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Wednesday, March 31

Back To The 'Burbs After a period when the suburbs seemed to have disappeared from American novels, they seem to be coming back, reimagined by a new generation of writers. The books "suggest that there are important stories still to be found in the land of the split-level and the McMansion, the land where many pollsters, as it happens, believe the next election will be won or lost. These novels and others like them may even tell us a few things the pollsters cannot. They're also a reminder that the American vision of suburbia has been created by novels and stories at least as much as it has been described by them. The suburbs aren't just a place anymore; they're a state of mind." The New York Times 04/01/04

Tuesday, March 30

Writers Union? Now There's A Curious Concept "The Writer's Union of Canada has done and continues to do great things for the community it serves, but I'm sure its membership would find the idea of a strike laughable. First question: Against whom do we strike? Publishers? Heather Reisman? The Malahat Review? And imagine the fallout if we did -- this is what really keeps writers in their place -- the resounding yawn we imagine would be the response to our announcement that we're mad as hell and not going to write novellas about it any more." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/30/04

The Word Project The Oxford English Dictionary was a long work in progress. "Thirty-one years ensued before the last of 414,825 words was cataloged. From its inception in 1857, the enterprise had consumed 71 years and witnessed the deaths of numerous employees (including the astonishing James Augustus Henry Murray, who was editor from March 1879 until his death in the summer of 1915). The dictionary would number among its contributors J.R.R. Tolkien and novelist Julian Barnes. And, of course, a murderer." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 03/28/04

Updike Wins PEN/Faulkner Award John Updike was cited for "The Early Stories," a compilation of short fiction from 1953 to 1975. He will receive $15,000. Washington Post (AP) 03/30/04

American Scholar Editor Is Out The American Scholar magazine is a player. "Its witty essays by leading writers on subjects as varied as jigsaw puzzles and diabetes have sparked intellectual discussion, lured fresh talent and earned this quarterly three National Magazine Awards in six years. But a high profile and a healthy circulation of about 28,000 were apparently not enough to safeguard editor Anne Fadiman's job. Last week a budget deficit for the journal, which costs $1.25 million a year to produce, left Ms. Fadiman and her publisher, the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at loggerheads, with Ms. Fadiman contending that she had been dismissed." The New York Times 03/30/04

Monday, March 29

The Textbook Copy Problem Textbook piracy is rampant in much of the world, particularly in countries with expanding economies such as China. Governments aren't exactly eager to crack down on pirates. "Countries say to us: 'We really want education for our kids. You people [in the United States] are rich. Why do you want to stop us from copying textbooks?'" Chronicle of Higher Education 03/29/04

No Book Left Behind A new installment of the "Left Behind" series is due out this week. "Over the last nine years, the 'Left Behind' series, which is based on Dr. Tim LaHaye's literal, bloody interpretation of the Book of Revelation, has become one of the biggest surprise hits in American popular culture. The first 11 novels have sold more than 40 million copies. The authors have unseated John Grisham as the best-selling novelists for adults and, in some places where evangelical Christians are common, the books rival the Harry Potter series in sales." The New York Times 03/29/04

Sunday, March 28

Disgraced Journalists Fail To Find Book Audience Disgraced journalists Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass have had a flood of publicity for their books. But despite the free promotion, neither one has sold very weel. Blair's book had an "announced first printing of 250,000 but had sold only about 1,400 copies as of last week, according to Nielsen BookScan. Glass's effort came out in May and had a first printing of 75,000. Nielsen BookScan has reported sales of 3,400 copies. The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 03/28/04

In Praise Of Dr. Seuss What is the enduring appeal of Dr. Seuss? "Seuss is Aristophanes with rhythm. For the reading adult, his stories have a pulsing speed that makes an easy and compulsive read. For all ages, there is a moral ferocity for which only a consummate satirist can be forgiven." The Scotsman 03/28/04

