Friday, June 19, 2009

Cuz Friday Night is Date Night*:
Hot, Sexy Book News

Dim-witted dreamboat Robert Pattinson nearly negated Hollywood's hottest film series* yesterday when he was struck mid-saunter by a New York City taxi cab. It's not clear yet whether it was a host of heavenly angels or a group of screaming girls or Pattinson's own tight, steely buns that kept the Twilight star from enduring any serious injuries, but know this: The Eclipse adaptation is still a go.
*Not starring transforming robots, boy wizards, Spider-Men, Police Academys, or tin-plated billionaire playboys.

An adult bookstore in Akron, OH burned to the ground last night. While local zealots blame it on an act of God, and police will no doubt suspect an inside job, the fact that the five customers in the store at the time of the fire say they first "smelled, like, plastic burning," makes me think it was a faulty dildo a spontaneously combusting, self-stimulating massage device something else.*
*Note to whichever governmental group is in charge of such things: You see? This is what happens when you go overboard with your asbestos regulations.

When poet John Siddique asked Guardian UK readers to send him poems describing "their secret worlds of the night," I'd assumed he was a hard-up perv too stingy to buy his own porn. Then I read the submissions he chose for re-print, and thought, 'Oh, I get it. Dude's an insomniac and needs some help falling asleep.' Then I remembered that poetry is an art form chock full o' metaphor, and...yep...with a little imagination, you can make 'em all about sex.*
*All except the third poem, which is about taking out the trash. No, wait -- I just thought of the adult angle on that one, too.

*Well, it's date night for some of you. For the rest or us, it's a Twilight dvd, a rubbish bin, and a faulty dildo a spontaneously combustible, self-stimulating massage device something else.

Cool Covers from Recent Releases

The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter
by Jason Kersten.
Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod.

At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life by Wade Rouse.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris.

Book News, In Brief

Shared Worlds recently picked their Top 5 Real Fantasy/Sci-Fi Cities. Unsurprisingly, Falmouth wasn't on the list. Truth be told, we're more of a generic, YA memoir town.
Last minute attempt at starting a dialog: In the comments section, tell us the name of your town and what literary genre it would best fit into.

The aptly named 'Audiobook' app unseated Amazon's ramblingly titled 'Kindle For iPhone Reader' app as iTunes #1 selling application. Still, it's not just Bezos who should be worried. 'Audiobook' threatens the livelihoods of school librarians, doting grandparents, and seeing eye dogs with robot voices and 5th grade reading levels.

Remember last week when we told you about Schwarzenegger's plans to fill California's public schools with e-textbooks? Well, according to PW, "Textbook giant Pearson has responded with digital content to supplement California’s programs in biology, chemistry, algebra 2, and geometry." Or, to put it another way: Skynet has merged the Terminator with the Kindergarten Cop.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Coming Soon: Limited Edition, Pigskin-Covered Copies of Charlotte's Web

Okay, so that's not true, but there is a monster fur-covered copy of Dave Eggers' The Wild Things being released in October, and that's sorta similar. The book, a 300 page kids' novel "based loosely on the storybook by Maurice Sendak and the screenplay co-written with Spike Jonze," will also be available in a PETA-approved cardboard and cardstock cover.

Via here and here.

Book News, In Brief

Bezos may be a b*tch, but he's no dummy. The Motley Fool has an intriguing article detailing Amazon's 'Divides to Conquer' e-book sales strategy.

Well, you can bet your bottom dollar that the conservative-leaning Amazon won't be able to compete with this idea: Tor Launches Publisher Agnostic Online Store. Skeptics will find the shop well-stocked with science titles, art texts, science fiction and fantasy novels.

The Ellwood City Ledger reports that the current economic crises has increased library usage to numbers never before seen. Of course, this "usage" is actually just job-hunters camped out in the computer areas, but hey -- maybe they'll take a chance on one of those book-thingies while they're there.

Penguin has launched three new sites -- one audio, one video, and one print -- to help promote those books and authors that they feel are being ignored by the mainstream media. While I usually try and cap these news bits off with some sorta wise-ass aside, I've gotta say, this actually impresses the hell out of me.

