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Sunday December 31

USED PROTEST: Authors and publishers are protesting that Amazon has begun selling used books. "Authors earn royalties from new book sales but get nothing when used copies of the same books are resold. Used book sales are also not counted in creating the bestsellers lists or the publishers' sales records. The crux of the complaint is that Amazon is making used books available within weeks of a new release." Wired 12/31/00

Friday December 29

  • THE PUBLISHING NAPSTER? Fear of Napster-like device has publishers worried. ''The publishing industry stands to lose $1.5 billion through e-book piracy by 2005,'' warn some in the industry. But how real is the threat? Inside.com 12/29/00
  • WHY BOOKS ARE PUBLISHED: "Forty years ago an editor decided to publish a book because it, or the author, captured their fancy. Marketing, accounting, and publicity mattered, but not nearly as much as editorial preference. This led to the discovery of some great writers who wouldn't have stood a chance in a more dollar-conscious environment, but it also led, as you might expect, to a reasonable share of self-important blather. Over the last decade the ethos of narcissism once so common has been displaced by an equally dubious operating principle: The corporate mindset." Feed 12/29/00

Thursday December 28

  • MINING THE CLASSICS: A comic book remake of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" in Russia has critics upset. "Convertible cars, cocaine and sushi bars provide the backdrop for the comic-book reworking, set in the present day and casting its characters as fast-living members of Russia's idle rich. The novel's heroine is depicted as a femme fatale with a mobile phone, a taste for luxury lingerie and, by the end of the comic, a drug habit that drives her to suicide." National Post (Canada) 12/28/00
  • THE SECRET TO MY SUCCESS: The average independent bookstore turns over its inventory about 3 1/2 times in a year - a bit better than the chains do. What makes an independent successful? The formula's not so difficult. Washington Post 12/28/00
  • WANNA JOB KID? A high school kid who joined an English printing firm for a fortnight's work study program came up with and implemented an idea that earned the company millions of pounds and saved it from bankruptcy.The Telegraph (London) 12/28/00
  • KOREAN PUBLISHING UP: After several down years, the Korean publishing industry had a great year in 2000 thanks in part to robust online sales. Korea Herald 12/28/00

Wednesday December 27

  • THE BAD OF BIGGER IS BETTER? Critics decry the consolidation of the book business and the declinee of independent book stores. But anyone who has walked into a Barnes and Noble or Borders can see that most Americans have more access to a wider range of books of all qualities and types than ever before. Is this a bad thing? Reason 12/27/00
  • WHERE IS SOUTH AFRICA'S NEW GENERATION? "There seemed to be an expectation that as apartheid collapsed and its legacy faded a new generation of young black writers (let’s call them YBWs) would emerge in their full glory, spurred on by the new freedoms of a new democracy. It was thought that the combination of apartheid censorship and lack of educational advantage had held them back, but now their time had come. Yet they are scarcer than viable South African feature film projects." Daily Mail & Guardian (South Africa) 12/22/00
  • NO HARRY HYPE: The Harry Potter books have been a sensation wherever they've been released so far. "The books have been published and released in nearly 40 countries and in nearly as many languages. But the mania seen elsewhere has not been attained in Russia. Most Russians have never heard of Harry, especially in hard-to-reach provinces. Even in Moscow, advertising and media coverage of the book release were minimal." The Age (Melbourne) 12/27/00
  • LAS VEGAS, CITY OF REFUGE: "Writers who escape or are exiled from their home countries for political reasons may find sanctuary in Las Vegas, as they also can in Barcelona, Frankfurt, Lausanne, Venice and 25 other cities around the world." New York Times 12/27/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • BEST IN SHOW: What were the best academic books of the 1990s? The readers of Lingua Franca vote. Camille Paglia is No. 1? Really? Lingua Franca 12/22/00

Tuesday December 26

  • TOP POET? Canada considers naming a poet laureate. CBC 12/25/00

Friday December 22

  • THE YEAR IN PUBLISHING: The top-10 events and topics that got a lot of ink this year in the book world. Inside.com 12/20/0

Wednesday December 20

  • $10,000 BOBBITT PRIZE FOR POETRY AWARDED: Why is a prize necessary? "Artists generally, and poets especially, are like secret agents behind enemy lines sending signals back to headquarters, and they never know if anything's getting through. Their mission isn't completed until they know that it has struck home in a way that moves people. This ratifies it." New York Times 12/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Tuesday December 19