Penguin Canada's Literary Rebirth When Penguin Books Canada went to India to find a new publisher, some wondered if David Davidar would understand the sensibilities of Canadian publishing. Turns out he does. "You have scintillating writers from all over the world, people with origins in Asia, Africa, Europe, which makes for diverse and interesting narratives. And the whole country seems to celebrate that. It seemed a great idea to be in the midst of that creative ferment. The big similarity between India and Canada is that for a long time it was difficult for writers to be published well at home. You had to go to London, and Canadians also went to New York to be published." Toronto Star 03/28/04

Leipzig Is For Booklovers The Leipzig Book Fair opens with 1,200 readings. "Readings are what differentiate this booklover's book fair from its big brother held in Frankfurt each year. Almost 2,000 publishers and editors from 28 countries are presenting their latest spring program. Because the fair's literary readings are closely followed by literature fans and scouts from publishing houses on the lookout for new talent, authors will be seeking contact with publishers and the reading public." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 03/26/04

Thursday, March 25

Top Victorians What are the top ten Victorian novels? Philip Davis has made a list... The Guardian (UK) 03/26/04

Say Hi To Electronic Paper The first electronic paper is ready for the consumer market. "This 'first ever' Philips' display utilizes E Ink's revolutionary electronic ink technology which offers a truly paper-like reading experience with contrast that is the same as newsprint. The Electronic Paper Display is reflective and can be easily read in bright sunlight or dimly lit environments while being able to be seen at virtually any angle - just like paper. Its black and white ink-on-paper look." E-Ink 03/25/04

The Rest Of The Story - BBC Listeners Get The Chance The BBC has hired prominent writers to write first-parts of stories and will challenge listeners to complete them. "Eight novelists who will each write the first half of a short story for BBC Three. Their work will be published in a leaflet and distributed to coffee shops, libraries and on the internet. Readers will have six weeks to complete their chosen tale, with the winners showcased on BBC Three later this year." BBC 03/25/04

Poet Wanted. For What, We're Not Sure. Canada needs a new national poet laureate. Yawn. So who doesn't? These days, it seems like every city, county, province, state, and regional confederation of boroughs has its own poet tasked with... well, what exactly are poet laureates supposed to do, anyway? The requirement that an official poet spend her/his time composing odes to the glory/beauty/strength of whatever geographical area is providing the employment are long gone, but the old restrictions have never really been replaced with new ones. Consequently, Canada's next poet laureate can more or less write her/his own rule book - that is, if anyone wants the job. Toronto Star 03/25/04

Wednesday, March 24

Power to the People Those "customer reviews" on Amazon.com may seem like a harmless way for readers to have their say about the books they purchase, but to book publishers, they represent a very real expansion of the traditional critical press. In fact, the most prolific of Amazon's amateur reviewers now receive upwards of 60 free books every month from publishers hoping for a favorable nod. As the culture of online media continues to evolve, and the notion of "expert" commentary and analysis becomes ever more blurred, these unpaid book critics are starting to have a palpable effect on the industry they cover. Los Angeles Times 03/24/04

Tuesday, March 23

Newly Discovered Kipling A newly deciphered story by Rudyard Kipling is being published. "Kipling wrote the story in 1897 when he was 32, apparently as a draft introductory tale for the Stalky & Co volume. "Deciphering Kipling's handwriting was fiendishly difficult. I doubt whether he himself could have read it. He was in such a hurry - his mind was running faster than his hand." The Guardian (UK) 03/24/04

A New Yorker In LA Where do most of the New Yorker magazine's readers live? Obvious, right... but only if your answer was California. According the magazine's "latest publisher's statement, almost a million copies were sold during the second half of 2003. During the same period, the magazine's total paid circulation in California reached 167,580, exceeding sales in New York for the first time. (Paid circulation in New York for that period reached 166,630.)" Village Voice 03/23/04

On Demand - Self Publishing Unleashes Thousands Of New Books Publishing on demand has resulted in a flood of self-published books. The three biggest self-publishing companies have produced a combined 47,000 titles since the late 1990s. "There's an awful lot of people out there that have something to say." Philadelphia Inquirer 03/23/04

