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— BLOG ARCHIVE
2014 National Book Award Longlists Announced
The shortlists will be announced on October 15, and the winners at the National Book Award ceremony and dinner on November 19 in New York City.
Rabih Alameddine - An Unnecessary Woman
Molly Antopol - The UnAmericans
John Darnielle - Wolf in White Van
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
Phil Klay - Redeployment
Emily St. John Mandel - Station Eleven
Elizabeth McCracken - Thunderstruck & Other Stories
Richard Powers - Orfeo
Marilynne Robinson - Lila
Jane Smiley - Some Luck
Roz Chast - Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
John Demos - The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Age of the Early Republic
Anand Gopal - No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes
Nigel Hamilton - The Mantle of Command: FDR at War, 1941 - 1942
Walter Isaacson - The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
John Lahr - Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh
Evan Osnos - Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
Ronald C. Rosbottom - When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944
Matthew Stewart - Nature's God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic
Edward O. Wilson - The Meaning of Human Existence
Linda Bierds - Roget's Illusion
Brian Blanchfield - A Several World
Louise Glück - Faithful and Virtuous Night
Edward Hirsch - Gabriel: A Poem
Fanny Howe - Second Childhood
Maureen N. McLane - This Blue
Fred Moten - The Feel Trio
Claudia Rankine - Citizen: An American Lyric
Spencer Reece, The Road to Emmaus
Mark Strand - Collected Poems
Young People’s Literature
Laurie Halse Anderson - The Impossible Knife of Memory
Gail Giles - Girls Like Us
Carl Hiaasen - Skink—No Surrender
Kate Milford - Greenglass House
Eliot Schrefer - Threatened
Steve Sheinkin - The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
Andrew Smith - 100 Sideways Miles
John Corey Whaley - Noggin
Deborah Wiles - Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two
Jacqueline Woodson - Brown Girl Dreaming
Barnes & Noble...That's Just Wrong
So, I found myself at the Barnes & Noble in Emeryville, CA—I wasn't kidnapped and forced to go, but we were on Bay Street and went in to look around—and starting with being greeted by two large displays of stupid Kindles, it was a seriously creepy visit. In one of the nonbook areas—there are several of theses ever-growing sections, even after they shrunk the whole store—they had something for sale that I've never seen on sale in a store before, certainly never in a bookstore, but it seems right in a B&N.
For around $300, you could buy a damn drone. Yes, for those curious enough to invade other people's privacy—other than those living on their own expansive estates—all you had to do was visit a big-box "bookstore" and get your very own drone with HD video and spy away. Jesus, our society continues to erase anything resembling privacy.
On another front, I was impressed/depressed that they are so committed to saving so much money on toilet paper. There it was, paper less than a single ply, all of three inches wide, in a dispenser that does its very best not to dispense...a true money saver. Yes, today's word is priorities. Remember: "need" a drone, B&N has you covered—need a restroom, go anywhere else—need a good book, head to an independent bookstore.
TV Hit 'Longmire' Got Canceled: Fans Too Old
Detective Show Is Latest Victim of Industry's Focus on Young Viewers, Content Ownership
When a television show is consistently popular, its reward usually isn't getting canceled. But that is what happened to "Longmire" on the A&E cable channel, which was unceremoniously dumped after three seasons late last month. Now the show's producer, Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. Television, is scrambling to find a new home for the crime drama.
Both Vicky and I loved this series, which was based on author Craig Johnson's mystery books about Walt Longmire...what can they mean when a couple of "spring chickens" like us (aged 60 and 65), are such big fans. Too old?? - John
The National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for 2014, has gone to Ursula K. Le Guin. I have just added all the winners since the beginning in 1988.
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014 shortlist is revealed
Joshua Ferris (US) - To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
Richard Flanagan (Australian) - The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Karen Joy Fowler (US) - We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Congratulations to our friend, Karen.
Howard Jacobson (British) - J
Neel Mukherjee (British) - The Lives of Others
Ali Smith (British) - How to be Both
Officials at Knopf announced today that they will publish The Strange Library, an illustrated story by Haruki Murakami. The book will be released on December 2, and will be Murakami’s second work of fiction published in 2014, following the #1 bestseller Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage, which debuted last month. "Murakami continues to dazzle readers with fantastical feats of storytelling," said Knopf’s Sonny Mehta, who called The Strange Library “as scary and surprising as anything [Murakami] has ever written."
Oakland's Laurel Book Store Relocating
After a year of searching for a new location, Laurel Book Store, Oakland, Calif., will be moving into a ground floor space at 14th and Broadway. There are entrances on Broadway and Frank Ogawa Plaza, huge, light-filled windows and enough space to do just what I think we're capable of. It's steps from the 12th Street BART entrance and on the B Line.
Tentative plans call for Laurel Book Store to remain where it is through September, with hopes of opening in the new space in October, though much "depends on the work that needs to be done. She also noted that "in addition to our investment and an SBA loan, we are raising funds through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign."
Robert Hass Wins $100K Poetry Prize
The Academy of American Poets has awarded Pulitzer Prize-winner and former poet laureate Robert Hass the 2014 Wallace Stevens Award. The award, given annually to "recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry," comes $100,000. Hass served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997, and in addition to the Pulitzer, his honors include a National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the William Carlos Williams Award. A former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, he is distinguished professor in poetry and poetics at the University of California, Berkeley.
The first official image is out from Paul Thomas Anderson's "hugely anticipated" Inherent Vice, adapted from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, Indiewire reported, noting that we get a brief look at Josh Brolin and Joaquin Phoenix "and apparently it's going to be just as bonkers as expected." Inherent Vice arrives in limited release December 12 and goes wide on January 9.
This is a VERY COOL website!!
Better Places to Buy Books: a directory of independent bookstores
It's one very clean, uncluttered and simple website. You just choose a state, and it will list the address, phone number, and a link to the website of every independent bookstore know to exist there. By all means, check it out.
The following is the story from Shelf Awareness that tipped me off about this effort.
"After visiting more than 2,000 independent bookstores--at least virtually--the Amazon annihilation, Orwell misquotes and all, doesn't seem quite so inescapable," Kate Brittain wrote in the Morning News, chronicling her online American bookstore journey, during which she undertook the challenge of creating the Better Places to Buy Books database, featuring information and links to more than 2,000 independent bookstores in the U.S.
