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Wednesday January 31

  • AND I CHARGE $50 AN HOUR: The Australian book publishing world is talking about a well-known editor who is suing a first-time author - a former client - for editing fees. Sydney Morning Herald 01/31/01

Tuesday January 30

  • ANNA REVISITED: In Russia, a new rewritten updated verion of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" has critics outraged. The story has been turned into "an 80-page cartoon strip with lurid illustrations that owe more to Judge Dredd than Tolstoy. And to make the drama more immediate, the artists have jettisoned the backdrop of late 19th-century high society in favour of 1990s Russia. Anna and Vronsky's liaison no longer develops in salons and ballrooms but sushi bars and strip clubs, alongside characters who cut lines of coke with their credit cards and send billet doux in the form of text messages." Books Unlimited 01/30/01 
  • THE SHARIN' OF THE GREEN. Some fifty books of Irish interest are due for publication on or about St. Patrick's Day. Much of the credit goes to Frank McCourt, for "Angela's Ashes" and "Tis". But there's more than McCourt in the recent success of Irish and Irish-like writers. "[T]he Irish-American of today reads more than his immigrant forebears, and... you don't have to be Irish to like a good Irish story." Publishers Weekly 01/29/01
  • NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALISTS: were announced Monday. Jacques Barzun ("From Dawn to Decadence"), Zadie Smith ("White Teeth"), and Amy Bloom ("A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You") were among the nominees. New York Times (AP)1/30/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • THE ONLINE NEW YORKER: The New Yorker magazine has made a deal with Microsoft and Barnes & Noble to publish e-books. And while most Conde Nast magazines have had their websites postponed to later this summer, the New Yorker was granted special dispensation to hit the web in February. Variety 01/30/01

Monday January 29

  • ANCIENT WONDER REBORN: It took 11 years and £120 million the project to rebuild Alexandria Library, "the most famous library of all time in one of the world's poorest countries. That was the legendary library founded by Alexander the Great and built by his Greek general, Ptolemy I, King of Egypt and his son Ptolemy II, Shelley's Ozymandias." The Guardian (London) 01/29/01
  • WRITER JAILED FOR HIS WORK: An Egyptian court has sentenced writer Salah-Eddine Mohsen to three years in jail for "among other things, writing that the Quran, Islam's holy book, was outdated. But during the trial he told the court that he was a believer and that he did not mean to offend Islam or negate its basic tenets in his writings." Nando Times (AP) 01/29/01
  • NEW AGE OF SPANISH LIT: "After years of notorious conservatism, Hispanic literary studies is finally catching up. The whole idea of a "golden age" of great Spanish writers - Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Calderon - is now under scrutiny. Finally welcoming feminism, new historicism, gender theory, and cultural studies, professors of Spanish are asking new questions about those old eminences: For whom were the 16th and 17th centuries a golden age?" Chronicle of Higher Education 01/29/01

Sunday January 28

  • WHO INVENTED THE PRINTING PRESS? If you answered Gutenberg, you'd be wrong say researchers. "Two scholars contend that the metal mold method of printing attributed to Gutenberg was probably invented by someone else about 20 years after Gutenberg printed his Bible." New York Times 01/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Friday January 26

  • 50 YEARS OF "CATCHER", ON THE SLY: J.D. Salinger's classic novel of teen angst marks its fiftieth anniversary in 2001. But naturally, you won't be hearing a word out of the famously hermitlike author. Nor will the publisher of "Catcher in the Wry" be making a huge marketing push, since Salinger has a habit of suing people who dare to speak of him in public. But the nation's bookstores will certainly take notice. Nando Times (AP), 1/25/01

Wednesday January 24

  • MATTHEW KNEALE WINS WHITBREAD Book of the Year Prize for his novel "English Passengers," a story of a group of British colonialists in Tasmania. BBC 1/24/01
    • AN INTERVIEW WITH KNEALE : "I think people will always disagree on whether prizes go to the right books but the very fact that there is a debate will encourage people to read good books whether they're on a list or not." The Guardian (London) 1/18/01 [Text and Real audio clips]
  • LOST AND FOUND: The original manuscript of Céline’s masterpiece, "Journey to the End of the Night" - which has been missing for more than 50 years and hotly pursued by French researchers - has been discovered by a Parisian bookseller. The manuscript, written in black ink and crayon, was last seen in 1943 when the ill and destitute Céline sold it for a pittance. "Its reappearance, after 50 years of mystery, is a literary bomb, as explosive as the book's original publication in 1932." The Guardian (London) 1/23/01
  • POET MICHAEL LONGLEY WINS T.S. ELIOT PRIZE for his collection "The Weather in Japan." The award is given each year to the best collection of new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. CBC 1/23/01

