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Tuesday, January 31

Why Frey's Memoir Lies Matter "Addicts and alcoholics are desperate vulnerable people; if you're going to offer them a way out, you'd better be certain it works. But how can you be, if you haven't walked the path? The reader reviews for Frey's book on Amazon contain this nugget: 'I've been to four funerals in the last 12 months. One of them was a guy who dropped out of AA/NA after reading Frey's crap - before it had been exposed as a fraud. He decided to follow Frey's advice ... He lasted about three months before he got high again. He was dead two months after that'." The Guardian (UK) 01/31/06

Monday, January 30

The Bard Parlor Game Shakespeare fans' favorite parlor game seems to be trying to prove (or disprove) who the Bard really was (or wasn't). "Neurologists tell us that our brains are hard-wired to find patterns and causation – even when they're not there. At different levels of scholarship and skill, these books reshape new research and old chestnuts to draw their cases. But they show us nothing definitive." And is it really that important, anyway? Dallas Morning News 01/29/06

One Terrific Book... (Sorry About The Lies) Okay, so everybody's piling on James Frey for his sins. But "amid the quite legitimate furor over author James Frey's fibs and flourishes, amid the high-decibel debates about the murky rules of memoir and the primacy of fact, one fact has been routinely overlooked: The guy can write."
Chicago Tribune 01/29/06

Today's Publishing - The MIA Editors Where were James Frey's editors? Where are the editors, period? "Publishing has become the land of the nonreturned phone call. Editors are either in a pre-sales conference, a sales conference, a post-sales conference, or at the Frankfurt Book Fair. They have no time for editing. Greater pressure on book publishers may come, in fact, from literary journalists, if they decide to emulate the Smoking Gun instead of turning out puffy author profiles." Philadelphia Inquirer 01/28/06

Publisher Pulls Book Before Publication (Kids' Book Similar To Another) After discovering that renowned children’s-book author and publisher Harriet Ziefert’s latest book, A Snake Is Totally Tail, is strikingly similar to Judi Barrett’s 1983 book of the same name, publisher Blue Apple has announced that it will not be releasing the version authored by Ziefert, originally set for release in April.
BookStandard 01/30/06

Publishers: We Don't Check Facts On What We Publish "Unlike journalists, publishers have never seen it as their purview to verify that the information in nonfiction books is true. Editors and publishers say the profit-margins in publishing don't allow for hiring fact-checkers. Instead, they rely on authors to be honest, and on their legal staffs to avoid libels suits. But now there is a growing chorus both inside and outside the industry calling for publishers to take more steps to validate the authenticity of works that are marketed as nonfiction." Wall Street Journal 01/30/06

What Did Frey's Publisher Know And When Did She Know It? "Nan Talese was in no position to call Frey's book 'brutally honest' in 2004 because that was after her conversation with the Star Tribune [which published a piece questioning the book's accuracy]. But she didn't tell Oprah that. Nor did she say she had no idea in 2004 that there were problems with the book, which would be an outright lie. Instead, Talese said, '[T]his whole experience is very sad' and observed that you can't 'get inside another person's mind.' This last is an especially preposterous non sequitur because by 2004 you didn't need to 'get inside' Frey's mind to find out that his memoir wasn't factual." Slate 01/30/06

Behind The Scenes Of Oprah's Frey Prosecution Oprah's takedown of James Frey last week on live television was a moment of high TV drama. Oprah was angry. And yet, there were questions about why she waited so long. "After the lights went down, Oprah said goodbye to Talese with a warm embrace. Publishers, who owe so much to Oprah, are hoping she'll remember her show's second credo: learn how to forgive." Newsweek 02/06/06

Sunday, January 29

What About Frey's Enablers? "In all of the attention focused on James Frey and his book "A Million Little Pieces" in recent weeks, two main characters in the drama — Mr. Frey's literary agent and the book's editor — have largely escaped scrutiny. But [this weekend,] a number of people in the publishing business suggested it was time for Kassie Evashevski, Mr. Frey's agent, and Sean McDonald, who edited both A Million Little Pieces and Mr. Frey's follow-up, My Friend Leonard, to talk about their roles in selling and shaping the books." The New York Times 01/28/06

