Friday, December 5, 2008

Go, Look!

We're two days late to the party on this one, but it's so darned good we didn't want to let it pass you by. Robin in the Rye by Penrod Pulaski. Read it here.

(A special tip of the hat to The Beat for the link & image.)

Book News, In Brief

They were racially insensitive and demeaning to women, but goddamn those old romance covers sure were gorgeous. Well, until the 80's, anyway. The art wasn't much better in the 90's, but at least they'd finally gotten around to objectifying White males.

You have to commend Penguin. When it came time to freeze pay raises, they started at the top. On behalf of low income, low on the totem employees everywhere, allow me to say: I hope this ends before I become a high income, high on the totem employee!

The New York Public Library is going to make some lucky book thief very happy. In addition to the $100,000 Michelangelo book that the library unveiled last week, they'll soon be housing one of the seven, original editions of J.K. Rowling's most recent PotterWorld book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard. 'Bard's current value? A cool $4 million.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Inkwell Michelle's 30 Second Book Review

Doctor Olaf van Schuler’s Brain
by Kirsten Menger-Anderson

This fantastic debut by Kirsten Menger-Anderson is the best book I’ve read in the past few months. In addition to using language to potent effect, the author plays with an unusual format of linked short stories: each chapter delves into the life of a different member of the Steenwyck family tree starting in the 1600s and progressing to the modern day. By pursuing the medical profession, each generation carries on the legacy of the original patriarch, the doomed doctor Olaf van Schuler. Odd lore from the history of medicine (from phrenology to spontaneous combustion) adds to the rich story of the family’s madness and passion. thirty seconds up yet?

Book News, In Brief

Random House...of cards? Okay, so maybe that's being a bit dramatic, but the publishing house did just consolidate several of their publishing groups, eliminating jobs and ruining Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa for quite a few people.

Oh, f**k. There's more. Simon & Schuster announced today that it has eliminated 35 positions. According to a memo from their CEO, the cuts came in all areas, including S&S’s publishing divisions, operations and sales departments and international division.

Well, at least someone's smiling. Tina Fey's book deal? It net her a reported $6.9 million. And this is post-Palin impressions. Can you imagine how much she would've gotten had McCain been elected president? On second thought, don't imagine any such thing. I don't want to be responsible for the suicides.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gift Tips for the Bookish

From now until Christmas, I'm going to be offering up little gift ideas at random. But unlike most bookstore blogs, I'm not going to try to recommend any actual books to you. From what I've gathered, most of our readers are in the book industry in one way or another, and between catalogs, sales reps and well-meaning/poorly-read friends/family/customers, have had all of the unsolicited book recommendations that they can handle for one lifetime. That's why these are going to be book-related items, book-themed apparel, and book-ish doo-dads. Stuff I'd like to receive (hint, hint).

Today's tip: two t-shirts. Click the pics to enlarge.

The 'Will Work For Books' Tee is available here.
The 'Read Books Not Shirts' Tee is available here.

Book News, In Brief

An unusually large, unusually old fragment of the Gospel of John will go on sale next month. Despite being available in better condition -- and for free! -- in the bedside table of every hotel and motel in the world, this battered bit of Bible is expected to fetch upwards of $460,000. Now I'm no scholar, but wouldn't your Jesus want you to give that money to the poor? (Editor's note: According to papal cannon, indie bookstores count as paupers.)

No matter how hard Britney Spears tries to save face with the media, embarrassing in-house drama inevitably gets leaked to the press, making things worse. A similar thing is currently happening to publisher Houghton Mifflin. Last week, a rumor got out that H.M. were putting a temporary hold on new acquisitions. This week, Günter Grass (the publisher of the company’s adult trade division) has resigned. Next week, who knows? A shaved head, maybe?

Were you selling newspapers on November 5th? Then surely you remember the chaos. Excited by Obama's win, folks who hadn't bought a newspaper in years were suddenly scouring their local bookstores and corner stores, looking for any remaining copies of their local fishwrap. Well, if American publisher Andrews McMeel gets their Christmas wish, December 16th will be equally insane. That's when they're releasing President Obama Election 2008: A Collection of Newspaper Front Pages Selected by The Poynter Institute, a blatant cash-in which reprints the front pages of some 70+ newspapers from around the world -- all of them announcing Obama's ascendancy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday's Tip for Flailing Writers:
Inappropriate Flair

Big Bad Book Blog offers three rules to remember regarding superfluous stylistic flourishes for the aspiring author:

1. Less is more. Like loud fabrics, loud literary devices are hard to mix and match. If you’re going to narrate in stream-of-consciousness, do not also use screenplay-style stage directions and scene breaks. Pick the device that means the most to you. Once you’ve chosen your gimmick, don’t overdo it. Think of that guy you saw last weekend wearing all hot pink plaid. Did you say, “Wow, I admire his consistency to his theme”?

