Here are a bunch of articles around the whole David Davidar scandal that is currently setting the normally sleepy and colleagial world of Canadian publishing afire. Okay, sorry, just “sleepy”.
- Before all the allegations became public, there was this
- A second (and brave) former employee is corrobarting the picture of Davidar as sexually inappropriate
- Especially with Davidar being long thought to be the next Grand Poobah of Penguin’s Planet Earth division, you can really see the story of his fall from grace getting some international legs
- Bookseller rounds up some links
- Davidar is still vowing to fight it all, though
I’m in Ottawa for the next few days to do some work for my day job. So long as the Lord Elgin’s internet connection holds up, you shouldn’t notice much of a bump, except maybe limited posting on Friday. I tell you this, because I want you to pray for me, wandering the streets of one of Canada’s most confusing cities. I somehow get lost every single time I’m here.
- Rare Book Thief: Night of the Tweed Jacket
- Elderly woman, not Sarah Palin, busted for garnishing books
- Neil Gaiman caught in comic book battle royale over Spawn
- Little, Brown has new suspense imprint
- UK gearing up for fight to save PLR
- Is the HC making a comeback against the TPO?
- Got some extra cash, daddio? Jack Kerouac’s typewriter goes up on the block
- Neil Young, graphic novelist
Man thanks his younger self for hoovering up whatever titles were available in an orgiastic fit of churchyard book buying. Turns out his kid-self’s openness led to some great re-reads over the years. But how to get them all read? And how to manage the ever-growing collection? Pleasant article to read.
My book buyer follows a simple rule that I set for him long ago. No book should cost more than 25 cents.
You might also be surprised to learn that my book buyer is a teenager. Sometimes his purchases reflect youthful enthusiasms like science fiction and the novels of John Fowles. But he never fails to throw me the occasional literary curveball, like the collected plays of the Belgian avant-gardist Michel de Ghelderode or Eugene Burdick’s prescient 1964 novel “The 480.”
Every time I read one of the jewels that my book buyer has picked out for me, I want to call him up and thank him. But I can’t. Nor can I submit any special requests. He’s been out of business for some time.
My book buyer, you see, is myself.
I made these purchases three decades ago when still in my teens and in the initial phase of my love affair with books.
Droog wasn’t just all drugged milk and horrific violence, you know. He had hopes and dreams and unrealized music compositions, just like the rest of us.
For all his pontificating on other subjects and people, the greater proportion of Burgess’s own output remains unknown. Will Carr, events co-ordinator at the new centre, describes him as much more than the author of A Clockwork Orange: “He was a polymath and provocateur, author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic.”
“The problem with Anthony,” says Roughley, “is that he wrote so much. About 30 novels including fictional biographies, novels written in poetry, historical novels and a considerable number of science fiction novels.”
He didn’t consider himself a writer until the 1950s, would have preferred to be remembered as a composer and said his greatest creative moment came in 1975, when listening to one of his three symphonies being performed by a full orchestra.
Biswell considers some of Burgess’s music to be very good, but says it falls short of Burgess’s own high opinion of his compositions. Of his other writing, Earthly Powers was nominated for the Booker in 1980 and his books on the lives of Shakespeare, Marlowe and Keats were well received.
- UK book industry trying to band together to save the libraries, which are the whales of our sector (no, indy bookstores are California Condors—get it straight)
- Shakespeare library curator leaving
- Harlequin expands into untapped dour bodybuilders in fur hats and stern hos in headscarves market
- UK kids authors safe from rubber glove treatment, for now
- The Hitch profiled at the SMH
- Hot shit author Justin Cronin profiled at the Post
- Douglas Coupland is not content with just hawking commercial products… That bold mofo is done rolling up his sleeves and makin’ ‘em too:
Amazon is introducing a new set of “Levels of Service” for distributors, commensurate, obviously, with how much you’re willing to pay—beginning with the Handjob-for-Jeff basic plan and moving through Fellating-The-Beez Gold Access and culminating in the best service for the Look-at-Jeff-Upsidedown-Double-Ankle-Grab Platinum Sparkles Plan. Amazoodle hawk Moby has the call.
So how, exactly does it work? “Under the plan, distributors/publishers that offer the best terms of sale to Amazon will get more access to more services and Amazon personnel, thereby getting more promotion. Access won’t come cheap, however, with the move from the ’standard’ level to ‘platinum’ costing ‘multiple points,’ one source said.”
And oh yeah, there’s one other problem: “It is considered unlikely that clients at most distributors will be able to afford the top level of access.”
What are the rich reading this summer? Not fiction or poetry, they’re not even considered. Sigh.
Every June, for the past 11 years, J.P. Morgan Private Bank has sent its clients its Summer Reading List, a list of 10 books specifically chosen for the bank’s rich clients. It is a kind of book club for billionaires, without the tedious monthly get-togethers over cheese and chardonnay.
To create the list, JPM bankers from around the world submitted more than 450 nonfiction books for consideration. A committee then chose the top 10, based on each tome’s ability to “capture the essence of our clients’ personal and professional lives.”
Granted, the wealthy are leery of any advice from their private bankers these days. Still, the Summer Reading list has become so popular with clients that the bank is doing a winter reading list as well.
Minotaurs. Run with it.
