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Thursday, October 30

Writing The New LA Los Angeles' literary scene is getting increasing attention. Indy writers there "don't discuss six-figure advances and movie deals. Their artistic touchstones include pop music, art, drugs, sex, and what seems to be a prevalently southern California curiosity about murder. Most important, many of L.A.'s contingent of talented underground writers are influenced by, if not graduated from, the art programs at this city's increasingly prestigious art schools - Cal Arts, Otis College of Art and Design, and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The writing coming from these programs is something like the art - there's a tendency to use frank, bold, anti-intellectual forms to filter raw, sometimes lurid, content." Christian Science Monitor 10/31/03

Churching Up The Chick Lit It's no secret that evangelical Christianity has a strong hold on America these days, and religion in general is said to be of great importance to most Americans. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that the publishing industry is looking for new ways to tap the market. One of the more successful strategies thus far has been the combining of tangentially religious subject matter with existing literary sub-genres, such as the post-feminist grouping known as "chick lit." Think Bridget Jones without all the drinking and carousing. USA Today 10/30/03

Does Hogwarts Cause Headaches? A Washington doctor is claiming that the latest installment in the Harry Potter series can cause migraine headaches and undue stress in young children attempting to plow through the book's 870 pages. Dr. Howard Bennett says that he has treated at least three cases of severe headache brought on when kids refuse to put the book down for any reason, until they've completed it. "The obvious cure for this malady - that is, taking a break from reading - was rejected by two of the patients." BBC 10/30/03

Wednesday, October 29

Norwegian Bestseller - Got It Wrong In Kabul? A Norwegian journalist observes an Afghan family, then writes a best-selling book about them. The subject of the book is outraged, and flies to Europe to protest. "Since then, the public confrontation over "The Bookseller of Kabul" has become the talk of Norway, with televised debates galore, some newspapers jumping at the chance to run photographs of the striking blond author and more serious newspapers arguing the political correctness of first world journalists judging third world cultural traditions." The New York Times 10/29/03

Book-Of-The-Month Club (With A Twist) Write a book in a month? That's the premise of a competition in which you have to write 50,000 words (175 pages) in 30 days. "Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create." The number of winners - writers who cross the 50,000-word finish line - has grown from six out of 20 in 1999 to more than 2,000 out of 14,000 in 2002, with 4,000 expected to qualify this year. The Guardian (UK) 10/29/03

Everyone Loves A Good Brawl In America, the debate over whether newspapers have a right to kill negative book reviews in order not to offend readers and authors has been raging in recent weeks. Meanwhile, in the UK, book reviewers regularly take great delight in savaging not only the works of famous authors, but the authors themselves. (Can you imagine an American review comparing a novel to "catching your favourite uncle masturbating in the school yard," as a British review of Martin Amis's latest recently did?) The British approach to literary criticism might be exhausting, says Kate Taylor, but it's exhilirating, too, and vastly preferable to the vague disinterest favored by North American critics. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/29/03

DoubleTake Hopes For Take Two The Boston-based documentary magazine known as DoubleTake ceased publication this summer, less than a year after a big-money benefit concert pumped $1 million into its coffers. A lack of direction combined with an unrealistic business plan seem to be what sunk the publication, and "if DoubleTake returns, the somewhat esoteric magazine, noted for striking photography and pieces about North Dakota farmers and descendants of the US Confederacy living in Brazil, will be reincarnated with more immediacy and mass appeal." Boston Globe 10/29/03

Tuesday, October 28

Amazon... In Search Of Not Paying For Books Amazon's new search function that allows browsers to search pages of thousands of books seems like a great thing. But some authors and publishers have concerns. "Authors Guild staff members had managed to view and print as many as 100 consecutive pages of several books by searching repeatedly for different terms. Recipes from some cookbooks and details from travel books were also available, meaning that users could print recipes or destination descriptions without buying the books. You don't even have to wait for Amazon to deliver." The New York Times 10/27/03

