Friday, November 21, 2008

Go, Look!
Recommended Christmas Reads

Livejournalist 'morningapproach' asked an online literary group 'What are some of your favourite holiday books?' The responses so far have been quite good, and the longer the list gets, the more out there the recommendations become. (Ever heard of The Stupidest Angel? Me neither. But it's a zombie Christmas book, so I'm sold!)
Click here to read and/or contribute.

What's Obama Reading?

We've all been wondering the same thing. Barring ear enlargement and/or garnering the goodwill of the entire world (save those pesky Talibaners), what can we do to be more like President-Elect Barack Obama?
We can stalk his reading habits!
Yes, simply by slavishly imitating the biblio-interests of our democratically chosen Chosen One, we can find ourselves thinking and acting just like him* -- i.e: with unbridled perfection!

So what is Obama currently reading?
The book at the top of this post, jackass; Jonathan Alter’s The Defining Moment

Well? What are you waiting for? Run down to your local brick & mortar bookstore** and grab yourselves a copy tout suite.

*Christians take note: This is a lot like the way y'all study the Bible to be more like Jesus, only the books we're pushing here are a whole lot easier to get through.
**Can someone please start a rumor that Obama hates That little lie would help us more than a million bail-out plans.

Best Of 2008...already?!

I pity the books that get released in November and December. They always get left off of lists like these:

NPR's Top Five Crime And Mystery Novels Of 2008
Publisher's Weekly's Best Books Of '08
Amazon's The Best Graphic Novels of 2008
Amazon's Top Ten 2008 Erotic Romance books
Booklist's Top 10 Arts Books: 2008
The NYTimes' Best Illustrated Children’s Books 2008
Creative Loafing's Best Cookbooks 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Here's Some Advice You Won't Hear Too Often:
Open a Comic Book Shop Today!

No, seriously. Once you've stopped laughing, we welcome you to look at this bit of Bizarro news. While regular bookstore sales were down quite a bit in the month of October...

via Publishers Weekly:
The news was about as bad as it could be from Barnes & Noble. For the third quarter ended November 1, total sales fell 4.4%, to $1.1 billion, with sales through its bookstores down by the same 4.4%. Same store sales fell 7.4%. Sales at Barnes & rose 2%, to $109 million. Moreover, the nation’s largest bookstore chain predicted that--based on the negative sales trend to date--same store sales in the fourth quarter will fall 6% to 9%. Earlier this month, B&N chairman Len Riggio warned employees in a memo that the company was bracing for a terrible holiday season.

...comic book sales were up. Way up.

Via The Comics Chronicle:
The October 2008 comics sales estimates are online at The Comics Chronicles, and it turned out to be a record-setting month in a number of categories.
The Top 300 Comics Dollar sales were the highest they’ve been since the beginning of the Diamond Exclusive era, in April 1997. Likewise, the Top 300 Comics Plus Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (although only the Top 25 and then the Top 50 trades were reported up until a few years ago). The Overall Comics, Trade Paperback, and Magazine sales figure also set the highest mark since that category became trackable in 2003.

Excelsior, suckers!

Book News, In Brief

'Misery memoir' sales have fallen 30% in gray and gloomy England. Does this signal a return to London's swingin' days of yore, or are the Brits just being buzzkills?

The Vatican opened its third bookstore this past Tuesday. A sign on the front door informs patrons that shoplifting is a mortal sin; browsing without buying, venial.

Rapper/actor/Gap model, Common, is adding one more noun to his resume: author. Common says he's decided to write children’s books in an effort to get kids reading.

Moms: You can't live with 'em, you can't....well, actually, you can live without 'em -- if you're a clone kid. But this news bit isn't about the miracles of modern science. It's about two different books about moms and the two very different reactions they garnered. The positive: A Times writer has been shortlisted for a leading literary prize for a book that started out as a letter to his mother. The negative: A British lawyer who wrote a popular book recounting a childhood of emotional and physical abuse is being sued for libel by her mother, who says the claims are fantasy. It's going to be a very awkward Christmas at that house.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sexy Blacks

Naw, this ain't a Wesley Snipes post. This is my Top 5 Comics Artists Who Use India Ink Boldly & Beautifully post.

5. Jim Rugg (Street Angel, The Plain Janes)

4. Eddie Campbell (Alec, From Hell)

3. Paul Pope (THB, Escapo)

2. Jaime Hernandez (Love & Rockets)

1. Alex Toth (Zorro, Space Ghost, a million other gorgeous looking comics and cartoons)

Why Won't She Overdose Already?