  • Who's Responsible? James Frey is only the latest in along string of authors and memoirists recently exposed for fabricating all or part of their supposedly non-fiction work. But how much responsibility should a publisher bear for fact-checking such works? After all, memoirs are by definition works of personal memory, and as such, are often difficult to verify. Still, some literary agents and publishers are saying that the Frey Affair has been a major wake-up call for the industry. Boston Globe 01/28/06

Friday, January 27

Warning Labels - Truth In Memoirism? The publisher of Augusten Burroughs’s "Possible Side Effects: True Stories", has added a disclaimer sticker to the book's cover: "Author’s Note: Some of the events described happened as related, others were expanded and changed. Some of the individuals portrayed are composites of more than one person and many names and identifying characteristics have been changed as well." BookStandard 01/26/06

Thursday, January 26

First Oprah, Now Frey's Publisher Rebukes Author Shortly after Oprah condemned James Frey for his misrepresentations in his bestselling "Million Little Pieces", Frey's publisher distances itself from the author. "It is not the policy or stance of this company that it doesn’t matter whether a book sold as nonfiction is true. Mr. Frey’s repeated representations of the book’s accuracy, through publication and promotion, assured us that everything in it was true to his recollections." BookStandard 01/26/06

Oprah: I was Wrong To Defend Frey "In a live broadcast of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" from her studios in Chicago in which she interviewed Mr. Frey, Ms. Winfrey apologized to her audience for her call to "Larry King Live" earlier this month defending the author. Today, Ms. Winfrey, alternately fighting back tears and displaying vivid anger, berated Mr. Frey for duping her and her audience." The New York Times 01/26/06

A Matisse Bio Where Once There Was None How did Hilary Spurling come to write her Whitbread-winning biography of Matisse? "My publisher was probably the only person in the world to realise that nobody had written a biography of Matisse and he suggested that I do it. I felt my heart leap - I assumed it had been done, and was thrilled it hadn't. I was all wrong for it: I wasn't an art historian, I wasn't French and I am a woman. I thought these things would be a problem, but they helped."
The Guardian (UK) 01/26/06

Wednesday, January 25

Readers Sue Frey For "Wasted Time" Some Seattle readers have filed a lawsuit against Doubleday and James Frey because Frey made up some of the details of his memoir. The suit "seeks compensation on behalf of consumers for 'the lost value of the readers' time'." Seattle Times 01/25/06

Tuesday, January 24

Spurling Wins Whitbread Hilary Spurling's biography of Matisse wins the top Whitbread. Spurling "spent 15 years writing and researching her two-part biography of the French Impressionist, was chosen over the four other Whitbread winners." BBC 01/24/06

Perkins Wins Childrens Book Honors Lynne Rae Perkins' Criss Cross, a humorous series of vignettes, illustrations and poems about a group of small-town teenagers, has won the Newbery Medal for "the most outstanding contribution to children's literature." Chicago Sun-Times (AP) 01/24/06

Monday, January 23

People-Moving Poetry Twenty-five buses in Pittsburgh have been covered with poems. "The poetic exteriors are the latest in the ongoing effort to make buses more visually interesting than the red-and-white affairs that transported commuters a decade ago." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 01/23/06

A Big Little Magazine Quits After 80 Years The New Leader is closing after 80 years of publication. "The New Leader has a circulation of roughly 12,000, down from a peak of about 30,000 in the late 1960's, and like most magazines of its kind, it runs at a loss - some $400,000 a year in this case. Back in the 50's, it was said to receive occasional support from the C.I.A., but it has been more reliably sustained by contributions from, of all places, an institute financed by Tamiment, the famous Poconos resort and proving ground for the likes of Sid Caesar and Danny Kaye." The New York Times 01/23/06

