Before I get to the announcement, I’d like to take a few half hours to ruminate on what it means to be a “Ninja”, and further to that, a ninja of the “Bookish” persuasion. From the earliest days of feudal Japan the ninja… Oh, okay.
In no particular order:
The Effen-vescent Demo Expert Bronwyn Kienapple
Elite Forces’ Lisa “For the Love of” Peet
The Upper North Side’s Literary Mobster Menachem Kaiser
Intel expert Sarah “You can prove anything with Statz” Cords
Heather the Cat Lady
Also joining them, by supra-electoral fiat, will be experienced ‘Ninja Robert “Don’t Do Crack” Wiersema, whom I removed from the voting early on when I realized I wanted to ensure his sour, puckered personality would be there to maintain a tone consistent with the charter of rights and lefts of our great Bookninja nation state, Acerbia.
This whole process was difficult for me, because over the course of several days all the candidates have become like children to me, and each one came very close. Seriously, in some cases those not blogging missed out by under 10 votes. Heartbreaking, I know. But the people have spoken. And there’s always next year. I briefly considered throwing it all to hell and letting everyone blog, but that would just be a mess. It’s already going to be hard to find six sets of matching shackles to bolt to the cinderblock wall in the basement. Speaking of which, winners, van drivers and masked thugs with burlap sacks should be cruising by your places of residence right about….. now.
Winners, contact me with your preferred email addresses for correspondence and your home addresses and shirt sizes for SCHWAG. Once I get back from Ireland and I see you haven’t burned the place down, I’ll send you some shit.
I’m not really concerned about the long form. People who like it will write it, publish it and find it. Bookninja will be part of that. What I’m concerned about is that major mainstream institutions (read: big papers, magazines, etc.) that are trying desperately to develop online followings haven’t figured out that the audience online doesn’t read the same way as the audience for print does. So you get these magazines and newspapers writing longish articles for blog posts, and people don’t get past the first paragraph. No wonder. If they wanted to read the paper, they’d go to the paper, online or in print. If you want an audience to read you daily for your blog, you have to write for a blog-reading audience. Seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve even tried to hand-hold some big markets through doing it and they just can’t seem to get away from writing journalism. Guess what? This isn’t journalism.
Those automatic book recommendations made by Amazon and other e-tailers? FAIL. Once the robots of the world can chat me up to a good novel, I’m ready to be ruled by them. That or once they get mounted with solid state lasers and contact grenade launching gattling guns.
It would be wrong, however, to aim too poisoned an arrow at what is an entertaining application. A little digging reveals that Book Seer isn’t, as might have been expected, an affiliate marketing program for Amazon, but a harmless enough publicity-getting project launched earlier this month by a design and marketing company. Winningly, Book Seer also suggests you visit your local bookshop or library, and includes links to directories of both. It has posted some data relating to searches carried out so far here, which you can parse at your leisure. The dominance of Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling seems predictable enough at first glance, but less so when you consider Book Seer’s function: don’t most readers of Meyer and Rowling just read more Meyer and Rowling?
Well, I think democracy has finally reached its logical conclusion today. The flower of liberty has spread it crimson petals and thrust its mighty yellow stamen out into the recycled air of cyberspace, spraying the ejaculatory pollen of freedom over the hay-fevered face of oppression. The people have spoken in what is sure to be the most momentus election of our time. Something has happened that will capture the imagination of generations to come—like that guy from last fall, whasisface, who ended racism by being black and elected and then acted like an old white guy. The world has come a little closer to peace, people. Let freedom ring. I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord.
But first, a few impressions:
- What an enormous lot of you there are, thanks for reading ‘lo these last six years, and for coming out of the closet to vote—I wish I could respond individually to each of your smart-assed remarks with the joy I felt reading them
- It’s amazing how many different ways people can misspell “Kienapple”
- There are a lot of sympathetic cat ladies and cat-lady-lovers out there
- I think each candidate got at least one parent to vote for them (or the orphanage staff in the case of TUB), which speaks well of our efforts to keep the internet friendly for the the elderly and infirm
- Those who already have a well-attended blog presence really know how to milk their readers for votes
- It is also amazing how many of those voters can’t (be bothered to?) read instructions (but I counted their votes anyway, hanging chads be damned)
- My brain’s numbers bone hurts
- Votes accompanied by offers of sexual favours or monetary rewards were, in accordance with human rights policies around the (third) world, counted twice
More to come.
Do the crappy wages of the lit sector, from writing to editing to publishing, affect the quality of what reaches readers? I’d say that answer begins, like Hugh Hefner, with a big “depends”. Mostly I expect those who remain in publishing do so because they love it, not because they expect wealth and fame, so I don’t see how this holds. (From Galleycat)
Tiny salaries in the low ranks of publishing are miserable for the young workers, but they’re probably worse for literature (You can insert “movies” for “literature,” if that’s the prism through which you want to read this.) It’s a truism of the industry that most of these jobs are held by people who can afford them—people with some parental support and no student loans. Often they’ve had unpaid internships, that most pernicious example of class privilege. Their superiors are the same people, ten years later. They—we!—are smart, cultured people with good intentions, but it’s easy to see how this narrow range could lead to a blinkered view of literature.
- Munro receives Booker Int’l
- UK authors vs. Penguin in travel guide row… I’ve stopped caring, which is exactly what big corps want when imposing their will—but, hey, what’re you gonna do?
- Turkish author acquitted
- The dentists of our world want our children to remain illiterate!!!
- Google vs Authors’ Guild… I’ve stopped caring, which is exactly what big corps want when imposing their will—but, hey, what’re you gonna do?
- A language for the age
- And one day later the vultures descend on Jackson’s corpse (and probably fly away with more nest material than meal, but I digress…)
- Amazon vs. the American people… something about state taxes… I’ve stopped caring, which is exactly what…yadda yadda yadda
- The Washington Post is holding a contest wherein readers can write parodies of the first paragraph of Cheney’s biography… Mine would read, “My earliest memory is of [redacted], and now I find myself [undisclosed].”