Lethal Weapon - Book Review As Blunt Object Dale Peck is "a 36-year-old novelist and critic who has created a furor in the literary world by lobbing grenades in the back pages of The New Republic intended not to disparage, not to bring down a peg, but to destroy his victims - usually established writers whom Peck deems a threat to literature. To puncture the inflated reputations of these (mostly) Living White Males is a matter of the greatest urgency, Peck seems to believe, and he goes about the task with a crusader's obsessive zeal. At the end of a Peck essay, his subjects - Philip Roth, Julian Barnes, Colson Whitehead - are wounded, their books in ruins, massacred." New York Times Magazine 10/26/03

The Right To Withhold Your Name As a rule, newspaper readers don't pay a lot of attention to bylines. So a 'byline strike,' when it occurs, is the sort of semi-private protest which doesn't raise many eyebrows, except within the industry. Still, when journalists at the Montreal Gazette withheld their bylines two years ago, they were ordered to reinstate them by the paper's corporate owner, CanWest Global, and forbidden from talking to other journalists about the issue. Yesterday, a Quebec tribunal ruled that journalists have an absolute legal right to withhold their bylines, and though the ruling may go unnoticed by most Canadians, Antonio Zerbisias says that everyone who prizes independent thought should be celebrating. Toronto Star 10/28/03

Monday, October 27

Is Big Read "Anti-Literary?" The BBC's Big Read aims to have the public vote on their 100 favorite books of all time. But some criticize the exerciseas being "anti-literary." "Somebody said that The Big Read was not just un-literary but anti-literary and I think that's right. It is based on the assumption that the opinion of the public is always beyond reproach." BBC 10/27/03

Amazon's New Intellectual Search Critics are oohing and ahing over Amazon's new search feature that throws the pages of thousands of books in a search engine. One of the things you can do is find which public intellectuals get the most citations. Probably doesn't mean anything, of course. A few years ago Richard Posner came up with a ranking of intellectuals based on article mentions. The new ranking? It's different... Slate 10/27/03

In Praise Of Libraries For all their excellence, libraries are low in glamor. "What can a library do to compete with such events as the International Festival of Authors at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre, the announcement of nominees for the Giller Prize and the Governor-General's Award, or the celebrity-cookbook author Indigo is bringing to a suburb near you? It's possible, however, that society's collective inability to appreciate the public library as a vital institution is the library's fault." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/27/03

What Matters, The Booker? So much controversy and hoopla over who wins a literary competition like the Booker. "Perhaps the Booker wars would end if the participants realized that, according to a recent study by one economist, very little is at stake: Judges in aesthetic competitions, according to Victor Ginsburgh, a professor at the University of Brussels, are simply not very good at identifying art works that future generations will acknowledge as great." Boston Globe 10/26/03

Sunday, October 26

NY Review Turns 40 The New York Review of Books celebrates its 40th birthday; since 1963 it has been "the closest thing to a national literary journal in America, its distinctive white-paper bound magazine appearing at two-week intervals. Today, it's a thick publication with 115,000 subscribers. It features lengthy reviews, journalism and commentary by an international list of writers both literary and political, and illustrations by David Levine." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/26/03

Taking A Read Of China "In China, as in America, there is a debate about what constitutes popularity in fiction: Are Yu Hua's best-selling novels a concession to China's newly consumerist culture or a necessary response to the intellectually serious but hopelessly academic "postmodern" fiction in fashion 20 years ago in China? Whereas in the United States this discussion is an aesthetic one, the debate in China has sharper teeth; American writers may fear the culture mafia, but at least they don't have to worry about the Ministry of Culture." Slate 10/24/03

The Atwood Express Margaret Atwood is Canada's reigning literary institution, writes Philip Marchand. "Atwood's place on so many book prize short lists is indicative of her unique position in Canadian letters. Especially since the deaths of Robertson Davies and Mordecai Richler, she has no rival as premier Canadian novelist. Atwood's product clearly has wide appeal, and even those who have strong misgivings about her work, like me, must acknowledge that she has some powerful and exceptional gifts — literary gifts that are particularly suited to a writer of novels." Toronto Star 10/26/03

America As Author Magnet "That Argentine, or Australian, or Iranian, or Afghan author you have bought a ticket to hear is probably flying in from his or her home in the United States — the world's most powerful author magnet. Not only does the place offer freedom to write, but it also offers an abundance of publishers, lots of creative writing programs where authors can find a day job, and a large literary marketplace." Toronto Star 10/26/03

