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Thursday, June 30

Will iPods Change Book Publishing? "That folks can pick up a gadget approximately the size of a cigarette lighter at their local library, programmed with a current bestseller for their listening pleasure, is the realization of countless sci-fi movies and Philip K. Dick novels. The future has clearly arrived: Apple’s immensely popular iPod—the software company shipped 5.3 million of the variously priced and sized devices in its second fiscal quarter of 2005 alone—is making consumers more comfortable with the idea of downloading audiobooks and listening on-the-go. So could DABs—which are more accessible, hip and cost-effective than traditional formats like cassettes and CDs—be the next big thing?" The Book Standard 06/29/05

Protecting The Paris Library The apparent theft of 30,000 volumes from the Paris Libary is making waves in France, and has sparked discussion of the proper way to balance security and accessibility in the nation's most important archival institution. "'To turn the library into a locked safe would be easy, but it is not our vocation,' [the French daily Le Figaro] quoted Agnès Saal, the library's director-general, as saying. 'Unlike museums, our documents are there to be consulted.'" The New York Times 06/30/05

  • Previously: Big Thefts At France's National Library; Curator Questioned About 30,000 books (including about 2000 classified as rare) are missing from France's Biblioteque national, and the library's chief curator is being questioned. "The curator, who has denied the allegations, is the subject of one of half a dozen police inquiries into suspected thefts at the institution, which was founded in the 16th century and, as France's principal copyright and legal deposit library, holds some 35m books, documents, manuscripts, maps, plans and photos." The Guardian (UK) 06/28/05
Wednesday, June 29

A Crisis In Jung Bio? A biographer of Carl Jung says that a new German edition of her work has been marred. "This is a chilling moment in the annals of Jungian scholarship. The heirs of C.G. Jung, led by their spokesperson Ulrich Hoerni, have raised objections concerning the alleged invasion of their privacy that, due to German law, has forced Knaus Verlag [the publishers of the German edition of Jung: A Biography] to include their opinions of Jung's life and work within the pages of my book. These will appear as annotations to my extensive notes that follow the text. This unprecedented invasion of my book by the Jung heirs is an appalling act and is happening against my will." About Last Night (AJBlogs) 06/29/05

Tuesday, June 28

Carey: UK Shuts Out Foreign Lit The chairman of the International Man Booker Prize jury John Carey says that "foreign literature was "neglected" in the UK, and to an outsider the British publishing industry could "seem like a conspiracy intent on depriving ... readers of the majority of the good books written in languages other than their own". The Guardian (UK) 06/28/05

Big Thefts At France's National Library; Curator Questioned About 30,000 books (including about 2000 classified as rare) are missing from France's Biblioteque national, and the library's chief curator is being questioned. "The curator, who has denied the allegations, is the subject of one of half a dozen police inquiries into suspected thefts at the institution, which was founded in the 16th century and, as France's principal copyright and legal deposit library, holds some 35m books, documents, manuscripts, maps, plans and photos." The Guardian (UK) 06/28/05

Charge: France's Literary Prizes Rigged The integrity of France's major literary awards were called into question this week by a government anti-corruption probe. "There is an evident risk of a conflict of interest. Moreover, the conditions in which the jury members are recruited or co-opted, often for life, are not exactly transparent, which makes them suspect as a matter of principle. France's major literary awards such as the Prix Femina, the Prix Médicis and - most prestigious of all - the Prix Goncourt have long been accused of rigging their votes, taking it in turns to reward big publishers." The Guardian (UK) 06/28/05

Monday, June 27

In Defense Of Schools Of Writing Are writing MFA programs a waste of time, as Elizabeth Clementson recently asserted? Not exactlywrites Steve Almond: "MFA programs are like any other educational opportunity: what you put in is what you get out. The reason they exist is to help young writers develop the humility and gumption necessary to keep writing in a culture that largely ignores literature. They are welfare states for artists, basically." MobyLives 06/27/05

  • Previously: Do Writing Workshops Kill Good Writing? "In the workshop, the students critique each other's writing and as the comments are bandied about, a "consensus" develops about what does and doesn't "work" in a story. The writer then meshes the "popular" opinions of the group into his or her work, slowly removing the unpopular parts, until the work is readable and accessible to all. More often than not, this process destroys the writer's initial vision, leaving behind a work that is void of passion and anything that is different, new, or creative. Many of world's greatest novels would have never made it through the workshop process." MobyLives 06/20/05