2. Make sure someone gets it. Kurt Vonnegut recommended writing with an audience of one in mind. Whoever you’re writing for, test it out. If your audience doesn’t like your device, you may want to consider toning it down. Even if you’re not thinking of a specific person as you compose, a suitably sympathetic, unbiased reader ought to be able to get through the device without trouble. I’m thinking your editor here.

3. Most important, make sure it’s crucial and authentic to the work, not just something you’re doing to show off. Christopher Bachelder’s Bear v. Shark uses stream-of-consciousness narration with two-page chapters and commercial breaks as its main style—a highly disruptive format. But the book is a satire about a near future in which television screens have taken over all four walls of the room and no longer turn off, where advertising invades our thoughts and the attention span is a thing of the past. The method is the message—so Bachelder’s outré style doesn’t distract from his point. (Also, the book is short—the author doesn’t expect us to get through three hundred pages of this bizarre prose.) If your device isn’t integral to your work, you’re probably better off without it.

To read the whole kit-n-kaboodle, click here.

Recommended Viewing:
Stan Lee & Grant Morrison

To see Grant chat with Deepak Chopra(!), click here.
(Both videos were done by Tone Milazzo.)

Blog-Jacking: Boing Boing

Best Book Covers of 2008
Originally posted 12/1/8 by Cory Doctorow
The Book Design Review blog's top book covers for 2008 are up. This is one of my favorite annual features -- and this year's includes some drop-dead gorgeous designs. I'm insanely jealous of Austin Grossman for getting that brilliant cover for his excellent book Soon I Will Be Invincible. I've mentioned Jordan Crane's wonderful cover for Chabon's Maps and Legends and the new edition of Harry Harrison's Make Room, Make Room, but why did no one tell me about the beauty that is the cover for Things I've Learned From Women Who've Dumped Me?

Want to see more? My Favorite Book Covers of 2008 (via Kottke)

Previously: Best book covers of 2007 - Boing Boing

Original Boing Boing post
(Give Boing Boing a look if you haven't already. You'll soon be blog-jacking them too!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tom Cruise: Either He's Censoring Free Speech, Or Nobody's Got Anything Bad To Say About Him & Scientology

Last April, we linked to an article describing Tom Cruise and The Church of Scientology's legal bullying of British publisher, Macmillan. Macmillan had been planning to release Andrew Morton's unauthorized biography of Cruise, but canceled these plans after they'd been informed of the lengthy and expensive libel lawsuits that would follow. A similar fate awaited the Morton publishers in Australia, where the book's release was called off at the zero hour.
Well, it looks like Cruise and co. might be at it again. From Rush & Molloy:
'The Complex' author John Duignan cites Tom Cruise control
Tom Cruise is denying that he pressured Amazon to stop selling a book critical of the Church of Scientology.
On Oct. 31, Irish publisher Merlin released “The Complex,” in which John Duignan, identified as “a former high-ranking member” of the church in Britain, describes his “dramatic escape” from its “elite para-military group,” the Sea Organization. Five days later, Cruise dropped by Amazon’s Seattle headquarters to glad-hand staffers and host a sneak peek at his new movie, “Valkyrie.”
A few days later, Amazon’s British Web site stopped selling “The Complex,” explaining to customers that someone mentioned in the book had alleged it defamed him with “false claims.”
“U.K. law gives us no choice but to remove the title from our catalogue,” Amazon said in a statement.
“I believe Tom Cruise influenced them,” Duignan tells us.
To read the whole article, click here.

Book News, In Brief

Horror comics are back. At least, that's what the publishers think...hope...pray. Hail Satan!

(Warning: This news item contains two tasteless, ill-timed gags.) Didja hear? William Gibson, the author of The Miracle Worker, died last week. I'm speechless.

The NYTimes has a posted a two page pick-me-up for those of us effected by the publishing world's current financial crisis. This might be more comforting if The Times -- and newspapers everywhere -- weren't facing their own financial crises.

The world's 'most expensive, most beautiful' book hit the shelves of the NYC public library last week. Costing well over $100,000, the 62-pound, velvet and marble bound book depicts the life and work of Michelangelo. What do you think the late fees on this thing will be?

Recommended Viewing:
Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree

For more info on Shel, check out our old post, Making Hamburg Out of Sacred Cows #32: Shel Silverstein Was A Porn Fan.