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Thursday, June 29

Your Virtual Library For The Home Collection Tim Spalding created a website where "members can create library-quality catalogs of the books they own and display their collection to fellow online bookshelf browsers. He launched LibraryThing.com in August as a way to bring the organizational joys of the librarian to a wider array of book nerds. Ten months later, his concept has blossomed into a vibrant community with 47,670 registered members - some paying - and a user-created catalog that includes more than 3.6 million volumes. In theory, that makes LibraryThing the 58th largest library in the U.S." Wall Street Journal 06/29/06

Wednesday, June 28

Georgia Library Reinstates Spanish Books A Georgia public library system that was going to stop buying Spanish-language books has decided (after public outcry) to continue buying. "We heard from people on both sides of the issue and we heard from a lot of the press. We are choosing to restore that line item. ... We were not trying to send any signal, but everyone seemed to think we were." Yahoo! (AP) 06/28/06

Tuesday, June 27

Getting Hosed At The Bookstore Anyone who's ever bought a book in North America has seen the dual pricing model displayed in the corner of the dust jacket: one price for American buyers, and a considerably higher one for Canadians. The reason for the discrepancy, of course, is that the Canadian dollar has traditionally been far weaker than the greenback. But the American dollar is plummeting these days, and with Canada's loonie now worth upwards of 90 U.S. cents, consumers north of the border are crying foul over having to pay a 30-40% premium on books. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/27/06

Milne Family Won't Regain Pooh Rights "The granddaughter of the creator of children's character Winnie the Pooh has failed in an attempt to regain the copyright on stories about the bear. Clare Milne was challenging a series of licensing arrangements in place since the books were created in the 1920s. In 1983 the present owner - the estate of literary agent Stephen Slesinger - signed a deal blocking AA Milne's family from ever regaining control... Milne died in 1956 but bequeathed the ownership of the copyright to a trust rather than to his family." BBC 06/27/06

Rowling To Kill Off Two Potter Heroes In case anyone was hoping that JK Rowling might reconsider her decision to make the next book in her wildly popular Harry Potter series the last, any such ideas can probably be put to rest with the revelation that two of the principal characters will die at the book's end. Rowling says that she has known how she would end the series since years before she even had a publisher for the first book. BBC 06/27/06

Monday, June 26

How The New York Review Of Books Came Into The World "When The New York Review of Books made its début–Volume 1, No. 1, dated February 1, 1963, appeared in the midst of a four-month-long printers’ strike at the Times–the idea for an intellectually vigorous books magazine was so perfectly cooked, and its founding editors, Barbara Epstein and Robert Silvers, so skilled and connected, that an extended family of friends and sympathizers rushed to fill the chairs at a vast table of contents." The New Yorker 06/26/06

The New Jamaican Literature "The literature of Jamaica, which has a population of about 2.5 million and a relatively small publishing industry, has existed as much off the island as on it until now. Traditionally Jamaican literature has been grounded in folklore and rural byways, or has consisted of chronicles of colonialism and of the island's violent political conflicts." The New York Times 06/26/06

Sunday, June 25

The New Politics - A Flood Of Books Bookstores are filling up with new books on political themes. "Ten years ago, political books didn't sell very well. Now, in the last three or four years, the sales are off the charts. Look at the last election with the Al Frankens, Michael Moores, Bill O'Reillys. The publishers know this and they're responding." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/25/06

Oh, Georgia, You Just Make It Too Easy Sometimes... A suburban Atlanta library system has a new policy that is angering Georgia's large immigrant community: the library will not buy any new books in Spanish, starting now. The county library board had previously set aside $3000 per year for the purchase of Spanish-language material, but the subsidy was eliminated "after some residents objected to using taxpayer dollars to entertain readers who might be illegal immigrants." Los Angeles Times (AP) 06/24/06

