Friday, August 22, 2008

Book News, In Brief

An unpublished novelist asks: How do you believe in your own writing? Salon attempts to answer.

Rock 'n' roll photographer Barry Feinstein has found a decades old collection of poems written by Bob Dylan. Surprise, surprise -- he plans to publish.

Who needs James Frey when we've got Salman Rushide and his Controversy of the Day Club? Today the pendulum swings back in Rushdie's favor. Via The Guardian UK: "The authors of a book which claimed that Salman Rushdie was nicknamed "Scruffy" by his police protection officers have admitted there were falsehoods in the manuscript and have made amendments accordingly."

It's not a kiss and tell. More like a shelve and share. Via MichiganLive.com: "A library employee in this Lake Michigan resort community has been fired for writing a book that describes a range of unpleasant patrons, from the merely unpleasant to online sex fiends, in a town she calls "Denialville." Using the pen name Ann Miketa, Sally Stern-Hamilton wrote Library Diaries, which she describes as a fictional account based on her on-the-job experiences. "After working at a public library in a small, rural Midwestern town (which I will refer to as Denialville, Michigan, throughout this book) for fifteen years, I have encountered strains and variations of crazy I didn't know existed in such significant portions of our population," she wrote in the book's introduction."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Book News, In Brief

The Independent got wind of those Craigslist ads for forgers and ran with it. Their article, Signing off: The Weird World of Book Signings, offers a myriad of excuses for authors considering similar scams.

Don't expect to see a film adaptation of the new Bond novel, Devil May Care. The producers behind the recently revived film franchise say the book is too steeped in the sixties and 'would be out of keeping with the current penchant for supercars and state-of-the-art gadgetry.'

Hip hop magazine The Source has been having a rough couple of years. First, their old publisher alienated the readership by starting feuds with some of the most popular rap stars of the day. Then they lost the majority of their staff due to the crazy office antics of that same publisher. And then, last year, they were forced to file for bankruptcy. Well, things are finally looking up. Next month marks the The Source's 20th anniversary, and they're using the opportunity to relaunch the magazine. They've hired Spike Lee to shoot a series of cover photos, they've got a round table discussion with professors Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson, led by Public Enemy's Chuck D, and they're planning on expanding their scope to include travel, education and business. Here's hoping it works.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book News, In Brief

Wanted: Nimble fingered hands to sign books for lazy authors. Fourteen open positions. See Craigslist ad or the Guardian UK article for details.

Micheal Moore has a list of fall reading recommendations. No, wait. I got that wrong. He suggests you read nothing and spend your time volunteering in local politics instead. Cuz that's just what the world needs: more ignorant fools involved in politics.

A warning for folks seriously considering this 'dating on the cheap' thing: If you think we've gonna let you hang out in our store for hours -- "reading to each other" -- you've got another thing coming. We'll dump a cart of books on you. At the Inkwell, we don't cotton to vagabonds.

You think we're kidding? Think again. The days of the meek and mild bookstore employee are over. Just check out the complaints list filed against Portsmouth, NH bookstore owner and uber-a**hole, Walter Wakefield:
* On April 2, 2005, police were called to the bookstore by a man who reported he was assaulted. According to police records, the customer reported Wakefield "tried to hit him with the door to the store."
* In April 1999, Wakefield was arrested on a charge of simple assault.
* On April 27, 1995, Dale Shaw of Rye went to the store and after being told there was a $5 fee to browse, an argument ensued, according to court records. A court affidavit said Wakefield called the customer a (expletive) retard," before hitting him with a metal pipe, scraping and bruising his arm. In 1995, Wakefield told the Herald he was defending himself from a robbery attempt and Shaw shoved him. Shaw was not charged by police with any crime.
* Hampstead auto parts dealer Patrick Murphy told the Herald in 1995 that he went to browse in the bookstore where Wakefield started an argument and called him "an AIDS infected" (expletive).
* In March 1994, Richard Wentz of Rye was arrested for criminal threatening, according to police records, for showing a handgun at the bookstore after getting into a dispute with Wakefield.
* In 1998, Wakefield was convicted of criminal threatening and assault against a Merrimack man for shoving and threatening him with a pipe.
(In his defense, Wakefeild claims to be the victim of shoplifting.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Watching The Watchmen Reviews

Ever since that Watchmen trailer first appeared, a whole new flock of readers has been rushing to read the comics masterpiece -- so much so that DC recently announced a 900,000 copy re-printing. But what do all of these new readers think? Is it love at first page, a slow-building appreciation, or a begrudgingly afforded respect given only so as to not seem stupid? Let's round-up the recent reviews and see, shall we?

Pro:
Precisely the kind of comics review I hate: the kind that starts out proudly proclaiming, "I normally don't read comics..."
Oh look, here's another one: "First off, I am not by nature a comic book guy."
And another, this one super pretentious: "I’ve never been a comic book reader, preferring the printed word to pictures on a page, the longer and more intricate the novel, the better."
Ah, finally. A review I actually like...a lot: "These aren't emo Batmen, they're Tony Sopranos and Seth Bullocks, idiosyncratic and troubling portraits of great physical strength and moral violence juxtaposed against tremendous emotional and psychological weakness."
And more:
"I now understand what all the hype was about."
"I embarrassingly bought Watchmen after I saw Dark Knight due to the trailer."
Powell's likes it
"It was the hype itself that made me originally reject it."
"thoroughly engrossing"

Con:
A collection of "scathing reviews" (and a real time saver for me!)
"Ending somewhat disappointing and boring."

