Friday June 30
LENDING: If digital e-books do one day move from the curious
to the commonplace, what will become of libraries? “For instance,
is it possible to "lend" a digital book? Will Internet
piracy and digital libraries prompt publishing houses to move
to radical new business models such as subscription-based online
reading rooms or advertising-sponsored e-books?” A new Australian
Copyright Amendment currently before the Senate would allow libraries
to distribute copyrighted books without paying royalties to authors.
Authors, of course, are opposed.
Morning Herald 06/30/00
POTTER'S LITTLE SECRET: There has been a good deal of
secrecy surrounding the impending release of the next Harry Potter
novel. No one can get an advance copy, no one knows what the plot
is, and booksellers kept getting mixed messages on what the title
would be. An elaborate marketing plan? Nothing so clever.
Up until very recently, the book wasn't finished - author J.K.
Rowling was scrambling to meet her deadline. New
York Observer 07/03/00
Thursday June 29
Is Amazon.com in trouble?
Some analysts think so. "Can you really imagine a world without
Amazon? No purchase circles, an Amazon invention where you can
learn that folks in Shepherdstown are reading 'Magical Mushrooms,
Mischievous Molds' and readers in Upper Marlboro prefer 'A Setback
Is a Setup for a Comeback'? What would life be like for obsessive
authors without hourly updates on bestseller lists? And collaborative
filtering software telling us that customers who ordered 'Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire' are also clamoring for Seamus Heaney's
translation of 'Beowulf'?" Washington
Wednesday June 28
REALLY READING? “Now sprouting at every portal, community
forum and chat room near you, online book discussions have been
lauded as the ''stickiest'' thing since grape Bubble Yum.” But,
are they really any more popular than the old coffee-klatch variety?
Are they really getting people to read more? And, most importantly
to publishers, is all the marketing of online book clubs doing
anything to boost sales? Inside.com
Tuesday June 27
PRESS: The president of McClelland & Stewart, donates
75 percent of the company's shares to the University of Toronto.
He says he made the extraordinary donation in order to avoid a
sale that would see the legendary publishing house - one of Canada's
largest publishers - broken up into smaller pieces.
ASTONISHING THING TO DO: Gift has "astonished, befuddled
and ultimately impressed the Canadian publishing community."
BEHIND THE GIFT: For years, regulations have made it legally
impossible for a foreign firm to buy majority control of a
Canadian-owned publishing company. The theory is that Canadian
culture flourishes best in institutions owned by Canadians,
and M&S has been the spectacular proof: Many foreign firms
operate here, but not one of them has ever approached the
contribution of M&S to Canadian literature. The new arrangement
does not violate the rules, but it uniquely allows Random
House to play a part in the company's future. That opens the
deal to criticism that it violates the spirit though not the
letter of the regulations. National
By the time he died in 1992,
author Alex Haley had amassed boxes of research for another novel
in the tradition of his "Roots" epic. His estate went
searching for a writer to take over the project, and came up with
a novelist who writes in the supernatural suspense genre and is
a former Miami Herald feature writer.
Friday June 23
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE WORK:
Canadian bookseller Chapters
has yanked this year's Robertson Davies Prize for books. The man
who won, believing the judges wanted a woman to win, submitted
his entry under a pseudonym. When the Chapters people found out,
they pulled the prize because they say they were "elaborately
and deliberately misled by the author."
Simon & Schuster has
an idea about how to get into the digital world in a big way -
find articles, novellas and speeches of between 15,000 and 40,000
words by its writers and authors to be e-published on the web.
