I’m sure it’ll be a while yet before we can escape the gravity well of the iPad singularity. So I’ll try to ghettoize them and switch to warp engines..
Reclusive author, dead at 91.
- Charles McGrath’s NYT obit
- Richard Lea’s Guardian obit
- Andrew Pyper in the Globe
- WaPo obit
- Independent obit
- Laura Miller’s Salon obit
- Fulford in the Post
- Slate on his “best” story
- NYer hauls out all his old stories the published (great link)
- The Onion even gets in on the action with a note perfect short piece
All ladies’ sanitary product joking aside, I wonder what Bostonians think about this thing. I mean, haven’t they been listening to iPads for years? iPad Nano, iPad Touch, iPad Shuffle… Anyway, the nerds have rutted themselves on the joy of the day: we are one step closer to living in a Star Trek movie. This is fine by me so long as the new Uhura is there. The Post folk have a nice little roundup that will give you the basic details for now. More to come in the days ahead, I’m sure.
Called iPad, it will play video, music and serve as an eReader, which Jobs announced will be called “iBooks”. As this is our books blog, let’s focus on the latter (for our tech reporter’s full report visit FP).
Looking poised to deliver a huge blow to Amazon’s Kindle product, Jobs did have a word for Jeff Bezos’s group: “Amazon’s done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle. We’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a little further.”
How fun would it be to be this guy?
Wait, don’t swear and go off to another site in a huff. This article’s actually interesting. When commercial mags dropped fiction, the lit mag was there to carry it (presumably like Jesus did for that guy who’s forever walking on the beach). But even as fiction has become a common pastime pursuit for the vocationally undecided idly rich (re MFA prgs), its viability as a commercial venture has fallen further than ever. Is it time to just give up on fiction in magazines?
One would think that the rapid eviction of literature from the pages of commercial magazines would have come as a tremendous boon to lit mags, especially at the schools that have become safe harbors for (and de facto patrons of) writers whose works don’t sell enough to generate an income. You would expect that the loyal readers of established writers would have provided a boost in circulation to these little magazines and that universities would have seen themselves in a new light—not just promoting the enjoyment of literature but promulgating a new era of socially conscious writing in the postcommercial age. But the less commercially viable fiction became, the less it seemed to concern itself with its audience, which in turn made it less commercial, until, like a dying star, it seems on the verge of implosion. Indeed, most American writers seem to have forgotten how to write about big issues—as if giving two shits about the world has gotten crushed under the boot sole of postmodernism.
In the midst of a war on two fronts, there has been hardly a ripple in American fiction. With the exception of a few execrable screeds—like Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint (which revealed just how completely postmodernism has painted itself into a corner)—novelists and story writers alike have largely ignored the wars. Even our poets, the supposed deliverers of “news that stays news,” have been comparatively mum; Brian Turner is the only major poet to yet emerge from Iraq. In this vacuum, nonfiction has experienced a renaissance, and the publishing industry—already geared toward marketing tell-all memoirs and sweeping histories—has seized upon the eyewitness remembrances of combatants and the epic military accounts of journalists. That, combined with the blockbuster mentality of book publishing in the age of corporate conglomeration (to the point of nearly exterminating the midlist), has conspired to squash the market for new fiction.
To save the body, sometimes you have to cut off the head. Michael Wolff thinks that the paywall gambit the NYT is implementing come 2011 is really symptomatic of poor leadership. Will staff even WANT to work there when estimates say the paper will lose between 90 adn 98% of its readership for the more important articles? Moby fleshes this all out with a couple other articles, including one showing other paywall newspapers failing dramatically.
Apparently the New York Times is going to start charging for online access. Putting aside whether this will work, the decision clearly means the Times has decided that the decade or so it has spent not charging was a bad idea.
We’re in one of those problematic loops. The same people who made the wrong decision upon which the company has tried to build its business—and that would be, foremost, the publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.—are now the people making this new opposite decision about how to build the business. (Apparently, Carlos Slim, the Mexican bandit and Internet genius who is the Times‘ largest shareholder, also thinks charging is a nifty idea—so good to keep him happy, I guess.)
In a more performance-based culture, when it becomes necessary to jettison the existing business plan—one in which management has invested the future of the company—you change management.
Not doing so means you’re pretty much managing by crapshoot.
The iSlate or whatever the hell the Apple tablet will be called (the iFollow) is being announced today, and the speculation about e-reading is through the roof. Gear-pig nerds and print media producers across the continent look like they’re jingling change in their pockets in unison for some reason. Hey, wait a min—ew….
“The iPhone was a harbinger,” said Trip Hawkins, a founder of Electronic Arts and now chief executive of Digital Chocolate, which makes games for cellphones. “When you have a device that is this convenient and fun for consumers to use, you can get a lot more people interested in paying for and engaging with the content. Big media companies should be all over this like a cheap suit.”
Indeed, they already are. The New York Times Company, for example, is developing a version of its newspaper for the tablet, according to a person briefed on the effort, although executives declined to say what sort of deal had been struck.
On Monday, The Times also announced that its media group division had created a new segment for “reader applications,” and named Yasmin Namini, the senior vice president for marketing and circulation, to head it. Executives said the timing was coincidental, prompted not by the Apple device specifically, but by the growing importance to The Times of electronic reading devices in general.
At least three publishers, Hearst, Condé Nast and Time, have also created mockups of their magazines for tablets, even before such devices have hit the market. “Apple upended the smartphone market with the introduction of the iPhone, and it’s likely that they will, if they enter the tablet market, lead the pace there,” said Thomas J. Wallace, editorial director of Condé Nast. He said that “2010 is going to be the year of the tablet, and we feel we are in a very good position for it.”