Sunday, March 21

Idolizing Talent - Is It Valid? There has been much criticism of Lit Idol as a way of judging literary talent. But "Lit Idol, for all the apparent crassness of its format, is as good a means as any to truffle out new talent, and is only a pop-culture-friendly revamp of the short story competitions run by newspapers in the old days. But it has reinforced the perception that in contemporary writing, the words are no longer enough. The author must be all-singing, all-dancing, good looking if possible and, if not, with a sufficiently troubled past to keep the public interested." The Observer (UK) 03/21/04

Sued To Fame And Fortune No one likes to be sued, right? Usually. But some publishers find that being sued over a book is a big boost for sales. "Paradoxically, a lawsuit, especially a flimsy one, can be a boon to a book's fortunes. And increasingly, some writers and publishers admit to hoping they'll attract one." Boston Globe 03/21/04

Packaging Adult Books For Kids Plenty of adults read kids books. But, in a search for crossover audiences, can publishers turn kids on to adult books? Maybe a little different pacakging helps? Toronto Star 03/21/04

Friday, March 19

The Power Of The Da Vinci Code "In Paris, throughout the U.S. and elsewhere, insatiable fans are exploring the controversial themes in "The Da Vinci Code," even pulling members of the intelligentsia into the novel's energy field. The book's grip on the popular imagination is so fierce that academics and theologians are putting aside their ancient Greek and Latin texts and boning up on Brown's characters, including a self-mutilating, white-haired albino villain." Los Angeles Times 03/19/04

Thursday, March 18

Little Book Makes Big The reality of the publishing business these days is that it's the rare "little" book that gets any traction in the marketplace. All the more remarkable then, for Matthew Sharpe’s "stunning, offbeat coming-of-age novel," The Sleeping Father, which, though rejected by 20 publishers and published by a small press for only a $1,000 advance, has become a hit. New York Observer 03/17/04

Claim: Da Vinci Code Is Bestselling Adult Novel Ever The publisher of The Da Vinci Code says that in its first year the book has become "the bestselling adult novel of all time. Doubleday announced Thursday that after 53 printings - including 14 consecutive weeks in first place on The New York Times bestseller list - there are 6.8 million copies in print." Christian Science Monitor 03/19/04

Writers Guild President Resigns Charles Holland has resigned as president of the Writers Guild of America's Western branch after only two months on the job. Questions have persisted about "the accuracy of claims he made about his past." SFGate 03/18/04

The Blog Niche Goes Mainstream Blogging is no longer a mere blip on the cultural radar screen. In the last year, blog readership has nearly tripled, and bloggers focusing on everything from politics to culture to wartime survival have become fringe players in an increasingly crowded and diverse global media scene. Traditional media sources are predictably wary of bloggers, who have no obligation to follow traditional journalistic codes of conduct and who frequently bring strong biases to their work, but there's no denying that the online journals are becoming increasingly powerful in the information-delivery game. Philadelphia Inquirer 03/18/04

Elementary, My Dea... actually, it's fairly complicated. "The British Library is urging that the planned sale of 3,000 personal documents of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle this May by auction house Christie's in the United Kingdom be halted until a dispute over the papers' true owners has been resolved. The British Library has argued that some of the papers... actually belongs to them since Conan Doyle's daughter Jean Conan Doyle bequeathed some of the documents to them when she died in 1997. Meanwhile, the Toronto Public Library is concerned that the Christie's material... might actually have been part of a legacy from Conan Doyle's daughter-in-law, Anna Conan Doyle, who left five items to the library's Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, the largest publicly accessible collection of Conan Doyle items in the world." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/18/04

  • Previously: The Papers, Dr. Watson! A trove of Arthur Conan Doyle's papers - including a record of the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes - has been uncovered. "The archive, which contains more than 3,000 items, including letters, notes, manuscripts and artefacts, disappeared more than 40 years ago during legal disputes over his estate." The Guardian (UK) 03/16/04
Wednesday, March 17