In a desperate effort to find a trendy new fantasy subgenre to succeed the ebbing vampire craze, Razorbill Books executive Graham Childress decided this week to throw all his professional weight behind a new series of novels featuring minotaurs, the bull-headed, human-bodied creatures of ancient Greek mythology.
Two weeks ago, I saw a review on our Weddings page of a book called “Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality” (HarperCollins). Without much thought, I blurted out in a tweet that it sounded pretty stupid to me.
But that started a surprising e-mail conversation with one of the authors, Christopher Ryan. It’s interesting not only for what Mr. Ryan says, but as an example of the way patient authors can profitably engage even caustic critics
The National Post has no print books coverage to speak of, but has a great and vibrant web presence with The Afterword. This week they jammed (what Post eds consider) a quarter’s-worth of books coverage into the weekend paper and called it a section. Some good stuff in here that I’ll let you explore on your own time. Shitty paper, great books website. Marchand on Grisham, Weirsema and Wachtel on summer reading, Bloomsday coverage, and a bunch of reviews and interviews. Like a whiff of the heyday of book sections carried on a wind from the past… sigh….
There are too many writers with too many books and many of which are now self-published or straight-to-digital. In the future the response to what’s unwanted will be silence, which is already the response to most of the web. Makes sense.
Walk into any large suburban bookstore and you’ll find tens of thousands of books to choose from, more than you could possibly read in an entire lifetime. Head on over to your friendly neighborhood online superstore and you’ll find hundreds of thousands more. We’re already faced with (literally) millions of options when it comes to choosing a book. And guess what: faced with all that choice we are still able to find the ones we want to read.
No one sits around thinking, “You know what the problem with the Internet is? Too many web pages.” Would you even notice if suddenly there were a million more sites on the Internet? How would you even know? We all benefit from the seemingly infinite scope of the Internet and we’ve devised a means of navigating the greatest concentration of information and knowledge the world has ever seen.
So what’s the big deal if a few hundred thousand more books hit the digital stores every year? We will find a way to find the books we want to read, just as surely as we’re able to find the restaurants we eat at and the movies we want to see and the shoes we want to buy out of the many, many available options.
- Amazon on track to spend $2M this year on anti-tax lobbying
- Andrew Motion doesn’t like the idea of volunteers running British libraries
- Liberries under seige in New Yawk too
- Rare Bibles are lucrative business these days (presumably because Jesus will hang out exclusively with whoever has the most of them on hand when he gets back)
- JK Rowling’s neighbours apparently unaware that she’s J-fucking-K Rowling
- Methinks the iPad doth protest too much
- Peggy doc premieres in Oz
- A bunch of links around that lascivious Penguin/Davidar story that makes my stomach churn for everyone involved, including the good, likely stunned, folk of Penguin Canada:
Way to go Toronto Star! You’re now the Toronto Sun!
PW’s terse piece
It’s indy booksellers’ week in the UK and a surprising amount of the activity doesn’t revolve around sobbing into cupped hands on the steps of a shuttered shop. Take heart, you orphans of history!
There are currently around 1,200 independent bookshops in the UK, but trading conditions have been difficult as stores struggle with competition from Amazon, supermarkets and an increasingly cut-throat high street: last year 102 shops closed. “This is a tough way to make a living,” said the Booksellers Association’s head of membership services, Meryl Halls. But she pointed to statistics from Nielsen BookScan, which showed that although last year consumer spending on books fell by 1% in volume overall, the independent sector saw a 1% increase in volume over the same period.
“It’s a difficult high street, but the independents that are running their businesses professionally and well are certainly holding their own,” said Halls. “The upside of being an independent bookshop is that booksellers can make their own decisions quickly – if something isn’t working, they can change it. They can put themselves out there to find new authors, and they no longer think they have to compete on price. Instead, they compete in different ways.”
The Globe is reporting that David Davidar was forced from Penguin under a sexual harrassment lawsuit. I did NOT see that one coming.
Just days after announcing David Davidar was resigning from his post as CEO of Penguin Canada to pursue other endeavours, the company now says Davidar was “was asked to leave last month,” and that a former employee has filed a sexual harassment suit against him.
The suit was filed Thursday by Lisa Rundle, according to a media release issued this afternoon by Yvonne Hunter, vice-president of publicity and marketing for Penguin Canada. The release says Davidar, 52, “was asked to leave the company last month” – he was named Canadian president in 2007 – “and his departure was announced Monday [this week].”
“Mr. Davidar will play no further role in the company,” the release said.
Stop linking to things. Laura Miller hypothesizes that hyperlinks (yes, they were originally called that, kids) are cheap crutches that dull your work. Or you can do what I do and just fire off a few snappy comments and then send people on to whatever long piece has or doesn’t have hyperlinks in it.
A sentence that’s written to include hyperlinks won’t necessarily make as much sense without them. You write differently when you know you can’t dodge explaining yourself by fobbing the task off on someone more eloquent or better informed. You have to express what you want to say more completely, and you have to think harder about what information ought to be included and what’s merely peripheral. (Knowing what to leave out is as important to writing well as what you include.) Furthermore, I’ve found that if I want to make my paragraph of end links meaningful, I need to include some additional text to explain what the source pages are and why the reader might find them valuable.