Saturday, October 25

Adding Up The Futility Of Writing The economics of being a writer in Canada just don't add up. Out of that $32 book price, the author gets $3.20. "In Canada, a country of more than 30 million people, a novel is considered to have sold respectably if three thousand copies leave the shelf. You do the math: 3,000 x $3.20, minus 15 per cent, minus hundreds of dollars in expenses, minus your advance on these royalties, divided by four or five (depending on how many years the book took to write), equals, on a bad day, a fairly deep sense of futility." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/25/03

Chaucer Online - BM Puts Canterbury Tales Online For the first time, the Britih Library has put the full 748-page text of the Canterbury Tales online. The book is believed to be the first book printed in England (in 1476). "The library's copies of the first and second editions - so rare that no visitor is allowed to touch them - are now expected to be read electronically by up to a million people in the next six months." The Guardian (UK) 10/25/03

Thursday, October 23

Amazon's Great Digital Archive "An ingenious attempt to illuminate the dark region of books is under way at Amazon.com. Over the past spring and summer, the company created an unrivaled digital archive of more than 120,000 books. The goal is to quickly add most of Amazon's multimillion-title catalog. The entire collection, which went live Oct. 23, is searchable, and every page is viewable." Wired 10/23/03

France's Controversial Lit Prize "France's most important literary prize has this year been characterised by intrigue, subterfuge and drama - not because of the novels, but the unusual handling of the award announcement." The Guardian (UK) 10/24/03

Why You Want To Win A Booker Vernon God Little, a novel by DBC Pierre (a pseudonym,) was listed at 1,124 on the UK's bestseller lists two weeks ago. Then, Pierre was awarded the Man Booker Prize, and his satirical poke at American life shot up to 18th on the list. Not a bad upgrade, but Pierre still trails last year's winner, Yann Martel, which remains at #10. BBC 10/22/03

Wednesday, October 22

Seattle's Bookfest On The Chopping Block? Seattle's Bookfest saw attendance this drop to 9000 this year - less than half its regular number, after the festival instituted a $10 ticket fee. Now organizers are pondering whether this is the end for the 13-year-old event. "Bookfest's continuing travails may seem surprising in a city that boasts one of the country's most active book cultures. But Seattle's prominence as a book town has been a blessing and a curse for Bookfest." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 10/22/03

Orwellian... (In A Good Way?) "Political reporters constantly employ the word 'Orwellian.' Though it stands for the kind of oppressive totalitarian regime he created in Nineteen Eighty-Four, it is now used chiefly to mean political manipulation of language to deceive the public. But we need to reclaim the term’s positive meaning, to suggest the bravery and idealism, the stubborn effort to be honest, in Orwell’s life and art." The New Criterion 10/03

Glam Kid Lit - More About The Author Why are all these celebrities writing children's books? "Everyone agreed there was lots of money and publicity to be made in kid lit. It was a time, after all, when a young British woman — who didn't have a famous name when she started — wrote a series of books about a boy named Harry and, legend has it, became richer than Madonna, and richer, even, than the Queen of England." The New York Times 10/23/03

Book Magazine No More Book Magazine is going out of business. "The magazine, which was founded in 1998, has lost more than $1 million this year and needed more cash. Barnes & Noble, which invested $4.2 million in the publication in 2000 and gave the operation a loan of $2.5 million a year later, has decided to make no further investment." The magazine once had as many as 1.4 million subscribers, but only because B&N gave free first-year subscriptions. Lately its subscriber base was only 150,000. The New York Times 10/22/03

Harbourfront, After The Storm "The International Festival of Authors will be launched tonight in Toronto with a lavish party at Harbourfront Centre's Premiere Dance Theatre, proof positive that it has survived the summer cataclysm of founder Greg Gatenby's ouster. His successor, long-time festival manager Geoffrey Taylor, has cobbled together a 2003 festival that, like some literary fable, contains elements programmed by Gatenby and others by Taylor, with nobody able to tell which is which. That's because neither party feels free to speak." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/22/03