Turkey Drops Charges Against Writer A Turkish court has dropped charges against a prominent writer for "insulting Turkey" after the government declined to accept the charges. "Brussels had described the case as a litmus test of Turkey's EU membership credentials. The European Union's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the court's decision to drop charges was "good news for freedom of expression in Turkey". But he warned that Ankara must tackle loopholes that restrict freedom of speech in other cases." BBC 01/23/06

Sunday, January 22

Turkish Government Declines Charges Against Author The Turkish government won't approve charges of "insulting Turkey and Turkishness" against Orhan Pamuk, the country's most prominent author, leaving the decision to a local court that could drop the case. Yahoo! (AP) 01/22/06

Does Dishonesty Power The Publishing Industry? As much fun as it may be to debate the seriousness of James Frey's literary crimes, it's really not as big a deal as many are making it out to be, says Simon Caterson. In fact, America's literary history is chock full of scandals and hoaxes, and sometimes, it even seems that the entire inustry is powered by near-constant controversy. The Age (Melbourne) 01/21/06

Sony Gets Into The E-Book Game E-books have been touted for years as the next big thing in literature and technology, but they've never caught on with the reading public in a big way. Later this year, though, Sony will attempt to succeed where others have failed with a new generation of electronic readers featuring a high-tech screen utilizing tiny "microcapsules... that look far more like ordinary paper than a liquid crystal display... The E Ink technology also conserves batteries because current is used only when pixels need to change their color -- between virtual page turns, the Reader consumes no current at all." Wired 01/22/06

Friday, January 20

Man Jailed For Harry Theft A man has been jailed for 4 1/2 years for stealing pre-release copies of Harry Potter las summer. "Aaron Lambert, 20, stole two copies of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince from a secure distribution centre on June 2 last year, six weeks before the JK Rowling novel's much awaited publication." The Guardian (UK) 01/19/06

Ulysses Tops 20th Century Poll James Joyce's classic 1922 novel Ukysses tops a poll selecting the most valuable books of the 20th Century. "According to the poll, which was published in this month's issue of the Book and Magazine Collector magazine, the 1922 first edition of Joyce's account of Bloom's day in Dublin is now worth £100,000." The Guardian (UK) 01/19/06

Thursday, January 19

Taylor Prize Takes A Turn For The Tragic "This much can be said with certainty: The CAN$25,000 2006 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-fiction, the richest prize of its type in Canada, will go to a book with a tragic story at its core. The four short-listed nominees, announced yesterday in Toronto... include James Chatto's The Greek for Love: A Memoir of Corfu; Laura M. Mac Donald's Curse of the Narrows: The Halifax Explosion of 1917; J.B. MacKinnon's Dead Man in Paradise; and John Terpstra's The Boys: or, Waiting for the Electrician's Daughter. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/19/06

Wednesday, January 18

Building Boom Threatens Books The beloved library at Trinity College Dublin has discovered that the city's torrid building boom is damaging its books. "The university has discovered to its dismay that a quarter of a million books, many of them irreplaceable and dating from the earliest days of print, have been damaged by building dust. The new Ireland is thus having a detrimental effect on the old, since this side-effect of Dublin's extraordinary building boom will cost millions to put right." The Independent (UK) 01/17/06

Tuesday, January 17

The Memoir Problem "No one wants to read an 8,000-page memoir that pores over each waking moment. But now, the controversy surrounding James Frey's bestselling memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," is raising questions about how factual even the most carefully written memoirs are. The memoir is a strange kind of performance. It's halfway between fiction and testimony. 'Anybody in his right mind knows that a memoir is unreliable'." Christian Science Monitor 01/18/06

Adolescent Behavior "It has to be more than a coincidence that literary fiction is being flooded with books about adolescents. It's been building for a while, from Michael Chabon's Kavalier and Clay and Craig Thompson's Blankets to last year's Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. But this year it seems to be out of control, with another book about another awkward pre-teen crossing my doorway every day or so." Bookstandard 01/13/06