Do do do do, do do doo, do do do do DO! dododododo…. It’s killing you, isn’t it.
The human pieces of Michael Jackson are no more. Tomorrow’s Bookninja posts will be dedicated to his chimpanzees, Bubbles and Cory Feldman.
Wow, sometimes you realize, Holy shit, people actually read this thing. Hundreds and hundreds of votes, spread across all candidates (really, everyone is very close), but three people are, as of 10:15 NL time, EXACTLY TIED… for second place…. And the cat lady is 10 votes ahead of them all. e. I cut off voting at midnight Eastern.
Updated and bumped AGAIN!
Last day to vote for your Bookninja guest bloggers. Read what’s below and join the madness. MADNESS I TELL YOU! And let me spell it out for you: .
Updated and bumped!
George, George, George… when will you ever fucking learn? Hee hee, you thought. I’ll put up a contest to get someone to do my work for me while I skip off, Scots-Irish free, to the Emerald Isle with nary a care. And now you have hundreds of votes to sift through. See, this is how karma works when the stakes are insignificant. Minor pleasures and minor annoyances. But I digress.
A cursory glance allows me to make this wholly unscientific assertion: it’s a close one, people. The forces of the cat lady rally, but are countered by twitter-enabled crowd of Madam No Apple. Then the sympathy vote ramps up for Johnnyboy only to be stomped down by the supporters of that Masked Menace TUB. But look out now, Elite Peet has made her considerable following aware she’s back in the market for asses to kick, and votes continue roll in waves for each. It’s very exciting in my inbox right now. I’d say you all love me, but I’m aware that you really just love them.
I’d say that each candidate right now has very close to the same number of votes. So, batten down your engines and start your hatches! This is going to be a hell of a race. Read the entries below and vote for your THREE top candidates ! It’s much harder for me to collect results from the comments section, and given that the UN refused to supervise my vote count, you don’t want to piss me off or I’ll get all Ahmadinejad on your asses.
May the best ‘Ninjas win. (PS, God bless the three of you who included a “please don’t go, George” message with your votes. I know. I know. But we need this time apart in order to grow. I promise, things will work out. Shhhh. Don’t say any more. It’s not you, it’s me.)
As previously promised, I herewith post several finalists for the position of Guest Blogger on Bookninja from July 2 to July 16. Five lucky winners will get to do my work while I’m away in Ireland, running Bookninja as they see fit: whether as a commie hippy love-in or with a dystopian iron fist. Who can tell what’s to come?
Your job now, dear Reader, is to pick your top three bloggers from this list. . The top vote-getters will become the bloggers you read for the first two weeks of July and will be showered with adoration and tshirts (or, alternately, silence and thongs). This Friday I’ll announce the winners.
I would be an excellent guest blogger for Bookninja! Up until five days ago I was a regular blogger at Readerville, but now they’ve closed up shop and I’m just twisting in the cyberwind. I really enjoyed doing it, and have been thinking all week about ways to keep that momentum going — so your notice was a total Oh Snap moment. Aside from reasons that matter to ME, 1) I’m dependable, and will burn the midnight oil until I get a post up — I take my responsibilities seriously to a geeky degree; 2) I’m up to the minute on literary news, via a million RSS feeds and Twitter; 3) I’m an editor by trade, so I can turn a nice sentence and catch typos; 4) I have an interesting, fairly oddball sensibility, and like to find off-the-beaten-track connections within an item rather than just regurgitate the news of the day; 5) my voice is friendly and accessible and while it’s definitely my own, I do get the idea of keeping the general style of the blog consistent (I won’t swear unless you say I can, no pictures of my cats, etc.) — and I already read Bookninja, so that helps; 6) I’m super diplomatic and Work Well With Others; 7) I’m funny. My posts are all still up at Readerville, so those can speak for themselves.
Like you, I have a dark sense of humour (and perhaps a healthy bitterness) that contrasts nicely with my fervent love of all things book-related. I have been a dedicated Bookninja reader for the past year and am familiar with the format and flavour of your posts. I’m excited to work within that framework to let loose my own ninja skills (though my skills do not involve nun chucks or black costumes but would probably resemble Buffy the Vampire Slayer in action). I am a whore for trolling the internet for book-related news, especially blogs like Gadget Lab, Gizmodo, Bookslut, Maud Newton etc. I work within the book industry (that means I am continually exposed to what’s new and happening, though please be advised I have no ‘agenda’) and I run my own blog and wrote for the Varsity newspaper for four years, so I know how to string a sentence together. That said, I am a lover of the printed page, first and foremost. I promise to defend your blog with honour and snarkiness.
Why should I be left in charge of the esteemed halls of Ninja Academy while you’re away? Dude, I totally got the place cleaned up, ushered the hookers out AND got your Faberge egg back from Guido the Killer Pimp the last time!
Oh… wait. I wasn’t supposed to mention that.
Um…. hmm… Valuable multiple perspectives (as writer, reviewer, bookseller), proven writing abilities, inherent bitchiness, and I thought the audition went well…
Why should you pick me? I’m a girl, I’m 31, I’m single, I write short stories, and I have cats…so it goes without saying that I read a lot. I like books. I like conch shells. I wear glasses, so it’s conceivable that we could start a small fire if all hell breaks loose while George is away and Bookninja guest bloggers form the last small enclave of civilization amidst the chaos raging all around us. I’m also a fan of the Oxford comma. If selected, I can promise sentences that are carefully, thoughtfully, and particularly crafted. It’s my sincere hope that guest blogging on Bookninja will open a new world of book-related debauchery that I’ll someday reminisce about in an interview…on Bookninja.
Plus the cats want me to write for Bookninja.