Amazon Turns A Profit "Online retailer Amazon has reported a quarterly profit for the first time outside of the key Christmas sales period. The company said free delivery offers and a new sporting goods store had helped boost revenue by 33%... The results - only the third time in its history Amazon has made a quarterly net profit - were slightly better than most Wall Street estimates." Still, many industry observers believe that the bookselling supercompany is performing far below its potential, and analysts continue to warn that the company's stock is dangerously overvalued. BBC 10/21/03

Tuesday, October 21

Children's Books - Now Big Business "Children’s literature has become such a powerful, dense mass that its gravity is sucking in everyone in sight. Madonna, whose last published work, Sex, involved explicit photographs, stream of consciousness pornography and rape fantasies, has followed it up with English Roses, a tale of four little girls jealous of their beautiful classmate, Binah. Peter Ackroyd, author of biographies of Sir Thomas More and William Blake, has embarked on explaining the world to ten year-olds in a series of children’s educational books for the publisher Dorling Kindersley, while the latest "blow-in" to the genre is Philip Kerr, the Scots thriller writer and author of A Philosophical Investigation and The Shot." The Scotsman 10/21/03

Saving Paris Review The Paris Review was always a struggling literary magazine - low subscriber base and shoestring budget. But "last week's George Plimpton tribute, a celebrity-studded gala at Cipriani on 42nd Street, raised $500,000 for the Paris Review Foundation, bringing the foundation's endowment to about $1 million. Now literary insiders are buzzing about how what used to be a for-profit magazine that lost money every year has turned into a bustling nonprofit with a shot at long-term profitability. Meanwhile, the search for a new editor has begun." Village Voice 10/21/03

Where That $100 Textbook Is Half The Price Why do American textbooks often cost as little as half the price outside the US as they do at home? Publishers say prices are cheaper abroad because students in other countries can't afford American prices. But some American students are catching on and buying their textbooks outside the US for deeply discounted prices. "To the despair of the textbook publishers who are still trying to block such sales, the reimporting of American texts from overseas has become far easier in recent years, thanks both to Internet sites that offer instant access to foreign book prices." The New York Times 10/21/03

Publishing - A Bit Of A Lull? "This is not an age of miracles. There are no contemporary giants at work in our midst. From the international premier league, the Man Booker shortlist, as reliable a guide as any, could only muster Margaret Atwood. Even in America, to which British readers often look for signs of a new dawn, it is hard to think of a single new novel which, in the past year or so, has registered more than a temporary frisson. Nothing wrong about this, of course. Cultural innovation tends to happen cyclically. The boom of the 1980s and 1990s was bound to be followed by a lull. Perhaps we are in a kind of literary Sargasso sea. It certainly feels that way this week. And yet, looking at the bigger picture, these are momentous years for book publishing." The Observer (UK) 10/19/03

Monday, October 20

Governor General Lit Nominations Margaret Atwood is nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award, adding to her Giller and Booker nominations this year. "Otherwise, there was no overlap between the Giller and the Governor General's awards in the fiction category. Elizabeth Hay of Ottawa received a nomination for Garbo Laughs, as did Edeet Ravel of Montreal for Ten Thousand Lovers. Two expatriates are also on the list: Jean McNeil, formerly of Nova Scotia and Toronto, and now living in Britain, for Private View, and Douglas Glover, an Ontarian who resides in Wilton, N.Y., for Elle." Toronto Star 10/20/03

Sunday, October 19

Just When You Think You're Burned Out On Book Fairs It's easy to get burned out on book festivals after awhile. The self-promotion! The over-indulgence of bad books! But: "Generally speaking, you also need to read well in order to navigate and to function efficiently inside the world of electronic media. TV doesn't tell you how to understand TV. No medium has yet arisen that can challenge print as a medium of cultivating intelligence. And novels have a role to play in this regard, as well, because the language of a good novel is prose used to its maximum effect." Toronto Star 10/18/03

Show Me A Man... Philip Marchand thinks that the world of Canadian literature could do with a good, healthy shot of testosterone. "I don't know if there is any wider significance to this year's rash of novels populated by feminized or ineffectual men. There has always been this tendency in Canadian literature, particularly French Canadian literature, but it has never seemed so blatant as now." Regardless of the cause, Marchand finds himself pining for the strong male characters of Mordecai Richler, or at least the suave calm of Robertson Davies' men. Is Canada in the grip of a newly metrosexual literary tradition? Toronto Star 10/18/03