Wholphin' It Up With A New Magazine Wholphi is a new magazine. But not a traditional magazine with old-fashioned pages. It comes in the form of a DVD crammed with features. Why might it work? "We're sick and tired of words -- endless words marching one after another in horizontal line after horizontal line in paragraph after paragraph in article after article in magazine after magazine. In other words, we're sick of reading. We long to join the rest of our fellow Americans sitting on the sofa with beer and Doritos, basking in the glow of a TV screen. And now Wholphin enables us to do just that." Washington Post 01/17/06

Monday, January 16

Frey Flap - Truth In Advertising The uproar over James Frey's misrepresentations in his best-selling memoir is not "just a case about truth-in-labeling or the misrepresentations of one author: after all, there have been plenty of charges about phony or inflated memoirs in the past, most notably about Lillian Hellman's 1973 book 'Pentimento.' It is a case about how much value contemporary culture places on the very idea of truth." The New York Times 01/17/06

Duffy Wins Eliot Poetry Prize Carol Ann Duffy wins this year's TS Eliot Prize for poetry. The Poetry Book Society, which awards the prize, said: "This year's TS Eliot prize highlights a (some would say) rare moment of agreement between the critics and the booksellers as to what constitutes great poetry." The Guardian (UK) 01/17/06

Book Critics Circle Award Finalists Joan Didion, William T. Vollmann and John Updike were among the finalists announced Saturday for the National Book Critics Circle Awards. The fiction nominees included Vollmann's "Europe Central," E.L. Doctorow's "The March" and Mary Gaitskill's "Veronica." Two British releases also were nominated: Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go" and Andrea Levy's "Small Island." Washington Post (AP) 01/16/06

A Revolution In Textbook Publishing? Bill Gates predicts it: "Within four or five years, instead of spending money on textbooks, they'll spend a mere $400 or so buying that tablet device and the material they hook up to will all be on the wireless internet with animations, timelines and links to deep information. But they'll be spending less than they would have on textbooks and have a dramatically better experience." The Age (Melbourne) 01/14/06

Sunday, January 15

Will Technology Kill Publishing? Look at publishing industry statistics and you'd think this was a Golden Age for he book trade. "If, on this evidence, you were tempted to call this a golden age of publishing, you should first talk to the publishers. To them, the IT revolution cuts both ways. It has inspired a boom, but it also threatens to turn the book world upside down." The Observer (UK) 01/15/06

The Future Of The Written Word "If Bill Gates has his way, those of us who love the tactile pleasures of reading should proceed into 2006 with a degree of caution. The way we read books, and the way they are distributed globally, is about to undergo radical transformation similar to changes in the way we acquire, distribute and consume music." But with Google and Microsoft locked in competition to be the first to digitize all the printed words that have come before, and to transform the future of publishing itself, debate is raging over what is good for the marketplacem, and what is good for the consumer. The Age (Melbourne) 01/14/06

Canadians Going All-American Canadians take great pride in their national artists, actors, and authors, and go to great lengths to avoid being swamped by the tidal wave of American culture looming just to the south. But increasingly, Canadian readers seem to be going off the national script, buying and reading far more American titles than Canadian. Moreover, bestseller lists that have long placed Canadian titles in the top tier are now known to have somewhat suspect data-gathering operations. National Post (CanWest) 01/14/06

Frey's Lies: Are The Readers The Problem? Does it really matter that James Frey wrote a book falsely claiming to have been a drug-addled bad boy in his youth? Perhaps not. "There is, however, a deeper issue worth considering buried in all this pop-cultural titillation: Why are people so easily victimized by this sort of emotional con man? For some years, book publishing, television and — more recently — a growing segment of the news media have been sinking deeper and deeper into a particularly fetid sinkhole carved by two social currents that now dominate our collective lives. One is narcissism, which has turned the confessional memoir into the dominant literary genre of our age. The other is the public's prurient interest, which creates a readership for the literature of self-absorption and supports a metastasizing culture of celebrity." Los Angeles Times 01/14/06