"One thing that became apparent, as I clicked through a few thousand bookstore websites, was the diversity of their dispositions," Brittain wrote. "Through some amalgamation of the places where they reside and the people who run them, they are fitted to their communities in a way Amazon will never be.... I began my search in a nervous mood. But as I entered name after name into the database, wandering virtually into every store I could discover between our shining seas, I ceased, slowly, to worry. A conviction took hold in my heart: that whatever the outcome of this corporate kerfuffle, the bookstores--and so, too, what they support: books and writers and their communities--will survive this perilous moment.
"Unfortunately, the numbers and the news reports don't allow for my dismissal of doom. They say this is the end of book culture as we know it--or: How could anyone fight Goliath? What I think is, if we give up now on the Black Bears of America, then we are doomed. But if we choose to believe in them, to support them, then how can they possibly disappear?"
Brittain invites readers to e-mail her with corrections or additions to Better Places to Buy Books.
Cool Idea of the Day: Taxi/Bookstore
The Wall Street Journal has a long profile of the Iranian husband-and-wife team Mehdi Yazdany and Sarvenaz Heraner, whose wonderful creation is "a mobile reading room and taxi service, complete with chauffeur-librarian." They call the mobile bookstore "Ketabraneh," which translates as Books on Wheels.
For the past five years, the pair, who met working in a bookstore, have driven around Tehran like any other taxi, but their cab has "more than 40 titles, 130 volumes in all [that] are stacked behind the back, shelved on racks over the passenger window, cluttering the dashboard, crammed into side pockets and stuffed in the trunk. When you pay the fare, you can buy a book."
Titles are a mix of translated international bestsellers and Iranian classics and include Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, Charles Bukowski's Pulp and works by Iranians such as Nader Ebrahimi, Zoya Pirzad and Sohrab Sepehri. They sell 30 books a day on average, and sometimes give books for free to poor riders.
They also play a collection of "Eastern and Western classical music designed to create a peaceful mood and compete with Tehran's noisy traffic."
(story from Shelf Awareness)
Over 900 Authors Sign Open Letter to Amazon
Authors United, the loosely knit group of authors who joined forces to formally ask Amazon to end its sales terms dispute with Hachette Books, is preparing to run a full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times. The ad, which includes the signatures of over 900 marquee, midlist and debut authors, requests the e-tailer to, among other things, stop its program of "selective retaliation" against the authors. The letter, which was previously announced by Douglas Preston, the bestselling writer (long published by Hachette) who founded the group, is being paid for by a select group of the signers. Among the many signers are John Grisham, Anna Quindlen, George Pelecanos, Stephen King, and Jay McInerney. The letter is the result of what has become a very public showdown, brought to light in May, between a publisher and the most powerful book retailer in the business. While the signers of the letter claim not to be "taking sides" in the issue, they feel that they have "made Amazon many millions of dollars" and want to be treated fairly by their "business partner."
A Letter to Our Readers:
Amazon is involved in a commercial dispute with the book publisher Hachette , which owns Little, Brown, Grand Central Publishing, and other familiar imprints. These sorts of disputes happen all the time between companies and they are usually resolved in a corporate back room. But in this case, Amazon has done something unusual. It has directly targeted Hachette's authors in an effort to force their publisher to agree to its terms. For the past several months, Amazon has been: --Boycotting Hachette authors, by refusing to accept pre-orders on Hachette authors' books and eBooks, claiming they are "unavailable." -- Refusing to discount the prices of many of Hachette authors' books. --Slowing the delivery of thousands of Hachette authors' books to Amazon customers, indicating that delivery will take as long as several weeks on most titles. --Suggesting on some Hachette authors' pages that readers might prefer a book from a non-Hachette author instead. As writers-most of us not published by Hachette-we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want. It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation. Moreover, by inconveniencing and misleading its own customers with unfair pricing and delayed delivery, Amazon is contradicting its own written promise to be "Earth's most customer-centric company." Many of us have supported Amazon since it was a struggling start-up. Our books launched Amazon on the road to selling everything and becoming one of the world's largest corporations. We have made Amazon many millions of dollars and over the years have contributed so much, free of charge, to the company by way of cooperation, joint promotions, reviews and blogs. This is no way to treat a business partner. Nor is it the right way to treat your friends. Without taking sides on the contractual dispute between Hachette and Amazon, we encourage Amazon in the strongest possible terms to stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business. None of us, neither readers nor authors, benefit when books are taken hostage. (We're not alone in our plea: the opinion pages of both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which rarely agree on anything, have roundly condemned Amazon's corporate behavior.) We call on Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette without further hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers. We respectfully ask you, our loyal readers, to email Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and tell him what you think. He says he genuinely welcomes hearing from his customers and claims to read all emails at that account. We hope that, writers and readers together, we will be able to change his mind.
(and then the list of over 900 names starts - I'm not listing them all here, but they're easy to find online)
(info from Shelf Awareness)
Green Apple's Second Store - the new Green Apple Books on the Park
Green Apple Books invited customers and publishing friends to help unpack the inventory over the weekend, in what turned into a three-day party. The new store is less than a block from Golden Gate Park, in the Sunset section of San Francisco. Green Apple's original store is thriving in its long-time location almost directly across the park, in the Richmond neighborhood.
UPDATE: Colbert's Anti-Amazon Campaign Makes Debut Novel a Bestseller
You may have heard about a significant and ongoing publishing fight between Amazon and New York publisher Hachette. Basically, Amazon wants a better deal than anyone else gets, and what they're demanding would be devastating for publishers and, ultimately, for many authors. Hachette has balked, so Amazon - in retaliation - jiggered with its web site to make it harder for customers to order Hachette titles.
Among the publisher's titles that were affected were books written by Stephen Colbert, and he did not take kindly to it, lambasting Amazon on his Colbert Report. He also solicited a book recommendation from author Sherman Alexie, who touted a dystopian debut novel called California, written by little-known author Edan Lepucki and also published by Hachette. Colbert took the further step of encouraging his viewers to buy the book online from Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon, instead of from Amazon and subsequently set a goal of making the book a bestseller and having folks purchase California from anywhere but Amazon.
Well, it worked. California debuted last week on the national Indie Bound and The New York Times bestseller lists - an extraordinary accomplishment for a debut novel with an initially modest print run and publicity budget. And in a piece of related news, a national survey of over 5,000 readers found that close to 40% were aware of the Amazon-Hachette conflict, and that about half of those people had cut back on their Amazon book purchases as a result.
