Friday, August 10, 2007

In It For The Money

800-CEO-Read is a website aimed at corporate fat cats who, when not enslaving underage workers and exploiting natural resources, love to read. While I can in no way recommend their online sales service ( as it surely pales in comparison to least I hope it does), I do give the thumbs-up to their daily blog. On it, they not only provide their own reviews of the latest business-oriented literature, they also showcase lengthy book excerpts, offer pithy quotes, and best of all, make lists!
This past Wednesday, Todd Sattersten, CEO of the CEO website, posted a reading list for executives that he 'guarantees will help you be more productive and make smarter decisions.'
I'm going to give you the titles, but for the reasons as to why each one was chosen, you're going to have to click here.

1. Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter
2. Execution by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck
3. In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman
4. Good to Great by Jim Collins
5. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

Wait a minute. Where's The Winner Within by Pat Riley and The Art of War by Sun Tzu? I could've sworn that Def Jam/Rockafella Records CEO, Jay-Z, has said that they're the hustler's handbooks.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

News Bits, In Brief

Harry Potter may not make lifelong readers out of children, but it's responsible for at least one enterprising child's life of crime. This past week, French police arrested a 16 year old boy who had been posting his own translation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows online. While the rest of the free world has spent the past two weeks shaking their heads at the anti-climactic way Rowling chose to end the series, the book's French publisher, Gallimard, will not be releasing the book until October 26th.

The Sydney Morning Herald tempts a slap across the face from Mr. Darcy's frilly glove when it dares to ask, Where's the Sex in Jane Austen's Sensibilities? My initial response was a dismissive, 'What do you expect? She was British.' But then, so are the subjects of our next News Bit...

Via Boing Boing: Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie discuss their erotic comic, Lost Girls, over at SexTV. (Don't say we didn't warn you: this video contains sexually explicit material. It may not be appropriate for children, Jane Austen fanatics.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

News Bits, In Brief

Starbucks Strikes Back: 'You Sell Coffee In Your Bookstores, We'll Sell Books In Our Coffee Shops'

Concerned that caffeine is no longer providing enough of a pick-me-up for their clientèle, Starbucks is making the next selection in their book program a collection of 50 inspirational stories. Listening Is An Act of Love, along with its accompanying CD, will be sold in US Starbucks locations beginning on November 8, 2007.
While bookstores the world over lament this newest corporate competitor, what the hell were they expecting? If we had all just stuck to books and left the coffee and pastries to the coffee and pastry people, maybe none of this would be happening.

Big Deal Means Big Dollars For Big Eyed Comics Characters

The William Morris Agency has signed Tokyopop to represent the publisher's original intellectual property for film, television, digital, merchandising, and game development. Stu Levy, Tokyopop's CEO and Chief Creative Officer says, "We are excited to join forces with WMA as we further develop the Tokyopop brand worldwide. This partnership takes us one step closer to realizing our dream of merging the leading edge of manga entertainment with Hollywood."
Well, just so long as they don't make a movie of that awful Courtney Love comic book.

Tired Of Their Good Reputation & Critical Accolades, Penguin Asks Rock Stars To Design Their Book Covers

The results are, quite predictably, horrid. The Guardian UK has the details.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Murder That Refused To Die

What a year! First OJ announces that he's written a book 'imagining' his wife's murder, titled If I Did It. Then, following a huge media frenzy and a medium-sized public outcry, the book gets cancelled. (Quick question: Does anyone know if Simpson got to keep the $3.5 million advance?) Immediately after this is reported to the press, the Goldman family -- kin to the male murder victim, and one of the loudest voices calling for the book's cancellation -- files suit, asking for the publishing rights. Fast forward eight nail-biting months to last week, when the courts ruled in favor of the Goldmans' claim. As if on cue, the Juice re-appeared, saying that his 'hypothetical account of killing his ex-wife' was actually invented by a ghost writer and 'filled with errors that he refused to correct for fear of appearing to be guilty of the crime.' Okay, so even if that is true, why would OJ choose to come clean about it now? In hopes of killing sales (pun intended) when the book finally does hit stores. After all, who wants to pay hardcover pricing on a fake murder confession?! But that's not the end of the story. No, not nearly. This past Monday, the book's ghost writer, Pablo Fenjves, stepped forward for his fifteen minutes. This is his statement: "The whole book, the whole idea for a book, originated with O.J. Simpson and a couple of his handlers."
One can only wonder how Simpson will respond to this false allegation and obvious attempt to besmirch his good name. Murder, perhaps? Or worse -- another book.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Author Du Jour: Chester Himes