Thursday, October 16

Book Sales Surge In August The economy might be down, but book sales are up. "Preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show a large gain in bookstore sales in August, up 15.5% to $2.11 billion. The Bureau reported that bookstore sales for the first eight months of the year were up 3.3%, to $10.53 billion." Publishers Weekly 10/16/03

Wednesday, October 15

National Book Award Finalists This year's National Book Awards finalists have been named. They are: Shirley Hazzard's "Great Fire," Marianne Wiggins's "Evidence of Things Unseen" (Simon & Schuster), "The Known World," by Edward P. Jones, "A Ship Made of Paper," by Scott Spencer, and "Drop City," by T. C. Boyle. The New York Times 10/16/03

In His Own Words - Booker Winner On His Colorful Past: DBC Pierre knows what it's like to experience "90 flavours of trouble riding on his ass," having been addicted to cocaine and run up such huge debts that he ripped off a friend to the tune of £30,000. Winning the most prestigious literary award in the country worth £50,000 will not counter the lesson of Pierre's past 20 years: that life is "a hard bastard" and "we should count ourselves lucky for just about everything, including drawing breath." The Guardian (UK) 10/16/03

  • So Who Is DBC Pierre? "It was in 1999 or so that, eking out a living as a cartoonist and graphic designer, he suddenly felt compelled to write. The catalyst was a pre-Columbine American television report about a teenage boy arrested for shooting several schoolmates." The New York Times 10/16/03

Ann Godoff's New Crop Ann Godoff, who was fired from Random House last year, is out with her first set of books at new employer Penguin. "The first sign that the Penguin Press is not your run-of-the-mill commercial publisher is the plain-brown-paper catalog cover. Inside, each of the 14 books gets a two-page spread, as opposed to the one-page announcement that many catalogs give most books. Each book cover is shown in black and white (surely, in the flesh, there’ll be some color) and otherwise illustrated with sepia photo strips. Nothing flashy here. The message seems to be: 'We’re Old World—smart and subdued.' Penguin Press is the publishing equivalent of shabby chic. New York Observer 10/15/03

Booker Winner's Improbable Win D.B.C. Pierre's Booker win seems improbable. Pierre is "the pen name of Peter Finlay, 42, a cartoonist, and a reformed gambler and drug addict. He now lives in a remote part of Ireland. The initials stand for Dirty But Clean." He says he absorbed the dialects for his his first-ever book by watching Jerry Springer on TV. Toronto Star 10/15/03

Tuesday, October 14

The Booker Winner's Amazing Display DBC Pierre, who won this year's Booker, said he would use his winnings to pay off some of his many debts. "The virtually unknown author, who won for his debut novel, Vernon God Little, turned last night's prize-giving ceremony in London into an astonishing exercise in self-pity. The prize, which is 35 years old, last witnessed such eccentric scenes in 1972 when the winner, John Berger, pledged to give his cheque to the Black Power movement." The Telegraph (UK) 10/15/03

Patriot's Chilling Effect On E-Book-selling Is the Patriot Act inhibiting online bookselling? "Compared with companies that sell their wares only in stores, online businesses - particularly those engaged in selling so-called expressive materials like books, music and videos - are good candidates for law enforcement requests under the Patriot Act. While off-line customers can avoid creating an audit trail by paying cash for their purchases, consumer anonymity is hard to achieve online, where transactions typically involve credit cards and shipping addresses." The New York Times 10/14/03

The National Writers Union's Bold Gamble "The National Writers Union, founded on the premise that freelance writers can organize and demand better treatment from the industry, always seems to be tangled in one internal struggle or another. But this year, as dire economic realities set in, elected officials have been forced to make decisions that will either ensure the union's long-term survival—or cause it to self-destruct, depending on whose side you line up on." Village Voice 10/14/03

Pierre Wins Booker DBC Pierre has won this year's Booker Prize for his first novel. "Pierre, 42, is the third Australian to win the prize in its 35th year, following in the footsteps of Peter Carey and Thomas Keneally. The chairman of the judges, Professor John Carey, said his team chose Pierre by a margin of four to one." BBC 10/14/03