Sigh. You know I’m going to get one.
What’s peeled away to get to the fleshy, sweet news beneath.
- World’s largest book to be hauled out like sideshow freak for public indifference
- Michelangelo’s poetry about the Sistine Chapel
- Border’s Chief resigns: industry analysts nervous, giddy-with-something-new-to-gossip-about
- Aussie publishers slow on e-books
- Timed chapters: the latest solution to an invented problem
- UK’s TV book club grows, may stand chance
In a startling upset that sent shockwaves around the world (well, more like staticky ripples, but you get my drift—we live in a very small plane of existence, us bookish-types), a poetry book has beaten one of the few native English-speaking authors with funny marks over more than one of his vowels, Colm Tóibín, to win the … ergh… muffle… ahem… “costa”…ew… Book Prize. I haven’t read either book, but I’ll definitely order Reid’s today.
An intensely personal and moving series of poems written as a tribute to his late wife tonight won Christopher Reid one of the UK’s most important literary prizes.
Reid follows in the footsteps of Douglas Dunn, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney by becoming only the fourth poet to win the overall Costa book of the year award, picking up, in total, a £30,000 prize and an incalculable increase in readership.
Novelist Josephine Hart, who chaired the panel of judges, said his winning book, A Scattering was “good bordering on great,” and that when she said great she meant the likes of Yeats and Browning. “It is devastating piece of work and all of us on the jury felt it was a book we would wish everybody to read.”
How come reviewers aren’t being honest about boredom and books? It’s a part of life, so surely it’s a part of books as well. In fact, books and boredom were made for each othzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………
…boredom is woven into the very fabric of the literary enterprise. We read, and write, in large part to avoid it. At the same time, few experiences carry more risk of active boredom than picking up a book. Boring people can, paradoxically, prove interesting. As they prattle on, you step back mentally and start to catalog the irritating timbre of the offending voice, the reliance on cliché, the almost comic repetitiousness — in short, you begin constructing a story. But a boring book, especially a boring novel, is just boring. A library is an enormous repository of information, entertainment, the best that has been thought and said. It is also probably the densest concentration of potential boredom on earth.
Boredom, like the modern novel, was born in the 18th century, and came into full flower in the 19th. The Oxford English Dictionary’s first recorded use of “to bore” dates to a 1768 letter by the Earl of Carlisle, mentioning his “Newmarket friends, who are to be bored by these Frenchmen.” “Bores,” meaning boring things, arrived soon after, followed by human bores. By the time of the O.E.D.’s first citation of the noun “boredom” in 1852, in Dickens’s “Bleak House” (where it occurs six times by my count), everyone, or at least everyone in the novel-reading middle classes, seemed to be bored, or worried about becoming bored.
Boredom, scholars argue, was something new, different from the dullness, lassitude and tedium people had no doubt been experiencing for centuries.
If everyone has a book in them, they also now all have time to write it. Well, stab me in the fucking eye with a Bic. Could I please have a handful of salt to rub in these wounds while I work away in my goddamn DAY JOB?
EVERYONE has one book in them, the saying goes, but the problem – or the excuse – has always been finding the time to write it. No longer.
For practitioners of the latest literary trend, Lay-off Lit, time is what they suddenly have bundles of. The question now is how to weave it into literary gold.
Lay-off Lit joins Chick Lit, Dick lit (lovable lads), Miz Lit (desperate childhoods) and Pit Lit (tough types from northern mining towns make good) in a growing line of easy-definition genres making bookshelves bend and publishers grin.
But its emergence also reflects real cultural forces: Lay-off Lit is written by those whose response to being made jobless by the global financial crisis was to reach for a pen and finally write that book.
Last of the great Yiddish poets, dead at 96.
His poem about a sky filled with white stars was put to a plaintive melody and became a classic of Yiddish song — “Unter Dayne Vayse Shtern” (“Beneath the Whiteness of Your Stars”).
Mr. Sutzkever and his wife, Freydke, fled the ghetto with a group of partisans and were airlifted to Moscow, where their daughter Rina was born. The family made its way to Poland and Paris and finally to the British mandate of Palestine, where they remained after independence in 1948.
In Israel, where modern Hebrew was the muscular language, he devoted himself to keeping Yiddish alive even as the number of speakers diminished year after year. He founded and edited Israel’s leading Yiddish literary journal, Di Goldene Keyt (The Golden Chain), until it stopped publishing in 1995. And he continued to turn out Yiddish poetry, most notably “Lider fun Togbukh” (“Poems From a Diary 1974-1981”), which many regard as his masterpiece. In 1985, he was awarded the country’s most prestigious award, the Israel Prize.
- Texans continue to do nothing to improve slack-jawed idiots image: Brown Bear, Brown Bear banned from schools because of name mix up with (”anti-American”) Marxist author
- Liberals also riding Stupid Train to Dumbtown: bookstore demands English only conversations among staff
- Cali prudes worried Jesus is killing kittens ever time a child reads the dictionary: Merriam-Webster’s pulled because definition of “oral sex” is too graphic
(And no, none of these are Onion articles, unforetunately)
Reading might well have been among the last remaining private activities, but it is now a relentlessly social pursuit. Gaggles of readers get together monthly to sip chardonnay and discuss the latest Oprah selection. On fan sites for the Harry Potter and “Twilight” series, enthusiastic followers dissect plot lines, argue over their favorite scenes and analyze characters. Publishers, meanwhile, are fashioning social networking sites where they hope to attract readers who want to comment on books and one another.