Dear Bookninja Editors:
The position of Bookninja Blogger, albeit temporary, is highly coveted. I understand that the zombified James Wood, lips still glistening with cerebrospinal fluid, has cast aside the skull of some luckless author to hunt and peck an application to join your black-clad critical assassins. From her Fortress of Inquietude in Wingham, Alice Munro has trimmed the nib of her fountain pen, ready to scribe her application onto a strip of parchment that will affixed to the leg of a red-eyed blackbird. Whereas my competitors can plead their cases with armies of laser-eyed limping robots, or the immense eye of a beached, sucking squid, I have no great qualifications, except that I love books, type tolerably well, and will deliver a cash bribe, via the Internet, provided cash can be transferred via the DVD drive of a recalcitrant lap-mounted difference engine.
There comes a time in a man’s life when he says to himself, “I want to be a ninja.” Now is my time. The past year has been very trying for me, what with the divorce, the house being sold, the baby in my ex-wife’s belly that wasn’t my own, the move away from the place I loved, the laptop I ruined a week after buying it, and so on and so forth and it got me to thinking long, hard, and deep – I want to be a ninja. So, perhaps a different career path is in store for me in July if I’m a guest blogger for Bookninja.
Sarah Statz Cords
I think I deserve to be chosen as a guest ‘Ninja during the month of July because I have to share my birthday with Thomas Friedman (July 20), and I feel that the universe owes me some small compensation for this indignity. The chance to post during the actual month of said indignity seems to indicate that fate wants you to choose me. Although, asking the universe to engage in this free trade, compensating me (handsomely; with t-shirt AND thong) here in the U.S. for a blog produced in Canada, makes me feel rather uneasily that perhaps I should re-evaluate the writings of Thomas Friedman.
But I’m not going to.
Sarah Statz Cords
Hello! My name is Julia. I’m a recent NYU grad, even more recently relocated to Vermont, and I’ve been writing all my life. I like to write stories about the weird and uncouth, such as voyeuristic monsters or girls who explode and put themselves back together again. I am not, admittedly, a published author…but that’s because I haven’t actually submitted any of my fiction for publication yet. I love to read, and my fascination with the book industry has mounted to a near-obsession. I would love to be one of your guest bloggers in July. Not only am I the wittiest banterer that ever bantered, but I also already have experience sifting through book news on the Net on a daily basis for my own blog, Lit Drift (www.litdrift.com). Aaaand! I am gainfully unemployed. Which, while this is more than a little unsettling for me, is good for YOU because this means I have all the time in the world to dedicate to Bookninja. I’m excited to write for a
blog I already visit regularly and enjoy–and I’m also excited for the skanky swag. I wear a size M thong, thank you.
Easy — I’m a full-blooded, toque-wearing Canadian who already does this all day on the New Yorker’s Book Bench. And you wouldn’t believe what we pass over sometimes…
I salute you, BookNinja.
The New Yorker
The Unknown Blogger
As your logical replacement, I plan to abuse my power as a tastemaker to advance an agenda of chaos and anti-establishment vitriol. Plus I will link to pictures and videos of kittens.
Do not deny me.
Men or women? I think we all know the answer to this: “sex”. That’s right, who gives a shit so long as we get some sex. Really, people, you’re kidding yourselves if you think there’s any other answer to any possible question. Sex. Done. Bookninja, of course, tackled this subject in depth just recently in The Magazine. Get your literary funk on and read it.
Women think that the Kama Sutra is an Indian takeaway. We are just not fluent in body language. Nor do we have the gift of the grab.
While men are ready, villain and able, a woman’s biggest fantasy in the bedroom involves discovering that her husband has picked his underpants up off the floor. On official Name/ Address/ Age forms, after it says Sex most women should write: Not if I can possibly help it.”
I know this because the new owner of the relaunched Erotic Review, Kate Copstick, is loath to allow too many female authors to slip between her covers.
In the press last weekend and on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme with me this week she stated that women seldom write well about sex because females “have an agenda, they complicate sex, they make layers, it’s conditional. And they lie as well.”
Apparently, it would be like reading a meat-lover’s guide written by a vegetarian.
Sounds like the arts news cycle has come back around to its yearly obsession with naughty writers. Yesterday it was announced that Wired guru Anderson had lifted large portions of his book from Wikipedia and other sources, and he explains himself and apologizes (sort of) below, while today we find a self-published authors suing one of vacuous chair weights of daytime yack-filler The View for plagiarising her book on celiac disease. (Could this second story get any less sexy? Maybe we can take it to the level of horrifically gross and find an Ann Coulter connection…?)
Obviously in my rush at the end I missed a few of that last category, which is bad. As you’ll note, these are mostly on the margins of the book’s focus, mostly on historical asides, but that’s no excuse. I should have had a better process to make sure the write-through covered all the text that was not directly sourced.
Also note the VQR is not saying that all the highlighted text is plagiarism; much of is actually properly cited and quoted excerpts of old NYT times articles and other historical sources. And as you’ll see, in most cases I did do a writethrough of the non-quoted Wikipedia text, although clearly I didn’t go nearly far enough and too much of the original Wikipedia authors’ language remained (in a few cases I missed it entirely, such as that short Catholic church usury example, which was a total oversight). This was sloppy and inexcusable, but the part I feel worst about is that in our failure to find a good way to cite Wikipedia as the source we ended up not crediting it at all. That is, among other things, an injustice to the authors of the Wikipedia entry who had done such fine research in the first place, and I’d like to extend a special apology to them.
So now we’ve fixed the digital editions before publication, and we’ll publish those notes after all, online as they should have been to begin with. That way the links are live and we don’t have to wrestle with how to freeze them in time, which is what threw me in the first place.
- That’s it, I’m not coming back—the UK has a prestigious award for poetry pamphlets
- No, seriously, fuck it… I’ll get an apartment and send for the wife and kids—poetry sales skyrocket
- More on Safran Foer’s foeray (see what I did there?) into fine art—I think he’s just adorable and many times the artist the arts pages press makes him out to be
- Carnegie Medal posthumously awarded
Daily Dose of Digital
- Date a Penguin (think about it, they’re always dressed nice and in the winter you can ride them to work—you could do worse)
- OUP to release bunch of dictionaries as iPhone apps—makes my nerd bits tingle
- Audio book sales sliding
- Granta launches digital short film project
- Twitter creator surprised by software’s use in Iran
KILL IT KILL IT KILL IT!!!!!!!!!