All of this adds up to more work for the writer. However, I’d argue that this work is precisely what a nonfiction writer is supposed to do.
IT may well be that the writers singled out by The New Yorker have already written lasting works. But it is a mistake to assume that because they are young — at least according to our culture’s ever expanding notion of youth, when 40, or even 50, is “the new 30” — they must be poised midway up Parnassus, with higher achievements to come. The trouble, perhaps, is that this definition of “young writer,” which owes less to literary considerations than to the intersecting categories of sociology and marketing, muddies our understanding of how truly original, enduring fiction comes to be written. Worse, it threatens to infantilize our writers, reducing them to the condition of permanent apprentices who grind steadily toward “maturity” as they prepare to write their “breakthrough” books.
“Writers are not scholars but athletes, who grow beer bellies after 30,” as Updike (then well into his 30s) wrote in “Bech: A Book.” He was jesting, but only in part. Not every major fiction writer is a natural, but each begins with a storehouse of material and memories that often attenuate over time. Writers in their youth generally have more direct access to childhood, with its freshets of sensation and revelation. What comes later — technical refinement, command of the literary tradition, deeper understanding of the human condition — may yield different results but not always richer or more artful ones.
Wired wonders if we need a paperback sized/priced ereader to really heat up the competition. People, I don’t care. I just want to own my books. It could fold out into a fort with a sleeping bag or be the size of a gnat and serve cocaine-flavoured ice cream—makes no difference to me if I have to live with locks keeping me from doing whatever I want with my books. So I’ll keep buying them in paper, instead of renting pixels, until then.
E-books are, in both price and size, still in their hardback stage. Author, blogger and all-round clever thinker Seth Godin thinks it’s time for a “paperback” e-reader, a cheap Kindle which would be completely bare bones but also put e-books into the hands of just about anyone who can read.
Godin suggests that Amazon forget about a touchscreen and 3G connectivity and instead make a mass-market Paperback Kindle, a device so simple that it could be sold for just $50. Who wouldn’t buy that? Especially if it was made without that giant, ugly chin for the keyboard and instead was small enough to fit in a back pocket like a real paperback.
The Bookseller is reporting that UK publishers are already gearing up for Christmas deals with sellers, which is apparently a “tortuous” process. Is this something North American publishers are going through right now? How bad is it?
Publishers are gearing up for Christmas negotiations with retailers, with the downturn in the 2010 market set to put yet more pressure on sales directors to hit targets in the festive season.
Retailers are understood to be asking for higher sums in promotional spend once again this year, following a general pattern of a 15%–20% rise year-on-year over the past few years.
Asda’s top promotion price this Christmas is thought to be £70,000 on ratecard, though a spokesperson for the retailer would not confirm or deny the figure. One publisher put the overall retail spend needed to launch a top-flight Christmas title at £150,000. Another predicted “tortuous” negotiations for the weeks ahead.
One day he’s not in the news, then: poof! He is. It’s fret-tastic.
“We are getting dumber every day,’’ he said. “We are really, literally, forgetting how to read. We have yet to grasp the fact that consuming cultural junk is completely destructive of democracy.”
He said that society had “forgotten how to be still” and was “intolerant of any news that is not entertaining”.
Carey, 67, now a resident of New York, made the comments during a speech to close the Sydney Writer’s Festival. The author of 11 books is almost certain to be on the longlist for the Man Booker Prize when it is announced next month, with his latest novel Parrot and Olivier in America.
Many are tipping him to win an unprecedented third time, following his success with Oscar and Lucinda (1988) and True History of the Kelly Gang (2001).
While I generally agree with him, it’s also a moot point for me. Why bother getting worked up? It’s like complaining about the weather. Here’s an aphorism for you: Stupidity is society’s shitty weather. There’s nothing you can do about it.
- The Large Hadron Collider pop-up book is deliciously ironic, considering what skeptics think the giant machine will eventually do to us..
- New Tweenlight book does basically nothing for indies
- “Glee” books coming, natch
- Way to sell books on iPad? Same as in store: deep discounts
- German Peace Prize goes to Israeli
- Britain acquires Ballard archive
- Spain dives deep into ebooks
- Ask not for whom the bell tolls… it tolls for Paperchase (rats seen fleeing Borders again)
Stephen Elliott thinks so. The comments to this post are also useful.
I’m not going to name names here but there is something seriously wrong with the way author copies are allocated. Publishers are charging authors 60% of the cover price, no matter how many copies they order, and the books are non-returnable. Every bookstore is getting a better deal than that. Anytime a bookstore orders a copy or two if they pay 60% the books are returnable. For a large order, say over 250 copies, a bookstore will usually only pay 45% of the cover price. When you get up to 1,000 copies the wholesale price goes down to 40%.
No matter how many copies authors buy, with most large publishers they can never get books for less than 60% of the cover price, non-returnable. The result is that authors are discouraged from selling their own books.