Publishers are trying to use the increasingly social media landscape to stimulate a new reading culture. “I don’t think they are walking into bookstores in droves, so how do you get to teens and how do you get an author in front of a teen?” said Diane Naughton, vice president for marketing for HarperCollins Children’s Books, which has initiated enterprises including the Amanda Project, a Web site affiliated with a young-adult mystery series, and inkpop, where teenagers can upload their writing and receive commentary from peers and HarperCollins editors.
The concern with some of these sites is that users will spend their time talking to one another rather than reading books — just as some book groups spend more time drinking wine and gossiping than discussing the month’s title. Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer at Simon & Schuster, said executives were concernedwhen they started PulseIt!, a Web site where teenagers can read advance galleys and comment on them. “Did they just want to use our bandwidth to hang out and chat with each other?” Ms. Hirschhorn wondered. But by tracking page views on the digital galleys, she said, “what we found is that they are voracious readers.”
What’s next? More than one toilet per bathroom?
The NYT Magazine takes an (ironically?) in-depth look at the James Patterson publishing meat-grinder—a powerhouse operation that scoops up the literary equivalent of the hooves, lips, and assholes fallen between the slats of fiction’s abattoir kill-floor grating and churns and presses this slurry into the pink goodness of a nitrate filled foot-long street-meat called “the popular thriller”.
No sooner had Patterson established himself in the thriller market than he started moving into new genres. Kirshbaum didn’t initially like the idea; he was worried that Patterson would confuse his thriller fans. Patterson’s first nonthriller, “Miracle on the 17th Green,” published in 1996, did very well. That same year, Patterson wanted to try publishing more than one book despite Little, Brown’s view that he would cannibalize his own audience. In addition to “Miracle on the 17th Green,” Patterson published “Hide and Seek” and “Jack and Jill,” each of which was a best seller. From there, Patterson gradually added more titles each year. Not only did more books mean more sales, they also meant greater visibility, ensuring that Patterson’s name would almost always be at the front of bookstores, with the rest of the new releases. Patterson encountered similar resistance when he introduced the idea of using co-authors, which Little, Brown warned would dilute his brand. Once again, the books were best sellers. “Eventually, I stopped fighting him and went along for the ride,” Kirshbaum says.
Patterson’s vision of a limitless empire forced Little, Brown to reorder its priorities. Publishers have finite resources, and the demands of publishing Patterson were extraordinary even for a blockbuster author. Some Little, Brown editors worried that other books were suffering as a result. “To have one writer really start needing, and even demanding, the lion’s share of energy and attention was difficult,” Sarah Crichton, Little, Brown’s publisher from 1996 to 2001, told me. “There were times when some of us resented that. When Jim felt that resentment, he roared back. And he was too powerful to ignore.”
Crichton says she was continually surprised by the success of Patterson’s books. To her, they lacked the nuance and originality of other blockbuster genre writers like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. “Jim felt his ambitions weren’t being taken seriously enough,” Crichton says. “And in retrospect, he was probably right.”
Dude, you got to know that, no matter what your sales are, what you’re doing is irredeemable when even your publisher says you don’t have “the nuance and originality” of Dean Koontz. Your publisher. The person who invested hours and hours of her life in you. Tsssssss. Ooooooo. Buuuuuurrrrnnnn.
Some interesting things here in the mix today, instead of just the usual reader announcements and dire predictions of gloom and doom.
- On texting—”You may not like seeing the phrase “LOL — U R gr8” on the page, but it is common enough that you are likely to understand it. Why have such inadvertent “reforms” succeeded where generations of dedicated intellectual attempts have not? And will they last?”
- Preparing for the Apple tablet to save publishing—”There are electronic reading devices in existence already, such as Sony’s e-Reader and Amazon’s Kindle. But, publishers hope the unquestioned design talents of Apple will ensure that its latest product is the vehicle that enables them to transform their business models.”
- Kindle “bestsellers” are actually “bestfreebies”—”Most of the giveaways are of older titles by an author, with the idea that reading them will convert new fans who will go on to buy more recently released books. Even if only a small percentage of those who download a free book end up buying another one, “that’s all found money,” said Steve Oates, vice president for marketing at Bethany House Publishers, a unit of Baker Publishing Group, whose authors Beverly Lewis and Tracie Peterson had free titles on the Kindle best-seller list this week.”
- Ian McEwan is first mainstream author to sign e-deal with DevilAmazon—”Ian McEwan, the Booker prize winner, has become “the first mainstream British author” to sign an exclusive deal through Amazon to double the royalties he receives on his back catalogue, reports the Times.”
- The Millions interviews a book pirate, sad-yarrr—”He lives in the Midwest, he’s in his mid-30s and is a computer programmer by trade. By some measures, he’s the publishing industry’s ideal customer, an avid reader who buys dozens of books a year and enthusiastically recommends his favorites to friends. But he’s also uploaded hundreds of books to file sharing sites and he’s downloaded thousands. We discussed his file sharing activity over the course of a weekend, via email, and in his answers lie a critical challenge facing the publishing industry: how to quash the emerging piracy threat without alienating their most enthusiastic customers.”
Today is Lady Ninja’s Ninth Annual 30th Birthday Celebration, so it’s in her name that I dedicate today’s news of the agonizing disintegration of our industry.
