Friday, July 10, 2009


Germany's Der Orchideengarten was the world's first fantasy magazine. Shown below are two covers from A Journey Round My Skull's collection. To see the rest -- and read a brief bio of the magazine -- click here.

New England Lit Links
(or: you've stolen our beaches, the least you can do is buy our books) has mapped out Boston's Literary Neighborhoods, providing you with MapQuest entries for 29 real life locations used in popular (and unpopular) fiction. Making good great, the article includes excerpts! again. This time they've got The 100 Essential New England Books. While making Moby Dick #1 was a surprise to no one, they've got The Autobiography of Malcolm X at #8 and The Friends of Eddie Coyle at #10, so that's cool.

The Cape Cod Times has a brief blip about books, recommending fishing-related reads in an addendum to their Local Fishing Conditions column. Most of 'em are obvious (The Perfect Storm, Jaws), but a couple actually made me think, 'Damn, I'd better put that on our Summer Reads table.' (Cod by Mark Kurlansky, for example.)

New England Sports News reports, "Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is sponsoring the first annual book drive for his Hits for Kids foundation, which will benefit the Boston Public School System. The drive will take place at Fenway Park on July 11 and 12 with over 100,000 books expected to be donated. The books will be given to libraries throughout Boston." Click here for the extra sentence or two I left out.

Book News, In Brief

If the rest of the world can abandon brick and mortar bookstores for the convenience of online shopping, why can't the gropers, rapists and molesters find some pervy website where they can relieve their vile urges? The Santa Cruz Sentinel has the story of a man they've dubbed 'The Downtown Groper' who was "arrested after he allegedly touched a teenage girl in a sexual manner at a Pacific Avenue bookstore," while the NBC Bay Area News has pictures of a 32 year old man accused of sexually assaulting a 5 year old girl in an area Barnes & Noble. Seriously, WTF?!

Hemingway was a Russian spy. A sh*tty Russian spy, but a Russian spy nonetheless. The Guardian UK reports, "His KGB file (says) he was recruited in 1941 before making a trip to China, given the cover name 'Argo', and 'repeatedly expressed his desire and willingness to help us' when he met Soviet agents in Havana and London in the 40s. However, he failed to 'give us any political information' and was never 'verified in practical work', so contacts with Argo had ceased by the end of the decade."

A CO federal prison has banned two of Barack Obama's books, claiming they're "potentially detrimental to national security." The AP reports, "Prison officials cite specific pages — but not specific passages — in the books that they deem objectionable. They include one page in Obama's 1995 book, Dreams from My Father, and 22 separate pages in his policy-oriented 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope. It was not immediately obvious what passages might have been deemed problematic, though nearly half of the pages cited are in a chapter devoted to foreign affairs." As for Obama's third book, Change We Can Believe In, prison officials are more than willing to let inmates read that one. Why? Cuz it was hella boring, a PR puff piece, and would only lull its readers into a catatonic stupor.

Marvel Comics is going retro -- in the worst way possible. Not satisfied with the criticism that they're receiving for their return to variant covers, Marvel has announced plans to re-introduce another 90's no-no: Holo-foil covers. Robot 6 reports, "'This is Marvel doing the nineties right,' explained David Gabriel, Marvel Comics Senior Vice President of Sales & Circulation. 'We’re taking two of the most popular cover treatments of all time–foil and holograms–to create an all new kind of cover.'" While Marvel seems to think they're mixing chocolate and peanut butter and creating Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, what they're really doing is mixing corporate greed and a justified reliance on a small sector of the comic book buying public's almost OCD shopping habits to come up with an all new slightly different way to re-create the 1990's 'speculator boom' and its inevitable destruction of hundreds of comic book shops. Ah, comics!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Copycat Contract News, In Brief

Staking out their claim of the exponentially-expanding Michael Jackson book market, Simon & Schuster will release a 500,000 copy first printing of Michael Jackson, Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson on July 14.

Hoping to ape the surprise success of Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Pocket Books has entered into a seven book, zombie-themed, co-publishing venture with genre publisher, Permuted Press. The first title, Day By Day Armageddon, will be released in October with a 50,000 copy first printing. The second book will be released in February.

Counting on continued controversy to further fuel interest in Alaska's one-time governor, there are at least five Sarah Palin books being prepped by major publishing houses at this very moment -- six, if you count her autobiography. Among the quickie cash-ins are a book by Santa Cruz blogger Geoffrey Dunn, one from NBC/National Journal embed Matthew Berger, and Scott Conroy's extravagantly titled Sarah From Alaska: Inside the Political Arrival That Rocked American Politics — What Really Happened, What It Means, and What’s Next for Sarah Palin.

The Only Cool Cover From This Week's Comics?