(courtesy of

Chester Himes was born in Jefferson City, Missouri on July 29, 1909. He grew up in a middle-class home in Missouri and in Ohio (and) attended East High School in Cleveland Ohio. While he was a freshman at Ohio State University in Columbus Ohio, he was expelled for a prank. Years later, he entered prison for armed robbery. In prison, he wrote short stories and had them published in national magazines. Himes stated that writing and publishing was a way to earn respect from guards and fellow inmates, as well as avoid violence.

By the 1950s Himes had decided to settle in France permanently, a country he liked in part due to his critical popularity there. In Paris Himes was the contemporary of the political cartoonist, Oliver Harrington, and fellow writers, Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

Some regard Chester Himes as the literary equal of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Ishmael Reed says "[Himes] taught me the difference between a black detective and Sherlock Homes" and it would be more than 30 years until another Black mystery writer, Walter Mosley and his Easy Rawlins and Mouse series, had even a similar effect.


Himes's novels encompassed many genres including the crime novel/mystery and political polemics, exploring racism in the United States. He wrote about African Americans in general, especially in two books that are concerned with labor relations and African American workplace issues. If He Hollers Let Him Go — contains many autobiographical elements—is about a black shipyard worker in Los Angeles during World War II struggling against racism as well as his own violent reactions to racism. Lonely Crusade is a longer work that examines some of the same issues. Cast the First Stone is based on Himes's experiences in prison. It was Himes's first novel but was not published until about 10 years after it was written. One reason may have been Himes' unusually candid treatment — for that time — of a homosexual relationship.

Himes also wrote a series of Harlem Detective novels featuring Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones, New York City police detectives in Harlem. The novels feature a mordant emotional timbre and a fatalistic approach to street situations. Funeral homes are often part of the story, and funeral director H. Exodus Clay is a recurring character in these books. The titles of the series include A Rage In Harlem, The Real Cool Killers, The Crazy Kill, All Shot Up, The Big Gold Dream, The Heat's On, Cotton Comes to Harlem, and Blind Man With A Pistol; all written in the period 1957-1969.

Cotton Comes to Harlem was made into a movie in 1970, which was set in that time period, rather than the earlier period of the original book. A sequel, Come Back, Charleston Blue was released in 1972. And For Love of Imabelle was made into a film under the title A Rage in Harlem in 1991.

My Personal Favorites
(care of me)

If He Hollers Let Him Go
I normally hate dream sequences, so I wasn't thrilled to see that every chapter in this book started with one. Funny thing is, they work wonderfully here. Instead of surreal space filler, the dreams act as a glimpse into the main character's mind, foreshadowing each progressively worsening day at his job at the south central L.A. shipyards.

Cast The First Stone
This book probably would've been a million seller had it taken place in a foxhole instead of 'the hole.' A prison novel that chronicles the minutia of life behind bars from the first day to the last, Cast's real strength lies in its uncensored examination of the complicated relationships formed by men living in prison.

News Bits, In Brief

This year, U.S. revenue for self-help books will exceed $600 million. While their effectiveness is debatable, publishers, at least, are feeling great.

Audio books are destroying book clubs everywhere! The latest divide among book lovers is not about what they are reading, but if they are reading at all.

This weekend saw a new push in the media for e-books. The 'library in your pocket' pitch was used for the umpteenth time, as well as a new 'save money and trees' angle aimed at politically minded, shallow pocketed college students.

I hate his artwork and loathe his writing, but I never fail to read his delusional interviews. The comics creator you love to hate, Rob Liefeld, talks independent publishing, Image Comics and his Youngblood series at