- Kitty Kelly releasing Orpah bio (spoiler: it’s apparently revealed that when Oprah buys property, she also buys the neighbours on either side so she can have three houses—one with wicker furniture and sleek clothes for when she’s skinny, and the other two appropriately provisioned for when she’s not)
- Ursula Le Guin could be in one of those ads for supplements that keep older folk active, but instead of powerwalking and playign bacci ball, she’d be whupping Google’s ass
- Tesco, not content with destroying the book industry through the cancer of its business model, will now add insult to injury by making the books it discounts to death into films… ah… hear that smacking sound? That’s sweet idealism being forced to kiss the anus of economic reality
- In India books are big business
- Leading poets stage Haiti benefit reading in the UK
- Martin Amis gets continued press coverage for remarkable streak of being Martin Amis
Though it is largely a thankless profession, there is the occasional event that makes it all worth while.
Ninth-grade Collins High School English teacher Melissa Hamlin told coworkers Monday that the one moment she looks forward to all year, watching her students reach the end of Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery, is rapidly approaching.
According to new research in the UK, market share is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of fewer companies. Like Hachette, which took almost 17% of all sales. But the good news is, an alliance of indies (incl. Faber, Granta, Cannongate, etc.) got themselves into the top 5, beating out Pan Macmillan, et al for a 2.7% share of the market. Rock on!
While seven of the top 10 single publishers saw sales decline, the alliance—comprising Faber, Canongate, Quercus, Atlantic, Granta, Icon, Walker, Profile and their respective imprints—has continued to grow.
At the end of 2008, the alliance had sales growth of 12.5%, taking its revenues to £47.5m, or 2.7% of the market. But one year later this had grown to £57.4m or 3.3% market share. Pan Macmillan fell marginally, with revenues of £57.3m, or 3.3% market share. The difference between the two is £21,228, or just 0.002% in market share terms.
Will Atkinson, sales director at Faber, said: “We are the only good news story of last year.”
Aside from several articles at the Post that appeared yesterday, there are quite a few, and far flung, appreciations of Paul Quarrington showing up around the web. More to come, I’m sure.
- Dave Bidini remembers his friend (Post)
- Mark Medley surveys the reaction to the news of his death (Post)
- BBC announcement
- Vit Wagner calls him a “Renaissance man” (Toronto Star)
- Books editor Martin Levin remembers (Globe)
- Michael Posner highlights his multiple talents (Globe)
- Macleans mourns and includes video
I wanted to pull these articles out from the news roundup:
Amazon appears to be trying to lure authors to bypass traditional publishing structures and sell straight to the Kindle by offering a 70% royalty rate. I think this is great, except that Amazon’s involved, which instead makes it skeezy, even if I can’t think how yet. But what I can think of is how clear the slush piles will be! And 70% of $100. Man, that’s like 50 bucks or something! Score! I’m so definitely going to upload my fantasy novel there.
Also, Moby asks whether the publishers trying to punish Amazon for their monopoly by delaying the release of ebooks have done themselves any favours. Answer? No.
The risks here are manifold, but the central fear is that of monopsony—control of a market by a single buyer–wherein Amazon would emerge not only as the only retailer of e-books, but, eventually and far more dramatically, the only buyer. As a result Amazon would potentially be able to dictate prices (pushing wholesale rates below $9.99), build a near-monopoly market share, and–in a true innovation in Amazon’s selling of cheap e-books–make money. And there are of course other risks: parts of the book industry could disintegrate as a result of the quick rise of Amazon as a mega e-book retailer, leaving big publishers without their tried and true methods for creating print blockbusters.
But the large publishers’ chief strategy for preventing such a disaster—delaying of some e-books until months after their print release, a step taken by Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillian, Penguin, and Hachette–fails to account for something else altogether: that some consumers are very willing to wait. “Some 30 percent” of those surveyed in the BISG study said they “would wait up to three months to purchase the e-book edition of a book by their favorite author.” Some consumers have always opted to delay buying (paperback releases are the obvious example, but think also of second run movies, as well as cable and rentals, as well as bargain bin LPs). But here consumers have said that they are willing to wait three months, even for books by their “favorite” writers. One wonders how long such consumers would be willing to wait for these books.
Daily Dose of Digital
I have a question about this whole Google opt-out thing—maybe one of you folk who actually reads the emails sent to you by the Writers’ Union can help me out: If I don’t opt out on Jan 28, does that only cover the four books I currently have out, thereby allowing me to choose to opt-out or stay in for future books, or is this an expulsion-from-the-garden kind of scenario?
Years ago we were all happy to see the New York Times drop its paywall and join the century. Now that paywall is going back up. I’ll certainly be linking to fewer and fewer NYT articles if a full paywall model is adopted. There are plenty of places on the web to get the same news. I like going there because the content is reliable and literate. But if it’s not free, buh-bye. I guess ad revenue hasn’t worked out for them and they’ve either not investigated or ruled out other revenue generation models. Sad, but we’ll find another paper of record for the internet. Maybe the Guardian or the BBC? Moby has some excellent extended coverage of the issue.
What wasn’t mentioned in the article or in the press release is that the Times Company is struggling, with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and an increasingly complicated cast of creditors, including Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (which loaned the company $250 million, at 14 percent interest) as well as a $225 million sale-leaseback arrangement involving its corporate headquarters. And, as Michael Wolff has pointed out, these odd deals, and the general economic woes of the company, can be blamed squarely on Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., who is the same exec responsible for leading the pay-wall changes. Sulzberger has presided over a ten-year-long catastrophe at the Times that has come close to destroying the company. Most dramatically, Sulzberger spent some $2 billion dollars buying back stock (for which he paid more than $50 a share, nearly four times what it’s worth today). But he also ended the company’s previous experiment in charging for online access, Times Select, just before the advertising economy started to sink.