Punisher: Frank Castle Max #72
Last night I searched every comic book publisher's site I could think of looking for some new and notable cover art. Except for the cover to Runaways: Teenage Wasteland Vol. 2 that I highlighted here a couple of weeks ago, this was the only cover that caused me to stop and stare. The art was done by Dave Johnson, who's probably known to most funnybook fans for his covers to the recently completed comic book noir, 100 Bullets. Johnson's long run on that book seems to have honed his skills, making him a master at creating simple, seedy, lurid layouts. Looking at his recent Punisher covers, I'm reminded of Saul Bass' movie posters, Jim Steranko's psychedelic splash pages, and Will Eisner's title pages to The Spirit, yet there's no obvious aping or 'homages' to any of these. Perhaps it's these artists' shared gift for distilling a story's plot, characters, mood and location into an instantly readable and indelibly searing image. You could have never read a Punisher book in your life, but just by glancing at these covers, you know you're gonna get a vile, violent crime story starring a thoroughly beat-down badass. Is it subtle? No. But then, it's not supposed to be.

(Psst, HarperCollins. I know you've forgotten my last couple of birthdays, but I still want to offer you this free bit of unsolicited advice: Hire Dave Johnson to do the covers the next time you re-issue Elmore Leonard's novels. Just look at that cover to Punisher #72. It wouldn't take much re-working for that to make the perfect cover to Maximum Bob. And what about #69? Change the skull to a sneer and the Punisher to a 50-something year old guy in a rumpled polo shirt and you've got your cover to Freaky Deaky. Best of all, Johnson probably charges a helluva a lot less money than the hucksters you've currently got photoshopping your crime fic covers. I mean, he works for Marvel, doesn't he? They're hardly known for spoiling their talent.)

Book News, In Brief

Click here to view the most depressing photo we booksellers will see today (barring anything involving war, famine or any of the other apocalyptic horsemen).

Dare Comics is holding a one-time eBay auction for a 'perpetual' display ad that "will run in every digital comic book the company ever publishes." If you're one of the rare few who have actually (a.) heard of Dare Comics or (b.) wasted your time clicking banner ads, you can place your bid here.

Terrorist Book News, In Brief:
1. A British judge sentenced the three men responsible for the arson attack on the home of The Jewel of Medina publisher, Martin Rynja, to 4½ years in prison each.
2. Four members of the militant Jewish Defense League were arrested Wednesday over an attack on a Paris bookstore run by pro-Palestinian activists. has a long article about corporate giants co-opting the term 'local' in their branding and marketing. About a third of the way down is this choice nugget:
Rather than making direct claims using the word "local," some companies are pushing marketing messages that work by association. One example that caught Dan Cullen's eye was a CVS television commercial that begins in a Main Street bookshop, following the owner around as she tends to her customers. The bookshop then transforms into a CVS. The bookshop owner is now the customer. The feel is still very much Main Street. "Suddenly, the kind of unique, enjoyable, grassroots bookstore experience morphs into a CVS experience," said Cullen. "There's a Potemkin facade that a lot of chains are trying to put up because consumers now want something other than a cookie-cutter experience."
To read the whole thing, click here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wanted: A Landlord Like Lord Salisbury

No disrespect to our current rent collector, but we would flee Main Street toute de suite if we could get a landlord like Lord Salisbury. Not only does dude make a mean steak, but he's willing to forgo raising the rent just so he can keep London's Cecil Court a book lover's dream. Londonist has the scoop:
Where Charing Cross Road used to be London's main bookish thoroughfare, rising rents have pushed many of the small independents out of business. Cecil Court is lucky enough to have a sympathetic landlord in Lord Salisbury; while he's not quite the "wealthy benefactor" that a passer-by was overheard (mis)informing his companion, he is keen to keep the street as the specialist book area it's been for over 100 years.
To read the rest of this piece, click here.
To see Londonist's photo tour of Cecil Court's booksellers, click here.

Book News, In Brief

Amazon has filed a series of patents for programs that would allow the Kindle to run ads. And folks are surprised why?

Reason #2774538 the rich hate the rest of us : Commoners with computers have killed the rare books market. Via.

It's like 'bring your kids to work day'...if you work as a thief: A Florida couple brought their kid to Borders, and while they shoplifted, he read.

While most bookstores consider themselves bastions of liberal thought, it seems our only ally in the 'Paper & Print 4-Eva' argument is the anti-Green, conservative contingent. Lucky us.

Yet another e-reader has hit the market. I'm only reporting this so that I can ask: How many MP3 players had to be released before that stopped being considered news? Wake me when we get there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Biblio-Porn: Mouthwatering Bookbinding

The Designer Bookbinders website has put up a slide show featuring the winners of their first annual International Bookbinding Competition. As the theme for that year's contest was water, I decided to tease you with a few of the entries that made me wet.

Cover by Jenni Grey

Cover by George Kirkpatrick

Cover by Jana Kaden

To view the whole slide show, click here.