This is the sort of criminal mastermind that makes me appreciate the inept shoplifters we catch in our shop. Earth Times reports, "A Taiwan bookstore is trying to catch a book thief who not only steals books, but also leaves cards in the store's books with tips on how to steal books." This reminds me of the ancient Tiawanese proverb that says, "Steal me a book, I'll read today. Teach me how to steal a book, I'll read for a lifetime."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cool Covers from Upcoming Comics

Lockjaw and the Pet Avenvers
Cover by Niko Henrichon
Runaways: Teenage Wasteland Vol. 2
Art by Jo Chen

Creepy #1
Art by Eric Powell
Uptight #3
Art by Jordan Crane

Punisher: Frank Castle Max - Six Hours To Kill
Art by Michel Lacombe
Dark Reign: Sinister Spider Man#2
Art by Chris Bachalo

Comic Book Review:
Runaways Vol. 3 #10

This is a comic with scope. Not epic, trans-continental, War & Peace-y scope, but emotional scope. It goes from funny to sad and back to funny again in less than two dozen pages, and there's not a single false note or misstep along the way.

The story itself is simple. Eight year old Molly Hayes (a.k.a. Princess Powerful, although she's the only one who refers to herself this way) is taking a tour of Xavier's new School for Gifted Youngsters, and she's been assigned Wolverine as her tour guide. While this sort of 'comedy of opposites' set-up usually begins to feel monotonous after the second gag, writer Chris Yost keeps things interesting by allowing some melancholy to seep into the story. For those who don't know, the premise of the Runaways series is that a group of super-powered kids found out that their parents were one of the world's most diabolical groups of super-villains, and decided to try and stop them. This went far less smoothly than the kids would've liked, resulting in the deaths of all their parents. So now they're on the run from, well, pretty much everyone, as the good guys think they're murderers, and the bad guys want revenge for the stuff their parents once did. But while the older Runaways have come to terms with their parents' evil alter egos, young Molly is having a much harder time accepting the dichotomy of loving parents who were also cold-blooded murderers. It's this made-for-metaphor conundrum that gives the issue its emotional resonance, making it succeed as both an Abbot & Costello-style comedy and an I-can't-believe-I'm getting-choked-up-by-Wolverine's-dialogue character piece. As for Sara Pichelli's art, it's spot-on: clean, cartoony, and easy to navigate. Not only that, but Pichelli possesses that seemingly rare ability to draw kids that actually look like kids, and not like adults with bigger heads and (marginally) smaller breasts.

I'd give this issue of Runaways to any young girl on the fence about superhero comics, as well as any older, ex-comics fan who grew tired of comics' grim and gritty cliches. I mean, hell, who doesn't want to see the X-Men's Danger Room used to create a unicorn and butterflies?

Note: Runaways vol. 3 #10 is a self-contained, stand-alone story. That means you get the complete story -- beginning, middle and end -- in this one issue. Not only that, but there's a bonus, 11 page back-up story, too. Hmn...if I didn't know better, I'd almost think Marvel was courting new readers.

Book News, In Brief

Jeff Bezos has finally found someone that he can call a bully. claims the male Amazonian as been b*tching about the Google Books settlement, and is asking that the agreement "be revisited."

Why, if the internet has been buzzing for weeks about the photos of actor James Franco portraying Beat poet Alan Ginsberg, am I only linking to them now? Because I didn't care was waiting for a headline like this: James Franco Beats Off. Bless you, New York Press.

Then again, once you start looking for faux pornographic headlines, you begin to see them everywhere. Take The Guardian UK's recent blog post, Poets Reveal the Strangest Places They've 'Done It.' It's actual topic? Poets listing the oddest spots they've been moved by the muse.

Misery (indie bookstores) loves company (comic book shops): ICV2 reports, "Comic sales dropped a staggering 19% in May versus May 2008, while graphic novel sales declined by 13%, leading to an overall drop-off for the month of 18%." If y'all wanna start some sort of suicide/euthanasia pact, drop us an email.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Comic Book Quote of the Day

"This (is) the last literary frontier where a straight white male can do an autobiography and still be looked on as avant-garde."
Glenn Haumann of ComicMix, via The Occasional Superheroine.

Tuesday's Tips for Flailing Writers

Why are you even messing with my amateur ass? Click here to read master crime novelist Elmore Leonard's thoughts on craft and process.

Once you've been turned down by all of the major and minor publishing houses, should you shelve your novel and start a new one, or send out queries to the micro publishers? The Rejecter weighs in.

Remember last week when Robot 6 told you to hook the reader in the first eight pages? Well, that's was only the beginning (literally!). Now you've gotta try and keep them hooked, chapter after ever-loving chapter. How do you do this? Cliffhangers.

Agoraphobic authors beware! Chasing Ray has an interesting bit about online companies offering to set up 'blog book tours'. Among the many, many suspicious aspects of these services are the high price tag (anywhere from $500-$600) and the fact that the blogs involved get none of it. (Well, that last one bothers me, anyway.)

Last Minute Bonus Link! Ah, here's a problem we all wish we had: James A. Moore shares how he handles an editor's negative notes.