(info from Shelf Awareness)
The Pledge of Independents, an Amazon boycott campaign launched earlier this month by the Abbey Bookshop in Paris, is spreading, as three more booksellers have signed up, two in the U.S. and one in Scotland. They are all asking customers and authors to promise not to buy books from Amazon or affiliates and to favor indies instead. The additional booksellers are Word Power Books in Edinburgh, the Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, NJ, and the Book Tavern, Augusta, GA.
"Almost all our customers, most of whom are French, say they have been boycotting Amazon anyway, and many are prepared to go on record to say so," said Abbey founder Brian Spence. "That is very satisfying for a bookseller to hear."
(info from Shelf Awareness)
Amazon Acts Like a Thug and People React
The Amazon-Hachette dispute is having an impact on readers' attitudes about Amazon, according to the most recent Book Preview poll conducted by Codex Group. Of 5,286 book buyers polled by between July 11 and July 19, 39.4% were aware of the dispute, and 19.2% of those aware of the dispute were buying fewer books from Amazon.
Those purchasing fewer books from Amazon reported buying more from other retailers. The top five alternatives in order of popularity were: Barnes & Noble, independent bookstores, B&N.com, used bookstores and Costco.
Peter Hildick-Smith, president of Codex, called the results "very surprising," saying, "It's the first time we've seen people react to something about Amazon in a way that wasn't positive." The results showed, he continued, that the dispute has "gotten a wider stage because of Stephen Colbert, James Patterson and others."
Last week, Pioneer Book in Provo, Utah, unveiled its stunning new façade. Artist Alicyn White and her team took less than a week to transform the storefront into this giant bookshelf, based on an idea from bookstore owner Rick Horsley and manager Travis Patten. Patten selected the titles to be featured on the façade: "They are books I've read that have a broad appeal, or should have," he told the Daily Herald. "I saw this idea on a library in Kansas City. The idea is also on a bookstore in the Ukraine." Pioneer Book reopened last November after a three-year absence and sells both new and used books.
(info from Shelf Awareness)
DIESEL to Close Malibu Location
The bookstore will close its Malibu, Calif., location this fall. The Malibu Times reported the store has marked down its inventory and the latest co-owner John Evans "believes they'll be open is September 21," though the lease runs through January. Evans and partner Alison Reid had put the business up for sale last December, but there were no serious offers.
"The store will close and it won't be open in the fall. Whether it'll be closed three weeks, six weeks or nine weeks from now, we don't know," Evans said, citing rent at the Country Mart location as a primary reason for the decision."
Good Thoughts from Jamie Ford on the Many Values of a Healthy Literary Ecosystem
"[W]e need more bookstores and libraries. They're tactile. They're immersive. They're humane. They've always been trendy. But more than that, they are staffed by dedicated booklovers who curate collections of actual books, and books are the written record of the human condition. So buy online, but also buy local when you can--that way you're supporting a healthy literary ecosystem.
"After all, I met my wife at the public library and proposed in a bookstore. And you can't do that on a Kindle. (Though I'm sure someone is working on it)."
--Author Jamie Ford
David Sedaris: 'I'd Rather Go to an Actual Shop'
"Maybe I'm out of touch, but I'd rather go to an actual shop--preferably a small one--than to a harshly lit superstore, or, worse still, a website. I don't want to buy my books and my toilet paper and my clothing all under the same roof. I want beauty in my life. I want charm. I want contact with actual people. It is, for me, a large part of what makes life worth living."
--David Sedaris in an interview with Mary Laura Philpott, editor of the Musing blog at Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.
Amazon vs. Hachette: Colbert, Connelly & More
Last night, in the second segment of the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert, whose publisher is Hachette, took some hilarious shots at Amazon, which he said he used to like because "it's the only place you can get all your shopping done in your underwear--at least since they closed Circuit City." But now, "I am not just mad at Amazon. I'm mad Prime."
He outlined the dispute, taking the usual Colbert-centric view: "They are deterring customers from buying books by Stephen Colbert. And as any longtime viewer of this show knows, that's me."
Colbert noted that "Amazon has taken the preorder buttons off [J.K. Rowling's] new Hachette book, The Silkworm. A vicious tactic by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Or should I say Lord Bezomort?" At that point, on the screen a picture of Bezos's face morphed into Lord Voldemort. "And this, this has pushed me past my tipping point. I think. Because I'm still waiting for my copy of Hachette author Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point."
Colbert then announced that he had "a little package" for Amazon from him, Rowling and "Explaino the Clown," as he referred to Gladwell. Reaching under the package, he said, "I think you're really going to like it. Oh, wait a second. Here it is." His right hand rose through the packing material, middle finger aimed squarely at the camera. Then he said, "Customers who will enjoy this also bought this," at which point his other hand rose in the same gesture.
Next, he introduced "fellow Amazon victim" Sherman Alexie, who started off by saying, "I'm just happy to be here. If Amazon was in charge of the travel, it would have taken me two to five weeks to get here."
Alexie said in part that Amazon wants "a monopoly. They control 50% of the book market and they want more."
When Colbert asked what "we as the victims"--the authors--can do to fight back, Alexie answered: "Number one, you don't shop there for anything."
Noting that first-time Hachette authors are especially hurt by the lack of preorders, Alexie recommended Edan Lepucki's debut novel, California, which will be published by Little, Brown on July 8. "To prove that I can sell more books than Amazon," Colbert urged viewers to go to colbertnation.com and buy the book through a link to Powell's Books. Viewers can also download a sheet of stickers proclaiming, "I didn't buy it on Amazon."
As of this morning, California is Powell's bestselling title.
Another major author affected by the Amazon-Hachette dispute is Michael Connelly. Although his latest Lincoln Lawyer novel is available, a lot of his backlist is in the 2-4 week availability category and there is no ordering button for his fall Bosch book, The Burning Room. But in a weird circumstance, Amazon Studios is producing an exclusive TV series based on the Bosch novels that consists of a pilot and nine episodes. Amazon quoted Connelly as saying, "The right people and partnerships came together at the right time: Amazon and its creative team; ditto Fabrik Entertainment, Henrik Bastin, Eric Overmyer and of course, Titus Welliver." Timing is everything.