Guardian critic, Alison Flood—poor, lovely Alison Flood—seems set to dispair. Between half-wit Kanye West writing as a sort of retard’s Confucius and father-of-the-year Alec Baldwin being paid for parenting advice, who can blame her? Fear not, my dear Ms. Flood. We shall prevail. We shall do it in relative obscurity and with the indifference of humanity, but we shall prevail.
I’m not saying there isn’t always a slew of trash emerging from the publishing industry – a point ably highlighted by the then-Macmillan chief executive Richard Charkin in 2006, when the hardback bestseller list read 1) Jade: My Autobiography; 2) Jordan: A Whole New World; 3) Ugly by Constance Briscoe; 4) The Other Side of Nowhere by Daniella Westbrook; and 5) Is it Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? – but a host of recent signings and releases seem to be taking this to a new level.
Top 10 literary threesomes… browr. Bring it! Damn. The list is kind of dry, esp for a guy who wrote a book called “Ménage”.
4. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
A touching and honest depiction of an enduring love triangle between a gay man, a self-proclaimed fag-hag and their at times bisexual lover, set in New York during the Aids epidemic. A book filled with love, pain and compassionate humour from the author of The Hours, it was also made into a film starring Colin Farrell and Robin Wright Penn.
I’ve noted here a few times how the books coverage at the CBC online has drifted away, which is sad. It’s mostly CP and AP wire stories now, with very little original coverage of literature. There was a time I though CBC online was the best Canadian arts coverage around. Now I remember to go there in the morning only as an afterthought. Looks like I’m not alone: THIS! magazine puts the boots to the Ceeb and makes the case for a full time literary czar who’s paid by the public coffer to think books.
Book reviewing in Canada has never been strong and recently got worse. Last year, several papers, including the Toronto Star, reduced their book coverage by as much as 50 percent. The Globe and Mail’s stand-alone books section ceased to stand alone and was folded into another section of that paper. Last spring, CBC Radio cut the literary debate show Talking Books so Shelagh Rogers could tug her aural smile through some author interviews. Interviews do a good job of showing us which authors interview well. But they don’t tell us what makes novel X better than novel Y. Noah Richler’s book about CanLit, This Is My Country, What’s Yours?, repeatedly mentions that the 2002 Booker Prize shortlist was half-full of Canadians but never once concedes that only two people in Canada—the Toronto Star’s Geoff Pevere and the National Post’s Philip Marchand—make a living reviewing books.
As a nation, as a culture, we have only two salaries devoted to helping us choose where to invest our reading time and money. Two! (Note to bloggers: I said “make a living reviewing books” and “salaries.”)
Oh, wait, right, we’re supposed to think that the annual CBC Radio shouting match Canada Reads counts for book reviewing. After all, it allows Olympic fencers to give sound bites of literary analysis. Each year, a different aging Canadian musician gets a few minutes to champion one book and pooh-pooh four others. Not enough.
- S&S continues great American tradition of paying Cheney to lie
- Against all that good and holy, John Grisham films-barely-disguised-as-novels continue to get adapted to tv-shows-barely-disguised-as-films
- Quite possibly the coolest thing ever to be known for: one guy creates writing for entire language
- NEA hands out big dough for Big Read
- CBA hands out Libris Awards, part-time ‘Ninja Boyden wins author of year and book of year
- Attempts to ban a Sherman Alexie book in Chicago have failed
- Librarians capitalize on years of antisocial behaviour and squeezing things on to index cards by storming Twitter
- Another press goes e-book, thereby leap-frogging itself from 1999 to 2001
- Barnes and Noble appoints digi-czar
- Book Depository looking at NA market, Amazon head office starts hearing that submarine ping sound
- Wired editor’s new book possibly takes its own title, Free, too literally
“It was a very thick stack of paper, but I didn’t take it off the printer until about 40 other things had already come and gone,” said Lyon, who found the 116-page screenplay just after lunch. “At that point, it seemed to me like, if the author of Darkness Of Passion really didn’t want people reading it, he wouldn’t have left it sitting there.”
Added Lyon: “Knowing what I know now, I wish I’d just left well enough alone.”
Quotations mine. If I were on this panel in Frankfurt, I might object to the name… But I’m not. From Canada comes all-things-e champion Cory Doctorow, and Michael Tamblyn, who has recently succumbed to the dark side. Sounds interesting.
Andrew Savikas, v.p. of digital initiatives for O’Reilly Media, said: “Tools of Change for Publishing is helping shape the future of the publishing and media landscape, and bringing that message of change to the international audience attending Frankfurt is recognition that many of the opportunities for publishers are now truly global ones.” Thomas Minkus, press officer for the Frankfurt Book Fair, added: “Addressing the subject of digitisation and the new business models arising from it are key to the future success of our industry. Digitisation and the building of new business relationships are what draw people to Frankfurt.”
According to the organisers TOC Frankfurt will place the future of publishing into a meaningful context, offer practical advice about establishing new business models for paid content, and provide the networking opportunities to help publishers connect with like-minded participants from all over the world.
The IMPAC win gives Michael Thomas some breathing room. I’ll say. A busy schedule suddenly cleared by cash and fame.
short of being selected for Oprah’s book club, winning the International Impac Dublin Literary Award may be the best thing that could happen to a new voice like Mr. Thomas. The prize is worth 100,000 euros, or about $138,000, and coincides with publication of “Man Gone Down” in Britain. The announcement immediately generated inquiries from foreign publishing houses.
“I kind of wrote that in a fit,” Mr. Thomas, 41, who teaches literature and creative writing at Hunter College, said of the novel. “I had a bunch of jobs. I was teaching four classes a semester and two or three in the summer, and working construction and coaching soccer and baseball and trying to build my house. I don’t think it is something I could replicate.”
