Friday, November 9, 2007

Book News, In Britain

According to recent across-the-pond polls, Harry Potter is the most re-read book (and/or series) in England. Less embarrassing is the fact that 77% of British readers revisit the books that they enjoyed the first time around. Some say that they go back to find things they might have missed the first time around, while others do so simply out of dissatisfaction with everything else coming out. (Editor's note: It's official -- new release whores are a world wide scourge.)

Via PublishingNewsUK: "Some five million mobile phone users are estimated to be using Rough Guides Mobile, the application which provides travel content through a navigable map interface, facilitating access to travel information to more than 200 cities in 33 countries. The feature is embedded on all Motorola handsets sold in Europe and is offered by Samsung through its Fun Club portal in the UK."
Needless to say, this is not helping our 'folks don't want to read books on their cell phone' argument.

The prize at the bottom of today's blog post is this photo of a handful of England's comics luminaries circa 1990. From left to right, Grant Morrison, Brendan McCarthy, Rian Hughes, Peter Hogan and Charles Shaar Murray. Pic stolen from Forbidden

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Book News, No Pics

Judith Regan (publisher of the OJ book, among other atrocities) claims she wants out of the spotlight. She announced this in an exclusive interview with Harper's Bazaar.

UK publisher Picador announced that they will henceforth be putting out their new titles in both hardcover and softcover simultaneously. They then ask this question of other publishers: "When are we going to accept that we live in an A and B (now mostly B) format country; that only a tiny handful of authors command enough reader loyalty to achieve viable hardback sales; that by concentrating promotional energy on a moribund format we are doing no favours to the format people actually want to buy?"

HarperCollins reports that they had a "lousy quarter," with sales falling 11.5%, to a paltry $330 million. I've got an idea that would raise their profits and help the struggling Arab publishing world at the same time. A merger of sorts. Well, okay, more like a government funded, hostile corporate takeover. HaliburtonCollins. I've even got their first three releases picked out for them: Bush's daughter's book, Cheney's wife's softcore pulp, and Everybody Poops (Taro Gomi is Bush's Maya Angelou).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Book News, In Brief

Rosie O'Donnell dropped two f-bombs on the Miami Book Fair, then went on to make this stellar observation: "I’ve never been to a book fair, so I didn’t know what to expect. I thought maybe there would be rides, cotton candy...Turns out it’s a bunch of smart people talking about books."
For those of you too cool to watch crappy daytime television, O'Donnell is the author of the recently published/critically lambasted memoir, Celebrity Detox, as well as the star of the film adaptation/abomination of Anne Rice's Exit To Eden.

After all the fuss, it turns out that only 1,700 people requested a refund on their copies of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. If 1,700 seems like a rather large number to you, keep in mind that millions of copies were originally sold -- along with another 100,000 being purchased after the 'fabrications' were revealed.

Faris al-Saqqaf, head of the General Authority for Books (possibly one of the coolest job titles in existence, no?) says that 'the shortage of reading, and subsequently the shortage of publishing, is damaging the Middle East’s development.' He has called upon the governments in Arab countries to help support and further their book industries by decreasing the cost of customs on materials used for book production, and is asking for tax exemptions for publishing houses. (He is also pushing for e-books for schoolchildren, but hey, nobody's perfect.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Paul Norris Sleeps With The Fishes

Norris, co-creator of Aquaman, died today at age 93. For a fitting, informative tribute, click on over to Mark Evanier's site.

Oprah Poses An Interesting Question
(...just not on her show...or on purpose)

This afternoon, Oprah's website removed a children's book recommendation because the author was a racist. A really big racist. The Education of Little Tree, first published in 1976, is the work of Ku Klux Klansman and George Wallace-speech writer, Forrest Carter (he's the guy that originally came up with Wallace's infamous vow: "Segregation today! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!"). Oprah's decision to remove Little Tree from her "picks" raises an interesting moral dilemma. If the book itself is not spewing hateful, hurtful bile -- and is in fact a moving tale with a loving depiction of Native Americans -- is it wrong for readers (and booksellers) to try and separate the art from the artist?

What do you folks think? Have you ever loved the work of someone you found personally reprehensible?

Link: Fox News (Who, coincidentally, I find to be morally reprehensible!)

For more on the book, its author and their strange back story, visit