(info from Shelf Awareness)
Penguin Random House has introduced its new brand identity that, as the company said, "underscores the importance of the written word to the company's culture and work" and that will most often be used in a pairing with one of Penguin Random House's 250 publishing divisions, imprints and brands around the world.
(info from Shelf Awareness)
I rather like my logo better.
Chipotle Cups Will Feature Stories by Jonathan Safran Foer, Toni Morrison, & Other Authors
Jonathan Safran Foer was sitting at a Chipotle one day, when he realized that he had nothing to do while noshing on his burrito. He had neglected to bring a book or magazine. Suddenly, he had an idea: What if there were something truly good to read on his Chipotle cup? Or the bag? So he decided to write the Chipolte CEO an e-mail. “I said, ‘I bet a shitload of people go into your restaurants every day, and I bet some of them have very similar experiences, and even if they didn’t have that negative experience, they could have a positive experience if they had access to some kind of interesting text,’ ” So I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to just put some interesting stuff on it? Get really high-quality writers of different kinds, creating texts of different kinds that you just give to your customers as a service.’”
Soon, bags and cups in Chipotle’s stores will be adorned with original text by Foer, Malcolm Gladwell, Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Lewis. Foer says ,” Chipotle refrained from meddling in the editorial process for the duration of the initiative, which the burrito chain has branded Cultivating Thought. “I selected the writers, and insofar as there was any editing, I did it,” Foer said. “I tried to put together a somewhat eclectic group, in terms of styles. I wanted some that were essayistic, some fiction, some things that were funny, and somewhat thought provoking.”
Fowler Wins 2014 PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award
Karen Joy Fowler has won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. The award comes with a $15,000 prize. Fowler will be honored at the 34th annual PEN/Faulkner award ceremony on May 10 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., along with the four finalists, who each received $5,000.
We hosted Karen for many different events in our bookstores over the years. We got to know her when we all lived in Davis, and she quickly joined with us (aka The Rabble), and thousands of others from Davis, as a voice speaking out for reason in those seemingly endless city council meetings that centered on a big developer bringing in a Borders to a town with ten bookstores already. The Davis Borders store (which disappeared when the whole chain went away) only fit the developer's economy and not the community's.
I am so happy that she has won a major award like the PEN/Faulkner Award. Karen has a great sense of humor and it's wonderful that she has gotten more recognition for her talent. - John
check out Karen's website
Green Apple Books in San Francisco is this year’s Publisher's Weekly Bookstore of the Year. That it was nominated by Bay Area colleague Sheryl Cotleur, frontlist buyer at Copperfield’s Books in Sebastopol, Calif., should come as no surprise to those familiar with the 47-year-old labyrinthine bookstore, which has earned a name for itself for community involvement: for founding the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Association, participating on the boards of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and the Clement Street Merchants Association, and advising Litquake and the San Francisco Library’s One City One Book program. In addition, Green Apple is the driving force behind this year’s 93-store strong inaugural California Bookstore Day, which is loosely based on Record Store Day and could serve as a prototype for a national bookstore celebration.
Over the years Green Apple, which carries both new and used books, has grown from 750 sq. ft. to more than ten times that size. When founder Peter Savoy put the store up for sale, three long-time employees began a gradual buyout. The three have created fun and quirky promotions like a midnight release party for IQ84 with free tacos and a can of Sapporo, and it has experimented with a set of YouTube videos/commercials, including one on hiring a new bookseller. (Hint: it’s not just about reading.) It also has fostered some unusual partnerships by placing bookcases of used books in six indie cafes around the Bay Area, Cafe Green Apple.
Green Apple Books website
(info from PW)
'Simply Because She Loved to Read': New York Public Library Inherits $6 Million
Lotte Fields, who died last summer, bequeathed $6 million to the New York Public Library "simply because she loved to read," the New York Times reported, adding that library president Tony Marx said the library was "astounded" by the bequest and "deeply honored to pick up her mantle and promote the joy of reading." At her request, the funds will be evenly divided between the branch library system and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street.
"One of her great joys was spending the weekend reading with her husband," said Fields's executor, Irwin Cantor. "Her donation shows just how much Lotte loved books and how important she felt it was to support her fellow book lovers."
George Packer on Amazon's Secrecy and Isolation
In a post on the New Yorker's website, George Packer discusses the perils of Amazon's penchant for secrecy, a company-wide approach he encountered when working on "Cheap Words: Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?" his 12,000-word story in the current issue. (See our synopsis here.)
"I was naïve about tech companies until I started reporting on them," Packer writes. "They turn out to be at least as closed as companies in other industries. This seems backwards--aren't they filled with hardcore libertarians who want an end to privacy as we've known it, a more open and connected world? Apparently for everyone except themselves. And perhaps a sector that monetizes information is more likely to become obsessed with protecting it than if the product were oil or cars. But even in this atmosphere, Amazon is reflexively, absurdly secretive--only giving the absolute minimum information required by law or P.R. In response to a host of fact-checking questions, many of the company's answers were along the lines of 'We don't break out that number externally,' 'We do not share Kindle sales figures,' and 'As a general practice, we don't discuss our business practices with publishers or other suppliers.' "
Packer argues that "a culture of secrecy is bound to end up harming the institution itself, especially when it's firmly under the control of one leader, as Amazon is under Jeff Bezos. Without some permeability to the outside world, groupthink takes over, bad habits become entrenched, and a company, like a government, is slow to recognize problems that are apparent to everyone else. I saw this happening with American officials in Iraq, holed up in the Embassy in the middle of the Green Zone and beguiled by their own data points while the country outside spiraled down in flames."
Furthermore, "Amazon is up to its neck in the world of culture, where nothing good can be done without a little light and air. The fact that Bezos visited his newspaper [the Washington Post] last month with more stealth than George W. Bush flying into Baghdad--a visit that was so well hidden even from people at the famously wide-open Post that I managed to break the story in these pages--struck me as particularly bizarre. Why not just show up? Because secrecy is in Amazon's marrow. I'm certain that, sooner or later, this is going to create problems for Bezos's newspaper, and I'm fairly sure that one reason for the failure of Amazon's trade-publishing arm has to do with its isolation from the larger publishing world. If editors can't gossip, speak to reporters, and pick up intel, they're less likely to spot new talent and incubate ideas. They're also less likely to be trusted by writers. Book culture and non-disclosure agreements are inimical."