Mildly Impressed:
"So yeah, the comic was alright."
"Not bad but not 'incredible' either."

Wow, if only the majority of mankind agreed with me about everything...

Indie Bookstores:
This Is How You Stage An Uprising

(a lesson in rebellion, brought to us by a bookstore we've been unsuccessfully rebelling against for years)

First, there was this announcement, made at Publisher's Weekly:
Chelsea Green Publishing is crashing a book on Obama in time for the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month. President and publisher Margo Baldwin said the book, Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency by Robert Kuttner, will go from final manuscript to bound books within four weeks. The publisher will produce 2,000 advance copies, and make the book available early exclusively on Amazon—two firsts for the eco-conscious independent publisher.

Three days later, indie bookstores responded -- via email:
Via PW: Chelsea Green’s sales team has received e-mails calling the move “a money-grubbing sellout,” a “slap in the face,” and “another blow to independent bookstores.”

The publisher (predictably) scoffed at these self-righteous, crybaby emails:
Via PW: “This is about a publisher’s commitment to its author to get one of a very few pro-Obama books out into the marketplace in the shortest amount of time,” Baldwin wrote. The house is printing 75,000 copies, its largest first printing ever. But, Baldwin pointed out, that number “pales in comparison to anti-Obama books flooding the market.” She continued, “I wonder how many booksellers are happy to sell another few thousand ‘abomination’ books while being ‘outraged’ by Chelsea Green’s decision to make its book available as fast as possible.”

Oh, and they refused to change their plans.
(How did the indies respond? More emails!)

That's when Barnes & Noble -- hardly a defender of the little guy -- publicly announced their plans to fight corporate bullying with corporate bullying:
Via PW: Barnes & Noble has canceled its 10,000-copy order of Obama’s Challenge, a book by Robert Kuttner that Chelsea Green is making available early exclusively through Amazon.com. Chelsea Green president and publisher Margo Baldwin said the chain will make the book available on BN.com and will special order it, but that it will not stock it in its stores.

Ouch. Sorta makes us indies look like wussies in comparison, don't it?
But let's face it. If The Inkwell was to announce a similar stratagem, it wouldn't even rate as a blip on C.G.'s radar. So what can a small shop only planning to order a fraction of B&N's number of Obama's Challenge do? Well, don't, for starters. Or do, but offset your order by sending Chelsea Green even more sure-to-be-ignored emails. If nothing else, we might get lucky and crash their website. And to a publisher putting internet sales over brick and mortar hand sells, that would be like kicking them in the privates.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Oh, The Irony!

Via Publisher's Weekly:
Salman Rushdie Condemns Random House Over Cancellation of Book
Rushdie weighs in on the cancellation of The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones: "I am very disappointed to hear that my publishers, Random House, have canceled another author’s novel, apparently because of their concerns about possible Islamic reprisals. This is censorship by fear, and it sets a very bad precedent indeed."

This, only two weeks after:

Via Huffington Post:
Salman Rushdie Threatens Lawsuit Over Ex-Bodyguard's Book
Author Salman Rushdie is threatening to sue a publisher over a book by a former bodyguard that he says portrays him as cheap, nasty and arrogant.

Disney Book News, In Brief

Didier Ghez has the covers to two of this year's most eagerly awaited Disney-related tomes: Walt Disney Animation Studios The Archive Series: Story and Alice in Wonderland by John Scieszka and Mary Blair. 'Story' is a collection of notes and sketches from the golden era of Disney animation; 'Alice' is the follow up to last year's gorgeous Cinderella children's book. To gaze upon the goodness, click here.

Cartoon Brew has a brief blurb about The Alchemy of Animation by Beauty & The Beast director Don Hahn. The book "details the process Disney uses to make animated films from traditional animation, to CG to stop-motion." The blurb also offers this enticing bit of news-to-me: Hahn is developing a stop-motion animated feature of Frankenweenie with Tim Burton! To read the Cartoon Brew piece, click here.

Crabapplecove.vom has posted a review of Character Animation Crash Course by animator Eric Goldberg (he did the Genie in Aladdin, among others). Crabapple gives the book a 50/50 rating, saying that "it has some genuinely terrific information in it, but like nearly every other book on animation to date, it’s not so much a systematic how-to as it is a collection of formulae." He then goes on to lament the fact that "animators don’t really have a 'Unified Field Theory' of animation." To find out just what the heck all of this means, click here.

InRich.com recently did a piece on Disney's current Tinkerbell merchandising bonanza. In it, they talk to award winning author Gail Carson Levine, whose book Fairy Dust and the Quest For the Egg was published by Disney Press as the cornerstone of the "Disney Fairies" franchise. Commenting on the character, Carson says, "The only thing (Tinkerbell) says in (the original Peter Pan) is, 'Silly ass!' And she tries to have Wendy killed a couple of times. She is not, in my mind, a warm, fuzzy character." WTF? That sounds way more interesting than a mute do-gooder. To read the article, click here.