Jordan Bans New Saddam Book The country of Jordan has banned sales of Saddam Hussein's latest book. "The former Iraqi dictator is behind bars and stripped of power but Jordan was anxious enough to ban his tale yesterday, claiming it could damage regional relations. Some 10,000 copies had been printed for this week's launch, a literary and political event authorised by Saddam's daughter, Raghad, who is based in Jordan." The Guardian (UK) 06/27/05

Poet Laureate: Why No Poetry In UK Secondary Schools? Britain's poet laureate Andrew Motion says he's "bitterly disappointed" that poetry and creative writing are largely missing from English secondary schools curriculum. "He said the government had missed a "magical opportunity" to rescue poetry from oblivion when it rejected recommendations from the former chief inspector of schools." The Guardian (UK) 06/27/05

The Enduring Success Of Mein Kampf Hitler's Mein Kampf still sells. A few weeks ago a signed copy sold at auction for £23,800. In Turkey, the book hit the bestseller list this year. It was the bestselling book of the 20th Century. "Mein Kampf is still available in the UK and the US, and sells enough to keep itself comfortably in print. Germany, by contrast, has - since 1945 - rigorously banned it. Israel, unsurprisingly, also favours suppression. In 1999 the Simon Wiesenthal Centre prevailed on Amazon not to dispatch copies of Mein Kampf to Germany or anywhere else it is proscribed." The Guardian (UK) 05/27/05

Potter Tops A Million With three weeks to go before its release, advance orders for the new Harry Potter book have topped one million. "At this rate, pre-orders should top the 1.3 million pre-orders received for the previous Harry Potter book in 2003." BBC 06/27/05

Sunday, June 26

The Great Governor-General's Book Hunt Canada's Governor-General's arts awards are some of the most prestigious in the country, and the literary awards in particular are most coveted. But when the current Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson, took office, she was shocked to discover that the official residence's library was missing an alarming number of award-winning titles, thanks in part to the sticky fingers of some of her predecessors. Clarkson and her husband made it their personal mission to rectify the problem, and as Clarkson prepares to leave office, the residence once again has the only complete collection of Governor-General Award recipients. Toronto Star 06/25/05

Harry's Kids Grow Up The sixth Harry Potter book will hit shelves this fall, and doubtless it will sell millions of copies. But it's been seven years since Harry first burst upon the scene, and the legions of devoted young readers that made him such a phenomenon are seven years older as well - many of them heading off the college, in fact. So how do you keep your newly adult audience interested in what is, after all, a children's book series? You can age the hero, of course, but subtly increasing the complexity of the storyline will help, too. And you can always count on good old-fashioned reader loyalty... Los Angeles Times 06/25/05

Friday, June 24

BookExpo Canada Opens - Where Do Canadians Buy Books? The Canadian book industry is gathering in Toronto this weekend for BookExpo Canada. "Among the concerns for booksellers this year is an emerging U.S. trend for publishers such as Penguin Books to sell directly to the public through their website." A new study of Canadians' book-buying habits says that "59 per cent buy at the national chain Indigo, 28 per cent buy at smaller independents and the number that buy only on the Internet is 'inconsequential'." Toronto Star 06/24/05

Thursday, June 23

Do Books Need To Go On A Diet? "All books should be exactly as long as they need to be. There is no ideal length. But like mainstream Hollywood films, nonfiction books have shown a tendency to expand in recent years, for no particular reason. Directors cannot bring a film in at 90 minutes anymore. Likewise, my shelves are overloaded with nonfiction titles that, 30 years ago, would have been 225 or 250 pages. I'm not sure why. Fatter spines do look more imposing, and readers may feel, subconsciously, that $30 should buy them a thick, substantial volume. But time and again, I find, the extra weight comes from empty calories." The New York Times 06/24/05

