Friday, August 7, 2009

Go, Look: Super Punch

Super Punch is, to me, the new That is to say, it's my thrice-a-day stopover for links to cool gadgets, artwork, news items and book covers. (Dude's a mastermind at mining magnificent book covers!) The site's founder, John Struan, recently had a family medical emergency, one which included "copious bleeding, red herring symptoms, tentative hypotheses that blatantly failed to match all of the circumstances, and diagnoses made with confidence, only to be suddenly abandoned." Thankfully, the worst is now over -- well, at least until the medical bills start arriving. So why not help a good man out and head on over to his site? While you're there, make sure to click on a few of the banner ads that line his site, thereby providing him with a few cents contribution towards what will undoubtedly be a hellacious hospital bill.

Cuz we're all book nerds: A direct link to Super Punch's Book Cover Roundup. Now go, look!

Where The Wild Things Are Trailer #2

(Related: Assorted WTWTA links)

Book News, In Brief has a two page article detailing the simple, yet time consuming, yet ultimately futile methods for getting your book on Amazon's best-seller list.

Sales suck all over. Simon & Schuster's profits dropped 58%, HarperCollins' adjusted income fell 89.4%, and if you really want to depress yourself, check out the long list of links that pop up when you Google the words 'bookstore' and 'closing.'

Hoping to raise their profits through the fleecing of young wallets, Borders will soon be opening 'Borders Ink' boutiques in their stores. The boutiques will feature graphic novels, manga, and tween/teen books featuring angsty vampires and British wizards.

Goodreads has knocked all indie bookstore links off of their main pages, offering one-click sales service solely to Goodreads claims that this is due to Amazon's new 'Terms of Service', but still, it's hard not to see this as a slap in the face to all of the indie booksellers that Goodreads initially used to help promote their site.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

R.I.P. Budd Schulberg

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends and fellow fans. In memory of the man, we're re-running a 2007 piece we did on Hollywood's continued failure to adapt Schulberg's book, What Makes Sammy Run?

What Makes Sammy Stall?

One of my favorite novels about Hollywood is Budd Schulberg’s What Makes Sammy Run? It's the no-punches-pulled story of an amoral hustler who works his way up the Tinseltown ladder to become the head of a film studio. It's also one of the rare books that I could see having a successful screen adaptation, as Schulberg's acclaimed work as a screenwriter greatly influenced his approach to writing.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way. Over the years, everyone from Frank Sinatra to Ben Stiller has tried to bring Budd's book to the big screen. So what is it that has kept this project languishing in limbo for so long? Ego mostly, and a little fear. Back in the 40's when Sammy was originally published, the majority of the studio heads took personal offense over the material's damning portrayal of them. In an interview with American Legends, Schulberg says, "Sam Goldwyn didn't read the book, but was very hostile toward it. Louie Mayer tried to run me out of town. He hated the book. Mayer told my father he would ruin him for not stopping me from writing the novel." Decades later, little seems to have changed. In The Jewish Daily Forward, Schulberg blames Steven Spielberg for holding things up due to "the novel's negative presentation of studio moguls." Now, I'm just an East Coast kid, but even I know that talking trash about the world's biggest director may not be the best way to revive a stalled production. As Schulberg's fans are always being reminded, though, Budd's never been one to hold his tongue. In fact, it's this same complicated and controversial combination of personal/artistic fearlessness and social/political ignorance that has kept his work so vital.

To read The Independent's 2/9 interview with Schulberg, click here.

Multi-Format Adaptation News
(Cuz It's Not Just Movies Ruining Your Favorite Books)

Peter Jackson's film version of Alice Sebold's Lovely Bones hits theaters this December. Until then, this trailer will have to suffice.

James Cameron has been talking about doing a 3-D movie version of Yukito Kishiro's manga, Battle Angel Alita, since he released Titanic. He's still talking about it.

Doctor Who star, David Tenant, and Star Trek's Patrick Stewart are bringing their stage production of Hamlet to television. (Okay, so it's only public television. But that still counts!)

World War Robot, a wonderful comic by illustrator extraordinaire, Ashley Wood, has been optioned by producer/billionaire Jerry Bruckheimer. While WWR was a subversive satire of war and man's self-destructive tendencies, Jerry's last film was G-Force.

While we're on the topic of odd artistic pairings, Shrek 1 & 2 director, Andrew Adamson, is set to direct an adaptation of Lloyd Jones' award-winning novel, Mister Pip. Pip is the story of a Dickens-obsessed schoolgirl in the Papua New Guinea during a war between soldiers and rebels over copper mining. In other words, it's perfect for fart jokes.

Ray Bradbury's not nearly as protective of his literary properties as one might imagine. When USA Today asked him about Tim Hamilton's graphic novelization of Fahrenheit 451, the brilliant B said, "It's beautiful," then went on to say that he "hopes that a new movie version will be made in his lifetime." For a preview of Hamilton's comic, click here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

If Your Significant Other Works in a Bookstore, Send Them These Links. We Guarantee You You'll Get Lucky Tonight.

School Library Journal has the names & contact info of 75+ authors willing to visit your shop's book clubs...via Skype. Yes, there's always a hitch.

Vromans takes on the controversial concept of 'Free,' offering a list of ways in which bookstores might use it. Stick around for the comments, where Inkwell Michelle blabs our secret plans!

Green Apple Books has come up with a way of dealing with 'local authors' (i.e. demanding print-on-demand types) that is both sensitive and sensible. Needless to say, we're stealing it.