Tuesday January 23

  • E-PUBLISHING LIVES: Is e-publishing dead? "Despite recent reports that there has been little change in readers' reluctance to accept e-books, Fictionwise seems to be proving - at least with short fiction in the horror/sci-fi/mystery genres - that there is indeed a viable market." Wired 01/2301
  • THE NEW SYNERGY: Electronics retailer Future Shop will buy Canadian book superstore Chapters. "Future Shop's friendly deal to buy Chapters is undoubtedly the next wave of synergy. Makes you wonder why Canadian Tire doesn't buy Tiffany's so you don't have to schlep to two stores for antifreeze and diamonds." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/23/01

Monday January 22

  • TWAIN TURNS UP: An unpublished Mark Twain manuscript turns up and The New Yorker and The Atlantic magazines vie to publish it. "It would be wrong to say that this is the missing masterpiece of Mark Twain. But it was written after `Tom Sawyer,' and it anticipates `Huck Finn,' and it is charming and interesting and very much in the Twain tradition." The New York Times 01/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • RESCUE OR RIPOFF? "For 30 years, 'Books In Canada' provided reviews, author interviews and commentary on Canadian literature until it stopped publishing in early 2000 because of financial difficulty. Amazon.com stepped in this week and announced it would sponsor publication of 10 issues of the magazine in 2001 and 12 issues in 2002. But instead of receiving congratulations, the e-tailer's announcement has been greeted with outrage." Wired 01/19/01
  • LITTLE HOUSE ROYALTIES: A Missouri judge has ruled that a rural state library has a claim to the lucrative copyrights for two "Little House on the Prairie" books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. "The ruling is the latest in a dispute about who owns the rights to one of the best-selling series of children's books in history. Publishing experts have estimated the value of royalties from Wilder's estate in the tens of millions of dollars." Philadelphia Inquirer 01/22/01

Sunday January 21

  • SO WHAT IF YOU'RE DEAD: Six years after playwright John Osborne died, his widow has received a demand from her husband's publisher requesting "repayment of the full figure of the advance - £20,000 - that Osborne had been paid for the third volume of his autobiography." The Observer (London) 01/21/01

Friday January 19

  • NO PEACE FOR PAZ: The legacy of one of Mexico's most famous and revered writers, Octavio Paz is being hindered by a feud between the late Nobel author's widow and the historian hired to head oup the Paz Foundation. "These days the two barely speak and their feud has become the talk of Mexico. At stake is the legacy of one of Mexico's icons, its only Nobel Prize winner (in 1990) in literature." Washington Postr 01/18/01

Thursday January 18

  • THE YEAR IN BOOKS: Okay, so it's another book awards list - but this is one you probably don't want to be on: Barnes & Noble wins one for its tactic of having its lawyers pressure a group of New England booksellers to ''cease and desist' from using the word 'discover' in their advertising. B & N said they owned exclusive rights to the word because they'd used it first. The company backed down after three weeks of intensive ridicule in the trade press." The Idler 01/18/01
  • LITERARY FORENSICS: Don Foster first came to prominence when he devined, upon close reading, that a dull poem he had found in the UCLA library had been written by Shakespeare. Since then he has been called on to determine authorship of a ragtag collection of texts - from the "anonymous" of "Primary Colors" to notes in the Theodore Kaczynski criminal trial and JonBenet Ramsey murder investigation. Village Voice 01/17/01

Wednesday January 17

  • A CELEBRATION OF WHAT? As part of inauguration week, the new president's wife Laura holds a lunch to celebrate America's writers. And who is invited? "These are America's best authors? Or most representative, or most important, or even most reactionary? No, on all counts. Instead they're a few decent writers, two hacks (apolitical for a change, in Washington) and a baker's dozen of writers for everybody's favorite readership, kids." San Francisco Chronicle 01/17/01
  • HOW TO UPDATE A CLASSIC: The 144-year-old Atlantic Monthly, with a venerated history of publishing some of America’s finest literary talent (including Emerson and Thoreau), is trying hard to adapt to the harsh realities of putting out a magazine in the 21st century. "If you are Michael Kelly, the editor in chief, you have a dual mission, which is to light a bonfire without scaring readers off the hearth." New York Times 1/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Tuesdsay January 16

  • DROWNING WATER: The winner of this year's Canadian literary Award for Poetry. Saturday Night 01/13/01
  • BACK AT CORPORATE:Consolidations and mergers in the publishing business have been rampant. "The pace of change is like a runaway train, not only with merger upon merger but with a not-so-gradual shift from editorial (with complementary sales-centered) philosophies to financial-growth and marketing-centered ones. At times in recent decades the struggle between the editorial-minded and the fiscal-minded has seemed like trench warfare." MediaChannel 12/00
  • CHILDREN’S LIT. AWARDS: The Newbery and Caldecott medals for children’s literature (often referred to as the "Pulitzer Prizes of children’s books") were awarded today to Richard Peck and David Small. New York Times 1/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Monday January 15