Friday, January 13

Creative Embellishment Or Plain Old Lying? The literary phenomenon known as "creative nonfiction" has caught on in recent years, especially among authors who are belatedly discovered to have made up parts of what were supposed to be factual books. As memoirs and other works of supposed non-fiction have risen to become the most profitable corner of the publishing industry, the line of acceptability in "sprucing up" dull old reality has been blurred. The problem may be that, unlike magazines and newspapers, publishers don't spend a lot of time on fact-checking, and basically take an author's word on the events related in a given manuscript. Chicago Tribune 01/13/06

Thursday, January 12

Oprah Backs Frey, Random House Denies Refund Story Oprah Winfrey says she still supports James' Frey's "A Million Little Pieces", even if not all he events depicted are true. "I am disappointed by the controversy surrounding 'A Million Little Pieces,' because I rely on the publishers to define the category that a book falls within." In other news of the Frey, publisher Random House denies it is offering refunds on the book. Washington Post 01/12/06

  • Frey: 18 Pages In Dispute? I'm Shocked! Author James Frey defended his memoir Wednesday night on Larry King. Frey, 36, told King that only 18 pages of his 432-page memoir were in dispute, an "appropriate ratio for a memoir." He said there was a "great debate on what a memoir should serve: the story or some kind of journalistic truth. I've been shocked by the furor that's erupted. I don't know any memoir in the history of publishing that's been so carefully vetted so long after publication." Yahoo! (USAToday) 01/12/06

Wednesday, January 11

What We Read... A list of the top-selling books of 2005... BookStandard 01/04/06

America's Colorless Magazines America's magazines are generally color-deficient, reports the New York Observer. The mastheads for major magazines are notably lacking in diversity. "The magazine industry is probably the least diverse of any of the media. They’ve taken a real pass." New York Observer 01/11/06

Frey Admits Making Up Details In His Bestseller "James Frey, the author of 'A Million Little Pieces,' which has been the best-selling book in the country since Oprah Winfrey selected it last fall for her television book club, said on 'Larry King Live' on CNN last night that he never expected his memoir to come under such close scrutiny. But he maintained that what he believes is the essence of the book is true: that he was an alcoholic and drug addict who overcame his addiction." The New York Times 01/12/06

  • Publisher Offers Refunds On Frey Book After charges of fakery, James Frey's publisher began offering refunds. "Readers calling Random House's customer service line to complain Wednesday were told that if the book was bought directly from the publisher it could be returned for a full refund. Those who bought the book at a bookstore were told to try and return it to the store where it was bought." AOL News (Reuters) 01/11/06

  • Bloggers Gang Up On Frey James Frey is being attacked online over charges that his best-selling memoir is full of fraud. "On the message boards at Oprah.com (where the book is highly publicized and promoted as the most recent pick of the talk show queen's popular book club), sentiments were largely of anger, betrayal and confusion. While some who joined the fray supported Frey claiming, as one did, that "true or untrue, [the book] is a great read." Others called the author a "fraud" and a "liar" who presented fiction as fact for personal and financial gain." Publishers Weekly 01/11/06

  • Will Frey's Movie Change After Charges? "A film version of James Frey's best-selling addiction memoir 'A Million Little Pieces' could need a rehab of its own after a story posted Sunday on the muckraking Web site the Smoking Gun raised serious questions about the veracity of the author's gritty true-life account." Yahoo! (Reuters) 01/11/06

Back To School Critic Julia Keller never liked Jonathan Swift back in college, when his "lofty sarcasm [and] misanthropic superiority" seemed at odds with her vision of what literature ought to be. The wonderful thing about graduating from college, of course, is that you're no longer required to delve into the work of writers you hate. But Keller is diving back in, auditing a Swift course at a Chicago university in order to "engage in an intellectual arm-wrestling match with Swift, my old nemesis, and report on the results." Vegas oddsmakers are currently laying 3-to-2 odds on Swift. Chicago Tribune 01/11/06