Brews & Books has a brief bit describing a simple Twitter technique indies can use to check out what books & authors folks are Tweeting about in their neighborhood. Turns out, voyeurism is not only fun, it's profitable!

The wrinkle-free faces at ABA Emerging Leaders continue to use their youthful energy for good, coming up with dozens of ways to drive sales in September. This changes nothing, though. I still begrudge them their lack of varicose veins.

Now go on -- get sexin'!

Book News, In Brief

Print-on-demand publishing finally has competition for the title of 'Most Abused Online Service by Would-be Writers': Author Podcasts.

The Christian Science Monitor blends its two loves -- news reporting and hyperbolic prophecy -- proclaiming, "Mass Adoption of e-Books Is Coming." I guess this makes me a hell-bound heretic.

British bookstores have gotten their knickers in a bunch over charity shops selling used books. The bookstores claim it's killing their sales, but I've read seen Mansfield Park -- I know it's really about class.

The Guardian UK asks, Should authors censor their work at public readings? While the obvious answer is 'Duh, f**k no,' the real reason I'm linking to this article is its embarrassing back story: A bookstore in Framingham, MA recently asked author Jennifer Weiner to nix the naughty words when she visited their shop.

Taschen plans to release two versions of their exorbitantly priced Moonfire: The epic journey of Apollo 11 by Norman Mailer -- one for millionaires, and another for billionaires. Kimbooktu reports, "The cheap edition of this book will ‘only’ set you back 800 dollars. The real thing however, is a little bit more expensive." How expensive? "It will be thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars," Creed Poulson, the firm's public relations manager, told the Times. Personally, I plan to wait a few months. Who knows? It might turn up at my local charity shop.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Can You Say, 'WTF?!'

I knew you could.

(Via Bookdwarf.)

Recommended Viewing:
Lewis Black on Writing a Book

Tuesday's Tips for Flailing Writers: Links!

Plot: What it is, isn't, could be and should be.

Mo' plot: Using plot to prevent reader boredom.

Wanna improve the quality of your prose? Write poetry.

Cuz the world no longer wants the written word: 5 Step Author Podcasting.

Speaking of podcasting, Litopia has a nice one about Adverb Killing & Trope Humping.

NPR's Ira Glass says that before you can be good, you've got to be bad. Reeeaaally bad.

The book's done. Now what? 3 Little (but important) Things to Get Ready Before Publication.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Menagerie: Literary Cake Wrecks

While scouring the net, looking for a theme for this week's Monday Menagerie, I came across a Super Punch post promoting Jen Yates' Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong.
Can you guess where this is heading?
Anyway, after less than ten minutes of poking around the Cake Wrecks website, I had more than enough examples of literary-themed baked goods to fill out this post, with the added bonus of providing an extra bit of early hype to Yates' 9/4 release.

Warning: Do not view before baking. You'll have the inspiration sucked right out of you, only to have it replaced by a crippling feeling of foreboding that'll leave you curled up on the kitchen floor in the fetal position.

First up, Spider-Man! Notice how the baker used a subtle 'sperm meets egg' motif to illustrate the 'Happy Birthday' message? That's art, y'all. But why so glum, Spider-chum? Is getting old really so bad?

Next up: Harry Potter and the Extremely Bad Hair (and teeth, and glasses, and face) Day. Or is it Tales of an Eighth Grade Quasimodo? Tough call.

Q: What if, instead of sexy, high school vampires, Twilight was about gnarled-handed trolls?
A: It would've sold a helluva lot less copies, and the cover would've looked like this.

Stephen King's It. (Honestly, I'd totally buy this one. Can you imagine leaving it inside the fridge of a clown-phobic friend? That's one less present you'd have to buy come the holidays!)

To Cake Wrecks' credit, for every dozen or so disasters, Yates usually highlights at least one or two confectionery creations like this gorgeous Where The Wild Things Are cake...

...and this insanely complex Lord of the Rings: Return of the King cake.

Remember: Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong, in stores September 4th!

Book News, In Brief

Andrew Slack is a "Harry Potter rabbi," a kids' lit enthusiast and licensed circumcisionist who blends B.C. scripture with J.K.'s writings. Crazier still? He's not the only one.

It's a fact: Supermarkets sell one in every five books bought in the UK. (But we bookstores could totally horn in on their ice cream sales if Ben & Jerry's would just okay a lit-themed ice cream!)

While I whole-heartedly recommend reading The Bookshop Blog's advertising tips for indie bookstores, I can't help but notice that they missed the indies' most popular and enduring marketing gimmick: Free bookmarks.

With controversial corrective measures like "Throw out the computers," Condalmo's Prescription for Libraries may seem like a bitter pill. Still, with the exception of "Audiobook Storytimes," I agree with every idea.

Grand motivational speeches, staff dinners, and one on one conversations -- these and other glaringly obvious ideas make the Harvard Business Review's recommended methods for Inspiring Employees at a Grass-Roots Level.

On the opposite side of the employee-relations spectrum, the following note was posted in a bookstore's backroom on the 4th of July:
The past NO longer matters. It doesn’t matter who you are, how long you have worked here, or what your position is. If I do not feel that you are working hard meaning (selling make titles, shelving carts, cleaning the store, borders rewards, customer service, etc.) You WILL lose your hours and others will get them.
To find out which big box bookstore threatens their staff this way, click here.