We're Banning Reference Books Now? A North Carolina school district has banned the much-lauded Cassell Dictionary of Slang, claiming that the book, which includes some 87,000 entries, is somehow inappropriate for children. Not surprisingly, the impetus for the ban came from a Christian fundamentalist group, which is also seeking to ban many other books, including Maurice Sendak's "Mickey In The Night Kitchen" and Robert Cormier's "The Chocolate War." The Guardian (UK) 06/24/06

Wait 'Til The Harry Potter Kids Get Involved "A London hospital that holds the copyright to Peter Pan has questioned the appropriateness of a series of books that portrays the character Wendy exploring her sexuality. The Lost Girls books, by graphic novelist Alan Moore, are about three world-famous characters: Wendy, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The characters meet one another and have sexual adventures. Wendy not only engages in erotic trysts but also encounters pedophiles." Chicago Sun-Times (AP) 06/24/06

Friday, June 23

Casinos Make A Bet On Books Casinos are booking authors to give readings. "It is one thing to see Siegfried & Roy or even Cirque du Soleil between playing the slots, but an author? For casinos, which are trying to attract visitors interested not so much in gambling as in a broad range of entertainment, it can make sense." The New York Times 06/23/06

Independent Misery "Independent booksellers in the Bay Area share a common lament over a grim or nonexistent future for some of the most cherished havens for book lovers and strongest venues for visiting authors. Many cite Amazon.com and the proliferation of big chain bookstores. But there are other factors, they say, that have piled straw on the backs of businesses that face thin profit margins and stiff competition from discounters. They range from the dot-com blowup to bad city planning, to a societal turn toward laptop literacy." Contra Costa Times 06/23/06

Thursday, June 22

Books On The Block A magnificent collection of antique books collected by the heir to a Cincinnati brewery fortune is to be sold at auction next week. "The sale features books in all forms, including ancient papyri fragments, Persian manuscripts, European books of hours and Hebrew manuscripts, as well as book-related curiosities, like the only known round bookbinding of the Renaissance, made in leather in 1590 by Caspar Meuser of Dresden for Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg... The sale is expected to raise $4.5 million." The New York Times 06/23/06

Wednesday, June 21

ACLU Protest Book Ban In Florida Schools The ACLU is contesting a Miami-Dade County school board decision to remove a book from its library shelves. "Last week, the board voted 6-3 to remove 'Vamos a Cuba' and its English-language version, 'A Visit to Cuba' from 33 schools, stating the books were inappropriate for young readers because of inaccuracies and omissions about life in the communist nation." Yahoo! (AP) 06/21/06

Tuesday, June 20

Needed: A Standard For E-Books "At present, there is no common standard used by producers and manufacturers. As a result, customers can’t read a Palm e-book on a Microsoft Reader, noted Nick Bogaty, executive director of the IDPF. If companies adopt the new standards, not only will customers be able to read e-books on different devices, but e-books will be cheaper and easier to produce, which should lead to more titles being available." Publishers Weekly 06/20/06

SF Gets First New Public Library In 40 Years The city of San Francisco is opening its first completely new branch to open in 40 years. "For residents and workers in Mission Bay, it will be not only a place to borrow books but also a place to gather -- the kind of public center that established neighborhoods take for granted." San Francisco Chronicle 06/20/06

University Presses Have To Adapt University press publishers gather to talk about their business. Like all publishers, the university presses are having to reinvent their business. This spring the presses were hit with a glut of textbook returns. It seems students are getting more saavy about used textbooks. One expert warned that "today's students, tomorrow's faculty have grown up with technology. This Net Generation's expectations are defined by Google, Amazon.com, and eBay. They expect everything to be online and everything to be free. They have become a visual culture. They're moving away from text." Chronicle of Higher Education 06/19/06

Selling Out... Then Again So what if authors are selling product placement in their books? Jane Smiley thinks it's a great... er... never mind... Los Angeles Times 06/17/06

Sunday, June 18

What Linguists Do... How do you "spread the word that linguists are not polyglots, language cops, or anarchists, but fact-seeking, fun-loving, rule-embracing folks?" Boston Globe 06/18/06