Opinion about the coming pay-wall is divided. Many industry analysts doubt the ability of the Times to charge for content and maintain their audience. Some readers have stepped forward saying they are happy to pay for content—because they value what the Times does. Others, like Wolff, have mocked the paper, saying that aggregators like his own Newser have the most to gain from the move since they can, after paying the Times‘ small subscription fee, simply summarize its expensive work and re-sell it…thus making advertising income without having the costs of staffing bureaus and copy desks.
But who’s to say that the Times plans on convincing all of its readers to pay? What’s much more likely is that the company will aim to persuade a small potion of its current audience, say 10 to 20 percent, to subscribe. This would put the site well into the norm of so-called “freemium” business models wherein 10 to 20 percent of customers pay for premium content and, in so doing, support a variety of other services.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
Beloved Canadian novelist, musician and screenwriter Paul Quarrington, dead at 56. I attended a fet for Paul at Harbourfront in the fall. If you hadn’t known of his diagnosis of terminal cancer, you’d have hardly known at all. Goodbye, Paul, from all of us!
Paul Quarrington, the multi-talented, award-winning Toronto author of “Whale Music,” has died. He was 56.
“He passed peacefully at home in Toronto in the early hours surrounded by friends and family,” said a statement on his website. “It is comforting to know that he didn’t suffer; he was calm and quiet holding hands with those who were closest to him.”
Quarrington, who was diagnosed with an advanced form of lung cancer last year, maintained a wide-ranging creative career over the past decades as a playwright, musician, writer and filmmaker.
He achieved perhaps his greatest success as a novelist and author.
Remember a few months ago when Bloomsbury got nailed for putting a white girl on the cover of a novel about a black girl? That, but with a fantasy novel this time. Must have something to do with space/time warps or something.
Magic Under Glass, a young adult novel, is the story of a “foreign” music hall girl, Nimira, hired by a sorcerer to sing with a piano-playing automaton. But she finds that a fairy has been trapped inside the clockwork automaton, and the two fall in love. Although Dolamore’s heroine is described in the book as black-haired and brown-skinned – and the official trailer for the novel shows her as such – the cover chosen by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books shows a white, brown-haired girl. The choice has provoked outrage from bloggers and commentators, particularly following the publisher’s decision (later reversed) last year to feature a white girl on the cover of Justine Larbalestier’s novel Liar, about a black girl.
Once again the Canadian government shows their contempt for the preservation of cultural heritage, this time by creating new rules that will effectively kill almost every literary magazine in the country.
While the overall aid-to-publishers budget is roughly the same as last year – $73-million – a single title can now receive only a maximum of $1.5-million a year. The only exception to this cap are agricultural publications such as The Western Producer, Canadian Cattlemen and Grainews.
Moreover, small publications with a total annual paid circulation of 5,000 copies or less are ineligible for any CPF assistance, with exemptions for aboriginal, ethno-cultural and official language publications.
The rules are part of the new Canada Periodical Fund that Heritage Minister James Moore announced last year would be replacing two funding streams; the Canadian Magazine Fund, which supported editorial content and business development, and the Publications Assistance Program, which subsidized the mailing costs. (For instance, it costs Maclean’s 80 cents to ship a copy to Newfoundland while for downtown Toronto it’s 38 cents.)
The motivation, Moore said, was to create a more streamlined, flexible and balanced system.
I’ve got the trifecta of parenting fubar: a sick baby, a six-year-old on a snow day, and a sinus infection. I therefore respectfully beg off on any real posting today unless everyone but me falls asleep. Set your RSS feeds. It could happen. To tide you over, read this horrific expose on the exploitation of animals in books for children: “Friendship Between Caterpillar, Horse Exploited For Cheap Children’s Book“.
Are you a fan of Narrative? They have an iPhone app now. And they’re doing some kind of reader promotion called iStory, which I assume has to be in the first person… Or written on a MAC. Or something.
Scary news for US Democrats today as Mass. bizarrely goes from Ted Kennedy to a guy in a truck. But I’m a fan of minority rule, so let’s see some wheeling and dealing to get things done. However, not all hope for the Senate is lost: one rogue fellow is plying the house back to humanity with the oldest of tools: poetry. (Well, aside from the stick inserted into a termite mound to fish the insects out to supplement a prehistoric protein rich diet. That’s more likely the oldest tool.)
Late one weeknight, in the midst of the heated run-up to the Senate’s vote to move forward with debate on health-care reform, Ward — Bingaman’s aide — tries to explain Gutman’s poetic appeal. Never one to linger on poetry before meeting Gutman, he suddenly goes all Gutman-y.
“You got three or four minutes?” Ward says. “I want to read you a poem.”
And he does.
All 61 lines.
It’s a Zbigniew Herbert work about five soldiers on the night before their execution. On first reading, Ward keyed on the lines about the horror of the execution:
Before the bullet reaches its destination
the eye will perceive the flight of the projectile
the ear record the steely rustle
the nostrils will be filled with biting smoke
a petal of blood will brush the palate.
Then he talked to Gutman, who took away something entirely different, remembering most the lines recounting the soldiers talking “of girls/of fruits/of life.”
“Huck talked about the richness of life,” Ward recalls. “For Huck, it’s that passion for every moment.”
