Friday, January 9, 2009

Tuesday's Friday's Tip for Flailing Writers

Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow has posted a great article on Locus Online titled, Writing in the Age of Distraction. In it, Doctorow lists six simple techniques to help writers write more effectively while still embracing the internet's many digital distractions. Dude knows what he's talking about, too -- he averages about a novel a year!

Recommended Viewing:
Kids In The Hall's The Dr. Suess Bible

(A tip of the tall, stripey hat to Journalista for the link.)

Book News, In Brief

A new book, Toy Monster: The Big, Bad World of Mattel, reveals Barbie's creator to be a gay boob fetishist who once dismantled Zsa Zsa Gabor's Rolls Royce in a fit of anger. Needless to say, Skipper's creator was decidedly less interesting.

Last year's phony holocaust love story may find new life -- as this year's hot fiction release! Via The NYTimes: Days after Berkley Books announced that it was canceling the publication of the memoir Angel at the Fence, after its author, Herman Rosenblat, acknowledged that he had falsified parts of his story, an independent publisher said it was negotiating to release the book as a work of fiction.

Coming soon: Dave Eggers' Where The Wild Things Are. It's a book based on a movie based on a book. Did I lose you? Then allow The Guardian UK to explain: A new book from Eggers is always an event, and here he attempts a novelization of Maurice Sendak's children's classic Where the Wild Things Are, in a collaboration with the film-maker Spike Jonze. I hope this means that novelizations are back in vogue. When I was in the sixth grade, The Goonies by James Kahn was one of my favorite books.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Go, Read: Afrodisiac

Jim Rugg is one of the funnest cartoonists to emerge in the past ten years. Lucky us, he's posted a complete Afrodisiac mini-comic on his LJ. Click here to read.

Book News, In Brief
(The Extra Depressing Bookselling Edition)

I turned on my computer yesterday to see this AP headline: After Sales, Will Shoppers Pay Full Price Again? According to the accompanying article, once you go Black Friday, you never go back.

Hell, even the once invincible porn magazine industry is on its knees, begging for a handout. The AFP reports: Porn Industry, Citing Limp Economy, Seeks its Own US Bailout. (Okay, so the italics were mine, but you can't tell me they weren't giggling when they wrote that.)

But wait. There's hope! Via A new study suggests that if they just touch an item for more than a few seconds, they may also end up buying it. Researchers from Ohio State University and Illinois State University tested how touching an item before buying affects how much they are willing to pay for an item. A simple experiment with an inexpensive coffee mug revealed that in many cases, simply touching the coffee mug for a few seconds created an attachment that led people to pay more for the item. So if what the scientists are saying is true, all we as booksellers need to do is physically/forcefully place the books in people's hands, and viola -- browsers become buyers. Buyers willing to pay cover price, no less! Even if this turns out to be b.s., it's just the sort of false hope that makes our war against seem a li'l less hopeless. Thank you, science. I forgive you for creating cosmetic Botox injections.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All Work And No Play...

Artist and self-described "big fan of Stanley Kubrick and Stephen King," Phil Buehler, has self-published an 80-page version of the book which novelist Jack Torrance obsessively writes during King's The Shining.

From The Guardian UK: "The idea has probably been marinating for years, because I loved the movie and the Stephen King book," said Buehler. "I'd just finished my own obsessive art project [and] it was an idea I had over the Christmas holidays."

He said he decided to stick to type and formatting that could have been created on a typewriter, with the first ten pages duplicating shots of Torrance's work from the film. "I thought 'if he continues to get crazier, what would those pages look like?'" he said. "I hit writer's block about 60 pages in, and I had to get to 80 - that went on for about a week." His fiancée, who had neither read the book nor seen the film, became a little concerned about his actions. "I finally showed her the movie, and she realised I wasn't really losing it," said Buehler.

To read the Guardian UK's article in its entirety, click here.

Book News, In Brief

Sherry Jones, author of last year's controversial novel, The Jewel of Medina, has found a unique excuse for why her book bombed: She picked the wrong person to pen her blurb.