(thanks to Shelf Awareness)
A Mixed Bag of Results for the Holidays for B&N
Barnes & Noble sales for the holiday period (nine weeks ended December 28) were quite mixed, as Nook division revenues continued to fall substantially, dropping 60.5%, while bricks-and-mortar stores appeared to stem their sales declines of the past few years, with sales down 6.6%,and down just 0.2% when Nook products are excluded. Digital content sales were down 27.3%, because of "lower device unit sales and lower average selling prices."
The Nook has been hit by several difficult trends: lower e-book prices, in part because of the Justice Department suit; the dominance of tablets over dedicated e-reading devices, where B&N can barely compete; and a slowdown in the growth in popularity of e-books. B&N said that its share of the e-book market is about 20%, down from previous years' estimates of about 25%.
E-Books Sales Down 3.4% Through October
In October, total net book sales rose 3.8%, to $902.7 million, compared to October 2012, representing sales of 1,205 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers.
For the year to date, total net book sales have risen 0.9%, to $12.4 billion.
The most striking figures have to do with tepid e-book sales. For the month, e-book sales rose 4.5%, to $127 million, while for the year to date, e-book sales are down 3.4%, to $1.287.3 billion.
Children's/YA e-book sales, which fell 34.9%, to $136.3 million, for the year to date, accounted for the drop.
Other e-book categories rose slightly in the first 10 months of 2013: adult e-books, up 2.2%, to $1.0889 billion; religious e-books, up 2.5%, to $52.4 million.
Funny how everyone seemed "sure" that e-books would bury real books and nobody would be publishing those "paper relics" after 2012 or 2013. I love this. - John
NEW YORK TIMES - The 10 Best Books of 2013
AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
THE FLAMETHROWERS by Rachel Kushner.
THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tartt.
LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson.
TENTH OF DECEMBER Stories by George Saunders.
AFTER THE MUSIC STOPPED The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead
by Alan S. Blinder.
DAYS OF FIRE Bush and Cheney in the White House by Peter Baker.
FIVE DAYS AT MEMORIAL Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink.
THE SLEEPWALKERS How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark.
WAVE by Sonali Deraniyagala.
Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPrint Books Still Preferred by Readers
A new study from Ricoh Americas Corporation shows that readers continue to prefer printed books over e-books. Consumers cited lack of eye strain, the look and feel of paper, and the opportunity to physically shelve printed books as the reasons they are preferred.
... 60% of e-books downloaded in the United States are not read
... Printed textbooks are preferred by college students over e-books because they lead to stronger concentration and offer fewer distractions
... Publishers derive just 20-30 percent of revenues from e-books
“I never thought anything so powerful could come out of that little toad,” Joan Baez once said after hearing Dylan play her “With God on Our Side,” according to Positively 4th Street by David Hajdu.
I will just remind you about this from time to time.
The details are still being pulled together, but it could be exciting.
Author Sherman Alexie celebrating "Indies First" at Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle, Wash. on November 30, "Small Business Saturday." Alexie inspired the initiative by challenging writers across the country to act as booksellers on the day designated for shopping small businesses.
Last report I saw said that there were going to be more than 1,000 authors working in more than 400 bookstores across the country, all because of Alexie. — John
Amazon and the "Absence of Serendipity'
"Which brings me to Amazon. I do indeed like it if I know what it is that I want to buy. Various bits and pieces of electronics have been purchased over the years. But I find it an intensely irritating way to buy a book. Cheap, yes, convenient, most assuredly, but intensely irritating. For I'm almost never going out to buy a book that I know that I want to read. I am, rather, browsing to try and find one that I do want to read.... And try as I might I cannot gain that same experience from Amazon, the recommendation engine (at least the level of my knowledge about the actual use of computers) doesn't manage to replicate that experience."
--from Tim Worstall in his Forbes magazine column headlined "The Absence of Serendipity, or, Why I Hate Shopping at Amazon."
A Few Catch-Up Items (from Shelf Awareness)
James Patterson Plans to Give Indies $1 Million
Author James Patterson plans to give a total of $1 million to independent bookstores in the next year. His main criteria are the stores be "viable" and have a children's section.
Here he answers questions about the program that we put to him this week.
Why are you giving $1 million to independent bookstores?
I've become very concerned about the reading habit in America. I think e-books are a terrific development, but I don't think we as a society are really thinking through the implications of our changing retail landscape. I fundamentally believe our way of life is at risk if bookstores disappear. This effort to help independents will hopefully be something of a shot in the arm for the book business. We need to do more than talk about this juncture. We need to do something about it.
You've said these grants could be of many sizes. Do you imagine that you will be helping many stores with smaller gifts rather than helping a few stores with larger gifts?
We're going to help as many stores as possible, and to do so as fairly as possible. I'd also like to prioritize stores that sell--or mean to sell--children's books. Because, of course, that's so often where the reading habit is forged, and where lives can really be saved.
Will you seek the help of any organizations (like the American Booksellers Association) or people to help make decisions and to help in the process?
I'm a huge fan of the ABA. I do hope they help with the effort, and I'm sure more connections will help on a store-by-store basis. With this program, I'm looking to create something that I could possibly repeat in future years if it moves the needle, changes our habits.
Could you comment on the excited reception many booksellers have already given to your plan?
It's very heartening. The more attention to the issue, the better. I feel it's a very reasonable goal to reinvigorate books and reading in our lives. It just needs to be treated as the critical issue it is, or it will continue to be ignored.
What else besides this program--in a more general way--do you think would help independent bookstores?
This is a must: parents have to take responsibility for their whole family's reading. They can't rely on teachers to instill the habit in kids. Parents have to make an activity out of visiting the bookstore, introducing everyone to how powerful it is to be in that environment. We have to teach our children that reading is the key to a successful life, but we also have to teach them that supporting the local booksellers, bolstering the kinds of businesses we want to see in our own communities, is everyone's responsibility. If we don't teach our children to be good citizens, good neighbors, good readers and thinkers, then I fear for the future of our country, and our children.
Bay Books in San Ramon, California is for Sale
Bay Books, which sells new, used and rare books, is for sale. Owner Diane Van Tassell described the store, which was founded in 1988 and is located in Contra Costa County, east of San Francisco, this way: "The store is located in Diablo Plaza, a major shopping center of the city, at the corner of two major surface streets, which is just a block from the freeway. The 4,380-square-foot store is bordered by a UPS store and Weight Watchers. There are acres of off-street parking immediately in front of our door.
