Friday, May 30, 2008

Whatever happened to positive spin?

Via The AP:
Publishers expect book sales to stay flat
The Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit organization supported by the publishing industry, projects a 3 percent to 4 percent growth through 2011. The BISG expects little change in the actual number of books sold and sees a drop in the general trade market by more than 60 million. "The hits will keep doing well, but other books will have troubles," says BISG senior researcher Albert N. Greco, a professor of marketing at the Fordham University Graduate School of Business.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

From the Guardian UK...

Hanif Kureishi (The Buddha of Suburbia, My Beautiful Laundrette) has launched a withering attack on university creative writing courses, calling them "the new mental hospitals."
Read it here.

Zadie Smith (White Teeth, The Autograph Man) salutes George Eliot ("the Victorian novelist who gave future writers the freedom to push the form to its limits"), while analyzing a young Henry James' review of Eliot's Middlemarch.
Read it here.

Sex and the City may be fabulous, but Candace Bushnell is sharper, darker, braver and cleverer than her most famous creation.
I disagree, but you may not. Either way, you can read it here.

E-book News, In Brief

Via Publisher's Weekly: Penguin has reported that e-book sales from the first four months of 2008 have surpassed the house's total e-book sales for all of last year. According to the publisher, the spike is "more than five times the overall growth in sales, year-on-year, through April 2008."

Via Publisher's Weekly: Barnes & Noble has launched a retail destination designed specifically for those with BlackBerries and smartphones. The new site,, caters to those who want to order books and other products from their mobile devices and, presumably, is intended to compete with Amazon's TextBuyIt option.

Via ebook2u: There is a wealth of content and other information in the public domain that is or soon will be in an ebook or some sort of digital form...A large collection (over 13,000) of public domain books have been indexed and made available in digital format at

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Book News, In Brief

Lately, it seems like every author/publisher/cartoonist is trying to hip themselves to the concept of 'free.' But is merely giving away your product and then hoping for donations really the business model of the future, or just a poorly conceived idea on the way to something better? Techdirt dissects the phenomenon.

Microsoft has abandoned its plans to digitize books. The reason? They can't make money off of it. Seems that this 'free' thing is a hard nut to crack...even for the experts.

Hang in there! Borders has launched their own online store. The dying giant will use Alibris as their source for used books.

In lieu of any other news, here's a quick sampling of some of the odder book reviews floating around the net:

From FoxNews: Book: Paris Under Nazis Was One Big Sex Romp Book suggesting that German occupation of France encouraged sexual liberation of women shocks country still struggling to come to terms with the war.

From The AP: Book offers fascinating tales of modern-day cannibalism You know the standard image about cannibalism: A white Christian missionary stews in a large pot while an African tribe dances around him, planning to make him their next meal. There's no evidence that ever happened, author Paul Raffaele tell us. But real-life cannibals are far more interesting.

From BlogCriticsMagazine: Knitting Memories - Reflections on the Knitter's Life What do you do when you are knitting? Some knitters possess the talent of working with their hands while their eyes are directed elsewhere: watching television, overseeing their children, or engaging in lively conversation with friends – including direct eye contact.

Choice Quote

From Sunday's NYTimes article on Salman Rushdie, Now He’s Only Hunted by Cameras:

Umberto Eco was seated at the center of a long narrow table, opposite Mr. Rushdie and Diane Von Furstenberg. He and Mr. Rushdie were to travel to Rochester and then return to New York to appear at the 92nd Street Y with Mario Vargas Llosa: a scaled-down literary version of the Three Tenors.

The three appeared in 1995 at Royal Festival Hall in London. “We said we were the Three Musketeers and now we meet again,” Mr. Eco said. For the recent panels, he chose to read from “Foucault’s Pendulum,” he said, because Mr. Rushdie had once ripped it in The London Observer: “Humorless, devoid of character, entirely free of anything resembling a credible spoken word, and mind-numbingly full of gobbledygook of all sorts. Reader: I hated it,” Mr. Rushdie wrote in 1989.

“I picked it just in order to upset him,” Mr. Eco said, leaning back and smiling. He said he had not yet read Mr. Rushdie’s latest creation, or hardly anyone else’s, for that matter. “If they are different than me, I hate them, and if they are like me, I hate them,” he said.