They ain’t all dag-numb stoopid, I’ll tell you whut.
The place doesn’t have the Olympian readers it once did. When former MPPs Sean Conway or Bob Rae took to their feet, for instance, they often had a book at hand, their remarks informed by a lifetime’s reading and leavened by the perspective the pastime brings.
Which is not to say Queen’s Park is without flashes of erudition and the comforting sensibility of the bookworm.
New Democrat Peter Kormos, when asked to speak at funerals in his riding, frequently draws on the simple verities expressed by Preacher Casy in a similar role in The Grapes of Wrath.
Liberal backbencher Shafiq Qaadri can effortlessly cite passages from The Complete Yes Minister that offer perennial relevance to the political condition. His colleague Leeanna Pendergast, an English teacher who studied at Oxford, has the immortal briefings of Keats or Milton at her fingertips.
From the PC benches, Ted Chudleigh is fond of wordplay and frequently frames his appraisals of Premier Dalton McGuinty – as McGuinty’s late father liked to do during his own brief turn as an MPP – in doggerel and verse.
Yep. I can’t really provide more context than what’s above. Like evolution, ironically, censorship will find a way.
Officials are taking a second look at the list after a post appeared on the American Library Association’s GLBT listserve that said, “The DC (District of Columbia) Public Schools decided to scrub their summer reading list of all GLTB related books. This seems outrageous. We’re thinking that if a parent writes a strong letter, it’ll be the most effective. I’m thinking it should go to the mainstream press, and perhaps someone in the school system too.”
The post was originally made by Jeanne Lauber, a librarian at the DC Public Library on the Yahoo! discussion group “Lezbrian”. She goes on the say, “Apparently the public library system told the schools which books were GLTB (not knowing why they were being asked) and the schools removed them.”
Upon seeing the post, School Library Journal contacted both the DC Public Schools and the DC Public Library, and spokespeople at both said they had no knowledge of the situation. Since then, both institutions have ignored calls and emails from SLJ.
S&S finds out the hard way that text message marketing comes with strings attached. One board room’s clever marketing ploy is another board room’s actionable harassment.
A federal appellate court has reversed a lower court decision that had exonerated Simon & Schuster of breaking telecommunications law when it sent cellphone text messages to promote Stephen King’s novel “The Cell” three years ago.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, ruled on Friday that the United States District Court for the Northern District of California had erred in ruling in Simon & Schuster’s favor in a class action suit brought by Laci Satterfield, a woman who objected to receiving an advertisement for “The Cell” in text message form.
The District Court had said that Simon & Schuster, whose Scribner imprint published “The Cell,” had not employed a so-called automatic telephone dialing system to send the messages, and that a text message was not a “call” as defined by federal law that prohibits automatic and unsolicited calls to cellphones. The District Court also ruled that Ms. Satterfield, in signing up for a ring tone service, had consented to receiving messages from “affiliates” of the ring tone provider.
Surprise, surprise! The Kindle has some sticky DRM that will screw you on how and when you can read or download the books you “bought”. Amazon blames the publishers. Remember, kids, at the flip of a switch you could no longer “own” any of your files from Amazon or iTunes. All it takes is legal loophole, a desire for more money, or a bankruptsy and you’re left with an expensive paperweight. And we all know those things never happen.
Amazon needs to work on its Kindle DRM policy, because the following story is ridiculous.
Basically, the way Kindle and the Kindle iPhone app are set up today, users have no idea how many times they can download a book, nor can they easily know how many devices can be used to read said book.
Making the situation even more confusing is the fact that the DRM information actually varies by publisher, and to find out how many times they will allow you to download a book you have to visit the legalese. Sometimes the info isn’t there, either.
The British Library has nabbed the archive of author John Berger. But what will the future “archives” of today’s young authors look like? In my case that depends on whether Google is still not charging me to check my email in 40 years.
The Harry Ransom Center, which was founded in 1957, has manuscripts and typescripts of work by Beckett, Greene, Waugh, Lawrence, Hemingway, Mailer and many others. It has a mass of literary correspondence, notebooks, ephemera, and tantalising first drafts. It is a wonderful monument to the Anglo-American modernist and post-modern movements.
Occasionally the HRC has been accused of “stealing” Britain’s literary heritage in the way the UK is accused of plundering the Elgin marbles. The truth is that, until the Harry Ransom Center and its rivals began to take an interest in 20th century literature, a lot of valuable material was in danger of going to waste.
Now, it’s not neglect that threatens the archives of the future, but technology. Today, some novelists still save and print different drafts, but many don’t. Others deliver their work as PDF files, eschewing print and paper altogether. So what will the archives of the 21st century look like, after a generation of word processing?
Is a trend developing that’s tugging the literary event away from the traditional “reading and bleating”? Toronto’s This is Not a Reading Series is a good example of this. Interesting people talking about books or interesting people droning from them? What do you prefer?
Recently, however, I have seen a shift away from the traditional model of book readings and for-and-against Oxford Union-style debates and towards a showier kind of speaking event, in which bookish ideas and themes are lifted off the page and into the stuff of rhetoric and performance. Recent highlights at the ICA have included the energetic and very funny Slovenian Marxist Slavoj Zizek talking about the continued relevance of Christ, Martin Amis naughtily puffing on a roll-up while fulminating about radical Islam and being heckled from the audience by the satirist Chris Morris, and the French novelist and filmmaker Virginie Despentes shocking British feminists with her laissez-faire attitude to pornography and prostitution.