How long do you expect your books to last? A great article looks in the relationships between hardcover, paperback and the march of time. I’m a stickler about the books I collect, but I should start also thinking about my own books. My third book is falling to pieces already. It was printed by an inferior printer with inferior ink on inferior paper with an inferior binding, but it’s hard to tell what happened…
I recently pulled my copy of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient down from the shelf for the first time in some years, and was surprised to discover that the pages had gone yellow. I’m used to thinking of yellowed pages as a sort of pre-existing condition among books of my acquaintance, something I’d expect to find in the 1965 editions of books picked up in second-hand stores. But for all that, the yellowing and increasing brittleness weren’t entirely unreasonable: my copy of The English Patient is a trade paperback, and while trade paperbacks occupy something of a gray area in terms of paper quality—typically nicer than a mass market paperback, but in most cases not as nice as a hardcover—one doesn’t really expect them to last forever.
Hardcover books are a different matter. I’ve been buying a fair number of first edition hardcovers recently, one every two or three months. I happen to know a few people who are in the habit of publishing novels and I feel very strongly about supporting writers, so I often find myself buying first editions at readings and book launches. This is an expensive habit, and I tell myself that if I didn’t know the authors in question I’d just wait for the paperback, but I can’t say that the expenditure bothers me—hardcovers are beautiful, and they look so solid on my shelves. They look like they should last forever.
But a few months ago I purchased a book that rattled this assumption. An acquaintance published his debut novel with one of the major New York houses, and I acquired it at a book launch party. When I picked it up in the store, I was startled by how light it was: a hardcover with the weight of a paperback. Later, flipping through the book at home, I discovered why this was. The paper was so thin that I could read the words “Chapter One” through the title page. For all intents and purposes, the book was printed on tracing paper.
I had essentially purchased a disposable first edition hardcover, and it made me a little angry.
Neat idea: psych doctors-in-training being asked to diagnose the mental illnesses of fictional characters based on their actions in books—like Jay Gatsby suffering from acute douchatosis, that kid in Yann’s boat suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and all Ayn Rand’s characters being Republicans.
The case of two troubled teens captivated psychiatrists at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine for months. Eleven residents and four attending psychiatrists read up on their symptoms and met once a week to discuss them.
They stipulated early on that Edward was, indeed, a vampire. But since he was supposedly 100 years old, not 17 as he appeared, his adolescent moodiness suggested arrested development.
As for Bella, her self-loathing and willingness to sacrifice herself made her especially vulnerable to a dangerous relationship. Treatment plan: cognitive behavioral therapy to counter her automatic negative thoughts.
So what if the patients weren’t real? Analyzing the neuroses in the popular “Twilight” saga was such an effective teaching tool that the 12-week elective, dubbed “Therapy Bites,” was presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s conference last month.
Small publishers are concerned about the Guardian’s new levy on entering titles for its First Book Award, with several saying they “can’t afford” to take part this year.
Publishers are now expected to pay ￡150 plus VAT for each book entered, with a maximum of three permitted. The deadline is 16th July. A number of smaller presses The Bookseller spoke to said they would not be entering. Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley, who scored a shortlisting for Matthew Hollis’ Ground Water in 2004, said he could not afford to: ”All the smaller publishers are really concerned.” He added: “It really affects poetry . . . For fiction [an entry fee] may be part of the promotional budget but not poetry.”
Author Daniel Allen Cox just won an eBay auction for a real Andy Warhol print of Marilyn. Now he’s going to burn it because the people in charge of the Warhol estate are suppressing Andy’s “gayest” works. Unless….
The de-gaying of Andy Warhol is nothing new. Even Andy did it. He wrote whole books on the topic by writing whole books excluding it. But it’s not the 1970s anymore. Yes, queers still get bashed in North America, but they can also buy dildos with their grandma.
Yet, since making my purchase, I’ve learned that Andy’s queerest and dearest works are still being suppressed from public viewing and critique. Why is his explicit gay art omitted from nearly every major retrospective of his work, leaving us only the homoerotic tongue in the poster triptych for the Fassbinder film Querelle? Why are there no drink coasters, calendars and umbrellas touting his Torsos, Sex Parts or Fellatio screenprints?
Let’s get to the negotiation.
I’ve been assured that the Andy Warhol Foundation has certified Marilyn 1293/2400. If you want to stop me from destroying it, then revoke its certification. Create a fake fake. Label it “denied,” thereby giving more cultural space to the cocks, balls and perineum fuzz that Andy loved so much.
In other words, you have to erase a little piece of Andy in order to better preserve him, to fulfill the Foundation’s very mission.
Twisted, isn’t it?
- Orange Prize goes to Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna…
- Surprise! Apple knows what you’re reading/doing on your iPad… good thing it won’t let you look at pr0n
- Could the slang term “hella” officailly represent a… well… hella big number?
- The WaPo lists the top books for years 1990, 1980, 1970, etc., giving a nice picture of how things have changed (or stayed the same) over time
- Farley finally featured on famous footpath
- Obama to write forward to Mandela’s diaries
- Atwood will headline next year’s Frye Festival
- This week’s NYT article wherein they are able to claim both a business and an arts article by examining whatever minutiae of ereader competition wasn’t examined in previous weeks
- First quarter down in Canada
- On the Can: The best of the best for your toilet tank
The only female candidate for the Oxford poetry prof has withdrawn—and if she had a ball, she’d be taking it with her. Citing what she sees as institutional favoritism toward one candidate, a certain Geoffrey Hill, Paula Claire has bowed out. Huh? I don’t get this. See below.