Savvy Marketing Or Copyright Infringment? A copyright dispute appears to have broken out between Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam and the publisher of a collection of "luxury magazines" aimed at high-end consumers in cities across the U.S. Beam first wrote about the company and its magazines last September, and he was more than a bit derisive. But now, the publisher appears to have pulled a few select quotes from Beam's article to use as promotional material for the magazines, an action which Beam calls "blatant copyright infringement," especially since the references to Beam's column "omitted what we call the lead, which referred to [the] magazine as 'a 352-page doorstop' filled with 'puffy, party-oriented proto-journalism.'" Boston Globe 01/11/06

Tuesday, January 10

The Second Book Problem "Is there really anything to it, or is Second Novel Syndrome a myth? Reviewers who fall for the schematic over the actual will lament the 'disappointing second novel' just as they will damn a debut with the faint praise of 'an author to watch in the future'. But, as with much in reviewing, this can be based on a preconceived idea rather than reality." Sydney Morning Herald 01/05/06

Publisher: Memoir Isn't Necessarily Fact James Frey's publisher says it doesn't matter if some of the author's work isn't true. "Memoir is a personal history whose aim is to illuminate, by way of example, events and issues of broader social consequence. By definition, it is highly personal. In the case of Mr. Frey, we decided 'A Million Little Pieces' was his story, told in his own way, and he represented to us that his version of events was true to his recollections. Recent accusations against him notwithstanding, the power of the overall reading experience is such that the book remains a deeply inspiring and redemptive story for millions of readers." The New York Times 01/11/06

  • Frey Memoir Continues Selling Well Despite Charges Charges that James Frey's best-selling memoir ''A Million Little Pieces" contains numerous ''wholly fabricated or wildly embellished" details are dogging the book. "It's unclear what effect the allegations will have on readers. The Oprah's Book Club edition of ''A Million Little Pieces" was the best-selling book on Amazon.com yesterday." Boston Globe 01/10/06

The Well-Funded Poets Three years ago, Ruth Lilly left $175 million to Poetry Magazine, making it the richest literary magazine in the world. So what's happened since to the cause of poetry? Boston Globe 01/08/06

Monday, January 9

Canadian Film Magazine Quits "Take One Magazine, the national film magazine since 1992, has announced that it has suspended publication. Despite the magazine's being run as a not-for-profit organization, founding publisher and editor Wyndham Wise says Take One had run into cash-flow problems that were becoming too difficult to contend with." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 01/09/06

Reports Question Truth Of Best-Selling Memoir Questions have been raised about the truth of James Frey's best-selling memoir, "A Million Little Pieces." "The book, originally published in 2003 by the Nan A. Talese imprint of Doubleday, soared to the top of the best-seller lists in the fall after it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her television book club. Ms. Winfrey's enthusiastic endorsement helped the book to sell more than two million copies last year, making it the second-highest-selling book of 2005, behind only "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." The New York Times 01/10/06

Harry Best-Sold Of 2005 The latest installment of Harry Potter was the best-selling book of 2005. "Proving its enduring popularity, which is likely to continue with the release of a movie adaptation this year, Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" was the fifth highest U.S. seller of the year." Yahoo! (AP) 01/08/06

Sunday, January 8

CIA Trying To Discourage Books Concerned about information getting out about how the CIA operates, agency director Porter Goss is trying to discourage books about the agency by former employees. "Goss is concerned about the potential effects of books written by those with inside knowledge of agency operations." Time 01/09/06

Cracking The Code - Da Vinci To Get Paperback Megaprint The publisher of the Da Vinci Code is printing 5 million copies in paperback. "Even though the book is one of the best sellers in hardcover history with 12 million copies in print in North America, Random House, a division of Bertelsmann of Germany, is operating on the assumption that many readers have been waiting for a less-expensive paperback version and that the film will generate new interest." The New York Times 01/09/06