Ireland Goes Chick-Lit "Irish literature, that glorious outpouring of eloquence and wit created by great men such as Jonathan Swift, William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Sean O'Casey and George Bernard Shaw has in our time fallen into mainly female hands." Toronto Star 03/17/04

Idolizing Lit Idol Lit Idol was conceived as a way to spark interest in writers (well, Pop Idol has done pretty well for ___ "Some 1,400 aspiring authors entered the Lit Idol contest. Five judges, including Curtis Brown's Ali Gunn, narrowed the field to five finalists. About 900 people voted online, which counted 25 percent. The final tally was taken at the book fair Monday night, where about 150 publishers, agents and authors cast their votes after the finalists read." Washington Post 03/17/04

The NYTBR's New Leader What will Sam Tanenhaus' appointment as editor of the New York Times Book Review mean for the publication? "Tanenhaus said he would re-examine the Book Review’s approach to fiction, which he said had long been 'the great conundrum of the Book Review.' And while he has no plans to abandon fiction—contrary to the fears of many in the publishing world—his enthusiasms seem to lie more in nonfiction. 'We’re living in really an exemplary age of nonfiction narrative, and to some extent nonfiction has taken over some of the earlier attributes of the novel, which is story-telling'." New York Observer 03/17/04

Because, As We All Know, Poetry Sells Newspapers A strange phenomenon in Italy has caught the attention of publishers worldwide. At least one day a week, many Italian newspapers have begun offering discounted books of poetry and prose to anyone who buys the paper, and the promotion has been a rousing success. "The sales have helped raise circulation modestly and have given an unexpected infusion of cash to newspapers." The strategy itself - using culture to sell the mainstream media - doesn't seem to raise too many eyebrows in Italy, but in America, where consumers frequently have to be bribed to pick up a book, it seems like a complete reversal from the usual relationship between media types and artists. The New York Times 03/17/04

O Queens, My Beloved Verseless Home... The much-maligned borough of Queens, in New York City, is in need of a new poet laureate. "The winner must be someone who has lived in Queens for at least five years and has written, in English, 'poetry inspired by the borough.'" The trouble is, in three months of searching, the borough has yet to find a single writer who fits that description. The New York Times 03/17/04

Tuesday, March 16

Meet "Lit Idol" The literary version of Pop Idol was crowned in London this week. "Paul Cavanagh was named winner of Lit Idol, a contest designed to unearth Britain's 'hottest fiction talent'. Cavanagh, from Ontario, Canada, secures representation by the literary and media agency Curtis Brown after winning the contest, the first of its kind, with his work, entitled Northwest Passage. The 1,466 entries were asked to submit up to 10,000 words from the opening chapters of a novel and a two page synopsis when they entered the competition." London Evening Standard 03/17/04

The Papers, Dr. Watson! A trove of Arthur Conan Doyle's papers - including a record of the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes - has been uncovered. "The archive, which contains more than 3,000 items, including letters, notes, manuscripts and artefacts, disappeared more than 40 years ago during legal disputes over his estate." The Guardian (UK) 03/16/04

Order Of Phoenix Wins People's Choice Award JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has won this year's WH Smith People's Choice Book Award. "Some 148,000 readers cast votes via book stores, the internet and libraries to select winners in eight categories." BBC 03/16/04

Shakespeare et al Online Britain's National Archive is busy putting thousands of historical documents online. "Shakespeare's will reveals how he bequeathed his second-best bed to his wife, Anne Hathaway. Wills from Jane Austen, Sir Christopher Wren and Horatio Nelson - the latter's with a personal diary - can also be viewed at DocumentsOnline. The documents span six centuries of British history from 1384 to 1858." BBC 03/16/04