Ellen Seligman On Editing Fiction: Seligman is Canada's "top fiction editor": "You read a book, and maybe one can say what maybe needs work or what could use revision here and there. So, a reader might be able to do that. But if you're really going to be useful, I think an editor has to understand what is possible to do. So you learn to develop the idea that 'Okay, this is this book' and you learn to make a distinction between what changes would make it another book as opposed to what can be done with the rough parameters of what the author wants to do with this book." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/17/06

Thursday, June 15

Cross Purposes - The Problem Of Dislocated English Why is it that American writers have difficulty writing English speech, and British writers have difficulty writing American? "True virtuosity, in fact, lies in the simple ability to render a single line of speech in a way that sounds like a real person talking. There aren't many novelists, in reality, who can reliably do this even if the character shares their own nationality, class and position. The number of novelists who can bring off a character speaking the same language from a different country, no matter how apparently familiar the cadences and accent, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Not so smashing, after all." The Telegraph (UK) 06/18/06

All In The Family - Laird Wins Society of Authors Award Last week Zadie Smith's novel On Beauty won the £30,000 Orange prize. "Yesterday Utterly Monkey, a lad-lit novel written by her husband, the poet Nick Laird, won the £10,000 Betty Trask award, administered by the Society of Authors." The Guardian (UK) 06/15/06

US Book Sales Down For Third Straight Month US bookstore sales were down ahrply 4.3 percent in April. "The decline was the steepest monthly decline so far this year and marked the third consecutive month that sales were down." Publishers Weekly 06/15/06

Rereading Childhood Faves Can Be Hazardous To Your Nostalgia The books we loved as children always seem to hold a special place in our hearts, and though we may not reread them often as adults, they never fail to conjure warm and fuzzy memories. In fact, not rereading them is frequently a good idea. "Moments I had treasured from the book down through the decades now seemed like cheap gags... Where as a child I had seen mystery and wonder, as an adult I saw smug, self-satisfied intellectual humor." Chicago Tribune 06/15/06

The Mother Of All Book Tours Most authors wouldn't extend the length of the average book tour for anything, but J.A. Konrath can't get enough of the road, apparently. With the aid of an in-car GPS device that allows him to locate bookstores not on his official itinerary, Konrath visited 95 more stores than his publisher asked him to on his last tour. "His ability to use the technology to find more places to promote his book impressed his publisher enough that this summer, Hyperion is sending Konrath out for a two-month, 500 bookstore tour." Wired 06/15/06

Wednesday, June 14

Google Gets Into The Shakespeare Business Google has launched a site devoted entirely to the Bard that "allows U.S. users to browse through the full texts of his 37 plays. Readers can even plug in words, such as 'to be or not to be' from 'Hamlet,' and immediately be taken to that part of the play." Yahoo! (AP) 06/14/06

Your iPod In Verse "Listening to poetry on your iPod may not be everyone's idea of entertainment, but a new website called iPoems (which has nothing to do with iTunes or its owner, Apple) is setting out to persuade audiences that downloadable poems read by their authors are the next big thing - and worth 50p per poem." The Guardian (UK) 06/14/06

Tuesday, June 13

Hall To Be Named US Poet Laureate The Librarian of Congress will name Donald Hall as the US' 14th Poet Laureate. "Mr. Hall, a poet in the distinctive American tradition of Robert Frost, has also been a harsh critic of the religious right's influence on government arts policy. And as a member of the advisory council of the National Endowment for the Arts during the administration of George H. W. Bush, he referred to those he thought were interfering with arts grants as bullies and art bashers." The New York Times 06/14/06

Colm Toibin Wins IMPAC Dublin Literary Award His book "The Master" explored the tortured soul of the 19th century American novelist Henry James — received the $125,000 prize and a Waterford crystal trophy during a ceremony in Dublin City Hall. The 11-year-old prize is one of the world's most lucrative for fiction writers." Yahoo! (AP) 06/13/06

Book Club Is Code For...? There has been a phenomenal rise in the number of book clubs in America. But "these days, 'book club' is more like code for girly gab session than a meeting of the Algonquin Round Table." New York Daily News 06/13/06