One catch, though - the giant book publisher wants to pay $1,000
a piece. ''I'm trying not to be outraged,'' says one well-known
S&S author who was invited to e-publish. But, this writer
admits, the $1,000 offer is insulting, and far less than most
established authors get for magazine articles that are usually
FERLINGHETTI LAMENTS POETRY: "Today in the United States,
the poet has no real place or status. In Latin America and in
some European and Middle Eastern countries, poets are still honored
in society, but in North America what other city except San Francisco
appoints a poet laureate every year?" Exquisite
Thursday June 22
TO A BOOK:
Several recent magazine articles
get converted into lucrative book contracts. There is, of course,
nothing new about turning articles into books. But "the question
really is whether these concepts would have as quickly and as
lucratively become books had they not been prominent magazine
articles and instead were peddled only through the traditional
method of authors' agents submitting written, often lengthily,
book proposals to editors and publishers."
Times 06/22/00 (one-time
registration required for entry)
It's estimated that only
about one percent of the graduates of creative writing programs
go on to have successful writing careers. This despite a thriving
business to educate writers. "Writers have become dependent
on academies for the peace and funds with which to pursue their
art. Once in the university, they have had to do something in
return for the funds, and what they have done is to set up programs
in creative writing. At last count there were more than 300 such
programs granting more than 1,000 degrees a year. "Together
they’ve probably turned out 75,000 official ‘writers.' "
What is a text? How does
your understanding of the author's intent and references change
your experience of the text? And where does hypertext take you?
"Consider the possibility that every written work is a hypertext,
a fabric of many works woven together. Despite how original, unique
or authoritative any text might appear to be, it's really a hypertext
with links into hundreds or thousands of other works." *spark-online
Wednesday June 21
YORKER STILL RULES: Even before the issue is off the newsstands,
two of the four debut short story writers published in the current
New Yorker fiction issue have signed book deals.
Tuesday June 20
OF A NON-GENERATION: Dave Eggers
has been anointed the new new thing for his debut book. And certainly
the attention is well deserved. But many of the glowing tributes
miss the point of his "anti" memoir. In fact, it's more
like an "ultra" memoir, "almost confessional
in its eagerness to put virtually every question of substance,
memory, and motive plainly before the reader. And the habits that
mark Eggers's writing - the suspicion of all that purports to
be authentic, the constant urge to peer behind the curtain - seem
less like examples of "the latest postmodern hardware," than
characteristics of a certain generational vernacular, whose sources
are widely recognized (six hours of television a day, advertising
metastasized to every cranny of life, and the conventions of post-Watergate
journalism, to name a few), but whose real purpose is just as
widely misunderstood. American
Monday June 19
THINKING IN NEW CLOTHES:
Retro glue attaches
old thinking, old values, and old habits to new technologies.
Retro glue can be a comfort, allowing the best elements of the
old to adhere to the new so that we can see how similar the new
thing is to our old standbys. It's what drove Model T's to look
like buggies, what prompted early movies to be staged like theater.
The e-book devices all strive to present a page of text exactly
like a familiar printed page, and the button that turns each "page"
doesn't even require you to consult a user's manual. But retro
glue can also attach things that don't belong. And the retro glue
dripping off the e-book may, I fear, attach the worst of the last
century's paradigm of intellectual property to the new century's
publishing models. Chronicle
of Higher Education 06/19/00
ELECTRONS: M.J. Rose, the "Postergirl of E-Publishing"
e-xplains the world of publishing your work online.
The Idler 06/19/00
Sunday June 18
FROM AFAR: Canada has turned out some first-rate writers,
writers whose talent has been recognized internationally. But
"Canadian society is incapable of making a book a 'classic';
we cannot 'elect,' as it were, books of significance. As a society
we are still excited by Anne of Green Gables." So we let
the Americans do it for us.