It’s a trend that lies behind the festival TED (standing for Technology, Entertainment, Design), launched in 1984 by architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman, and curated since 2002 by former magazine publisher Chris Anderson. TED has established itself as the luxurious stretch limo of the global talks circuit – a kind of Davos for technology enthusiasts. Highly exclusive, each year it invites the people it holds to be the world’s leading thinkers to California to present short lectures, known as TED talks. Attendees, described as “leading thinkers and doers” on the TED website, must also apply to be invited, and typical conference membership costs $6,000 a year. TED’s motto is “Ideas Worth Spreading” and its roster ranges from Bill Gates, speaking about philanthropy, to Billy Graham on technology and faith. But no matter how famous they are, each speaker has only 18 minutes in which to present their case – just long enough, according to the organisers, to develop an argument but short enough to hold people’s attention and encourage an economy of language. No questions are invited, and the talks programme is broken up by live comedy, art exhibits and live music performances.
Until the judge makes her final ruling, Mr. Salinger’s fans will be spared the prospect of encountering Holden Caulfield, the ultimate alienated teenager, as a lonely old codger who escapes from a retirement home and his beloved younger sister, Phoebe, as a drug addict sinking into dementia.
But Holden may have bigger problems than the insults of irreverent parodists and other “phonies,” as Holden would put it. Even as Mr. Salinger, who is 90 and in ailing health, seeks to keep control of his most famous creation, there are signs that Holden may be losing his grip on the kids.
“The Catcher in the Rye,” published in 1951, is still a staple of the high school curriculum, beloved by many teachers who read and reread it in their own youth. The trouble is today’s teenagers. Teachers say young readers just don’t like Holden as much as they used to. What once seemed like courageous truth-telling now strikes many of them as “weird,” “whiny” and “immature.”
The alienated teenager has lost much of his novelty, said Ariel Levenson, an English teacher at the Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Holden’s home turf. She added that even the students who liked the book tend to find the language — “phony,” “her hands were lousy with rocks,” the relentless “goddams” — grating and dated.
Taya, an old friend of my son, has hit the media circuit to promote the book she published, Robert Munsch’s Braids. Here she is on Canada AM. I can’t believe how tall she is! Congratulations to Taya and her family.
Kindle DX can’t kill the newspaper, says this review of the plastic behemoth at Slate.
You can think of the DX as the Hummer of Kindles. The standard Kindle has a 6-inch screen, weighs less than a pound, holds 1,500 books, and sells for $359. The DX has a 9.7-inch screen, weighs a bit more than a pound, holds 3,500 books, and sells for $489. The DX, unlike the standard version, also has a built-in PDF reader, and it can be used either in portrait or landscape mode—the text shifts when you rotate it, just like on an iPhone. In every other respect, the big Kindle is the same as the small one: It has the same great E Ink display and the same instant wireless access to Amazon’s huge online store. And it’s just as addictive—you find yourself unable to put it down, buying and reading more books than you ever have before.
The DX also has a few obvious advantages over print newspapers. It’s cheaper than the national dailies—subscriptions go for between $6 and $15 a month, depending on the paper. You can buy a new DX and get a year’s subscription to the NYT’s Kindle edition for about $650, less than you’d pay for delivery of the paper. (The NYT, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post have all said they plan to offer subsidies for new Kindles to customers who live in areas where the papers don’t deliver, but details, so far, are sketchy.) The DX is also more portable than the newspaper, giving you the ability to carry several dailies at a time and to read on a train without elbowing your fellow commuters in the face. Plus, you can take the Kindle along with you on vacation, it never gets drenched in the rain, and your neighbors can’t steal it in the morning.
Granta’s new editor is like a five legged man at an ass kicking contest in an article at the Independent, saying print’s not dead yet, despite the best efforts of the Canadian government. (Give him a crowbar and he’s nearly Gordon Freeman. If you got that joke, I have only one thing to say to you: NEERRD! Actually, two things: how about some 1v1 HL2DM, CAL rules, bunny hopping and grav-nading allowed?)
Bad things happen up north in the winter, when no one is looking. Like last February, when Canada’s heritage minister James Moore gave a speech which poorly disguised the fact that his office was effectively preparing to clear-cut many Canadian journals. Under his directive a literary journal in Canada must now sell at least 5,000 copies each year to be eligible for government assistance. This may seem like an abstruse piece of bookish trivia, until one remembers that most journals are lucky to reach half that number of readers, and that this radical cutback in funding is happening in a country whose tiny journals supported the early work of Michael Ondaatje, Anne Michaels, and Alice Munro, let alone talented newcomers such as Pasha Malla.
But it’s not just Canada leading this retreat. Fearful capitulation has been the norm in so much English-language literary publishing over the last four years. Newspapers in the US and England have slashed book review supplements, and watched dumbfounded as readers upchucked their subscriptions.
Publishers are still buying multi-million celebrity “books” but grow antsy when it comes to signing up literary writers, the type whose fourth or fifth book (such as Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland) might someday underwrite an entire season. It’s always the end times in publishing, sure, but due to the anxiety over new technology and the comeuppance created by far too much corporate merging these are especially dour ones.
Yet it’s a great time for literary journals. Even though the word “novel” means new, the strictures of the market mean that a book cannot be too new, since something truly new will not be instantly embraced. Publishers keep hoping that will happen nonetheless.
Let’s make up. Your wifi is free and functioning. Two things I can’t say for that sneaky bitch Ottawa. I’m sorry we fought. Sincerely, George.
- Quill and Quire gets a new editor (Congratulations, Stuart!)
- Student’s essay wins him and his teacher a spot in Superman—so. damn. jealous.
- Novel about Papa goes for half mil (mental note: find old fat womanizer to write about… I can think offhand of at least one around here, but no one’s going to buy a novel with him in it…)
- Pearson steps up to drive Conan’s enemies before him
- Someone named “James Franco” to play Allan Ginsberg
- Tim’s going to have to change his name to “Winstonnes”
- Canada’s National Library stops buying paper books
- You guys scoffed, but I always suspected there is more to Jonathan Safran Foer
I’m in the middle of a breakfast meeting to develop a national strategy for fighting “the man”. I’ll hit the airport by about 2, so check back later to get your posts. I have about 10 tabs open, just no time to post.