Publishers Worry About Google's Digital Book Deal A first look at the contract between Google and universities to digitize their libraries has some publishers concerned. "Some publishers argue that Google doesn't have the right to make and hold digital copies of their intellectual property. At the same time, they worry that universities will use their digital versions to make books available to students and faculty online, suppressing sales of additional copies." BusinessWeek 06/22/05

Wednesday, June 22

Moscow Bookstore Closes As Corruption Increases In 1998, Mary Duncan opened Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Moscow. The store thrived, selling English-language books. "But we didn't survive the election of President Vladimir Putin. Within a month of his inauguration in 2000, new, slickly dressed city officials claimed our sign did not conform to proper standards, our wiring was a fire hazard and our paperwork was incomplete. Fifty-dollar fines escalated to $1,500." St. Petersburg Times 06/21/05

Study: US Authorities Have Asked Libraries For Records 200 Times "The Bush administration says that while it is important for law enforcement officials to get information from libraries if needed in terrorism investigations, officials have yet to actually use their power under the Patriot Act to demand records from libraries or bookstores." But a survey by the American Library Association reports that "agents are coming to libraries and they are asking for information at a level that is significant, and the findings are completely contrary to what the Justice Department has been trying to convince the public." The New York Times 06/20/05

Tuesday, June 21

Voice Of Arab Women Turns Out To Be A Man "When novels by 'Yasmina Khadra' first appeared, literary France thought it had at last found the authentic voice of the Arab woman. But then she turned out to be a man - and not just a man but a veteran Algerian army officer." The Guardian (UK) 06/21/05

Religious Books Find New Readers The market for religious books is booming, and publishers are cranking out new titles at a record pace. "According to the Book Industry Study Group, which uses data from all sectors of the industry, total U.S. book sales rose 2.8 percent in 2004 to $28.6 billion, while religious books saw 11 percent growth to nearly $2 billion." Yahoo! (Reuters) 06/21/05

Wordsworth In Cumbria "A new center was opened this month by the Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney to offer scholars access to a collection of manuscripts, books and other material that gathers 90 percent of Wordsworth's known papers. The new Jerwood Center, named for the charitable foundation that pledged the first $925,000 of its $5.9 million building costs, represents a victory of architectural innovation and scholarship over those eager to keep England's Lake District free of anything but the most traditional of building designs." The New York Times 06/21/05

Toronto AuthorFest Looks To The New "This year's International Festival of Authors [in Toronto] will be the year of the wunderkind. The preliminary lineup for the country's premier authors festival released yesterday revealed a slate packed with next-generation stars such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Helen Oyeyemi and Diana Evans." Last year, the festival celebrated its 25th anniversary, and this year's lineup represents a conscious effort to move forward with a new generation of writers. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/21/05

Monday, June 20

Why Are America's School Textbooks So Bad? "At least 21 states, including large and powerful California, Texas and Florida, have committees that decide which books can be used in public schools. The scrubbing and sanitizing that are imposed to satisfy the big states have affected all the commercially produced textbooks. That means that even states without adoption laws end up using the same books as the ones written to please California and Texas. Their decisions have been excoriated by spokespeople for both the right and the left. Their fear of offending any politically connected group means the textbooks they approve are often the dumbest and dullest of the bunch." Chicago Tribune (WaPo) 06/20/05

Do Writing Workshops Kill Good Writing? "In the workshop, the students critique each other's writing and as the comments are bandied about, a "consensus" develops about what does and doesn't "work" in a story. The writer then meshes the "popular" opinions of the group into his or her work, slowly removing the unpopular parts, until the work is readable and accessible to all. More often than not, this process destroys the writer's initial vision, leaving behind a work that is void of passion and anything that is different, new, or creative. Many of world's greatest novels would have never made it through the workshop process." MobyLives 06/20/05

Sunday, June 19

Do Book Review Sections Still Matter? "Scott Pack, whose day job as buying manager at Waterstone's gives him considerable powers over the relationship between writers and readers, has recently been hired as a columnist for Bookseller magazine and in his first outing took a swipe at the broadsheets' books pages, asking, essentially, what is the point? 'They should inspire reading. They should excite, stimulate, agitate and empower readers to discover new books.' But they're not... The Observer (UK) 06/19/05