Book News, In Brief

I'm only surprised that this hadn't happened already: iPhone offers a CliffsNotes app. In related news, SpellCheck now offers both 'app' and 'ass' as possible replacements for Attention Deficit Disorder abbreviation, 'ADD.'

Media manufactured trend alert! The NYTimes has announced a new "literary ritual": Folks having their Kindles signed at author events. This joins 'holding up cell phones in lieu of lighters' as future Wikipedia definitions for 'douchebaggery.'

To quote Sly & The Family Stone, 'It's a family affair': Obama's half-brother joins Obama's half-sister, Obama's sister-in-law, Obama's mother, and Obama's dog in getting a book deal. (Note to publishers: My uncle tells me that I'm related to our 44th President. No pressure. Just sayin'.)

Here's a great idea (that I hope our local libraries don't catch wind of): Public libraries with used bookshops inside of them. Not only do they make a small return on last year's Oprah book club picks, but all those crappy books you and I dropped off anonymously because no other bookstore would buy them from us? Pure profit.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Monday Menagerie: Bookish Burials

Let's start this off subtle: A small 'book in hand' carved atop an otherwise ordinary gravestone. This actually reminds me a li'l of the top of Market Street Bookshop's sign. Via.

This second one's a bit busier, but it tells a story that will be instantly recognizable to all the moms and dads reading this. It portrays a woman trying to distract her daughter with a doll so that she can continue reading her book. (Well, what do you expect her to do? Just look at that stack of unread books still waiting for her on the end table!) Via.

Although the height of these shouts, 'Look at me! Look at me!', they're both pretty classy and understated -- at least compared to what's coming up next. Via here and here.

It's only in the past fifty years that the tombstone industry started to lose its tasteful touch, yet they already handle tackiness like old pros. Take this granite monolith, for example. Sure, black is chic, but this thing looks more like a 52" flatscreen than a book. (Then again, maybe it's supposed to be an eBook.) Via.

Wowzers! Someone wanted to waste their kids' inheritance. Those Greek columns scream nouveau riche, but then, who else is gonna buy one of these things? Oh, and check out the restraint used when choosing a font size. The Stefanazzis made their name three times bigger than the name plate! Via.

Smart shoppers take note: This one's big enough for your whole book club. And don't underestimate the 'lasting legacy' factor. Long after your remains have been eaten by earthworms, skateboarders from all over the world will still be visiting your grave, doing ledge tricks on your tombstone.

Besides the overbearing opulence, unbridled hubris and inarguable waste of space, do you know what I hate most about these expensive, granite grave markers? The way that the books are always opened to the half-way mark. To me, that signals either one of two things. If the book represents the dead person, it's sorta like saying that they lived an unfinished life. And if the book represents a, well, book, then it means the deceased dies before they got to finish it. And that's gotta suck! That's why I'm closing this week's Monday Menagerie with this one -- cuz it evokes a feeling of completion. Via.

Book News, In Brief

Newspapers' billion$ have become Craigslist's million$. Click here for The Business Insider's charting of old media's demise.

Related: In an effort to keep afloat, major newspapers are now selling ad space on their front pages. Click here to see The LATimes' Friday headline ad for HBO's True Blood.

Semi-related, in that it involves a newspaper: Sick and tired of being dismissed as "the liberal media," Sunday's NYTimes gave a left-field shout-out to Right Wing magazines The American Conservative, Commentary and National Review. While the attempt was admirable, it sorta reminded me of when my parents used to try and talk to me about hiphop. In a word, forced.

Even less related...although it does involve the far, far Right: The Guardian UK has a disturbing write-up about a group of "Christians" in Wisconsin who are suing for the right to burn a library book. The plaintiffs claim that Francesca Lia Block's Baby Be-Bop, -- a Gay, teen novel -- damaged their "mental and emotional well-being." This follows a failed campaign by these same folks to restrict library access to any teen-oriented books they deemed sexually explicit. Nice!

Completely unrelated to the first news item, but totally and unequivocally related to the last: Dale Lazarov was a short story fiction writer until a few years ago, when comics artist Steve MacIsaac caught him in a weak moment and convinced him to try his hand at comics. Since then, Lazarov has gone on to produce the wordless, "carnal yet sweet," gay erotic comic, Sticky, with MacIsaac, and the similarly silent and flawlessly drawn, Manly, with Amy Colburn. Anyway, the point of all this is to get you interested in Lazarov enough to check out his interview with The Comics Reporter. Remember when I wrote about "Charming Cheesecake" last week? Lazarov's work is Charming Beefcake.