Vive la Revolucion! Fight the Power! 911’s a Joke! And So Forth…
Today’s the last day to get your entries in to replace me for two weeks in July. The pot is some sweet Bookninja swag and a well-attended soapbox for two weeks. Five bloggers (yes, I’m saying I do the work of five people—believe it) will be chosen from the entries submitted and they’ll work out among themselves what to post and how for the two weeks I’m in Ireland working on my own project (can’t I have anything nice that just for me, people?)
So write up the reason you think you, Yeoman Redshirt of the Starship Bookninja, should have the helm and be captain for a day, and and I’ll post the finalists tomorrow from the airport. Then we’ll vote for a few days and pick the winners.
I’m in a meeting all day today here in Ottawa, so this is all you get. Rest assured, I’m fighting the power on your behalf whether you want me to or not, just not in link form today.
- Reading books that don’t exist
- Victory for Salinger
- Ee-chee-wa-wa! Autobiography of Warwick Davis (aka Wickett)
- British Library archives 19thC newspapers online
- Gloria Vanderbilt is 85, heavily surgically altered and prepared to write about sex
- Ulysses by Twitter—a whole new way not to read it!
- And reviewing by Twitter—via Bret Easton Ellis
One foot seven inches thick, over 5000 pages: the sum of human knowledge in a obscene waste of paper. Mmm.
Rob, a graphic design student from Brighton, Sussex, took two weeks to make the book as a statement about how people are now dependent on the internet for information.
He said: “I’m comparing the internet Wikipedia to a traditional encyclopedia by putting it in the same format.
“I wanted to make a comment on how everyone goes to the internet these days for information, yet it is very unreliable compared to what it has replaced.”
Dude, you’re a graphic designer, not an artist. Leave commenting to the pros and get that new letterhead on my desk by 3pm or you’re fired. Just kidding. I know some graphic artists who are every bit as talented and whiny as “real” artists. (I got a million of ‘em, folks.)
Moby rounds up reports on Amazoodle’s head hauncho’s comments, noting that what outlets see as the main story depends on the orientation of the outlet. Just proves Jeff has something for everyone, don’t it? Video included.
n a public interview at the Wired “Disruptive by Design” Conference — at an event subtitled “Having Confidence on the Edge” — Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos made some statements being deemed notable … although which statements were more notable than others depends on which sources you read first.
In a report at CNet.com, Caroline McCarthy goes right to Bezos’ comments about rival Google, noting that he was ” coy about exactly why he isn’t thrilled with Google’s attempt to forge its way into the digital publishing business.” His take-away quote: “We have strong opinions about that issue which I’m not going to share. But, clearly, that settlement in our opinion needs to be revisited and it is being revisited.”
And by that I mean been touched by a muse. And by that I mean non-sexually. Poets reveal where they’ve composed.
Benjamin Zephaniah did it stuck in a lift with a drag queen, Phillis Levin in a car on the side of a mountain, Patience Agbabi 20,000 feet above sea level in a spasm of guilt about her carbon footprint, and Kenneth Steven did it in his head during a sermon in church.
Poets don’t need a tranquil room of their own to write, the Ledbury Poetry festival has proved, by asking this year’s participants for the most unlikely physical location in which they have practised their art. On this sample they’re far more likely to be inspired by being in a car than at sitting at an orderly desk or wandering among the dancing daffodils.
For me it was standing on a dog-shit-strewn sidewalk watching a bunch of snails “race” across the concrete for the cliff of a curb.
Well, I’m on my way to Ottawa to fight the power once again. I’m in the St. John’s airport now, which has a very civilized policy of free wireless. That said, I have a four hour stopover in Halifax airport, my old enemy, rivalled only by Pearson Terminal 3, so I expect there’ll be a few more posts from there.
- In a coup for small press literary endeavours, Pasha Malla and Jeramy Dodds take the Trilliums
- Orpah’s third-tier assistant instructs web lackey to add a Toronto writer to a list Orpah will never read
- Robert Munsch gets a star on Canada’s Walk-of-Famous-in-Canada (I’m trying to get a piece together on the little girl who published a new Munsch story with illustrations from her class (she’s a friend of my son’s!), but I can’t find anyone near Guelph, ON to interview her. If you have a MAC or voice recorder and want to interview her (we pay!), .)
- Catcher sequel author says it’s not a sequel—should he be protected to write parody and satire?
- University presses under pressure to show profit
- For your next book, no matter what genre or what it’s about, you should probably stick a subtitle with the word “Obama” in it after the colon
- Amazon releases some source code for Kindle and this has BoingBoing’s Cory upset for some reason I can’t figure out this early in the morning at an airport
- Fake Pistols poster sussed out by use of Comic Sans font—f’n Sans ruins everything
- Hey, if you’re on Twitter and you think the situation in Iran is nuts, consider changing your time zone and location to Tehran to help confuse authorities there who are trying to sniff out and block dissidents on social networking sites by filtering for location—not sure how much it will help, but it sounds like fun!
You can read the long answer here at Inside Higher Ed. But allow me to summarize for you in a short answer: I don’t care. Especially because reading the article is like eating dry rice: surely nutritious, yet hardly exciting. (Hmm, how can we make an article about text books less-sexy? Let’s refer to students as “learners”.)
Our learners’ stories – which inspire me – are a critical feature in our strategy. They read like this: first generation to college and/or imperfect academic experience and/or limited financial resources. They have no unallocated money. They are also like every other contemporary young learner: they possess a different cultural literacy. Now add the Kindle, an eBook reader, to this learner profile. Amazon’s Kindle 1.0 arrived in late 2007 and, admittedly, it didn’t catch my interest right away.
Now it is “Kindle this, Kindle that” in the media, with the Kindle 2.0 (introduced in February 2009) and the new Kindle DX (introduced in May 2009 and will ship sometime in Summer, 2009). It is sold exclusively by Amazon.com, although there are competing models, such as the Sony Portable Reader and the BeBook. It has wireless connectivity almost anywhere via the Sprint 3G network. Connectivity is free. It includes a Web browser. It has a keyboard. You can send and access e-mail. You can browse the Web, although not nearly with the effectiveness and full screen display of a computer. It can be both an educational and a leisure tool. Importantly, it has many of the attributes of a digital communication tool.
