Friday, December 12, 2008

Book News, In Brief

The pompous PR pitch: "Book retailing giant Waterstone's will be offering personal shoppers to help you find just the right book for everyone on your gift list." The sad reality: This used to be referred to as basic customer service.

List-making and sh*t-talking are the meat and potatoes of the blogosphere. So how brilliant was it of Entertainment Weekly to mix the two, making a Shepherd's Pie they dubbed The 23 Most Disappointing Movie Adaptations? Answer: mildly brilliant.

Just in time for the holidays! Bonhams US is holding a rare books auction. Items up for bid include a first issue of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird which includes a photograph of the author credited to Truman Capote (est. $6/9,000), first editions of the various Winnie the Pooh books with hand drawn illustrations by E.H. Shepard (est. $6/12,000), and a first edition copy of Moby Dick in what is being described as "exceptionally fine condition" ($60/80,000).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blog-Jacking: io9

Science Fiction Novelists Reveal Their Daily Writing Routines
Originally posted by Lauren Davis on 12/10/08
Isaac Asimov awoke each morning 6 AM and worked well into the night, sometimes churning out entire books in a matter of days. Kingsley Amis’ writing binges were fueled by nicotine, alcohol, and numerous cups of tea, while surrealist Haruki Murakami claims to work himself into a routine-induced trance. Take a gander at how some of science fiction’s most famous writers have organized their days and kept their creative juices flowing.
To read the rest, click here.

Book News, In Brief

This should come as a surprise to no one but newborn babies and recently lapsed Amish: JK Rowling's latest offering, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, has broken all records to become the fastest selling book of 2008.

Abdulkarim Soroush must have a death wish, a fatal disease, or both. Why else would "Iran's leading public intellectual" publicly challenge the divinity of the Koran? Didn't he learn anything from those Danish dudes and their inflammatory (as in: houses catching fire, cars exploding, etc.) cartoons?

A graduation speech that David Foster Wallace gave in 2005 is going to be published posthumously as a book next year. The speech, which Wallace delivered to the graduating class at Kenyon College, Ohio, runs approximately 150 pages and will be titled, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered On a Significant Occasion, About Living a Compassionate Life. (No jokes on this one. I loved dude.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recommended Viewing:
Michael Pollan @ Google HQ

The author of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals talks with his mouth full.

Book News, In Brief

It's a scientific fact that even the Religious Right won't refute: Famous people's opinions are more interesting than non-famous people's. That's why has asked a slew of A-list authors -- Chuck Klosterman, Daniel Handler and Michael Pollan, among others -- to list their favorite books of '08. Regular people can pretend to participate in the comments section.

Having just dropped $125 million dollars to keep their Book Search up and running, Google is ready to move on to magazines. Not counting the time that The Walt Disney Corporation bought the rights to The Muppets, this is the first time I've agreed with a publicly traded company about anything. After all, if you've ever worked in a bookstore, you know that this is where the average 'customer' does the bulk of their browsing.

We warned our fellow booksellers about this growing menace, but they wouldn't listen. Via Gary Bacon II had bargain-hunting on the brain when he visited his local Barnes & Noble...but he didn't make any purchases. Instead, the Web designer whipped out his smartphone, snapped a few photos, and headed for the exit. Bacon was using a new feature, released by, that lets users take photos of items they want to buy, store them in an online shopping cart, and purchase them whenever they want -- typically at a discount -- via the online retailer. Our only hope now? Treat these Twitterers like the paparazzi and punch the cell phones out of their hands.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blog-Jacking: The Guardian UK

The Digested Read: The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Originally posted by John Crace on 12/9/8
'There was once a not very good writer who got lucky. In the beginning, she realised her limitations, but then she began to take herself very seriously indeed.'
To read Crace's crushing critique in its entirety, click here.

Book News, In Brief

And the recession continues: Last week, the media was buzzing about a $126,000 Michelangelo book. This week, it's a $700 coffee table book on the making of The Godfather. At this rate, they'll be back to talking about $5 paperbacks in...three days!

What is a book dedication? The ultimate expression of an author's gratitude? A private venue for a public display of affection? The one part of a book that pretty much everybody reads? According to The Wilton Villager, it's all of these and more.

Remember the good ol' days, when brick and mortar bookstores only had to fear Amazon and the Kindle? Well, there's a new threat on the horizon, and it's-- BRRRRRRRRRRRRING! Oh, no. BRRRRRRRRRRRRING! Oh, god, no! BRRRRRRRRRRRRING! I'm too late! It's already--BRRRRRRRRRRRRING!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Your Rejection Letter Has Been Accepted For Publication!

Rejection letters. Even the kindest ones are a slap in face, a kick to the heart, a set of sweaty testicles dangled on the sleeping face of your tender ego. Until now. The voyeurs who brought you the Oprah-approved Other People's Love Letters are currently collecting rejection letters for a book -- Other People's Rejection Letters -- to be released in 2010. Don't delay. This is probably the only time you'll see your name in a book that wasn't self-published.
To share your shame, click here.

Do your masochistic tendencies have you craving more? Check out The Guardian UK's The Fine Art of Literary Rejection Letters.

Quote of the Day

"I never wanna write short stories again. They suck. They’re incredibly demanding. A story can be perfect. No novel can be perfect. Novels are awesome. Novels are like us."

That's Juno Diaz, author of the fun, factoid filled novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, from an 11/12/08 interview with the CBC.

Book News, In Brief

When it comes to quote/unquote "serious literature," the subject of love has always had its critics. Is the capital-L simply too saccharine a topic for intelligent, relevant discourse, or do the critics just need to get laid? The Australian investigates.

Quick, before he breaks them! The Washington Post's Michael Dirda has outlined the The 10 Commandments of Book Giving. Even if the list seems sorta obvious to you, forwarding it to your friends and family might make the difference between a good gift...and the kind of gift you have to fake a smile over.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point and Blink, has a new book out, Outliers. In it, Gladwell attempts to figure out what makes some people success stories, and the rest of us bums. His basic finding: Outliers are those given opportunities who have the strength and presence of mind to seize them. For an interview with the afro-ed author -- and to read what "opportunities" Bill Gates and Canadian hockey players took advantage of -- click here, ya bums.