The University That Dumped Rare Books "The Octagon library at Queen Mary, University of London, in Mile End, east London, is in the process of refurbishment and decided that it would have to dispose of its surplus books. These have now been dumped in skips outside the library, to the outrage of staff and students who were clambering through them yesterday to find what they described as literary gems." The Guardian (UK) 06/18/05

Comics A Natural Online... The comic business is thriving (even if the revenue model isn't clear yet). "Even though revenue models remain fuzzy, increasing numbers of artists are using the Internet to reach readers directly and break into a business that historically has been limited to the lucky few who get syndicated in newspapers or picked up by comic book publishers." Washington Post 06/18/05

Family Returns Book To Libray (It Was 78 Years Overdue) A man has returned a book to the Oakland Public Library 78 years after it was due. "The hardback copy of Rudyard Kipling's "Kim" was due back on Aug. 29, 1927, but no one in Jim Pavon's family realized that it was an overdue library book. 'It's classic -- we all read it. It sat on a shelf or in a box for years. But I guess no one ever noticed that there was a little library card and sleeve on the back cover that said when it was due'." San Francisco Chronicle 06/18/05

Thursday, June 16

"Little Black Sambo" Returns To Japan Seventeen years after it was removed from bookshops for its racist content, the children's story Little Black Sambo has made a comeback in Japan... The Guardian (UK) 06/16/05

Tuesday, June 14

Publishers Cut Out The Middleman "Major book publishers are preparing to boost their business by selling directly to consumers from their websites, a move that has booksellers spooked about being squeezed by their own suppliers." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/13/05

Writers Band Together For Sanity "A group of freelancers in San Francisco believe they've found a way to help remedy writer's block, share advice, get feedback on a first draft and keep from driving their families crazy. They call it The Grotto. Strip away the pretentious moniker and their strategy is deceptively simple -- shared office space." Miami Herald (AP) 06/14/05

Monday, June 13

NY Library Starts Digital Borrowing Library The New York Public Library says it is "making 700 books — from classics to current best sellers — available to members in digital audio form for downloading onto PCs, CD players and portable listening devices. Users can listen to digital audio books through a computer, burn them to CDs or transfer them to many portable devices, library officials said. Digital audio books are available for free to members through the library's Web site. Users can borrow up to 10 digital books at a time, and after 21 days the materials will be automatically checked in and made available to others." Yahoo! (AP) 06/13/05

Another Look At Don Quixote "Much is being said this year about "Don Quixote," in celebration of the 400th anniversary of its publication. And indeed, much has always been said about this extraordinary epic, narrating the misadventures of a half-mad hidalgo who seeks to re-establish the traditions of knight errantry. Faulkner reread it annually; Lionel Trilling said all prose fiction was a variation on its themes. But aside from its literary achievements, "Don Quixote" sheds oblique light on an era when Spain's Islamic culture forcibly came to an end." The New York Times 06/13/05

Rowling Calls Teen Reporters The increasingly reclusive JK Rowling is limiting her contacts with the press. "Rowling has refused to grant interviews to British journalists for two years. Her only contact with the media on the release of the new book will be through 'cub reporters' under 16, who will be selected for a 'press conference' through competitions. Emerson Spartz, an 18-year-old student from Indiana, was asleep at 9am when his telephone rang. A Scottish voice asked 'Hello, Emerson? This is Jo. You believe me, don’t you'?"
The Times (UK) 06/10/05

Sunday, June 12

A Wonderful Romance - Gay Romance Novel Looks For Success Is the gay male romance novel coming into its own? It's "a world where there are never cowards, only condoms; each of the heroes has a brain, even if it takes until the end of the story for one of them to use it; and the abs, if not tin, most likely resemble iron." This month, encouraged by successes so far, publisher is "aiming for the big time, with 12,500 copies of 'Hot Sauce' in print and fervent hopes that with gay marriage in the news -- and legal in their own state -- gay men may be more willing than ever to claim their inner Cinderella and read up on Prince Charming." The New York Times 06/12/05

Da Vinci Code Spurs Interest In Cracking CIA Sculpture "The race to find the secrets of Kryptos, a sculpture inside a courtyard at the CIA's heavily guarded headquarters in Langley, Virginia, may be reaching a climax. And interest has soared since Dan Brown hid references to Kryptos on the cover design for his bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, and suggested it might play a role in his next novel, The Solomon Key." The Guardian (UK) 06/11/05