Post (Canada) 06/18/00
Friday June 16
of the Dublin authorities' failure to save the setting for Joyce's
short story The Dead, Brendan Kilty has decided to do it
himself. He has bought 15 Ushers Island, a derelict Liffey quayside
house, and intends returning it to the way it was in the writer's
Times (London) 06/16/00
NOT THE BIGS:
After seven months of study, a Canadian
government commission studying the publishing industry concludes
"that bookstore giant Chapters and its wholesale outlet Pegasus
are not the problem that some of the small bookstores and publishers
have alleged." CBC
Thursday June 15
REVEALED: A new version of "Great Gatsby" surfaces
- this the pre-edit draft that gives some insight into the creation
of the man. "This early version is Gatsby before the final
fitting: That gorgeous pink rag of a suit is baggy in places;
in that soft, rich heap of beautiful shirts, some have collars
that are too loose and sleeves a touch too long." New
York Observer 06/14/00
FOR THE SENSES: Many have called it the greatest novel of
the 20th century - James Joyce's "Ulysses" certainly
seems to stir up the passions of some of the world's most intelligent
people. June 16th is Bloomsday (the day in which Ulysses takes
place), and Australian Joyce-ophiles will celebrate by eating,
reading...and breathing heavily. The
Sydney Morning Herald 06/15/00
Wednesday June 14
UNCERTAINTY: "At some date in the future, the book industry
will look back on the middle of the year 2000 as a period in purgatory.
From some perspectives, e-books appear to be a golden goose, an
innovative medium to attract a new audience of young, hip, computer-savvy
readers. But, from other points of view, these digitized 'products'
seem to be soulless replacements for the ink-on-paper friends
of a lifetime."
A BITE OUT OF HISTORY:
Jacques Barzun's ambitious
new book attempting to contextualize 500 years of history is getting
warm reviews everywhere. "In his gigantic tome, Barzun wades
willfully into the miasma known as cultural history. Along the
way he discovers the swampy depths - and the occasional high ground
- of Western life. 'I don't believe that history is cyclical,'
he says. 'It's much more mixed up.' His operative metaphor is
a kaleidoscope, not a Ferris wheel." Washington
Tuesday June 13
Is post-modern fiction
a fiction itself? After all, it is a "form of writing that
defeats readers' expectations of coherence, as experimental narrative
that plays with generic conventions, as fiction that dwells on
ambiguity and uncertainty." Who's to know what the right
Post (Canada) 06/13/00
Monday June 12
OF THE WEB:
Stephen King is encouraged
by the internet success of the novella he released on the web
this spring. So he plans to serialize a story on the web. "King
proposes fans pay $1 per installment and suggests everyone be
on the honor system. He said he'll cease publication if too many
people steal the story. 'But I just don't believe that will happen.
I mean, we're talking a buck a pop here, right?' " Wired
NOT TO READ:
Harold Bloom takes an e-book
for a spin, and... well, the results are rather predictable. "For
me the Internet is like the Congo. I know it exists, but I will
never go there." On e-text: "Intimacy with a [computer]
screen is, I suppose, possible, but if there are descriptions
of it available, I would rather not see them."
IN YOUR FACE AND EROTIC":Two thousand years after they
were written, six poems by a woman who lived in ancient Rome are
to be published. "Sulpicia's contemporaries were Ovid and
Horace, but while their work has been feted in the centuries since
they created it, Sulpicia has been largely ignored and marginalised."
FOR $99: The cost of publishing a book yourself has dropped
with the internet and more and more authors are taking advantage
of it. "My goal is to see the book read by and understood
by a few thousand people. Obviously when you are young you dream
of an advance, hardcover sale, foreign rights, movie sales, TV
sales, but in my maturity I am being more realistic."
Sunday June 11
COMPLICATED LIFE: Author
Martin Amis at age 50 has
gotten around to explaining his life in a new memoir. " 'Experience'
is an astonishing memoir, and destined to be imitated by self-chroniclers
looking to escape the confines of chronology."
Plain Dealer 06/11/00
Friday June 9
HAVE TIME TO READ THEM? New websites that publish books online
theoretically give anyone the ability to publish a book. But how
many of the hundreds of thousands of new e-books will be read?