- Major publishers sink money into digital programs like it’s 1999—oh wait, I mean, Major publishers sink money into digital programs 10 years after it would have been most advisable to do so
- UK SoA still advising authors on how to opt out of Google deal
- Agents, meanwhile, are all over the place on the issue
- US publishers throwing their lot in with Apple
Are you having trouble thinking of the word of God while you’re stacking the mangled, decomposing bodies of your family in mass graves and trying not to kill your neighbour for a cup of clean drinking water? No more! God is on His way to Haiti! And, in a twist straight out of the mythology books, He’s solar-powered!
As international aid agencies rush food, water and medicine to Haiti’s earthquake victims, a U.S. faith-based group is sending Bibles to Haitians in their hour of need.
Not any Bible. These are solar-powered audible Bibles that can broadcast the holy scriptures in Haitian Creole to 300 people at a time.
Called the “Proclaimer,” the audio Bible delivers “digital quality” and is designed for “poor and illiterate people,” the Faith Comes By Hearing group said. It added 600 of the devices were already on their way to Haiti.
Ah, the old “Care” philosophy: first save the souls of those who don’t know they’re already dead, then work on saving the sinful soul vessel.
The ridiculous pageant known as airport security, coupled with the apparently jelly-spined nerves of Scholastic publishing types, has killed a terror manual Robert Munsch had planned to use to train a hardened army of suicide bombing eight year-olds. This was an underpants level of emergency here, people. We’re at two minutes to midnight! Thank god for the quick thinking of our society’s censors. They, and only they, are fully aware how stupid our children, and their parents who are unable to provide even a modicum of context, are. I feel like singing our national anthem. Which one is it again?
“We were going to do a story on a little girl who smuggles all these dolls onto a plane, but then that thing happened in Detroit,” said Munsch. “Scholastic calls me up in a panic saying, ‘Hold everything, that kid couldn’t smuggle anything onto the plane, she’s lucky to get onto the plane herself.’ ”
Munsch said he had no problem with the change, and even chuckled about the coincidence of a story of his clashing with a real-life situation. He is now in talks with the publisher on his next project.
Diane Kerner, director of publishing for Scholastic Canada, said the book will be postponed for “a bit.”
“A lot of kids can’t take a bag on an airplane right now,” she said. “We have a lot of stories of Bob’s in play at any given time … I’ve got four complete binders – big binders – in my office full of the stories he’s sent me … so when something seems like it might not be right at this exact moment, we’ve got a lot of others to choose from.”
That ur-Emo, that Peter Pan of Goths, that guy who comes to Poe’s grave every year in a hood and leaves a bottle of cognac and a rose (and then probably goes home to rub himself against an unopened bottle of absinthe), apparently had an appointment with this hentai merch dealer the other day… Or he’s dead. Of consumption. For now…. Ancillary and parasitic emos, goths, and their allied tradespeople in the dramatic cosmetics industry are reportedly quite annoyed.
And since 1949 one such secret has attended Poe’s final resting place in Baltimore at the Westminster Hall and Burying Ground, where a black-clad figure has shown up annually early on the morning of Jan. 19, the author’s birthday, to raise a Cognac toast to his grave and deposit three red roses, along with the remnants of the Cognac bottle.
But the visitor — whose identity, or identities, has never been revealed, despite some claims to the contrary over the years — failed to show up this year for the first time, ending a strange crepuscular tradition and disappointing a crowd of more than 30 people who forfeited a good night’s sleep to witness the visitation.
Moby points to this blog we should all have in our readers: The “Blog” of Unnecessary Quotation Marks. It’s like Cakewrecks for pedants. Unnecessary quotes seem to be a viral sensation around here. I saw one at a farmers’ market that read “eggs”. Hm. I’ll stay away from those. It was the same in Manhattan where I once saw a sign in the subway that said standing too near the tracks was not “safe”. So what am I supposed to do here? And what’s this new “safe” concept people are starting to talk about?
What happens when a major publishing house that knows the outcome of the award leaves an intern at the Twitter button for the publicity announcement? I’m guessing that, for an English grad with no future in an industry they aren’t yet aware is completely unglamorous and perhaps even dying, it must be like your first scene in the porn industry. Pop! I am SO sorry, guys. Just gimme a minute here and I’ll… okay. I’ll go now.
Those who were watching the ALA webcast and watching Twitter simultaneously were also surprised by a tweet from @randomhousekids that said “WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead (@RebStead) won John Newbery Medal for excellence in YA!” – a tweet that was sent several minutes before the award was actually announced.
A sampling of the immediate reactions on Twitter:
kytwins: MAJOR LEAK! Big oops on RH! Anyone else see the Newbery winner :)
meghancnyc: Was excited about #newbery but kind of blah since RH leaked it already
ReaderNirvana: and the Newbery is . . . oh, we already know
That we tend to fetishize writers’ residences is a little odd to begin with. By and large the same fuss doesn’t get made over places where artists have lived, and yet you could argue that an artist’s surroundings have more bearing on his work. But birthplaces themselves are an even odder subcategory, certainly less interesting, in general, than the houses where writers have actually worked.
What a tangled web of folks have owned and/or wrung blood from the Holmes franchise. This kind of reads a bit like a story of a monkey paw that grants wishes, except that none of the people die gruesomely enough.
Though readers were not always informed of his compensation for, say, uncovering the truth of the Red-Headed League or bringing the Hound of the Baskervilles to heel, Holmes remains a valuable literary property.
His adventures in books, plays, television shows and movies continue to pay dividends for the heirs of his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes’s latest appearance on film, directed by Guy Ritchie, has sold more than $311 million in tickets worldwide, and on Sunday won a Golden Globe award for its star, Robert Downey Jr.