She is protesting over the fact that she was described as a “performer and artist” in Oxford’s announcement of the 11 candidates for the post, omitting the fact that she is a poet. The “last straw”, she said, was a flysheet published last week in Oxford’s Gazette, the official journal of the university. supporting Hill. It called Hill, the frontrunner for the election, “quite simply a giant” and “the finest living poet in English today”.
Describing the flysheet as “repugnant” and “deliberately written to devalue all other bona fide candidates”, she said today that the university was supporting Hill for the post “and the rest of us are ignored as not worthy to be in the set-up”. “I’m very happy to say that he is one of the finest poets in English today – I agree with that. But not the finest,” she said. “That is grossly over the top. They shouldn’t allow it ahead of the election – an election is supposed to be a fair system and until the voters come in everybody’s equal.”
Um, can I just interrupt here for a second to say: Wut? Everybody’s equal until the voters decide? Then how do the voters decide? Draw names from a hat? It’s not “everybody-gets-a-trophy” day. It’s a race based on merit, one in which there will presumably be a range, however subtle, of offerings. And calling Hill the “finest” may be a matter of opinion, but it’s by no means “grossly over the top”, especially in an author-centred flyer. Seriously, there are books of poetry published every day that call the unknown, bumbling journal-hacks within “the finest voice of their generation”… Now THAT’s grossly over the top. But I digress…
Oxford said any candidate for the post was entitled to publish a flysheet in the Gazette, providing they had the support of 10 members of the university’s congregation (dons or senior administrators). Other candidates, including Beat poet and musician Michael Horovitz, South African poet Chris Mann, Anthony Burgess’s biographer Roger Lewis and Guardian journalist Stephen Moss, had yet to do so.
Sooooo, to recap: anyone can do what’s been done, but she didn’t, or no one did for her, and now she’s leaving because she’s sure she won’t win. Can’t win, don’t try. Got it.
The NYRB looks at the marginal shortcomings of the iPad, but concedes the machine and its software is a work in progress.
For all its supposed interactivity, the iPad is a surprisingly static machine, especially for reading. And for the moment, few other universities are showing signs of embracing it for student use. One of the guilty pleasures of an actual, ink-on-paper book is the possibility of marking it up—underlining salient passages, making notes in the margins, dog-earing a page. While it’s true that some electronic book platforms for the iPad allow highlighting (it even looks like you’ve used a fat neon yellow or blue or orange marker), and a few—most notably Kindle and Barnes and Noble but not iBooks—allow you to type notes, they barely take advantage of being digital. It is not possible to “capture” your notes and highlights, to organize, compile, arrange, or to print them out. Until there is a seamless way to do this, marginalia will remain sequestered in the margins, and the promise of electronic books will be unrealized.
Anne Michaels’ Fugitive Pieces was chosen by young readers as the best of the Oranges, but the adults chose Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. The award, which Shriver is saying, in a Martin Amis-style fluffing of her coverage, is as stupid and invalid as George W. Bush’s Yale degree, comes the day before the 2o10 Orange winners will be announced.
When Lionel Shriver won the Orange Prize for Fiction, she thanked organisers unreservedly for the recognition that had eluded her for decades; she had written seven unsuccessful novels and her eighth had been rejected by 30 publishers before becoming a word-of-mouth hit.
Nowadays, her relationship to the prize is far more critical. Having scooped the main prize in 2005 for her novel about reluctant motherhood, We Need To Talk About Kevin, she has today won another accolade for the same book by being voted by the public as their favourite Waterstones/Orange “winner of winners” over the past 15 years. But, rather than gushing forth thanks, she complained that the multiple nature of the Orange Prize was “dumb” and diluted the impact of winning.
Speaking to The Independent about the shortcomings of the publishing industry and multiple prizes by the same organisers, she said: “I’m critical of the Orange people on this front. The more prizes you give, the more meaningless they become. It’s a stupid thing to have more than one winner; it’s deluding and it means nobody wins.”
- Bunch of unpublished Stieg Larsson mss found
- Euro court rules against Turkish censorship of gay title
- Oxford race winding down: here come the manifestos
- World Book Day report looks both bood and gad
- Demi Moore set to publish memoir… I, for one, can’t wait to read this rivetting account of… of… what exactly was it she did?
- In PR and Communications news…
Some big changes coming to Canadian publishing, with Susan Renouf leaving M&S and David Davidar stepping down from Penguin. Even bigger news is the revelation that Davidar won’t be replaced, and Penguin Canada will now report directly to the US office. Post. Colonial. Agnst. Rising…….!
The Canadian division will now report to Penguin U.S. chief executive officer David Shanks.
“The move is designed to ensure Penguin’s North American companies can respond swiftly and decisively to strategic opportunities offered by new digital channels and new forms of content wherever they arise,” a company press release stated. “Penguin Canada’s commitment to Canadian writing, through its highly successful domestic publishing program, will not be affected by this reorganization.”
Phew. That assurance has totally assuaged my fears and doubts about the death of Canadian publishing and the rise of American cultural imperialism. Much like the Globe’s promise not to axe the Books section six months before they did.