"Many of our customers are families that bring their young children to our large children's section that is stocked with educational children's toys in addition to the books. We have regular author events and host an in-house book club that meets monthly in the store. The owners are looking to retire."
Affluent San Ramon has a population of "about 75,000, and it is growing at the rate of 6% per year. A business park that is less than a mile from the store is home to major corporations, including the world headquarters of the world's third largest oil company, Chevron."
Google Book-Scanning Lawsuit Dismissed
Google won dismissal of a long-running lawsuit by the Authors Guild, which had accused the company of digitally copying millions of books for an online library without permission.
U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin in Manhattan "accepted Google's argument that its scanning of more than 20 million books, and making 'snippets' of text available online, constituted 'fair use' under U.S. copyright law." If it survives an appeal, the decision would let Google continue to expand its digital library. "In my view, Google Books provide significant public benefits," Chin wrote in his decision. "Indeed, all society benefits."
Paul Aiken, Authors Guild executive director, said, "We disagree with and are disappointed by the court’s decision today. This case presents a fundamental challenge to copyright that merits review by a higher court. Google made unauthorized digital editions of nearly all of the world’s valuable copyright-protected literature and profits from displaying those works. In our view, such mass digitization and exploitation far exceeds the bounds of fair use defense. We plan to appeal the decision."
This is fair use? Copy all these books, without publisher or author approval, then put some of the content up on your website and charge advertisers BIG MONEY to place ads beside them. The digital free-for-all continues, all with the argument that if we can do it — we must do it — until the authors can't make a living. Bullshit. — John
More Than 700 Authors to Take Part in Indies First (November 30)
With the celebration of Indies First on November 30 just two weeks away, authors are continuing to sign up to work at independent bookstores across the country. To date, more than 700 authors will be handselling their favorite titles at over 400 bookstores as part of the grassroots movement launched by author Sherman Alexie on September 1.
Last week, the American Booksellers Association launched an interactive map of participating Indies and their visiting authors.
This sounds like a fascinating addition to Indies First. — John
Fifty Shades’ Book Has Herpes
Two professors in Belgium performed toxicology and bacterial screenings on the ten most popular books at the Antwerp library. The infamous erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey tested positive for the herpes virus. The professors say the concentrations of the virus weren't high enough to create a public health risk or to contract it by touching the book. In addition, all ten books contained traces of cocaine. Not enough that people would get high, but enough that they might test positive for the drug.
This sounded like a most interesting library. — John
Amazon and USPS Strike Deal for Sunday Delivery (from the ABA's Bookselling This Week)
On Monday, November 11, Amazon.com announced that it had struck a deal with the United States Postal Service that will enable the online retailers to offer Amazon Prime customers Sunday delivery. The Sunday service is already open to Prime customers in New York City and Los Angeles. Ironically, Amazon made the announcement on a day that USPS was closed.
USPS noted that under the program it will for the first time deliver packages at regular rates on a Sunday, whereas previously, consumers had to pay an extra fee for delivery on that day. Sunday delivery is expected to branch out to the rest of the country next year. Much of the media coverage of the new agreement focused on whether the partnership with Amazon would help the cash-strapped agency with its turnaround efforts.
While many business pundits hailed the move as a win-win for both parties, ABA CEO Oren Teicher took issue with the USPS playing favorites with one retailer.
“We find it disconcerting that a quasi-government agency would enter into a special business arrangement with one private corporation in a field with many competitors,” said Teicher. “The postal service’s role is not to pick favorites among competitors but to provide equal access for all retailers looking to take advantage of its delivery infrastructure. Considering that state governments already subsidize online retailers like Amazon.com by allowing them to sell into the state without collecting and remitting sales tax — thereby placing Main Street retailers at an unfair disadvantage — news of an arrangement like this, at the start of the holiday season no less, simply adds insult to injury. Moreover, allowing a private corporation to purchase the services of a government agency without a thoroughly transparent and open process sets a very dangerous precedent. We hope Congress will take a good hard look at this.”
The Evil Empire moves on to governmental control. — John
I'm just amazed at the Size of these numbers
An arbitrator has concluded that Starbucks must pay $2.76 billion to settle a dispute with Kraft over coffee distribution. The two companies had been locked in a fight for three years after Starbucks fired Kraft as its distributor of packaged coffee to grocery chains. The arbitrator determined that Starbucks must pay $2.23 billion in damages and $527 million in attorney fees.
It's only money ... just don't be too surprised when Starbucks coffee prices rise. — John
The following is such an Evil Use of Language
- Everything will be Better with Fewer People Helping Customers — John
Follett Lays Off 10% of College Store Staff (from Publishers Weekly)
Follett Higher Education Group, which operates more than 800 college stores across the country, laid off approximately 600 employees, or about 10% of its store staff.
In a company-wide memo reproduced on thelayoff.com, Bob Scholl, senior v-p, retail operations, of the Follett Higher Education Group, said that the "important Follett initiative" was taken in part to "improve the experience of our customers" and "deliver the hassle-free shopping experience that our customers expect." With the firings, he explained, "we are adjusting our store staffing model to put more hours on the sales floor whenever students are shopping most. This involves shifting our ratio of full-time hourly and part-time store positions, and following scheduling practices to ensure our stores are always staffed at the busiest times. This shift gives us more scheduling flexibility each day, week and year. The result will be more customer-facing labor hours in our campus stores, generating more selling opportunities with increased customer satisfaction."
He acknowledged that being let go "will impact the associates in positions we are converting." The company is encouraging those former full-time employees to apply for part-time work and is offering cash severance and outplacement assistance and counseling.
Scholl called the layoffs "part of Follett's much broader and comprehensive transformation, which is reflected in the fact that we've invested more than $200 million in technology, distribution, digital content and ecommerce over the last three years alone. These investments are creating more efficiency at the store level, allowing us to deliver even more hours of store service and support when students and faculty expect it."
On thelayoff.com, current and former Follett employees said that the severance agreements include a clause prohibiting them from making negative comments about Follett on social media and, in some cases, required employees to attest that their firing was voluntary--meaning that they would be unable to obtain unemployment benefits.