According to, Prozac Nation author/professional pouter Elizabeth Wurtzel failed her bar exam, then had the rich, White gal gall to blame it on her Yale education!
But really, does any of this matter?
Wurtzel's a wealthy, successful, self-branded brand name, thoroughly skilled in the art of I'm-not-modeling modeling.
She'll want for nothing.

Boy, was I right. Despite failing the bar exam, Wurtzel has been hired at Boies, Schiller, the law firm headed by Microsoft trust-busting attorney and Al Gore recount counsel David Boies. Is it just me, or does this strike anyone else as being like something out of Ally McBeal?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Go, Look!

Ain't It Cool News has a looong interview with director Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Video Days) about the looong delayed film version of Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. Mind you, this isn't the typical, 'everyone was wonderful to work with' puff piece. Nor is it a gossipy, trash-talking, tell-all. It's a glimpse into the filmmaker's process, a candid discussion about adapting beloved books, and a surprisingly touching piece about childhood, memory and imagination.

Choice quote:

Jonze: One of the things I was worried about is that the book is just so beloved to so many people. And as I started to have ideas for it I was worried that I was just making what it means to me, and what the book triggers in me from when I was a kid. And I’d be worried that other people were gonna be disappointed, because it’s like adapting a poem. It can mean so much to so many different people.

And Maurice was very insistent that that’s all I had to do... just make what it was to me, just to make something personal and make something that takes kids seriously and doesn’t pander to them. He told me that when his book came out, it was considered dangerous. It was panned by critics and child psychologists and librarians, because it wasn’t how kids were talked to. And it took like only two years after the book was out that kids started finding it in the libraries, and basically kids discovered it and made it what it is. And now it’s 40 years later and it’s a classic. So he said you just have to make something according to your own instinct.

The whole interview is good. Click here to read.

Book News, In Brief

Vertigo Books, a Washington DC bookstore on the verge of going out of business, has taken an unusual course of action in an effort to save themselves: They're asking their customers to watch a documentary about other bookstores at risk of imminent death. (My grandfather used to say, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar." But even Grandpa -- God rest his senile ol' soul -- would have to admit that fresh corpses also attract their share of flies.)

What sells books like Obama's byline? Obama's recommendation. Via Chapters & Verse: Barack Obama mentioned his respect for Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln many times as a candidate, and now it looks as if the President-elect has promoted his first bestseller (by another author). With the title theme dominating media discussion of Obama’s potential Cabinet selections, Goodwin’s book has now cracked the top 20 at both Amazon (currently at No. 12, even though the paperback is out of stock there until November 23) and (now at No. 11).

Here's a secret most authors and publishers won't admit to: Film adaptations hurt book sales. A bad movie can kill a book forever, but even a decent film slows sales to a certain extent. (Disagreeing bookstores ought to compare their sales of The Lord of the Rings pre-films to post). With this in mind, we at the Inkwell have been wondering how this Friday's Twilight movie release will effect sales of The Mormon Vampire Books to End All Mormon Vampire Books. Oh, sure, the books are selling at a very steady clip now, but we couldn't help but worry that a dud adaptation might kill this Christmas' seemingly 'sure thing' sales. Then we saw the footage of Twilight star, Robert Pattinson, at a Philadelphia mall and read the various accounts of the Twilight stampede at a mall in San Francisco, and we breathed a little sigh of relief. Sure, this series won't sell forever, but considering the cult-like adoration of its current fanbase, it'll for damn sure sell through the new year.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Steven Colbert Defends America's Invention of Baseball Against Jane Austen's Pithy, Post-Mortem Claims To The Contrary!

Skip to the 1:43 mark.

Book News, In Brief

Play on playa Palin! The year's most famous failure is set to net $7 million for her first book. (Whoa. Wait. Hold up a second. Didn't Palin say she didn't read?)

Here's a book deal more to my liking: Sarah Silverman has a book coming out with 2009. Kill an hour of the year long wait by watching Silverman's comedy special, Jesus is Magic!, here.

Speaking of Jesus...seems like the spiritual seekers of the Middle Ages were looking for the same thing in their religious lit as the enlightened of today: The bestsellers of the Middle Ages...were popular because they allowed believers to establish an immediate relationship with God without intercession of the clergy. For more info on what was stocked in the 'Spirituality' sections of yesteryear, click here.