Monday, March 15

Report: News Business In Transformation A new report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that the news business is in the midst of enormously challenging changes. "The news business is 'in the middle of an epochal transformation, as momentous probably as the invention of the telegraph or television,' the report says. 'Journalism is not becoming irrelevant. It is becoming more complex'." USAToday 03/15/04

Magazines See Large Circulation Declines The American magazine business is in trouble. In the most recent quarter, seventy percent of magazines were down in newsstand sales. "The most horrible set of numbers I've ever seen, and I've been tracking [circulation] for 25 years." AdAge 03/15/04

Sunday, March 14

For Writers - the Best Of Times Things have changed in the publishing business in the past decade. "That's the real cultural revolution: the shift in the balance of power from the publisher to the bookseller. Thatcherism, which made the market king, empowered the bookseller and put the publisher on the defensive. For the past 10 years at least, most published writers in Britain and America have enjoyed a golden age of remuneration, publicity and, yes, sales scarcely dreamed of before. In 2004, the author's lot, though far from ideal, is better than it has ever been." The Observer (UK) 03/14/04

Call Out The Language Police What accounts for the popularity of recent books on grammar? "They are tapping into a widespread feeling that English is being debased by things such as computers, especially email, which have led some to do away with punctuation altogether. 'Text messaging, of course, has just about wrecked the English language'." Sydney Morning Herald 03/13/04

Study: UK Book Industry Not Diverse A new study of the UK publishing business reports that the industry is overwhelmingly white. "It says that nearly half those questioned felt they worked in a white, middle-class ghetto whose employees were drawn from a small ethnic pool. The findings in the survey, which was conducted by the Arts Council and the Bookseller, are supported by several senior publishing executives who say that nothing will change until recruiters look beyond Oxford and Cambridge." The Guardian (UK) 03/12/04

Booksellers Delay Deleting Book Prices From Covers Major booksellers in the UK have delayed plans to stop printing the prices of books on their covers. "Authors and their agents fear the move would intensify the price cutting war between chain stores over a small number of bestsellers, marginalise most other books and drive down the already low income of writers." The Guardian (UK) 03/14/04

Buy Canadian? How Hard A Sell Is That? "Ask a literary agent about the prospect of selling Canadian fiction at an international book fair, and what would you expect? A gleam in the eye as they talk about the chance to hustle in the big leagues? An adrenalin-fuelled soliloquy as they praise new discoveries? A dazzling grin as they recall the Champagne downed to celebrate the deals they've brokered? Try suicide metaphors." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/13/04

Preaching To The Choir? Politiucal books are hot. But who reads them, and do they change anyone's political opinions? A researcher tracked buyers and discovered there is little overlapping of political ideologies among readers. In other words, conservatives buy conservative books and liberals buy liberal books... The New York Times 03/13/04

Thursday, March 11

Reinventing The TV Book Clubs "Television book clubs have scaled back from their headiest days a couple of years ago, but even brief on-air segments now have flourishing afterlives online. The "Oprah" site is by far the richest, but "Today" and "Good Morning America" also have online extensions of their book clubs, where readers can find substantial excerpts from books along with interviews and online chats with authors. These sites create an endless loop between television and the Web." The New York Times 03/12/04

Tanenhaus Named NY Times Book Review Editor Sam Tanenhaus has been named editor of the New York Times Book Review. "Before joining Vanity Fair in 1999, Tanenhaus was an assistant editor for the Times' Op-Ed pages. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1998 for his biography "Whittaker Chambers" (Random House), about a key figure in the Alger Hiss spy trial. The book won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography. Tanenhaus has a master's degree in English literature from Yale University." Los Angeles Times 03/11/04

Wednesday, March 10

Amis Available - No Big Bidding War Martin Amis is a certified literary star. But his latest book was a critical failure and a dud in the bookstore. And now? Amis is without publisher, and available... The New York Times 03/11/04

