.
In 2005, he presented a series of sermons in St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, England; in 2004 he gave the convocation address at Harvard Divinity School; and in 2003 he delivered the Lyttelton Addresses at Eton College, England. In 2000, he delivered the University Sermon before the University of Cambridge and the Millennial Sermon in Canterbury Cathedral. In 1998, he presented the Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School.
He also preached at the inauguration of Deval L. Patrick as governor of Massachusetts.
Born in Boston in 1942 to Peter L. and Orissa White Gomes, Gomes was educated in the Plymouth, Mass., public schools. He graduated from Bates College with an A.B. degree in 1965, and he received the S.T.B. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1968. That year, he was ordained to the Christian ministry by the First Baptist Church of Plymouth.
From 1968 to 1970, Gomes was an instructor in history and director of the Freshman Experimental Program at Tuskegee Institute, Ala. There he also served as a church organist and choirmaster. He came to the Memorial Church as assistant minister in 1970. He became acting minister in 1972, and in 1974 was named the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Minister in the Memorial Church. In this capacity, he acted as the University’s leading religious officer and spiritual adviser.
Gomes’ teaching and research interests included the history of the ancient Christian church, the Bible, homiletics, worship, and the history of the black American experience. He served as acting director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard from 1989 to 1991.
The former president of the Signet Society, Harvard’s oldest literary group, Gomes published eleven volumes of sermons as well as numerous articles and papers. In 1996, he published “The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart,” which became a best-seller. Gomes described it to the Boston Globe as a book about the Bible “for the average intelligent lay audience, not for seminarians or Divinity School colleagues.” In it, Gomes analyzes the historical efforts to misuse the Bible to marginalize Jews, blacks, women, and gays.
A self-described cultural conservative, Gomes stunned the Harvard community and reluctantly made national news when he came out as a homosexual in 1991 in response to gay bashing on campus. “I don’t like being the main exhibit, but this was an unusual set of circumstances, in that I felt I had a particular resource that nobody else there possessed,” he told The New Yorker in 1996.
“I’m always seen as a black man and now I’m seen as a black gay man. If you throw the other factors in there that make me peculiar and interesting — the Yankee part, the Republican part, the Harvard type — all that stuff confuses people who have to have a single stereotypical lens in order to assure themselves they have a grasp on reality,” he said in an interview with the Boston Herald in 1996.
Gomes served as a trustee of the Roxbury Latin School. He was also a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and the Advisory Board of the Winterthur Museum, and a sometime fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London. He had been a trustee of Wellesley College, the Public Broadcasting Service, and Bates College. He is past president and trustee of The Pilgrim Society, Plymouth, Mass.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
While, outside of America, Russian-born [Ayn] Rand is probably best known for being the unfunniest person western civilization has seen since maybe Goebbels or Jack the Ripper (63 out of 100 colobus monkeys recently forced to read Atlas Shrugged in a laboratory setting died of boredom-induced aneurysms), in America Rand is upheld as an intellectual giant of limitless wisdom. Here in the States, her ideas are roundly worshipped even by people who've never read her books oreven heard of her. The rightwing "Tea Party" movement is just one example of an entire demographic that has been inspired to mass protest by Rand without even knowing it.Now the bad news: Atlas Shrugged has been turned into a movie.
See for yourself:
Again, Matt Taibbi:
In the Randian ethos, called objectivism, the only real morality is self-interest, and society is divided into groups who are efficiently self-interested (ie, the rich) and the "parasites" and "moochers" who wish to take their earnings through taxes, which are an unjust use of force in Randian politics. Rand believed government had virtually no natural role in society. She conceded that police were necessary, but was such a fervent believer in laissez-faire capitalism she refused to accept any need for economic regulation – which is a fancy way of saying we only need law enforcement for unsophisticated criminals.I weep for the future and culture of America.
Friday, February 11, 2011
- Martin Amis on writing a children's book.
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
Sent to us from a vigilante propagandist.