"How will they be discovered? Sophisticated search
engines? Maybe -- but only if you already know what you are looking
for. Word of mouth? PR and promotion? Perhaps, but that takes
more time and money than most authors have." *spark-online
TOP TO BOTTOM: Earlier this week Linda Grant, a features writer
for The Guardian, won the Orange Prize for Fiction for her book
"When I Lived in Modern Times." Now she's been accused
of lifting passages of her novel from a recent history book about
1940s Palestine. The
Times (London) 06/09/00
WANTS TO WIN A NATIONAL BOOK AWARD?
Herewith a primer on how to get your book dressed for success.
Wednesday June 7
CRUSH: London columnist Linda Grant’s first novel, “When I
Lived in Modern Times” won the UK’s Orange Prize, beating out
Zadie Smith’s much-hyped “White Teeth.” Now in its fifth year,
the Orange Prize was set up to celebrate women novelists from
around the world, after the Booker Prize repeatedly overlooked
women authors in its shortlists. The
MATTERS: The publishing industry is rife with questions about
the future of the printed word: Is the book as we know it nearing
extinction? Or will downloadable e-books and print-on-demand machines
actually reinvigorate the world of reading? Seven industry insiders
discuss the future of the printed (or printless) word. Newsweek
PROSE: Everyone was talking e-books at this year's BookExpo.
Well, almost everyone; a few subversives still linger: "I
think the book is an amazing bit of technology," Martin Amis
asserted with his familiar, welterweight edge. "I like to
write on my books, bend the pages, make little marks. I read with
a pen in my hand, and I would like to be read with a pen in the
reader's hand. Reading a book is communing with the author. I
think you need the page in your hand, the weight of it, as part
of that process."
Philadelphia Inquirer 06/07/00
Tuesday June 6
Monday June 5
ME WORRY? Attendees at this years BookExpo America shrugged
off worries about electronic publishing, online bookselling and
corporate consolidation of the business. Book publishing is in
pretty good shape after all. Pittsburgh
THOMAS WOLFE'S WORK: It's something of an American publishing
legend that back in 1928 book editor Maxwell Perkins cut 60,000
words from Thomas Wolfe's manuscript to sculpt the masterpiece
"Look Homeward, Angel." This fall a restored version
of Wolfe's work will be published for the first time. "Some
Wolfe lovers believe it will prove just how funny and irreverent
Wolfe really was and how Perkins, a prim young editor who never
used a curse stronger than "My God!," got hold of one
of our country's most ambitious novels and cut out its heart."
Sunday June 4
TAKE IT TO THE NET: Independent booksellers can't agree on
mush beyond who their common enemies are. But they have agreed
on a website to help market their books - two websites, actually.
But some worry that the indies have entered the fray too late.
registration required for entry)
Friday June 2
Speaking to the Book
Expo America convention, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos "predicted
that e-commerce probably would not take over the marketplace.
He expects that 10 years from now, only about 15 percent of sales
would take place online." Inside.com
CHAMPAGNE & DIGITAL DIP: The
book party has taken a decidedly techno turn - from the lobbies
of intimate bookstore and chic restaurants onto the internet.
Erotic-novelist M.J. Rose recently celebrated the launch of her
latest book at an online chatroom, where champagne glasses clinked
without a sound. Salon
Thursday June 1
- YOU THOUGHT HE LOVED THE WRITING?
Steven Spielberg recently paid $2 million for a first novel by
French architect Marc Levy. The book was a bestseller in France
as soon as it hit the shelves last winter, yet Spielberg hadn’t
even read it when he flew Levy to New York for meetings. “So doesn't
anyone object to the fact that literature can now be bought and
sold at a colossal price solely on the basis of a minimal plot
What could possibly be gained by having 107 writers from 43 European
countries spend six weeks on a train together traveling through
11 countries and 19 cities? “Reclaiming public places for literature
and deciding “what Europe means," says the organizer of this
summer’s bizarre “lit. express.” Die
Welt (Berlin) 06/01/00
This year's Book Expo
America is beginning, and prominent among the 10,000 registered
to attend is a legion of Dotcoms - Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
is the keynote speaker at a gathering fixed on the future.