Neil Gaiman: 8 Good Writing Practices (from an interesting article in the Guardian)
2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
3. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you've never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
5. Remember: when people tell you something's wrong or doesn't work for them, they are almost always right.
When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
7. Laugh at your own jokes.
8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you're allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But its definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
It was so great to see Maurice Sendak as a guest on The Colbert Report months ago. Not surprising, when Sendak got the call about appearing on the show, he'd never heard of Colbert. But then he enjoyed being on the show so much that he asked to be a regular guest. He wanted to be Colbert's movie critic, with one stipulation: He would only review movies he hadn't seen. Colbert loved the idea. (Unfortunately Sendak's health declined before they could make it so.)
Indies: 'Final Plank in the Bridge' Between Writer & Reader
"Every decade, it seems, has featured a major challenge to the independent bookseller. We manage by being very selective. The craft of bookselling lies, not so much in reacting to the marketplace as in developing it by representing, on our shelves, a point of view that sets us apart. As independent booksellers, we build the final plank in the bridge that connects the writer to the reader....
"There has been a resurgence of the independent bookstore in diverse communities throughout the United States. A new generation of booksellers is establishing new bookstores or is taking over currently existing stores. The independent bookstore has become important not just for the curatorial practices described previously but also for the central role it plays as a communal gathering spot."
- Paul Yamazaki, principal book buyer at City Lights, San Francisco, in an interview with the Hindu.
Griffin & Sabine to Become a Movie
Renegade Films has acquired the rights to the bestselling epistolary novels, Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, written and illustrated by Nick Bantock. This is the first time the series, the first book of which was originally published by Chronicle in 1991, has been optioned for a film project. The series will be adapted into a film that travels through the three novels: Griffin & Sabine, Sabine's Notebook and The Golden Mean. Renegade Films is in the process of confirming a screenwriter, director and cast, with production slated to begin in 2014.
"This the first time I've felt comfortable that the essence of the story is understood," Bantock said. "Transitioning this tale from a novel to a movie will test the bounds of dreams and creativity, providing an opportunity to create something intelligent, entertaining and visually extraordinary."
Tattered Cover's Downtown Store to Consolidate to One Floor
The Tattered Cover Book Store location in Lower Downtown Denver, Colo., is consolidating into the first floor and will no longer use the second floor, the Denver Business Journal reported. The first floor has 12,666 square feet of space; the second floor has 15,109.
"Our present two-floor retail configuration will stay intact through the holiday season," owner Joyce Meskis told the Journal. "In January, we will start the demolition of the [store's] grand staircase with the goal of being resettled in our reconfigured first-floor space by mid-March." The reconfigured store will have "approximately the same number of books," with shelves "much more tightly packed."
Meskis added that first-floor space now used for back-office and marketing will be converted to retail, and some back-office space will be moved to Tattered Cover's flagship store on East Colfax Avenue.
The store has been in the location, in the Morey Mercantile Building, since 1994.
MacArthur Genius Awards include two authors
Congratulations to authors Karen Russell and Donald Antrim, who were among the 24 recipients of this year's MacArthur Fellow grants. They will each receive $625,000 over five years to use however the geniuses want.
Karen Russell has published two story collections, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, as well as the novel Swamplandia!.
Donald Antrim has written several novels, including The Verificationist and The Hundred Brothers. His first work of nonfiction was The Afterlife: A Memoir.
Survey: Travelers Prefer to Fly with Print Books
E-reading devices are touted for their convenience when on the road, but a recent survey by London's Heathrow Airport found that airline travelers still prefer to have a print book in their hands, Good E-Reader reported.
Of the 2,000 people surveyed, 71% "would rather pack their suitcases full of books than opt for a lightweight e-reader" and 67% said they "prefer to stick with print because they enjoy the feel of a real book in their hands," Good E-Reader wrote, adding that 67% said they turn to friends and family for their reading recommendations, followed by librarians and booksellers.
"There's no doubt that the popularity of e-books has boomed in recent years, but when it comes to relaxing on holiday it seems you just can't beat a good book," said Heathrow retail director Muriel Zingraff-Shariff.
An Old Favorite Bookstore of Mine in Vermont
Happy 40th Birthday, Bear Pond Books!
Congratulations to Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, Vt., which is celebrating its 40th anniversary on Saturday, August 3, with "plenty of prizes, discounts and, of course, cake." During the four decades, Bear Pond Books has experienced "a flood, a move, a change of ownership," all while continuing to provide Montpelier "with a great book experience." The store was bought by Robert Kasow and Claire Benedict in 2006. They also own nearby Rivendell Books, which has a branch in Montpelier that opened in 2011.
British bookshops are pleading with the government to stand up for them against Amazon after France pledged (£7.7m) of funding to help its booksellers fight back against the "destroyer of bookshops".
Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, said Britain's bookshops, closing down at a rate of more than one a week, consider Amazon "the main threat to their business". He warned that if Amazon continues its "relentless expansion" even more bookshops will be driven out of business, and publishers and agents will also be forced to shut up shop, he said.
Godfray, whose association represents almost 1,000 British booksellers, called for government action as France's culture minister Aurélie Filippetti accused Amazon of undercutting traditional rivals to create a "virtual monopoly".
"Everyone has had enough of Amazon, which by dumping practices, slashes prices to get a foothold in markets only to raise them as soon as they have established a virtual monopoly," she said in a speech to booksellers in Bordeaux. "The book and reading sector is facing competition from certain sites using very possible means to enter the French and European book market... it is destroying bookshops."
Filippetti, who is also a published novelist, said she was considering banning Amazon from being able to offer free postage and may end the system allowing 5% discounting on books.
link to the full Guardian story
NICE WORK - Image of the Day: 'Tom Chalk'
On his website SneezingCow.com, Michael Perry, author most recently of Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace, shared a special visual treat that greeted him at his reading Monday: "What I saw when I arrived at the event last night. Thank you Weyenberg Library, and thank you Nick of Boswell Books (Nick did the chalk)."
This is an old, and very interesting item that I saved from Shelf Awareness, from sometime last year.
Pete Townshend: Acquisitions Editor Was 'Best Job I Ever Had'
"Are you kidding? That was the best job I ever had. I had lunch with the old chairman, Matthew Evans, this week, and we both went dewy-eyed about the old days. He's in the House of Lords trying to stay awake, and I'm pounding stages like an aging clown. I loved the way the Faber editorial committee was driven as much by gossip and rumor as ideas. It was fun. Not what you expect in such an esteemed publishing house."