  • THE DOORSTOP DICTIONARY LIVES: With dictionaries, thesauri, almanacs, atlases all available online, is the market for traditional paper copies of these reference works dead? Not at all. "There is still a market for print reference books. Believe it or not, not everyone has a computer, and not everyone has their computer turned on all the time." Publishers Weekly 12/19/00
  • REWRITING CHAPTERS: Struggling Canadian book super-seller Chapters reorganizes to fend off a takeover. "Under the restructuring, Chapters Inc. will buy back its online and wholesale operations. Once completed, the company will leave the wholesale business and reduce its online operations in order to focus on its retail business." Publishers Weekly 12/19/00

Monday December 18

  • THE EARLY NEW YORKER MAGAZINE: A precarious enterprise to be sure. "From the start, it lost two thousand dollars a week. It took three years and the outpouring of seven hundred thousand unrequited dollars to turn the red ink into black. Today, we are told, it may be bought by almost anybody with ten million dollars to spare." The Idler 12/18/00
  • BOOKS ON DEMAND: "For several years, publishers have watched the gradual improvement of technology known as print- on-demand, and it is finally starting to change their business. Xerox, I.B.M. and others now sell machines that in a matter of minutes can churn out single, bound copies of paperback or even hardcover books." The New York Times 12/18/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Sunday December 17

  • NARROWLY DEFINING POETRY: The editor of The Spectator recently announced he would start publishing poetry in the magazine again."But then he named his terms: the poems should rhyme and scan. No modern poetry is 'any bloody good', he said, and wagered that none of the verse rattling around our heads was written in the past 30 years." The Telegraph (London) 12/16/00

Friday December 15

  • WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE INTERNET: Stephen King says he learned a lot about the internet with his failed serialized novel. "First, many Internet users have the attention span of a grasshopper. Second, users believe that everything on the Web should be free or almost free of charge. And third, book-readers don't regard electronic books as real books. They're like people saying, 'I love corn on the cob but creamed corn makes me gag'.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/15/00
  • BANNER YEAR: "Two of the biggest publishers in the United States, HarperCollins and St. Martin's Press, had their best run in years. Revenues were up, operating costs were down and each saw a growing number of titles hit the bestseller lists." Inside.com 12/15/00
  • STAR-STRUCK: Britain's richest prize for writing, the Whitbread, went ga-ga for celebrities this year when it chose its judges. "For the first time in the 30 years of the awards, half the judges are showbiz, television or sporting faces rather than authors or critics. Last year Whitbread drew criticism over the choice of one judge, the actress and model Jerry Hall." The Guardian (London) 12/15/00
  • RECORD FOR JOYCE: "An autographed and hand-written chapter of James Joyce's novel Ulysses has raised a record $1.5 million at auction - and is going back to Ireland. It was bought by the National Library of Ireland, in Dublin." BBC 12/15/00

Thursday December 14

  • ONLINE PROMOTION: Websites have become a step beyond the chat show - writers' websites try to make friends with readers, all in an effort to sell more books. If the efforts are somewhat clumsy... The New York Times 12/14/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Wednesday December 13

  • CERVANTES WINNER: Spanish writer Francisco Umbral has won the Cervantes Prize - the Spanish-speaking world's highest literary honor. Nando Times 12/13/00
  • THE GREAT SINGAPORE NOVEL? "The Dymocks Prize is modelled on Britain's Booker Prize: It is given to a published work, and its organisers hope that, like the Booker, the buzz over the shortlisted books will result in public interest and rising book sales." The Straits-Times (Singapore) 12/13/00
  • FAKE FRIENDSHIP: A book and letter that seemed to reveal a warm friendship between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Sinclair Lewis have been proven fake. Nando Times 12/13/00

Tuesday December 12

  • LONG LOST ULYSSES: "A newly revealed handwritten manuscript of the longest and most important chapter of James Joyce's 'Ulysses', which came to light last summer after being kept in a blue Moroccan-leather slipcase for close to 80 years, is scheduled to be auctioned on Thursday at Christie's in Manhattan." The New York Times 12/12/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • BETTER READING THROUGH PSYCHOANALYSIS? A psychological assessment of A.A. Milne's children's books suggests Winnie the Pooh's seemingly tranquil forest is full of characters afflicted by obsessive compulsion behaviour, anxiety, dyslexia and severe depression. "It is clear to our group of modern neurodevelopmentalists that these are, in fact, stories of Seriously Troubled Individuals, many of whom meet [medically standard] criteria for significant disorders." National Post (Canada) 12/12/00

Monday December 11

  • REALITY AND E-PUBLISHING: Stephen King's decision to pull the plug on his online serial novel because not enough readers were paying for it, has publishers lowering their expectations for online publishing. The Age (Melbourne) (AP) 12/11/00
  • WORKING THROUGH THE ILLNESS: Nobel literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez says being diagnosed with lymphatic cancer last year was an impetus to get him to write his memoirs. "More than a year ago I was put under treatment for three months for lymphoma, and today I am surprised at the enormous stroke of luck this stumbling block has been in my life." Dallas Morning News 12/11/00