Europe Gets Into The Crime Wave Where once crime fiction came from downtown Los Angeles, or the east end of London, these days the best are from Europe. "Traditionally, British readers have a horror of translated novels. Europeans have always bought up our crime writers, from PD James to Ian Rankin, but we're a nation for whom the words 'French exchange' still have the power to instil terror. Yet sales of translated European crime fiction have increased fivefold in the past four years."
The Guardian (UK) 06/11/05

The Big-Box Bookstore Dilemma "A new bookstore such as the latest Barnes & Noble behemoth -- 36,000 square feet spread out across two floors -- that opened a week and a half ago in the Chicago Loop neatly encapsulates the 21st Century booksellers' problem: Is it all about the classics -- or the cappuccino? And how can an establishment that sells books -- each one a rectangular homage to intellectual independence -- be cogs in a bland, homogenous corporate machine that has been accused of mashing smaller independent bookstores into goo?" Chicago Tribune 06/10/05

Friday, June 10

Who Counts In Chicago Publishing? "For years, Oprah reigned supreme as the city's bookselling heavyweight, metaphorically speaking, only to take a break and then return to the classics--Faulkner anyone? While this was happening, an heiress to a pill-pushing fortune turned the world of words on its head when she made Chicago's venerable little Poetry magazine the Valhalla of verse by giving it a god's fortune. So there you have the beauty and mystery of Chicago's book world: Oprah and Poetry." NewCity Chicago 06/07/05

Thursday, June 9

Newspaper Pays Settlement For Breaking Book Embargo "The London Evening Standard has paid undisclosed compensation to publisher Jonathan Cape after the newspaper broke an embargo and threw the release of its star author Ian McEwan's latest novel into chaos." The Guardian (UK) 06/09/05

The Great Book Giveaway (Will You Read It Then?) Robert Chalmers' book has been a critical success, but it hasn't been selling well. So he's decided to hit the streets of London to give it away. "The likes of HarperCollins and Macmillan can blanket-bomb towns with those huge bookshop displays. I've always wondered whether 'ordinary people' with no influence or literary connections would actually like my books - I mean, it's not like they're Dostoyevsky or something. So, we had this joke in the pub a while ago... and now, well, here we are." The Independent (UK) 06/08/05

Publisher Tries to Sell Ads In Textbooks One of Canada's biggest textbook publishers - McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. - has been "quietly trying to coax companies into buying advertising space in their texts. 'Reach a hard to get target group where they spend all their parents' money. Do you really think 18-24 year olds see those on-campus magazine ads? Do you really think they could miss an ad that is placed in a very well-respected textbook'?" Toronto Star 06/07/05

Poetry Is Hot Again Poetry has not been truly hip since the late 1960s, when the Beats ruled and coffeehouses served up readings alongside the java. But all of a sudden, a new generation of young people seems to be embracing poetry in all its forms. "Poetry readings, poetry slams, and spoken-word performances attract sellout crowds in clubs and auditoriums locally and across the country. Poetry anthologies and audio collections are selling briskly. And the weekly HBO program Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry is entering its fifth season." And this week, at the nation's largest poetry festival, two new awards dedicated to promoting emerging poets were announced. Philadelphia Inquirer 06/09/05

Key Porter Loses Copyright Case To Native Artist An Ontario judge has ruled in favor of a Mohawk artist in her copyright infringement case against Canadian publisher Key Porter. Tonya Maracle had agreed to allow some of her dreamcatchers to be photographed and used by Key Porter in a children's book, if proper credit were given to the artist and her company. But when the book came out, it wasn't for children (a significant point, since Maracle had only agreed to donate her work because the book would be aimed at kids,) and she was not credited. The judge called the publisher's conduct "disgraceful," and awarded Maracle $40,000 plus legal costs. Key Porter plans to appeal. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/09/05

Wednesday, June 8

Shriver Wins Orange Lionel Shriver has won the tenth £30,000 Orange Prize for Fiction for her seventh book, We Need to Talk About Kevin, a novel about a mother's hatred for her son. Financial Times (UK) 06/08/05