At his age, Holmes would logically seem to have entered the public domain. But not only is the character still under copyright in the United States, for nearly 80 years he has also been caught in a web of ownership issues so tangled that Professor Moriarty wouldn’t have wished them upon him.
- Philip Gross wins Eliot award for The Water Table (I’ve been meaning to read this… anyone?)
- Ian Brown wins BC book prize for non-fiction (BC still has more than $1.65 in arts funding somewhere? Huh…)
- Rebecca Stead wins Newbery Medal for New York story (Is this the one where the drug czar is executed in the window directly across from the little kid’s bedroom and then he has to find his way to the police station and safe house to give witness but encounters and overcomes the dangers of the sixteen crosswalks, piles of broken glass swimming in curbside chemical stew, and the scattered leering perverts in between? Awesome book. Especially in boards for the smallest children.)
In the world of science fiction and fantasy, the boundary between writers and readers is highly permeable. Arthur C. Clarke used to go to conventions wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt—an emblem of sci-fi fandom—and mingle with the crowds. Gaiman has adapted that relationship for the age of social media. He was one of the first writers to have a blog—he started it in 2001, and had, at last count, some 1.4 million readers—and he often posts to his Twitter feed a dozen or more times a day. He attributes his recent No. 1 débuts to his ability to communicate directly with his fans: he tells them to buy a book on a certain day, and they do. “It means I’m nobody’s bitch,” he told me. Through the blog and Twitter, readers have a seemingly transparent window into his process. “Writing Metamorpho. Trying to decide if broccoli is funnier than kohlrabi in a list of vegetables,” he tweeted several months ago, when he was working on a new comic. His next post on the subject read, “So far the broccoli/kohlrabi votes are pretty much evenly split. Although several of you think ‘rutabaga’ is funnier than either.” Eleven minutes later, he posted again: “(Okay. The line now reads) Java: ‘Java dreams of giant vegetables. Chiefly rutabaga and unusually knobbly turnips. But not broccoli.’ ”
To his readers, Gaiman projects an image that is at once iconic author-hero and cozy bookworm. “At the age of four, I was bit by a radioactive awesome,” he’ll say, by way of the origin story that comics fans are conditioned to expect. Sartorially, he is remarkably like Dream, who is one of his best-loved characters and the protagonist of a monthly series called “The Sandman,” which he wrote for DC Comics between 1988 and 1996. He wears black: black socks, black jeans, black T-shirts, black boots, and black jackets whose pockets are loaded with small black notebooks and pots of fountain-pen ink in shades like raven. Pictures of his book collection, which contains some five thousand volumes, circulate on the Internet, propagating brainy crushes: “How could I not fall for this guy??? Honestly . . . look at the sheer size of his . . . library!”
“Of course, he wants to become a character,” Stephin Merritt, who is the lead singer of the Magnetic Fields and a friend of Gaiman, says. “He’s not Salvador Dali, but he’s not far off. There’s no hard line between his persona and his private life.” Jon Levin, Gaiman’s film agent, says he recognized his client’s popularity only when he took him to a meeting at Warner Bros. and all the secretaries got up from their desks to ask for autographs. Someone said, “That never happens when Tom Cruise is here.”
Not against Kindle—against publishers who don’t release titles as ebooks. They’ve flooded the Amazon page for Game Change (previously mentioned here) with one-star reviews to protest the lack of e-dition. Hm. There goes the value of reader reviews.
The recently released book, Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin (published by Harper), was well-received by newspaper and online book reviewers for its examination of the 2008 presidential campaign in the USA and how Obama won the election.
So why does this book have a 2/5 star-rating on Amazon.com?
It has nothing to do with the content. Kindle users are upset over the delayed e-book release of Game Change and they have collectively given the book one-star ratings in protest.
No, it’s not a musical, it’s a way of life! Book piracy in Peru is rampant, at least as big as the trade itself there. So how are they dealing iwth it?
Book piracy exists all over Latin America and the developing world, but any editor with regional experience will tell you that Peru’s problem is both profound and unique. The combined economic impact of the informal publishing industry is roughly equal to that of their legitimate counterparts. Pirated books printed in Lima are shipped all over the country, and have been seen in Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and as far away as Argentina. Here, an authorised edition of a Charlaine Harris novel on sale in Lima bookstore underscores the gravity of the situation. The red sticker reads “Buy Original”.
Will the juicy sales legacy of Richard and Judy continue with the new show? Will the book trade be saved from certain death? Tune in next week to find out!
There was no sign of any concern among publishers at last week’s launch, where a number of heads of houses, including Random House’s Gail Rebuck, Bloomsbury’s Nigel Newton, Penguin’s Tom Weldon, and Ursula Mackenzie from Little, Brown turned out in a show of support. Speaking at the launch, Cactus TV m.d. Amanda Ross said: “We are aiming to continue the heritage of the last six years. There is something for everyone, we recorded our first two shows this afternoon and they were great fun.” Hamish Mykura, head of More4, said it felt like a “coming home” for the book club.
Pre-show media coverage and timely retail deals have already lifted the sales of the 10 titles chosen for the show. According to Nielsen Bookscan, sales lifts kicked in over the past two weeks for the 10 titles, with an overall 32% volume uplift from 29,631 for the week ending 2nd January to 43,180 for the week ending 9th January.
God, this episode is boooooooring. Honey? Where’s the switcher-thing?