Sunday December 10

  • STEEL-REINFORCED SUCCESS: Danielle Steel's new book is promoted as a "bestseller" on its cover even before it's published. How do they know? "Such is Steel's reputation and following - she has produced 49 best-selling novels in the last 25 years, for total sales of 430 million books - that 'Journey' is guaranteed to be a success." National Post (Canada) 12/09/00

Friday December 8

  • PHILOSOPHY OF SELF-PUBLISHING: Self-publishing in the field of philosophy is tempting. "One problem is perceived to be that the system makes it virtually impossible for non-academics to get published, no matter what the quality of their work is." But to the establishment, self-publishing is the kiss of death - no one of standing will take a self-published work seriously. The Philosopher's Magazine 12/00

Thursday December 7

  • NOBEL HANDICAP: Korean writers wonder about the chances of a Korean winning the Nobel Prize for literature. Although the possibility of receiving a Nobel Prize for Literature seems to be growing stronger we still have a long way to go. First of all, we have to translate our literature into Western languages, so the judges and the readers from the Western culture can read it.'' Korea Times 12/07/00
  • NOT LONG ON LONGFELLOW: Drop Longfellow into a literary conversation nowadays and you will get some odd looks. The exchanges that follow will include words and phrases like “mawkish,” “shallow,” “trite,” “mechanical,” “unadventurous,” “tame,” “jingles,” “slave to conventional modes and diction,” “the innocence of America’s literary youth,” and so on. For all that, Longfellow has been a continuous presence in our language since Voices of the Night was published in 1839, and his lines are still familiar today, though many who know them could not tell you who wrote them. New Criterion 12/00

Wednesday December 6

  • WRITE INS: At a London charity auction, some of Britain’s bestselling authors auctioned off the names of characters in their next books to the highest bidders. One catch: the writers wouldn’t guarantee any character would be a "good guy." BBC 12/06/00
  • THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CREDIT: Did Clement Clarke Moore steal credit for writing "The Night Before Christmas?" "Many clues - including the original names for two of the reindeer, Dunder and Blixem - support the idea that a Revolutionary War major named Henry Livingston Jr. penned the poem, as his descendants have contended for about a century and a half." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/06/00

Tuesday December 5

  • COPING WITH INFO OVERLOAD: How does one cope with the overwhelming flood of information available today? Who has time to read it all? "Who has time for old books? To be au courant now means that the only information really worth having is news that isn't available yet." Feed 12/05/00
  • WHO'S THE AUTHOR? Canada's Governor General Awards officials have asked the publisher of this year's winner for more information about authorship of the book. National Post (Canada) 12/05/00

Monday December 4

  • GWENDOLYN BROOKS DIED on Sunday at age 83. Brooks won the Pulitzer prize for her poetry in 1949, and completed her most recent volume of poems late this summer. New York Times (AP) 12/03/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • PERILS OF PUBLISHING, CANADIAN EDITION: As Canada's superstore bookseller struggles to keep alive, one thing is obvious: "This country is simply too sparsely populated over too great a geographic diversity to allow for the kind of volume turnover that a chain of 77 big-box stores and more than 200 smaller outlets requires to keep its bottom line from turning red." So does Canada need more competition or less? The Globe & Mail 12/04/00
  • I WROTE IT NO YOU DIDN'T: Nega Mezlekia, who won the Governor General's Award for non-fiction last month, is battling the novelist he hired to edit his book. Anne Stone claims she wrote much of the book, but Mezlakia denies it and sent letters to her accusing her of being ''dull, colourless, humorless, vulgar, and a complete failure. 'You may have Penguin's lawyers off your backs [sic], but rest assured my campaign has just began [sic]. I have set side $50,000 of my hard earned money to ruin you'." National Post (Canada) 12/04/00
    • WHAT IT MEANS TO AUTHOR: The complicated relationships an author has with those who help bring a book to print can make the lines of authorship blurry. The Mezlekia/Stone dispute comes down to his stories and her help in getting them out. National Post 12/04/00

Friday December 1

  • REMEMBERING BRADBURY: British novelist and critic Malcolm Bradbury, who died this week, will be remembered as much for his famous writing classes as for his own satirical style. "He believed that a work of prose fiction or drama is seldom perfectly achieved in its early drafts, but that it emerges like a sculpture from a block of stone only through intellectual vigilance and meticulous rewriting." The Telegraph (London) 12/01/0

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