BookExpo America, La Scena "The consensus on the annual three-day publishing and booksellers’ convention, which alternates cities like a traveling circus, was that there was no consensus—no standout theme, Bill Clinton memoir or looming election. The whole affair was a blur of cheap wine, mini empanadas and free books, punctuated by the odd wannabe author cruising the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center with a toilet seat around his neck. The fact that the expo took place in New York, as opposed to Chicago or Los Angeles, only lent a certain world-weariness to the proceedings." New York Observer 06/08/05

Shelley Letters Sell For £45,600 Letters written by poet Percy Bysshe Shelley have sold at auction for £45,600. "The letters, which provide an insight into Shelley's views on atheism, were destined for a car boot sale until the owner contacted the auction house. They were found in a trunk at a house in south-west London alongside four written by Shelley's best friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg." BBC 06/08/05

Europeans Take On Google Amazon and Google have both launched major book-digitizing intitiatives in recent months, and that has publishers outside the U.S. concerned about increased competition and the further encroachment of American corporations on their turf. "Google's ambitious undertaking has created unease in France over the hegemony of the English language and has led to a European effort to organize an alternative library scanning initiative." Now, a group of German publishers have started their own digitizing project as well, in an effort to head Google off at the pass. Still, given the financial resources available to Google and Amazon, the European projects have to be considered a long shot. International Herald Tribune (Paris) 06/06/05

Scholars On A Mission Eight decades ago, a book collector from Cleveland gathered an impressive array of medieval manuscripts, then divided them into 40 boxes and dispersed them to locations around the world, in an effort to increase the accessibility of such rare antiquities. But over the years, scholars had lost track of the boxes, and the collector's vision was never truly realized. Now, two Canadian scholars are hard at work tracking down the boxes (they've found 33 already,) with the aim of digitally reconstructing the original manuscripts so that they can be shared with the entire world. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/08/05

Big Thrills, Little Exposure Authors of suspense novels don't get a whole heck of a lot of respect from the rest of the publishing world, and even getting their books displayed can be a challenge. But the second-class status may be changing, at least if the authors themselves have anything to say about it. "Thriller writers across the country have formed a national organization to burnish their image, honor excellence in suspense writing, and create new ways for readers to discover their books." Boston Globe 06/08/05

Tuesday, June 7

Another One Goes Down - Palahniuk's Readings Inspire Fainters Chuck Palahniuk has been having difficulty reading from his story Guts on his recent tour. "So far, 67 people have fainted while I've read Guts. For a nine-page story, some nights it takes 30 minutes to read. In the first half, you're pausing for so much laughter from your audience. In the second half, you're pausing as your audience is revived." The Telegraph (UK) 06/07/05

How Returns Are Killing The Book Industry "Returns are the dark side of the book world, marking not only failed expectations, but the crippling inefficiencies of an antiquated business. It's a problem that's only getting worse. The industry's current economic model pushes publishers to generate a small number of blockbuster hits. But picking winners is a quixotic enterprise, and as publishers ship an ever-increasing number of books to stores, hoping to hit the jackpot every time, stores are sending an ever-increasing number back." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (WSJ) 06/07/05

What Happened To Poetry? "People no longer pretend to laud the poet or his craft. The Poet was once the man who wrestled with the Olympian concepts and brought them down to Earth mortal-sized morsels for the Saturday Evening Post. Poetry was the expression of truth and/or beauty professed through the rigors of language and form. When poetry meant Kipling, it had a certain valor and heft in the public mind. Now, that was a poem. By God it rhymed and you could march to it. Then came the new poets who shed the old styles as a useless encrustation of the old dead past, and they lost their claim on the popular mind. Now poetry was seen as a way to detail the author's tormented, neurotic, indecisive inner life -- by means of gassy exhalations devoid of form or discipline. I should know; I wrote miles of that stuff in college." The Star-Tribune (Mpls) 06/07/05

Basically The Book Biz Book Expo America attracts 30,000-plus booksellers, authors, editors and journalists to talk publishing. "The event briefly reconverts a modern business of e-mail, phone calls and faxes to a human one of smiles and handshakes, laughs and shared meals, and lots of giveaways: book bags, galleys, tchotchkes, and the heavy tomes exhibitors don't want to repack and mail." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/07/05