My thought, then, was that the Kindle could be a viable addition to the digital cultural literacies of our learners. It aligns with two pedagogies: a more traditional one and a more contemporary pedagogy.
If you’re not asleep now, you will be shortly after you follow the link above. IHE…? guys, please?
In San Francisco, you can avoid library late penalties by writing your excuse creatively.
Recently, borrowers with overdue books were allowed to bring them back without paying fines – which max out at $5 per book – but they had to tell the library why they were tardy.
A group of second-graders said they were too busy rescuing marine mammals.
One woman said she just couldn’t part with a beautiful early 20th century book with good-feeling paper and plate illustrations. It looked so posh on her shelf.
Mental note: key to success in publishing is to find a successful title and rip spin it off for your own benefit. Got it. Mental note 2: try not to look as stupid as most of these spin off titles. Okay. Mental note 3: next poetry title will be “The God Intrusion” … Or “Confusion”. Or maybe “Exclusion”? No, wait Transfusion… yeah… (Subtitle to follow the colon: “Everything That Guy Said, But With Humble Class and Fewer Words”)
Capitalizing on popular titles has a long pedigree in the publishing industry. A well-turned phrase can give birth to dozens of offspring. Edward Gibbon’s monumental “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” first published in 1776, has inspired variants for more than two centuries. Similarly titled books have chronicled the slide of other empires (the British, Ottoman, Japanese, American, Freudian); institutions (the C.I.A., the Roman Catholic Church, the American automobile industry, Hollywood, The Saturday Evening Post, the British aristocracy, the American programmer) and eternal ideals (truth and love goddesses).
Awkward appendages have been added, as in “Camden After the Fall: Decline and Renewal in a Post-Industrial City (Politics and Culture in Modern America).” Publishers have demoted the phrase to a subtitle (“Chasing Aphrodite: The Decline and Fall of the World’s Richest Museum”). Punctuation has been added — “The Decline (And Fall?) of the Income Tax” — while humorists have intuitively understood its outsize appeal (“The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody”).
Sam Jordison (who still isn’t dead, people) has been working his way through Booker winners past and has come yet again to Coetzee. Now, it’s true: even though I like and respect Jordison, I have indeed called for his gruesome ass-ass-ination in the past, in particular when he dissed one of the greatest novels ever written, Disgrace. But while LaToMK (as it’s referred to in Klingon) is very good, it’s not Coetzee’s best. So I will allow him to be underwhelmed, if only he’ll be man enough to admit he was dead wrong about Disgrace. I said DEAD wrong, Sam.
Every so often Michael’s quiet existence is disrupted by the war he feels he has no part in. He finds himself in and out of prison camps, forced to work, and to answer questions he does not understand. So he defies his captors by rejecting the food they give him.
All of this is told in fewer than 200 pages. But if it’s a thin book, that’s not because Coetzee doesn’t have a lot to say, or doesn’t paint a vivid picture. It’s just that his prose is as lean and spare as Michael after months of bugs, pumpkins and sunlight. At its best his writing moves like a cracking whip.
But in spite of such pleasures, I have serious doubts. My main concern is Michael K himself. He’s more of a plot device than a real man, and we are constantly reminded how simple Michael is, and how little he understands . Yet he is able frequently to outwit those who would capture him, to work irrigation systems and grow crops, build shelters and – most jarringly – speak eloquently and ask endless searching questions.
- Charismatic BookNet Canada leader Michael Tamblyn is leaving to work for… ugk… sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little… Chindigo
- Amazon pays Toys R Us cool $51M to shut up about something
- Rowling sued for plagiarism
- Note to self: make a joke about how a chair Obama once farted on could get a book deal these days
- Survey of book clubs yields surprising somnolent results
- Bookslut’s prodigal son, Michael Schaub, points to this sad bit of good intentions: author “Sandra Cinenos” honoured with engraving… You know, once it’s in stone, it’s just easier for her to change her name
- Catcher sequel is “parody” says guy author famous for shitty joke books
- Debut author wins at Waleys (I just made that shit up, yo — feel free to steal it, Wales. It’s the least I can do in return for all this red hair you gave me)
- New study shows that 90% of our waking hours are now spent staring at glowing rectangles (pfft?! only 90? Amateurs.)
Okay, lots of good entries for the July ‘Ninja positions (read backstory here and here), but I have to set a deadline, so I’m going to say Thursday, June 18 is your last day to enter. All you need to do is about why you think you deserve to be chosen as one of five replacement Bookninjas to blog during my absence in July (while I’m in Ireland getting shitfaced reading and researching a book).
Come Friday morning I’ll try to post 10 or 15 of these entries here so people can vote over the next week for who they want and then we should have a set of deadly assassins ready to entertain and skewer in July. It’s all in good fun, and some of the entries are pretty entertaining. So why not throw one at the hoop. What the hell else were you doing in July? Why complain and pontificate to the usual flock of pigeons in the park when you can reach thousands of real live people right here!?
The National Post asked a bunch of prominent publishing types, including Wachtel, Marchand, Griffin, Fulford, and Rabinovitch (and at least one odd outlier), about which books they would recommend people take away as summer reading. What would your list include?
Summer Books: This may well be Canada’s last summer without a Kindle-type device, so make the most of it! Read in the canoe! Leave that book on the dock overnight! Spill lemonade on it!
Smith’s deal to exclusively stock Penguin travel guides is drawing howling criticism across the pond. Major authors (and supposedly former authors) are now joining the fray. Penguin’s just trying to let this blow over, but I suspect they’ll lost to the public outcry. Michael Palin comments:
“No guide is ever perfect,” Palin continued, “and the ideal situation is to pick and choose from all the alternatives available. If this is indeed their policy, I certainly wouldn’t go to Smith’s before my next journey.”