Writers need to take better care of who they assign as the executor of their literary estates. I am currently involved in the estates of two old mentors of mine, rest their souls, and I have to say, it’s smooth sailing. But it’s also poetry, so there’s no real money involved.
All writers strive towards immortality, but if you are among this aspirational group, it’s prudent to bet on falling short. That is: you will die, and if your works are any good, and thereby profitable to concerned parties, a melodramatic and legalistic morass may appear sooner than any volumes of collected works. Yet many writers fail to make adequate preparations regarding their literary estates, and the two most common mistakes seem to be: 1) no will (or a legally dubious one); and 2) leaving inept, rapacious family members in charge.
I’m pretty sure Martin Amis keeps a file of index cards on which he jots ideas for causing stinks in the press when he feels his name’s not enough in the news. If I’m right, he’s just dipped into said folder recently. If I’m wrong, he’s probably just shooting off his yap without thinking because people hang on his every word. Regardless, I kind of agree with him.
Amis, 60, has never won a major literary award such as the Man Booker or Costa, despite his popular appeal. The closest he got was when his novel Time’s Arrow was shortlisted for the Booker in 1991.
“And these are the novels which win prizes, because the committee thinks, ‘Well it’s not at all enjoyable, and it isn’t funny, therefore it must be very serious.’ ”
“But I think it’s footling and it’s a mistake and it’s a false lead.”
He made his unprompted attack on literary awards while speaking at the Hay Festival in Wales.
The writer said: “There was a great fashion in the last century, and it’s still with us, of the unenjoyable novel.
However, he said such an approach was wrong because literature should reflect the humour found in life.
During an hour-long talk he also criticised the work of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett – considered by many to be among the most influential writers of the 20th century – for not being entertaining enough.
He said of the penchant for rewarding “unenjoyable” novels: “It all started with [Samuel] Beckett, I think. It was a kind of reasonable response to the horrors of the 20th century – you know, ‘No poetry after Auschwitz’.
A new report seems to suggest that digital piracy may not affect revenues after all….Have at it, folks.
A new report has questioned whether piracy adversely affects revenue, and whether copyright remains a justifiable system of protectionism.
The report, released yesterday (Monday 7th June), was commissioned by the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (SABIP). Although it did not not specifically consider books, the report argued that what data was available–from the music industry–was “insufficient in order to make a case for copyright”.
Report author and academic Christian Handke said: “Even the most fundamental questions (for example, the effects of unathorised digital copying) have not yet been documented exhaustively. Those issues that have attracted considerable attention – e.g. the effect of file sharing on record industry revenues – remain contentious and further research seems desirable.”
- Heather Reisman adds to her Monty Burns resume of bumbling, cartoonish evil by joining Bilderberg group (if you don’t know what that is, don’t go down the rabbit hole of reading about it–your day will be shot)
- I’m pretty much ready to throw my three month old iPhone in a puddle just to excuse the ridiculous excess of getting the new one… which will have iBooks on it (meh)
- Pulp and paper industry in US to release, then “harvest”, Triffids… Run for the hills!
- London Mayor wants Harry park in London, not Disneyland
- Sick of mp3 slick? Books on vinyl might do the trick (#poetftw)
- FSG to publish collection based on NYer’s 20 under 40
- It can finally be told: Murray’s rule the poetry world…. s’truth
- Stephanie Meyer’s new Tweenlight book, which is selling 79 copies A MINUTE, is temporarily online for free! STAMPEDE!!!
- Wondering where to spend your summer vacation? Try planning around a lit festival, you huge, zitty nerd
- WH Smith needs some bookish viagra healin’\
- Did a simple, albeit late, popping of his cherry lead EM Forster to give up writing?
You heard me.
Language isn’t just what you speak, maaaaaaaan…. It’s WHO YOU ARE…! Do you see? It’s as clear to me as the wavy Elmer Fudd standing behind you with the blackface and exploded shotgun. Come here and let me hold you, man. I love you. No, I really LOVE you. Naw, you don’t understand, man. I LOVE YOU. Why do you have angel hair pasta for eyebrows?
One implication of this emerging line of research is that each language offers a unique window on the world and, so, each time a language dies – as is occurring increasingly frequently – a unique perspective perishes with it. That goes some way to explaining why so many societies exert efforts to preserve their languages against the onslaught of globalisation, and why language itself can be an issue for conflict, as demonstrated in places such as Belgium and Canada.
Another implication is that learning more than one language provides you with different ways of seeing or interacting with the world, a benefit that is often overlooked in monolingual societies such as the UK. For example, the multilingualism of Britain’s new deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg – in addition to his multicultural background – may partly explain his greater openness to Europe and the outside world. Of course, this has also been used as a stick with which to beat him by those who feel threatened by anything vaguely foreign.
Does the American appetite for guns, boobs, and sparkly vampires mean there will be fewer film adaptations of literay novels?
As the adult-skewing drama becomes an endangered species at the studios, is there any hope for that venerable subcategory, the literary-book-to-screen adaptation?
Such books — with their focus on characterization and ideas rather than plot — have proven awards fodder for decades, in both book and film form. The pics also helped give studios and audiences a balanced diet by offering quiet and thoughtful fare that was uplifting, enlightening — and entertaining. Pics such as “Greed” and “All Quiet on the Western Front” drew from literary sources in the early days of film. In the last few years, there has been a wide range of such prestige projects, including Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River,” Laura Hillenbrand’s “Seabiscuit,” Michael Cunningham’s “The Hours,” Ian McEwan’s “Atonement,” Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men” and just about any manuscript Scott Rudin gets his hands on.