"There's a lot of talk in the media about books being a dying format and bookstores being a dying business. If the people who said that saw the energy, inventiveness, and determination of the 500 booksellers from around the country at Winter Institute, they wouldn't be so quick to dismiss either books or the people who bring them into their communities. It's an exciting time in the book business and things are certainly in flux, but your independently owned bookstores, far from being relics of the past, are ready to meet the challenges of the future and continue to provide a service that is unique and valuable."Yes, it is true that there are still thousands of independent stores and many of them are making a go of it but I am starting to wonder is it too late? No, not for the stores but for what masquerades as the "reading public" in the U.S. An "exciting time?" That isn't the phrase I'd use. It is eye-opening that Ms. Williams has this sense while attending an ABA sponsored event. It is a bit like going to a baseball game and saying to yourself "Wow! This country is really into baseball...what a great time to be a fan of the sport!" Yes, the attendees and sponsors of the Winter Institute are really gung-ho about the future of bookselling and independent bookstores. Is that news? I am pretty sure that those attending the national ham radio convention would give one the impression that the state of ham radio is really strong, no? Who the hell "ham radios" or whatever anymore? The real proof is in the wider culture and I am afraid that, for the first time in my life, I am beginning to feel that we are all part of the buggy whip business. Sad, I know, but there it is. I've written it and I can't very well take it back. I am sure that this post will get picked up and sent into the blogosphere where smarter people than I will have clever responses, comments, and loads and loads of statistics on why I am full of shit but deep down, I am thinking even they know what the reality is and the reality is bleak. How else to explain the blockbuster mentality in publishing these days? Why the hell does Justin Bieber have an autobiography? There is a line from Matt Taibbi about Goldman Sachs but has some applicability here (especially when you think of books like Patterson, Grisham, and the new "Snooky" books) about the way in which publishing has become blockbuster oriented. Publishing these days is like "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."
Do books matter anymore? Is the success of Skylight Books in L.A. an antidote to the loss of Kroch's and Brentano's in Chicago, Gotham Book Mart in New York, Goliard Bookshop in Amherst, Cody's Books in Berkeley, Printers Inc. Bookstore in Palo Alto, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books in San Francisco, Midnight Special in Santa Monica, Dutton’s Brentwood Books in Los Angeles, Oscar Wilde Books and Coliseum Books in New York? I guess. I know there is little rhyme or reason as to why a store in one place makes it and store in another doesn't but those cities above aren't exactly shabby, right? I mean, if the oldest (and maybe the most famous) gay bookstore can't make it in New York then we're all fucked...and not in the good way. My point is that I hope the independent world can survive and there does seem to be some evidence that they will but I am not so sure. (I am looking at you, Borders - king, daddy, papa of the indies. What the hell happened to you? Don't you realize that your demise leaves us to the whims of Jeff Bezos and Len Riggio?) Does the population that under girds all cultural activities seem to be losing its interest in books? Perhaps we aren't a reading/literary culture at all? Perhaps we are, in fact, a visual/popular culture where "straight teeth in your mouth are more important than the words that come out of it." Bleh. I am all over the place here but maybe you can feel my frustration? I don't see how books are going to continue to have any fascination for future generations. I want it to be true, I work hard to make sure that it will be true, but that may not enough to make it so.
Are books are dying? AAP sales figures from 2009 (the most recent yearly stats available) are mixed. Some indicators are up, others are down. Popular culture is in the ascendancy. Let's look at the NYTimes best seller list for a second, shall we? Is there a single book on any of those lists that is there because it found an audience that didn't hear about it on Glen Beck, Oprah, or NPR? Sure, the usual suspects are still on the list:
Tom Clancy (Seriously? Still?)
John Grisham (Who?)
Dean Koontz (Isn't he dead?)
and, of course, Stieg Larsson.
I suppose there is a case to be made for Room by Emma Donaghue. That is a surprise actually, though it was one of the NYT's best books of 2010 so it isn't like it snuck up on us. I guess I can't have it all. I can't complain that people don't read any books other than what they are force-fed and then have an example in front of me and say "oh, that one doesn't matter." What all this ranting is making me think is that I am having a crisis of confidence. We never seem to get enough comments here to make a debate but that sure would help me as I am flailing around. What do you think, readers? Help a lifelong book devotee (I have worked in 5 bookstores in my 40+ years, 3 publishers, 1 agency, and a library) come to some conclusions about the state of books here in the US. What articles do you read? Which authors will help me through this long period of darkness? Where does the solace come from? E-books? Well, the six of you who stop by regularly know I am not really an e-book guy.
I'm drowning. Can anyone help?