Monday, June 6

Pair Arrested In Theft Of New Harry Potter Two men who stole copies of the new Harry Potter book due out later this summer and tried to sell them to newspaper reporters have been arrested. When one reporter tried to recover the book from the men for police, shots were fired... The Guardian (UK) 06/03/05

Sunday, June 5

Are Book Browsers Disappearing? There are more books available than ever before. And people are still buying. But will booklovers still browse book stores? "People are spending less time in the back of the store, looking through the philosophy section, and more time at the tables for `recommended books' in front. They're looking for someone to narrow their choices." Yahoo! (AP) 06/05/05

More Books, Less Interest The continuing decline of reading for pleasure in America is well documented, but doesn't seem to have been matched by a decline of available reading material - quite the contrary, in fact. "The number of new titles published last year, 195,000, increased by 14 percent over 2003, according to a new report... The biggest chunk of the increase was in adult fiction." But with fewer adults than ever buying and reading new fiction, the strategy on the part of publishers seems more than anything like a desperate attempt to throw as many titles as possible against the wall, and hope that one or two might stick. Boston Globe 06/04/05

Thursday, June 2

Regan: LA's Where The Action Is Why is super editor Judith Regan bringing her publishing house from New York to LA? "Over the last 20 years, she explains, New York has turned into a city that’s better suited to bankers, Wall Street lawyers and the superrich than it is to publishers. Artists are fleeing, creativity is dying, and the rents keep going up." LAWeekly 06/02/05

New Yorker Hits DVD The New Yorker magazine is issuing its complete archive of issues on DVD. "The collection, titled "The Complete New Yorker," will consist of eight DVD's containing high-resolution digital images of every page of the 4,109 issues of the magazine from February 1925 through the 80th anniversary issue, published last February. Included on the discs will be "every cover, every piece of writing, every drawing, listing, newsbreak, poem and advertisement." The New York Times 06/02/05

Hemingway House Endangered Ernest Hemingway's house outside of Havana has been listed in the US as "endangered." "The house's exposed position and the tropical hurricane climate of Cuba has left the building with serious structural problems, with experts calling it a preservation emergency". BBC 06/02/05

Albanian Wins Booker International Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare wins the first Man Booker International Prize. "I am a writer from the Balkan Fringe, a part of Europe which has long been notorious exclusively for news of human wickedness. My firm hope is that European and world opinion may henceforth realise this region... can also give rise to other kinds of news and be the home of other kinds of achievement in the field of the arts, literature and civilisation." BBC 06/02/05

Wednesday, June 1

Book Banning In The Heartland A culture war is being fought in America's schools. "According to the American Library Association, which asks school districts and libraries to report efforts to ban books - that is, have them removed from shelves or reading lists - they are on the rise again: 547 books were challenged last year, up from 458 in 2003. These aren't record numbers. In the 1990's the appearance of the Harry Potter books, with their themes of witchcraft and wizardry, caused a raft of objections from evangelical Christians." The New York Times 06/02/05

Why Can't Johnny Write? "Most composition courses that American students take today emphasize content rather than form, on the theory that if you chew over big ideas long enough, the ability to write about them will (mysteriously) follow. The theory is wrong. Content is a lure and a delusion, and it should be banished from the classroom. Form is the way." The New York Times 06/01/05

Minnesota Governor Vetoes Poet Laureate Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has vetoed a bill that would have created the post of state poet laureate. "While respectful and appreciative of the arts, I do not believe Minnesota needs an official state poet. We can benefit from the richness and the diversity of all the poets in Minnesota and recognize and embrace their work as merit and circumstances warrant." St. Paul Pioneer-Press 06/01/05

Men Stick With Men A study of what people read reveals that men are more likely to read male authors. "Four out of five men said the last novel they read was by a man, whereas women were almost as likely to have read a book by a male author as a female. When asked what novel by a woman they had read most recently, a majority of men found it hard to recall or could not answer. Women, however, often gave several titles. The report said: 'Men who read fiction tend to read fiction by men, while women read fiction by both women and men." The Guardian (UK) 05/28/05

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