But what was once a steady stream of bigscreen book adaptations has become a trickle. As one exec wryly notes, “Clint Eastwood is single-handedly holding up the adult drama at the studio level.”
In wringing the last drops of peas and gravy-flavoured water from any dirty dish towel, it’s always best to find new ways to squeeze. So in that spirit, we have a wrung yet another greyish, vile, filthy drop of newness from the three-year-old how-ebooks-are-just-changing-everything J-cloth, by worrying from the perspective of book designers.
That book you are holding in your hand while sitting on the bus or waiting on a friend in a cafe is more than just a work of literature. It’s a mini-advertisement for who you are. The book jacket tells others instantly that you are a Jane Austen kind of girl, a Dave Eggers kind of guy. It can reveal your taste in music, the things you worry about, or the recipe you will be trying for the very first time when you get home.
But with the launch of Apple’s iPad in Australia, along with the fleet of dedicated electronic reading devices — the Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iLiad — already available, that subtle broadcasting of tastes, preferences, even personality will begin to disappear. E-readers display no cover image or title. You will be identifiable only as an early adopter, an e-reader kind of person.
But what does the march of technology mean for book designers? For decades their alchemical arrangements of font, colour and image have been responsible for hooking bookshop browsers to a book. We see a cover – or just a book spine – among thousands of others and something about it implores us to pick it up. Once held, the cover, the weight and texture of the paper, the cut of the pages — even its smell — does the rest.
- Stephen Fry crowns most beautiful “tweet” at Hay festival… Canadian wins it!
- Bret Easton Ellis writes sequel to “Less Than Zero”, presumably titled “A Bit More Than Less Than Zero Which Could Be Either Zero Itself or Some Imaginary Number Closer to Zero Than Was Previously Anticipated”
- Joe Shuster Awards handed out
- The New Yorker explains its process for picking 20 writers under 40 (my fifth grade math tells me that 20 under 40 is actually “2″, but apparently they were lying to me)
- Steve Jobs: Apple’s dying Taiwanese slave workers have pool, should shut up
- Sonia Gandhi trying to non-violently stop “fictionalized” bio…
- Tweenlight one-off fails to capture top spot
- AAUP moves to NetGalley
- Where’s Spot? Well, since it’s been 30 years, I expect Spot, and two generations of his offspring with that spaniel bitch nextdoor, are probably “gone to live on grandpa’s friend’s farm” (ie, rotting in the flower bed)
- Even John Grisham admits he’s been writing for underdeveloped people all along
- The Wilhelm Scream of Print: Everyone on TV has been reading the same newspaper for years
Has e-vanity publishing become a more viable challenger than paper vanity to traditional publishing models? I don’t know. But what I do know is, every time Richard Nash talks I just get a dreamy look and my face and think, Sooooo cooooooooooool….
It’s unclear how much of a danger digital self-publishing poses to the big publishers, who still own the industry’s big hits, whether e-book or print. Many big publishers dismiss self-published titles, noting that most disappear, in part because they may be poorly edited and are almost never reviewed.
But some publishers say that online self-publishing and the entry of newcomers such as Amazon into the market could mark a sea change in publishing.
“It’s a threat to publishers’ control over authors,” said Richard Nash, former publisher of Soft Skull Press who recently launched Cursor Inc., a new publishing company. “It shows best-selling authors that there are alternatives—they can hire their own publicist, their own online marketing specialist, a freelance editor, and a distribution service.”
Why buy college texts when you’re just going sell them back anyway? Book renting is the way to go, as is evidenced by this company’s massive growth.
The textbook rental market’s fast growth is drawing investor interest and larger competitors, as start-ups seek to dispense with the need for students to purchase expensive books each semester.
One player in the market, Bookrenter.com Inc., said today it raised $10 million in Series B financing led by Norwest Venture Partners. Existing investors Storm Ventures and Adams Capital Management, which provided the company’s $6 million Series A round in November 2009, also participated.
Bookrenter was not looking to raise new funding, but it received a preemptive term sheet from a venture firm in March, so it decided to raise the round, which closed quickly by the end of May, Chief Executive Mehdi Maghsoodnia said. Revenue has grown 300% year over year since inception, he said.
Are review sections disappearing or shrinking because they can’t turn a profit? Or is it because they can’t compete with material originating on the web? Why are weekly and monthly magazines, despite producing a bounty of thoughtful essays and reviews about books, generally left out of the conversation about books coverage? And finally, as for quality books coverage— by which I mean not reviewery but scrutiny, the deliberate, measured analysis of literary and intellectual questions without obvious or easy answers—can such coverage originate online and also find a loyal audience there?