Tuesday's Tips for Flailing Writers

Let's start this off with a bold one: 11 Types of Bad Writing Advice.

Ah, the dream dilemma: What's better, a big advance or a larger royalty rate?

Aggravated agents assure me that aspiring authors can never read enough of these: 9 Tips to Emailing a Literary Agent.

Selling your book via the online behemoth? The Anitck Musings offers some tried and true tweaks for adjusting Amazon's algorithms.

Trevor Johnson better be one helluva a good kisser. After all, he wrote two articles about writing a good kissing scene in less than one month's time.

Manga Life is written by two manga translators, but their craft advice applies to writers of all ilks. Click here to read their thought-provoking piece on whether you should make writing your hobby or your career.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Adaptation News
(for those who just like to watch)

Cuz I can barely make it through a week -- never mind an Adaptation News -- without mentioning Where The Wild Things Are: A set of behind the scenes photographs.

Director Chris Columbus is hoping to repeat some of his Harry Potter success with the upcoming adaptation of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. But in order to do so, he's gonna have to make some story changes.

Bloody hell, Harry! Rupert Grint -- a.k.a. Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films -- had the swine flu. According to the actor's publicists, Grint has already recovered, and will be on hand for the latest Potter film's premier in England this Tuesday.

I Killed Adolf Hitler has been optioned for film development, but its author/artist, Jason, isn't holding his breath. “If it happens, it happens,” the one-named Norwegian wunderkind said. “It just seems like a small miracle every time a good movie is made, especially in Hollywood.”

French film making legend Jean-Luc Goddard is considering an adaptation of Daniel Mendelsohn’s memoir, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million. The Lost is an account of Mendelsohn’s research into the wartime fate of six of his relatives. (Please-oh-please don't cast Roberto Benigni!)

This one's not about a film adaptation, but a real-life application of a pre-existing film adaptation. Warning: It's pretty f**ked up. The Daily Mail reports, "A devious conman who modeled himself on Matt Damon’s high-living killer in The Talented Mr Ripley was yesterday jailed for life for murdering his gay lover...even then his friends had no idea how far he would take his interest in Tom Ripley, the conman turned killer in The Talented Mr Ripley, the 1999 adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name. ‘Glenn watched the film and went on and on about how much he loved it and thought there was something of Mr. Ripley in him,’ said one. ‘None of us realised how capable he was of doing what he did.’"

Book News, In Brief

The Millions Book Blog claims that 2009's numerous notable new releases have made it "a great year for readers," then raises the ante, promising 'the best is yet to come'.

Judging by Main Street, Falmouth's less-than-stellar retail sales this past 4th of July weekend, the NYTimes' round-up of mortgage crisis book reviews seems like a pertinent piece to plug.

Semi-related -- as it was one of our Top 10 Most Annoying Customer Questions from the 4th of July Weekend -- The Bookshop Blog asks, "Does Your Bookshop Have A Firm Pricing Policy?" (Note to penny-pinchers hoping for a sympathetic post: This ain't it.)

Just when I was starting to think that controversy was the key to big book sales, South Carolina governor Mark Sanford looses his book deal due to his headline-making extra-martial affair. So what will this conservative approach to Conservative's book contracts mean for the Sarah Palin memoir(s)? The polar opposite, apparently. According to, less than 24 hours after the Alaskan governor's surreal resignation speech, HarperCollins director of publicity Tina Andreadis was quoted as crowing, "We think the book will be huge. Even though she's stepping down, people will want to hear her story. This is her opportunity to tell her own story her own way."

And now a couple of quick follow-ups to news stories mentioned here in the past few weeks:

Remember that 'anonymously written' YA series that James Frey was publicly shopping around last week? It sold to HarperCollins.

Remember J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye copyright suit? He won. Publication of the un-official follow-up has been banned in the U.S.A.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Top 10 Annoying Customer Questions from the 4th of July Weekend

10. Do you have a bathroom?
(Almost always asked of an employee standing beside the 'Bathroom is for Customers Only' sign.)

9. How much would this be on Amazon?

8. Do you have (insert name of random Right-Wing tome) in stock?
(Answer: Yes or no, depending.)
Oh, I already have it. I just wanted to make sure your store carried it.

7. I bet you sold a lot of Micheal Jackson books this week, huh?

6. I know your sign says, 'Bathroom is for Customers Only,' but I bought a bookmark/attended a free wine & cheese event/fell asleep in one of your reading chairs last year...?

5. Where's a good, cheap seafood restaurant?

4. Are these priced as marked?

3. Last year, you had free coffee and cookies. Do you still have those?

2. I know your sign says, 'Bathroom is for Customers Only,' but this is for a child...?

1. When does your 'End of Summer' sale begin?

Image swiped from