The Word Of The Year It's "truthiness". "The American Dialect Society chose the word Friday after a runoff with terms related to Hurricane Katrina, such as "Katrinagate," the scandal erupting from the lack of planning for the monster hurricane." Seattle Times (AP) 01/08/06

Quick Lit, Direct To The Consumer Every type of entertainment seems to be available on-demand these days, so why not literature? (Yes, yes, we know, books are technically an on-demand content delivery device, but just humor us.) One well-known Canadian author has launched an online subscription service for his work, e-mailing three stories per month directly to readers in exchange for an $8 annual fee. "The benefits to the author are obvious. In addition to the enforced deadlines and the built-in revenue stream (he makes about $275 a month, in addition to direct-marketed book sales and speaking engagements related to his subscription list), Rogers has found a way to overcome one of the most vexing problems faced by writers: launching their words into a void." Toronto Star 01/07/06

Friday, January 6

Men - They're Just Not That In To Reading About It "According to Barnes & Noble, 80% of customers who bought books on relationships are women. Relationship books for women outsell those for men by a ratio of 4 to 1, the company reports. But if it indeed takes two to tango, if on a very basic level men and women are seeking the same thing — each other — why are women so much more keen to study the ins and outs of dating and relationships? Where are the advice books for men? Why aren't books being written for men?" Los Angeles Times 01/06/06

Thursday, January 5

Authors Phone It In Want your favorite author to talk to your book club. These days they might just do it. "Book clubs are a growing force in the publishing industry, and publishers and authors view the call-ins as a way to show their appreciation, build loyalty and market their books. 'This is the next step in the evolution of the relationship between book clubs and publishers'." Yahoo! (USA Today) 01/05/06

Legal Life As Lit Okay, so maybe it's a stretch to consider the literary merits of legal filings. And yet... "Has there ever been such a deluge of mass-consumed legalese in a condensed period? Indeed, this is a golden age for the turgid and stultifying, a wave of indictments, plea bargains and "informations" interspersed with three Supreme Court justice nominations in a five-month period, with all of the poetic briefs, memos and opinion-writing those can yield." Washington Post 01/05/06

Wednesday, January 4

Brits Using Libraries Differently "In 2004/05, visits to public libraries rose for the third year running, with the number of visits up by a total of 17m since 2001/02. However, the fact that the number of books borrowed is on the decline appears to suggest that visitors are using their local libraries for research or for multimedia facilities rather than for their traditional purpose of book lending." The Guardian (UK) 01/04/06

Are Real-World Indictments The New Crime Novels? "This is a golden age for the turgid and stultifying, a wave of indictments, plea bargains and 'informations' interspersed with three Supreme Court justice nominations in a five-month period, with all of the poetic briefs, memos and opinion-writing those can yield." What are we talking about? Why, those delightfully lurid and informational indictment documents now being handed down in Washington with almost as much frequency as new Scott Turow books, of course. In fact, the interest in such legal docs is so intense as to provoke the question: are these court filings now officially a form of entertainment for wonks and news junkies? And if so, could they even be considered... gulp... literature? Washington Post 01/04/06

Tuesday, January 3

Byron manuscript Found The only known manuscript of a poem by Lord Byron has been found in the archives of University College London. The original, which had been assumed lost, was found in an 1810 edition of The Pleasures of Memory by Samuel Rogers. BBC 01/03/06

Smith Wins Whitbread Ali Smith has won this year's Whitbread Award for her first full-length novel, The Accidental. "The Scottish writer beat authors including Salman Rushdie and Nick Hornby to the title." BBC 01/03/06

Publishers Reject Classics In Test London's Sunday Times submitted two classic Booker-winning books to publishers as the work of newcomers and they were rejected. "One of the books considered unworthy by the publishing industry was by V S Naipaul, one of Britain’s greatest living writers, who won the Nobel prize for literature. The exercise by The Sunday Times draws attention to concerns that the industry has become incapable of spotting genuine literary talent." The Sunday Times (UK) 01/01/06

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