Epics On The Fringe "Like a house on the borderlands, epic fantasy is haunted: by a sense of lost purity and grandeur, deep wisdom that has been forgotten, Arcadia spoilt, the debased or diminished stature of modern humankind; by a sense that the world, to borrow a term from John Clute, the Canadian-born British critic of fantasy and science fiction, has 'thinned.' This sense of thinning—of there having passed a Golden Age, a Dreamtime, when animals spoke, magic worked, children honored their parents, and fish leapt filleted into the skillet—has haunted the telling of stories from the beginning." New York Review of Books 03/25/04

"And you too, Brutus?" Some school districts are now using "simplified" language versions of Shakespeare to teach the Bard. "It's nice because all those ancient words aren't there. It is a cool story — what with people making plans to kill one another. It can be difficult because everyone has strange names, but at least it isn't using any of those old words anymore." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 03/07/04

Tuesday, March 9

Rushdie To Lead PEN Salman Rushdie has been named the new president of PEN, the international writers organization. "Rushdie, who was officially named on Monday to serve a two-year term, succeeds Joe Conarroe, a former president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the former head of the Modern Language Association." Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AP) 03/09/04

Monday, March 8

Hemingway Tirade On Sale "A fierce and foul-mouthed tirade by Ernest Hemingway against his literary rivals has surfaced after nearly 80 years and is expected to fetch up to £30,000 at auction." The Observer (UK) 03/08/04

The Instant Bestseller The book, 'The Glorious Appearing,' by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, has already sold 1.9 million copies even before it goes on official sale March 30. That makes it one of the top-selling books of the year. "The advance sales indicate that as well as a major subject of discussion in church groups and in the news media. The series is based on Dr. LaHaye's reading of the Book of Revelation in the Bible." The New York Times 03/08/04

Just Like School, But Without The Pop Quizzes The civic reading programs that seem to be springing up all across America have a suspicious ring of junior high to them, writes Patti Thorn: "Reading is personal; do we really want to follow a crowd in our march to literacy?" But there does seem to be some merit to the idea of encouraging average folks to dissect the plot of a community-read book the way we all used to hash over the latest episode of Seinfeld, and the book Denver has chosen for its citywide read is uniquely positioned to promote not only literacy, but community as well. Rocky Mountain News 03/06/04

Sunday, March 7

Embargo This! (If You Can) "The embargo is the absurd practice by which publishers distribute advance copies of newsworthy new books to the media only after individual editors have signed a quasi-legal document denying their right as members of an otherwise free press from reporting or reviewing the contents of such titles." But in the age of the internet, embargos (thank God) are becoming unworkable. The Observer (UK) 03/07/04

Defending The French (Language, That Is) Two prominent French intellecftuals are brawling over protecting the French language. "The pair's vitriolic if eloquent spat is the latest expression of a debate that is increasingly dividing French writers and intellectuals: how best to ensure that their language survives intact the onslaught of English at home, and does not disappear altogether abroad." The Guardian (UK) 03/06/04

Friday, March 5

Book Critics' Circle Prizes Announced Edward P. Jones has taken the top fiction prize at the National Book Critics' Circle Awards, for his acclaimed novel of slave life on a Southern plantation, The Known World. Non-fiction winners included Paul Hendrickson and William Taubman, and a lifetime achievement award was presented to Studs Terkel. Washington Post (AP) 03/05/04

The Well-Read Accountant It's World Book Day. And who's celebrating most? Accountants. Why? A new survey in the UK for World Book Day reveals that "accountants spend more time reading books for pleasure than any other profession." The Guardian (UK) 03/05/04

Print It Danno! (The Prices, We Mean) UK authors are protesting a plan to stop printing the prices of books on the books themselves. "The idea is that instead of being published with a suggested price, books should be published like eggs, as it were, so that the retailer alone would decide what to charge. But books are not like eggs. Every time we buy eggs, we are looking for the same thing we had last time; but every time we buy a book, we're looking for something different. So when it comes to looking at the cost, we have nothing to go by, at the moment, except the recommended retail price." The Guardian (UK) 03/05/04