— The Who's Pete Townshend, author of Who I Am: A Memoir, in a New York Times interview where he recalled working as an acquisitions editor at Faber & Faber.
Such a great line!
For the book Woke Up Lonely, an endorsement from Marie Claire:
"It's as if a Paul Thomas Anderson movie (The Master, There Will Be Blood) married a David Foster Wallace novel and had a baby. Which is to say, this story is weird, thrilling, and inimitable."
Indie Bookseller's Advice: 'Never Forget the Wonks & the Weirdos'
"Never forget the wonks, and the weirdos, and the people who will be delighted by this book that they never could even have imagined could exist and they will find on your shelf."
— Sarah McNally, owner of McNally Jackson in NYC, the best piece of advice she ever received from her mother, Holly, founder of the McNally Robinson indie bookstore chain in Canada.
Amazon and Taxes ... Jesus, they have NO SHAME!
Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate income tax bill," Reuters reported, noting that during the past six years, Amazon has paid approximately $9 million in income tax on more than $23 billion of sales to British clients.
I just love this name ... now I just need to create something for the name.
'A Really Good Bookstore Is Not a Doughnut Shop'
"Maybe the solution [for independent bookstores] is to stop viewing such places simply as businesses that must succeed or fail according to the market, like doughnut shops or nail salons. A really good bookstore is not a doughnut shop; it is a social good. As citizens--and even potential investors--we need to put our money where our moany old mouths are."
— Leah McLaren in the Toronto Globe & Mail
A Dozen Interesting Literary Facts for Today
1. The original title of Fahrenheit 451 was The Fireman.
Ray Bradbury and his publishers thought The Fireman was a boring title, so they called a local fire station and asked what temperature paper burned at. The firemen put Bradbury on hold while they burned a book, then reported back the temperature, and the rest is history.
2. Ray Bradbury also wrote the 1956 screenplay for Moby Dick.
3. Don Quixote is the best-selling novel of all time, with over 500 million copies sold.
4. Edgar Allan Poe originally wanted a parrot to repeat the word "nevermore."
5. Charles Dickens believed in the supernatural, and he belonged to something called The Ghost Club.
6. John Steinbeck's original manuscript for Of Mice and Men was eaten by a dog.
Steinbeck's puppy, Toby, was left alone one evening and effectively ate some really important homework. Steinbeck wrote of the incident to his agent and said, "I was pretty mad, but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically."
7. Gabriel García Márquez refuses to allow One Hundred Years of Solitude to be made into a film. It's odd because most of his works have been made into films. Marquez stated that the reason is, “They would cast someone like Robert Redford and most of us do not have relatives who look like Robert Redford.”
8. To Kill a Mockingbird is Harper Lee's only novel, even though it won a Pulitzer Prize and spent 88 weeks on the best seller list. She currently lives in Monroeville, Alabama, and is allegedly working on her memoirs.
9. The manuscript for Hemingway's A Moveable Feast sat in a hotel basement for years.
In 1928, Ernest Hemingway stored two trunks that contained notebooks from the years he lived in Paris. Then in 1956, Hemingway retrieved the trunks and got to work transcribing them into his memoirs. The final product was published three years after Hemingway's death.
10. The band U2 borrowed a chapter title in Lord of the Flies to name one of their songs.
Chapter 7 of Lord of the Flies is titled "Shadows and Tall Trees," which U2 used as the final track on their debut album, Boy.
11. The Monster in Frankenstein has no name, but Mary Shelley once referred to him as "Adam."
Many people mistakenly think that the Monster is named Frankenstein, when in fact he's never given a name in the novel.
12. The original title for Where the Wild Things Are was Where the Wild Horses Are, and it would've featured horses.
The reason for the change was that Maurice Sendak couldn't draw horses. So, when his editor asked what he could draw, his reply was "things." Things are exactly what ended up in the book.
Tax Day wisdom from Mark Twain: "The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin."
Well, I have taken a plunge into another website — I am now also listing the books I've read on LibraryThing. They do a pretty good job of listing them with other information that's quite interesting. It's great fun to be surrounded by book information and to list more and more of the books that you've read all through your life. I just started yesterday and I haven't put up reviews or rated most of the books, but there are more than 400 titles ... so far. (May 6 update - 2,200 titles ... so far) It's addictive.
Twenty-six years ago today, on March 14, 1987, we opened the doors of our very first bookstore. We had wild hopes and yet a little part of our minds wondered if we would be able to make it. Hopes won out wildly over those nagging little fears and our bookstore was open for 22 years. It was a wonderful run and we are so thankful to the many people who helped us and supported us for all those years. These people believed in what we were trying to do — to bring the best books together with the people who would love them and to do it with a style all our own. Today, with all the changes in the book trade, I appreciate each of our different bookstores more than ever. Thanks to all.
This would have been
the 88th birthday of Edward Gorey.
Over the next decade, Barnes & Noble will likely close a third of its 689 general retail stores, or about 20 a year, Mitchell Klipper, CEO of B&N's retail group, told the Wall Street Journal. Slimmed down to 450 to 500 stores, the retail stores represent "a good business model," he said, emphasizing that today only about 20 B&N trade stores--3% of the total--lose money. B&N also operates some 674 college stores, which are run separately from the general retail stores.
1.7.13 Huell Howser's smile has gone away ... after 67 years
Someone has died that always brought a smile to my face. He could also elicit a heavy groan and cause me to say, "Oh Huel." But, he was one of a kind, and the world is just not as happy a place without his overpowering enthusiasm and humor. Howser received his first name from a portmanteau of his parents' names, Harold and Jewell.
Corny, dopey, a hick, square-shouldered, naive, a happy gay man, say what you may — he loved California and all the people he and his single cameraman came across. His style kept me watching him for all these years. It's incredible to think about just how many times we have all heard him say, "That's amazing."
Thanks Huell. - John
BLOG ARCHIVE - former BLOG & news items
some PHOTOS from our life
Every year on March 14th, I look back, way back to March 14, 1987…back more than 25 years ago. That was when we opened the doors of our very first bookstore, Mansion Book Merchants in Davis. It was a very good day, one of the best in my life. It was a day full of hope.
Who knew then,
how many more days we would have, opening other doors, in other locations?
Check out where words run free and sometimes simply stagger about.
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