For years, folks caught with a copy of Playboy under their mattress have used the excuse, "I only read it for the articles." Still, it's surprising to hear Hugh Hefner claim he only published it for the cartoons.

Pop Quiz! What part of a book's publication causes the most conflict? (Go on, take a guess.) If you said, 'the editing,' you're WRONG! But if you said, 'designing the book jacket,' pat yourself on the back, then head on over to for an insider's look at the contentious world of cover art creation.

First there was The Buena Vista Social Club, then Guantanamo Bay. Now there's a third reason to visit sunny, commie Cuba: Thousands of digitized documents, photographs and books that belonged to writer Ernest Hemingway have been made available to scholars and snoops alike. Oh, and unlike Florida's Hemingway archives, this one doesn't smell like cat pee!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Best Comic Book Covers of 2008

We already linked to The Best Book Covers of 2008, so it only seemed fair that we link to Super Punch's The Best Comic Book Covers of 2008...and Robot 6's alternate list.

Tuesday's Tip for Flailing Writers:
Words of Wisdom from Dennis Lehane

Boston-based crime author Dennis Lehane offers a couple of self-help bon mots for all of you perspiring pencil chewers out there.
(Clip courtesy of

Monday, January 5, 2009

This Next Set Of News Bits Is Like A Fox News Ménage à Trois

Ann Coulter's new book reveals that she is not a Michelle Obama fan. Now there's a shocker.

Laura Bush signed with Scribner for her White House memoirs. George's book still has no buyers.

Sarah Palin has a pin-up calendar (and it's a top seller on Amazon).

Wendell Edwards' 30 Second Book Review:
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I just finished reading this book for the second time in six years, and I’ve found it even more rewarding. It could be called a coming-of-age love story, with its themes of emotional maturity explored through the protagonist’s relationships with the women in the book. It is set in Japan in the late 1960s, with the music of the time playing a key role, and some commentary on the unrest of the time added. Like Murakami’s other earlier works, the protagonist considers himself (his early protagonists were always male) an average sort of guy, though through chance occurrences he meets up with unique characters who can see his uniqueness and special qualities when he still can’t recognize them. Unlike Murakami’s other earlier works, Norwegian Wood aims to be a human story, focusing on the human dramas instead of the usual supernatural, magical-realist themes. For the author, it was a challenge, and it turned out to be an incredibly successful venture, exploding his readership in his home country of Japan to such a degree that he felt the need to leave the country for a few years. Norwegian Wood is very much for adults, with dark themes running through it. Like his other books, there aren’t many resolutions, but it has a sense of momentum and even a glimmer of hope at the end, which, for the characters you’ve grown to care for, is all one could wish.

Book News, In Brief

The 'death of books' may have been proclaimed prematurely, but it's never too early to proclaim the collapse of the Kindle. Via Lifehacker: If recession budgeting meant choosing an iPhone/iPod touch over a Kindle when the dust cleared this holiday season, you're in luck: Stanza is a free and fantastic ebook reader for your iPhone.

In the old days (i.e: last week), if an author's life wasn't memorable enough to inspire a memoir, they simply embellished (i.e.: made sh*t up). Unfortunately, in the past few years (i.e.: post-James Frey), taking such liberties has become passe (i.e.: litigious and costly). That's why authors like Norah Vincent are a publisher's dream. From The Guardian UK: To expose the insanity of mental health institutions, Norah Vincent had herself committed. Twice.

Calling all cat burglars, crystal collectors and New Age nitwits! The Pilgrim's Way Bookstore in Carmel, CA is currently exhibiting the largest of the 13 legendary crystal skulls. The Monterey County Herald reports: The (book)store...will host today's 7p.m. lecture by the skull's owner, JoAnn Parks of Houston. The 18-pound, 2-ounce skull named Max is at least 10,000 years old by some estimates and purportedly was used by Mayan priests for healing and prayer...The skull spent its first 10 years in an old cosmetics case until, JoAnn said, it began speaking to her in her dreams... "And that's when he said to me, loudly and clearly in my head, 'By the way, my name is not Skull. It's Max.'"