The newspapers that many of us, or many of our parents, grew up reading were a product of the sweet spot of the twentieth century—the postwar boom. By midcentury, the occupation of newsgathering had been thoroughly professionalized, and during the following three decades abundant ad revenue enabled newspapers to expand their newsrooms and to increase the quality and quantity of news coverage. Between 1964 and 1999, the volume of news published by some metropolitan papers doubled. The dimensions of the news changed too. As Leonard Downie and Michael Schudson explained last year in the Columbia Journalism Review, during the boom years newspapers began to gravitate away from a longstanding preoccupation with government and with pegging coverage to specific political events; papers still worked those beats, but they also began to cultivate “a much broader understanding of public life that included not just events, but also patterns and trends, and not just in politics, but also in science, medicine, business, sports, education, religion, culture, and entertainment.”
Haaretz is doing that thing it does regularly where it lets a bunch of famous novelists take over the paper for a day. Unfortunately, Israel is also doing that thing it does where it brutally oppresses an entire people for fear of a few. Margaret Atwood, Milan Kundera, Jamaica Kincaid all participate, though this year the pieces have a political edge to them that is undeniably jagged on the Israeli side.
Canadian Margaret Atwood, who accepted the Dan David Prize earlier this year under protest from Palestinian groups, used her space in Haaretz to write about her political perspective on Israel, and “the Shadow” she found when she visited there.
“The Shadow is not the Palestinians. The Shadow is Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, linked with Israeli’s own fears. The worse the Palestinians are treated in the name of those fears, the bigger the Shadow grows, and then the fears grow with them; and the justifications for the treatment multiply.“
Jessa points to this Shalom Auslander column in which he describes the specifics of a universal problem: every day sucks, especially when you’re just trying to write a damn sentence. Auslander is one of the funniest writers I know, and one of the nicer guys I ever met.
Every morning, as the sun pours through my bedroom windows and spills across my bed, I awake, the promise of a new day stretching before me like a stupid thing that leads to some goddamn whatever.
Ugh, I think.
My head aches. My neck is stiff. My knees creak. But every morning, I make my way downstairs, and, rain or shine, cold or warm, I step outside, throw a leg over my bicycle, and head off for a ride.
It is the only way I have of clearing my head, of sweating out of myself whatever toxins I now regret having put into myself the evening before, of just, for a few blessed moments, not thinking. For a precious little while, every morning, I can forget about books, and writing, and the past, and the present, and the future; freedom, a true freedom, the freedom to be nowhere, to think of nothing but my breath and the road and the pedals under my feet.
And every morning, the same fucking dog chases me.
- Lily Allen and Bridget Jones, a match made in he(aven)(ll)
- St. Martin’s, seeing some key indicator the rest of us don’t, preempts journalist’s book on BP… I wonder what they have up their sleeves….
- Travel books being ashed out
- Hyperion and Glamour magazine hash out a scheme whereby Hyperion will pump articles-fluffed-up-to-books directed at Glamour’s readership… And here I thought they were already doing that… (First title: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Recipes to Get Everything You Want Out of Life)
Half my hopeful prediction came true: Karen Solie won the Griffin last night. Louise Gluck, however, did not, with the international half of the pot being taken by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin of Dublin. Congratulations to all nominees and winners.
Solie, who lives in Toronto with her husband, the poet David Seymour, didn’t have much chance of winning the first time she was nominated for the Griffin Poetry Prize, in 2002: her debut collection, Short Haul Engine, was up against Governor General Award-winner Eirin Moure and ultimately lost to Christian Bök’s Eunoia, one of the most successful poetry collections of the past decade.
Speaking with the Post onstage in the minutes after she was declared the winner, Solie admitted she never thought she’d be back in the same position: “For one thing, it was so extraordinary, that whole thing. I really felt and appreciated it as a once-in-lifetime thing, for this to happen, and to have it happen again totally melts my brain. But I don’t think anybody ever writes or paints or designs buildings with a goal of being nominated for a prize. I don’t think that ever happens. It’s kinda of useless to the process of making anything. So when this kind of thing comes along, it’s encouraging and it’s spectacular.”
Solie was also a judge for the 2007 prizes, which went to Charles Wright and Don McKay.
Kids who grow up surrounded by books are smarter. Looks like the boys will solve both the world’s cancer and Jersey Shore problems. (Note to Laura Miller: no article or argument is helped by citing USA Today. Ever.)
A study recently published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility found that just having books around the house (the more, the better) is correlated with how many years of schooling a child will complete. The study (authored by M.D.R. Evans, Jonathan Kelley, Joanna Sikorac and Donald J. Treimand) looked at samples from 27 nations, and according to its abstract, found that growing up in a household with 500 or more books is “as great an advantage as having university-educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father.” Children with as few as 25 books in the family household completed on average two more years of schooling than children raised in homes without any books.
Lit god Kazuo Ishiguro defended the use of cliché as a literary tool at Hay recently. This may hit some people like a dagger in the heart, but I find it a breath of fresh air.
John Mullan, Professor of English at University College London, said phrases like “to tell the truth” and “to be fair” were expressions usually banned from literary work, and the sort of language footballers would use.
But Ishiguro defended his use of the phrases, saying: “I find a lot of what footballers say is poignant and beautiful. Perhaps I am alone in this.
“I find phrases like ‘to be fair’ and ‘at the end of the day’ very deep. ‘At the end of the day,’ is full of stoic ruefulness. It’s very close to reflecting the human condition.
“I feel that for writers, an obsession with what is elegant or what is a cliché or not a cliché can become very inhibiting.