Thursday, March 4

Writers' Trust Awards Announced The Writers' Trust of Canada has handed out its annual awards, with the coveted lifetime achievement prize going to British Columbia-based author Audrey Thomas. The prize, valued at CAN$20,000, is one of the most lucrative in the country. Other winners included Kevin Patterson, for his short-story collection Country of Cold, and Brian Fawcett for his non-fiction work Virtual Clearcut: Or, the Way Things Are in My Hometown. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/04/04

Wednesday, March 3

Pope Sells Million Books A book of poems by Pope John Paul II has sold more than one million copies. "The pontiff first published the poems in 2003 but the print run was expanded after sales topped 300,000 in his native Poland." BBC 03/03/04

Gelb: William Shawn, Petty Tyrant For years Arthur Gelb had idolized William Shawn and his New Yorker magazine. But when Gelb commissioned a profile of Shawn for the New York Times in 1966, he discovered another side of the legendary editor. Up close, Shawn was "ridiculously petty. He lived in a world he helped create, protected it against outsiders who might penetrate that world a little too deeply and might expose it." Wall Street Journal 03/03/04

My Amazon Addiction... "From the day their book first lands in stores, most writers will start spending minutes, hours—nay, days, weeks, months and years—tracking its progress on Amazon.com. Never mind that the online retailer accounts for only about 10 percent of a trade book’s total sales (slightly higher for business books, somewhat lower for children’s). By my count, the reviews and the ranking system on Amazon.com count for about 95 percent of writers’ hopes, anxieties and dreams." New York Observer 03/03/04

Tuesday, March 2

Teachers Fighting Online Plagiarism The internet has revolutionized education. But it's not all positive. "Since the Internet became readily accessible to students in the 1990s, it has become in some ways the educator's worst enemy. In secondary schools and universities alike, students are taking advantage of the fact that ready-made papers are only a few clicks away. An entire industry has sprung up to provide free homework or - at a price - papers purported to be custom-made. But now teachers are fighting back." Christian Science Monitor 03/02/04

Hip-Hop Lit Hip-hop has become a major part of the popular culture of music and movies. Now it's taking on publishing. "To some they're urban or street fiction; others prefer the term "hip-hop lit. It's hip-hop fiction, because it's mirroring the things you saw in the music." Boston Globe 03/02/04

Monday, March 1

Bashing The Women's Magazines Myrna Blyth used to edit the Ladies Home Journal magazine. Now she's written a book that criticizes the whole genre of women's magazines. "It is the most sustained attack on women's magazines since Gloria Steinem started Ms. in 1972 and suggested that the typical women's magazine was just a "survival kit" for the unliberated and edited for advertisers, not readers. But Ms. Blyth's book is all the more powerful because it comes from someone who until recently reigned as one of the queens of women's magazines, selling millions of copies with the same practices she now finds so distasteful." The New York Times 03/02/04

The New Irish Chicks "The young women of Ireland are storming the global market for 'chick-lit'. A new breed of Irish female authors in their 20s and 30s, from both Northern Ireland and the Republic, have become hot properties and publishers like Penguin are queueing for their signatures." The Guardian (UK) 02/29/04

Can A New "Serious" Newspaper Find An Audience In Britain? What has happened to serious British newspapers? They've dumbed down. "It is undeniable that our broadsheet newspapers are a good deal less serious-minded (without being any wittier) than they were little more than a decade ago. No doubt most readers are perfectly happy with this state of affairs, but not everyone is. The question is how many people really yearn for a grown-up newspaper that provides honest reporting and intelligent commentary without the trivia and pap that is generally also served up." Stephen Glover thinks there's an audience of about 100,000, so he's raising money to give it a try. The Spectator 03/01/04

Oldest Hamlet For Sale "The oldest copy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet remaining in private hands (published in 1611) was put on show in London yesterday before going to auction in New York next month for an expected £1 million to £2 million." The Scotsman 03/01/04

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