100 Books In 30 Days... And The Winner Is? A judge of this year's Booker Prize reflects on the practicalities of trying to find the best book published this year. "Theoretically, the chance to read 100 of Britain and the Commonwealth's finest at the rate of three a day (I am a fast reader and I resolved not to hang about with this particular task) ought to prompt all kinds of informed judgments about the state of British fiction here in the foothills of the 21st century. In fact it does nothing of the sort." The Guardian (UK) 10/14/03

A Booker Shortlister's Unsavory Past DBC Pierre is shortlisted for the Booker Prize. But the notoriety brought by the Booker has brought to life some of the author's unsavory past. "The reformed drug addict and gambler admitted to selling his best friend's home and pocketing the proceeds as well as working up debts of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a scheme to find Montezuma's gold in Mexico. Pierre is the nom de plume of an enigmatic Mexican-Australian called Peter Finlay, 42, whose chequered past began to catch up with him last month when he was shortlisted for the prize, arguably the world's most prestigious book award." The Guardian (UK) 10/11/03

Sunday, October 12

The 100 Most Loved Books (In English) Of All Time? The BBC is about to name a list of the 100 most-loved books of all time. But the Observer has come up with its own list. "First of all, our list is fundamentally English and inevitably reflects the age, sex and education of its Observer contributors. We started with an intra-office email, inviting nominations for a top 10. The matrix of replies produced a surprising unanimity. Top of the list were the universal favourites: Austen and Dickens, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. When a vociferous and influential minority, led by the editor, argued for Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales, we had to introduce a few basic rules." The Observer (UK) 10/12/03

Friday, October 10

The Decline Of Frankfurt? The Frankfurt Book Fair is the publishing world's major deal-making event. But the fair is expensive, and increasingly attendees grumble. "Many US publishers have scaled back their presence this year, and the decision of St Martin's Press (Holtzbrinck) to pull out has been watched with interest. Some key US agents have said that the London Book Fair is now a more crucial event on the trading calendar." Bookseller 10/08/03

Thursday, October 9

Lawson Wins First Novel Award A 57-year-old Canadian ex-pat was the surprise winner of this year's Amazon.ca/Books In Canada First Novel Award. Mary Lawson, who lives in the UK, and whose first novel, Crow Lake, has garnered critical acclaim and made the New York Times bestseller list last year, beat out authors Christy Ann Conlin, Aislinn Hunter, Clint Hutzulak, Michael V. Smith, and Marnie Woodrow for the prize. Toronto Star 10/09/03

Wednesday, October 8

A Librarian With Her Own Action Figure Is Nancy Pearl America's most famous librarian? "Ms. Pearl's fame has its roots in the most elementary function of the librarian: pressing a book into a patron's hands and saying, 'Read this.' She fills many roles, but in each of them Ms. Pearl returns to the same transaction. At the Washington Center for the Book, part of the Seattle Public Library and a sponsor of author readings and events, she oversaw the 'If All Seattle Read the Same Book' program, which is essentially one gigantic book recommendation. (The program has since been tried by other cities, including New York and Chicago.)" The New York Times 10/09/03

Carson Wins The Forward "Ciaran Carson, the Belfast writer who has spent his life pondering the perfect fry - bacon, eggs, sausage, black pudding with fadge [fried bread] and soda farls, cut in triangles, washed down with Punjana tea, and a cigarette - wins the Forward Prize, poetry's answer to the Booker." The Guardian (UK) 10/08/03

Blogging Your Way To Stardom The phenomenon known as "blogging" is creating a new breed of writer, and a new way for magazines and publishing houses to identify their future stars. "Back in the Dark Ages, starting out in journalism used to mean late nights covering school board meetings or writing features about the circus coming to town." But many young writers are bypassing this early part of the typical journalistic career trajectory by getting themselves noticed with cheap and popular online repositories of their work. Chicago Tribune 10/08/03

Tuesday, October 7

Wal-Mart's Magazine Clout Wal-Mart is the biggest single retailer of magazines' newsstand sales, "accounting for what industry executives peg as at least 15% of all such sales. It holds that place despite some selectivity in choosing which magazines to stock in its stores." That "selectivity" includes a "moral" standard that now has a big impact on how magazines are sold. Ad Age 10/06/03