Hee hee! It’s kind of funny, see? You, ha ha, novelists are, heh heh, just finally getting around to the humbling pain of, hoo hoo, being a poet. Oooh. Tee hee. That’s rich. But Stephen Elliot, who could have still lived the hotel-bound dream, chose to go a different way. An ingenious, tiring different way. Here’s his essay on how it went down.
I recently wrapped up a 33-city book tour. Originally, my publisher had a standard tour planned for me, bookstores in five large coastal cities. The early reviews were strong, and one friend, a successful author, encouraged me to do a larger tour. But the idea depressed me. “The Adderall Diaries” is my seventh book. I have my following, but I’m not famous. I didn’t want to travel thousands of miles to read to 10 people, sell four books, then spend the night in a cheap hotel room before flying home. And my publisher didn’t have the money for that many hotel rooms anyway.
I decided to try something I hoped would be less lonely. Before my book came out, I had set up a lending library allowing anyone to receive a free review copy on the condition they forward it within a week to the next reader, at their own expense. (Now that a majority of reviews are appearing on blogs and in Facebook notes, everyone is a reviewer.) I asked if people wanted to hold an event in their homes. They had to promise 20 attendees. I would sleep on their couch. My publisher would pay for some of the airfare, and I would fund the rest by selling the books myself.
I had no idea what to expect. When you read in people’s homes you’re reading to a reflection of their world. In Lincoln, Neb., I read in the home of Ember Schrag, a 25-year-old folk-rock musician. She plastered the town with fliers, but the people who came were all in their 20s and into rock ’n’ roll. In Las Vegas I read at Laurenn McCubbin’s house. She’s a painter, and her primary subjects are adult entertainers. Many people in attendance were either artists or sex workers or both.
The people who showed up for these events had usually never heard of me. They came because it was a party at their friend’s house and the friend promised to make those cupcakes they like or was calling in a favor. Nobody wants to give a bad party, and touring this way ensured there would be at least one person other than myself who would be embarrassed if no one showed up.
Still sounds like a poetry tour to me: couches, 20 people in attendance, the ridicule of others, and hookers. Wait, that last wasn’t supposed to come out. Ah… see, I ah….
Now that Britain has fallen, is there anywhere to hide? Scientists should study the spread of slam to predict future epidemics or perhaps even the spread of nanobots bent on turning the planet into a sloppy mass of grey goo.
These performances are slippery things, blending anecdotal stand-up with ferociously paced, fervent poetry. “Sadly, there’s still some of that stigma that people carry from school, that poetry is learning, or a kind of penance. I think not taking yourself too seriously, having the comedy, encourages people to relax a bit,” says Sutherland.
However, Wright insists that the shows are still really “about the poems”. This is evident in performance; while the contextualizing chat is certainly funny, it’s the poetry that packs the punches, and sneaks in some more poignant moments too.
“Quite a lot of comedy is about lying, about making that work; poetry is often about telling the truth,” suggests Wright. Their work, for all its verbal acrobatics and self-mockery, often contains moments of self-revelation.
But what sort of poems work live? And how do you bring them to life? I’m intrigued to know a bit more about the workings behind it, and Sutherland and Wright agree to give me a lesson in performance poetry.
“It needs to be a certain length,” starts off Wright. “If you do a poem that’s only a minute long, it’ll feel weird; you need to earn your applause.” Structure is important too: “stories, list poems and formal techniques are useful because the audience can relax: they know the structure; they can actually enjoy some of the stuff going on inside it,”
I kid. I kid because I love. To each his own. But please read the paranthetical open letter to the right. (Dear Charmingly-Accented Public-Shouting Guy, I reserve the right to still try to entertain people while being serious, lying in my poetry, and while using my lists solely for the purchace of groceries. All with impunity. Sincerely, George)
James Cameron ripped off Soviet sci-fi writers for movie about blue cat hippies, say pale, tail-less Russians incensed on behalf of author who doesn’t seem to have dollar signs for pupils.
A group of modern-day Russian communists based in St Petersburg has even called for Cameron to be arrested for “plundering” Soviet legacy, Pravda reported today. A message posted on the website of the CPLR (the Communists of St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region Organisation) claims that “the starred and striped scum” – ie Cameron – “did that because the late writers would not be able to sue him. Cameron’s place is in jail, not on the red carpet of the Oscar ceremony.”
The CPLR is wrong on one important point – only Arkady is dead. His brother Boris Strugatsky is still with us and could therefore sue for plagiarism if he wanted. But according to reports, Boris has shrugged off the similarities between Avatar and his work.
However, he hasn’t yet seen the Cameron film and some Russians hope he might change his mind when he realises how close the stories are. Given that Avatar is already the second most successful film in the history of Hollywood – and is quickly catching up with the all-time number one, Titanic, also by Cameron – a lawsuit could make him a rich man, though plagiarism is notoriously difficult to prove.
What you get if you put your plug into the wrong kind of peripheral device.
- e-Books taking their place in the realm of the statistically inevitable
- Kindle self-publishing now available in Canada (hopefully lighten the slushpile load?)
- Won’t somebody think of the children!!?? (Is texting killing our kids’ ability to communicate? Sigh.)
- Scribd adds OCR capability to copyright somethingsomethingGeorgenapnowzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Quebec author and UQAM co-founder Georges Anglade and his wife Mireille have died in the earthquake in Haiti. Please find some time today to donate money towards relief efforts there.
A former UQAM professor and his wife are confirmed dead and a former Quebec MP is missing in the earthquake that levelled most of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Georges and Mireille Anglade were trapped in the rubble of a home on Tuesday and did not survive. They became the second and third Canadians killed by the Caribbean catastrophe.