Monday, June 12

Product Placement... In Books? "By now, television and movie viewers have become used to this kind of thing: when they see sneakers or cars on a show or in a film, they generally assume that these appearances have been paid for by the companies that make the brands. But product placement in books is still relatively rare. The use of even the subtlest of sales pitches, particularly in a book aimed at adolescents, could raise questions about the vulnerability of the readers." The New York Times 06/12/06

Controlling James Joyce "Stephen Joyce is James Joyce’s only living descendant, and since the mid-nineteen-eighties he has effectively controlled the Joyce estate. Scholars must ask his permission to quote sizable passages or to reproduce manuscript pages from those works of Joyce’s that remain under copyright—including “Ulysses” and “Finnegans Wake”—as well as from more than three thousand letters and several dozen unpublished manuscript fragments... His audacity and his pique have amused some Joyceans, and at times the Joyceans have provoked him." The New Yorker 06/12/06

Steinbeck Heirs Get Rights To Author's Books A US judge has ruled that the rights to ten works by John Steinbeck belong to his relatives. "The rights properly belong to the author's son, Thomas Steinbeck, and granddaughter Blake Smyle. The ruling came after the two canceled rights previously held by various individuals and organizations, including publishing house Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and the heirs of John Steinbeck's widow, Elaine, who died in April 2003." Yahoo! (AP) 06/12/06

Publishers Look For Gold On The Right "Three of the largest publishers have created imprints – semi-independent publishing companies – to deal specifically with conservative titles. Like their counterparts on the left, few of these books seem intended to convince much of anyone of much of anything. Authors have been preaching to the choir or, more accurately, throwing to the carnivorous choir chunks of bloody red meat." San Diego Union-Tribune 06/11/06

An Inconvenient Dedication "Literary dedications began with scribblers in the 18th-century sucking up to rich patrons. It was only in the past 100 years that they became vehicles for private missives and Valentines.
Decoding them is fun - with luck you can catch an illuminating flash as the authorial skirts are momentarily lifted. But, when love turns sour, loving dedications can have a horrible, inexpungable irony. Novels have an unfortunate habit of surviving marriages."
The Guardian (UK) 06/11/06

Sunday, June 11

Toronto's New Castle Of Used Books A giant new used book store is taking shape in Toronto. "Modelled on the Strand bookstore in New York, which boasts that it has "18 miles of bookshelves" and on Half Price Books, a chain of 80 secondhand stores in the American southwest, it will be like nothing Toronto has seen before, at least on this scale." Toronto Star 06/11/06

A Literary Prize From The Inside Out "Worth a lucrative 100,000 euros ($126,000), the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is the richest and most international prize of its kind. Libraries from all over the world nominate books and, unlike many other awards, it is open to translations and thus to books written in any language." Judging for large literary prizes is generally conducted with the utmost secrecy, but one of this year's IMPAC judges has decided to document her experiences. Toronto Star 06/10/06

Thursday, June 8

Borders Cuts Staff "Borders Group has eliminated 90 positions, approximately 6% of its corporate workforce. No store positions were cut, but reductions were made “across the board” at the company’s Ann Arbor headquarters." Publishers Weekly 06/07/06

Wednesday, June 7

What For Book Expo? "It's ridiculous, this pageant of the weird where everyone gets together to celebrate books by ritually destroying their bodies for a weekend and pretending that they're on a first-name basis with celebrities, but you cannot deny the fact that all of it, from the hundreds of lonely nights of nerdy solitude to the once-a-year chaos of BEA, is done out of love. Love for books. Well, books and free shit." The Stranger 06/08/06

The Digi-Book, 2.0 Techies are taking another shot at making a digital book that someone might want to read a book on. Alex Beam is skeptical... Boston Globe 06/07/06