Why Does An Author's Ethnicity Matter? Booker favorite Monica Ali is the object of much speculation about her ethnicity. "The cult of the ethnic author is infuriating for the simple reason that it takes the focus away from the work. Who cares if Ali is 'black' or 'white,' or whether she was closer to her Mum or her Abba? People have been so wrapped up in Ali that few have bothered with critical examination of the book." MobyLives 10/06/03

New Word Order Ten thousand new words made it into the new Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Editors are constantly monitoring language for new words to include. "If 'cowboy up' or other promising newcomers - at the moment, 'blog' and 'senior moment' are coming up fast on the outside - appear in a wide range of published sources over a sustained period of time, they could land a spot in the next edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary a decade or so from now. If not, they will meet the fate of such former up-and-comers as "vidiocy" and "cable-ready," which now sit forlornly atop the citation files in brown cardboard boxes marked "rejected," or old standbys like "long play," which was dropped from the dictionary because CDs have supplanted long-playing records." Boston Globe 10/07/03

Monday, October 6

Borders To Ask Publishers To Remove Prices Giant book seller Borders is hoping to convince publishers not to print prices on their books. "Bookselling is one of the few retail environments where the price is fixed by the supplier of the goods and not by the seller. When the retailer can control pricing, we have the opportunity to use price as a lever to accomplish all kinds of positive objectives that benefit the publishers, customers and the retailer." Publishers Weekly 10/06/03

Sunday, October 5

Virtual Book Success (From Vancouver Island) "In the troubled world of bookselling, Abebooks is one of the most astonishing success stories not only in Canada but in the world. Profitable from the day it started, it has become the world's largest marketplace for used, rare and out-of-print books,With subsidiaries in Germany (Abebooks.de), Britain (Abebooks.co.uk) and France (Abebooks.fr), Abebooks.com is a virtual storehouse of more than 45 million books originating from 12,000 independent booksellers in 42 countries. Each day, it sells between 15,000 and 20,000 books — $134 million worth of books a year." Toronto Star 10/05/03

Friday, October 3

Giller Names Its Final Five Canada's Giller Prize picks this year's shortlist. "The jury read 97 submissions before making their selection. They picked Atwood for her futuristic Oryx And Crake (also on the Man Booker list) and Vassanji for The In-Between World Of Vikram Lall set in Kenya after it won independence. Also shortlisted is Ann-Marie MacDonald's second novel The Way The Crow Flies, about murder and Cold War politics; The Island Walkers, a first novel by John Bemrose about workers organizing a union in an Ontario mill town; and Kilter: 55 Fictions by John Gould, a writer of extremely short stories who is director of the Victoria School Of Writing in Victoria, B.C." Toronto Star 10/03/03

  • John Who? Most of the Giller shortlist was predictable, stuffed with the usual Canadian literary heavyweights. But the inclusion of virtually unknown author John Gould caught many people by surprise, including John Gould. "Gould's second collection of short stories, was published by Turnstone Press of Manitoba in June, and the only major Canadian paper to review it so far was The Winnipeg Free Press, which said it offered a 'multitude of pleasures.'" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/03/03

B&N To Expand Spanish Section "The market for books in Spanish, already among of the most promising in the publishing industry, is about to get a lot bigger. Barnes & Noble Inc., is adding thousands of new books to its Spanish-language sections... Books in all categories will be added, from self-help to literary fiction. And Barnesandnoble.com has started Libros en Espanol, an online service that includes author interviews, a best-seller list -- topped by the Spanish edition of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoirs -- and a guide to Barnes & Noble stores that sell works in Spanish." Chicago Tribune (AP) 10/03/03

Thursday, October 2

Coetzee Awarded Nobel "South African writer J.M. Coetzee, whose stories set against the backdrop of apartheid tell of innocents and outcasts dwarfed by history, won the 2003 Nobel Prize for literature, the Swedish Academy said Thursday." New York Times 10/02/03

Wednesday, October 1

The Web's Hot Type Publishers are waking up to the promotional possibilities of the internet. "Creating promos like this sends a message to an author that you're doing exciting, creative, new things to market their books. It also sends a message to a wider, younger, new web- and design-literate audience that these books are being addressed to them in their language." The Guardian (UK) 10/01/03

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