  • WHAT'S THE ATTRACTION? "America's best-selling poet is a 13th-century Persian mystic, who often danced while reciting to his disciples. Now he is whirling circles around Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Walt Whitman. Jalal al-Din Rumi composed more than 70,000 lines of verse about love and desire and the human condition before his death in 1273." Chronicle of Higher Education 01/15/01
  • EVERYONE'S AN AUTHOR: As publishing electronically becomes more popular, more "authors" go online. One consequence: book reviewers are being inundated by those wanting their book reviewed. One guy wrote ''a thinly-disguised revenge book directed at his former boss who fired him. He told me in a follow-up telephone call that he had a terminal illness and wanted to see the book reviewed before he died. I didn't review it, so he took an ad out in the paper saying 'Read the book that the Democrat-Gazette refuses to review'.'' Athens Daily News (Georgia) 01/15/01

Thursday January 11

  • REJECTED WITH DIGINTY: A new website celebrates the rejection letters writers get from publishers and editors. "I want people to be immunized about rejection. Just because someone says the most demeaning, horrible things to you doesn't mean it's true." The New York Times 01/11/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • BLACK LIKE ME: "One of the more invigorating happenings in the industry in recent years has been the emergence of black readers as an economic force. Or, more precisely, the recognition that blacks are such a power. There are, for instance, five new or relatively new imprints in major publishing houses devoted to fiction and nonfiction by black writers on black subjects." The New York Times 01/11/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Wednesday January 10

  • THE POET AS A YOUNG MAN: At 95, recently-appointed American Poet Laureate Stanley Kunitz has had a long and distinguished career. But in his early years, working as a reporter and in the obscurer reaches of publishing, Kunitz lived mostly outside the poetry world, and entirely outside academia. It would be easy to credit this for the lack of notice the early poems received, but the truth is that most of them weren’t very good." Boston Review 01/01

Monday January 8

  • THE FUTURE NO ONE WANTS? Everyone's talking about e-books and how they're the future of publishing. Just one problem: "They're new; they're hot; they're ready to revolutionize reading! Yet almost nobody will touch them." Washington Post 01/08/01

Friday January 5

  • CHAIN GANG: The head of the company trying to make a hostile takeover of Canada's Chapters book superstore chain has charged the book retailer with "improper disclosure and insider dealing." He claims that Canada has an "overcapacity" in the book retailing business and that his company's takeover of Chapters would mean that "shareholders, book publishers and consumers would win through a merger of the two companies." National Post (Canada) 01/05/01

Thursday January 4

  • TURF WAR: "While publishers are seeking to sell electronic books directly to readers, Barnesandnoble.com is trying to cut out the publisher by acquiring rights directly from authors and releasing their electronic books. Both sides are investing heavily, although no one knows whether electronic books, downloaded and read on computer screens, will ever catch on." New York Times 01/04/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • PRINT THIS: Everyone talks about the changing role of publishers in an e-book world. But what about printers? "E-books will become an increasing threat to traditional books as e-book devices improve and decline in price. Digitization will free book content for other uses. Successful printers will look for opportunities to be a part of this process, becoming "publishing partners, not just printers." Publishers Weekly 01/02/01
  • WHITBREAD WINNERS/FINALISTS ANNOUNCED: Winners for best novel: Matthew Kneale, for poetry: John Burnside, for first novel: Zadie Smith, and biography: Lorna Sage. The four are shortlisted for the the main prize of Book of the Year - and the £22,500 prize money - to be announced later this month. BBC 01/04/01

Wednesday January 3

  • CHANGING ECONOMICS? "Everyone concerned with literature wants to know what is going to happen to the homely old trade of book publishing in the Era of the Net." For one thing, maybe "brand name authors no longer need publishers; and more controversially maybe some publishing houses might have better balance sheets if they didn't have to pony up the immense sums paid to these brand names - $64 million, was it, to Mary Higgins Clark?" The New Republic 12/28/00

Tuesday January 2

  • LEFTOVERS, REJECTS, REMAINDERS, WHATEVER: "What do you do with the thousands of surplus copies of a big book that bombs? That question is on the minds of many publishers this week as they survey the results of the holiday season amid signs that books may not be immune to the sluggish sales at other retail stores. And in the uniquely politicized climate of the book business, rife with tensions among publishers, bookstore chains and smaller stores, how publishers try to unload the unwanted volumes can be a touchy subject." New York Times 01/01/01 (one-time registration required for access)
  • PINSKY TAKES POETRY TO PROS: Former American poet laureate Robert Pinsky has taken poetry to the people with his Favorite Poem Project. But until now he's "steered clear of English professors as he evangelized for poetry among the American people, assembling his collection of poems from some 25,000 submissions by ordinary citizens." But last week he took his project to the annual convention of academic critics and scholars of the Modern Languages Association, "a shift from the marketplace, towards the academy, from the public square, to the ivory tower, and might have contained a hint of intellectual danger in earlier days." The Idler 01/01/01

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