Canadian Book Buyers Angry About US Markup Canadian book buyers are grumbling because though the Canadian dollar has risen dramtically against the US dollar, they're still being charged a premiukm. "It's very conspicuous to people, so they have been murmuring their discontent. The breaking point came when the Canadian dollar hit 90 cents. The murmur turned into a crescendo. There is no beneficial exposure (to the strong dollar) on the part of booksellers; that windfall is going to someone else. But we are in the line of fire." Toronto Star 06/07/06

Tuesday, June 6

Revisting The Da Vinci Code Plagiarism Case Did Dan Brown plagiarize large sections of The Da Vinci Code? "One of the things that was interesting about it was that you can have a strong case in the this-doesn't-smell-right sense and that has no bearing on the legal definition of copyright infringement." The new York Times 06/07/06

Zadie Smith Wins Orange Zadie Smith has won this year's Orange Price for fiction for her book "On Beauty." "Her previous two novels, White Teeth and The Autograph Man, were shortlisted in 2001 and 2003 respectively but failed to win. Ali Smith's The Accidental - nominated for last year's Man Booker - and Nicole Krauss's The History of Love were among the six books vying for the title." BBC 06/06/06

Monday, June 5

How Many Books Did You Sell? (Shhhhhh!) BookScanning has become popular for a few reasons having to do with the culture of journalism and publishing. In general, the publishing world treats money the way old-line WASPs once did—as a subject that genteel people simply don't discuss. The only question considered to be more indelicate than how much one was paid to write a book is how many copies it has sold. Slate 05/02/06

Free E-Books for All Project Gutenberg and World eBook Library plan to make 'a third of a million' e-books available free for a month at the first World eBook Fair. Downloads will be available at the fair's Web site from July 4, the 35th anniversary of Project Gutenberg's founding, through Aug. 4. The majority of the books will be contributed by the World eBook Library. It otherwise charges $8.95 a year for access to its database of more than 250,000 e-books, documents and articles." Yahoo! (AP) 06/05/06

Digital Publishing Makes Industry Nervous The business model of publishing is sure to change with digital publishing. But that has many in the business anxious... The New York Times 06/05/06

Sunday, June 4

Sun-Times Gets A New Books Editor Cheryl Reed is the new Chicago Sun-Times books editor: "I'm hoping in these pages to cultivate a community of readers, to celebrate good books whether they have a high profile or none at all. I want to highlight good storytelling, not just beautiful language, but books that enthrall and captivate, that keep you up at night poring over their pages." Chicago Sun-Times 06/04/06

The Cooking Writer As Plagiarist Mrs Beeton was the legendary cooking writer. But a new biography accuses her of plagiarizing everything. "Isabella Beeton was only 21 when she began cookery writing. Her first recipe for Victoria sponge was so inept that she left out the eggs. Seven years later she was dead. How did she come to write the seminal book? 'The answer is she copied everything'." The Guardian (UK) 06/02/06

Friday, June 2

Poetry's Richest Prizes Handed Out Poets Kamau Brathwaite and Sylvia Legris were honored with $50,000 awards at Canada's annual Griffin Prize dinner last night. "This year's Griffin competition, the sixth, attracted 444 submissions from 20 countries." Toronto Star 06/02/06

Longtime Chicago Books Editor Retiring "For more than 30 years, Henry Kisor has reigned supreme as a book editor and literary critic -- the undisputed emperor of fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose, biography and memoir. Ever eloquent and fiercely incorruptible, his decrees have always been minimalist in style, and were generally drawn up on Post-It notes... Today is the last day that Henry will sit in the book maven's catbird seat -- a spot he first occupied at the old Chicago Daily News (from 1973-78) and has held at the Sun-Times ever since. When he leaves the building -- and heads off into that great field of dreams known as retirement -- he will carry away with him a great deal of history and authority, as well as a lifetime of achievement and wild adventure." Chicago Sun-Times 06/02/06

Thursday, June 1

Say Hello To BatLesbian DC Comics is resurrecting an old character in a very public way. Batwoman, who had her own regular comic book from 1956 to 1979, is coming back, and coming out of the closet as well. It's part of a wave of new comic book heroes with something more than the average super-being's pedigree. Chicago Sun-Times 06/01/06

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