Friday, August 14, 2009

Book News, In Brief

It's a plate of cyanide...with whipped cream on top: According to Publishers Weekly, bookstore sales for the first six months of 2009 were down $7.41 billion. That said, sales rose 3.4% in June!

Publishers and college bookstores are hoping that a too little, too late rental option will keep kids from dropping traditional ink & paper textbooks in favor of free, downloadable, e-Books. In other can-they-really-be-that-stupid news, people are dancing for rain, praying for peace, and hoping Dan Brown's next book will be the one to silence his critics.

Facebook break! Author Ben Mezrich and his Doubleday publishers are denying claims made by Facebook founder, Aaron Greenspan, that parts of Mezrich's new book, The Accidental Billionaires, were swiped from Greenspan's self-published autobiography-of-sorts, Authoritas. Frankly, I think they're both being b*tches, and I plan to un-friend the as soon as I'm done typing this.

Yale has traded in their traditional navy blue for a more cowardly shade of yellow, refusing to publish any cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a new book about those very images. Quick question for the University Press: If you were this afraid of violent, extremist reprisals, why did you agree to publish such an obviously hot button book in the first place? If Larry Flynt got fidgety around feminists, do you think he'd be hawking HUSTLER?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Review:
I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski

I remember watching The Big Lebowski in college for the first time. It was such an incredibly odd movie: the climax it seemed to be building towards never came, or showed up in a different guise; I couldn’t tell if it was really dark, or really funny. The more I’ve watched it, the more enjoyment I’ve gleaned from it. Bill Green's I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski has only enabled my enjoyment of the movie to grow. I can’t claim to be anywhere near as big a fan as the authors are (after all, they started the “Lebowski Fest” phenomenon, which has been gaining in popularity since it began in 2002), though their level of fandom has birthed a fun book.
The book has in-jokes galore; interview with most of the cast, including many extras and small parts; interview with fans of the movie; interviews with the Coen brothers’ acquaintances whose individual stories and personalities were drawn on for the movie; descriptions of Lebowski Fests past; a guide to noticing certain details in the movie; and a spirited attempt to find all the locations for each scene of the film. You don’t have to be as big a fan as the authors are, but the book has the potential to bring you perilously close! Recommended for any fans of the movie.

Review by Wendell "Scutopus" Edwards

Adaptation News

Curse-crazy playwright David Mamet is making a Disney movie based on The Diary of Anne Frank. I can't wait to see Joe Mantegna in a dirndl.

Alien and Blade Runner director, Ridley Scott, is eying an adaptation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. According to, Leonardo DiCaprio is co-producing, and is looking to star.

Director Peter Berg is making a movie of Frank Herbert's Dune. For those of you too excited to wait 'til 2011, there's always the 1984 David Lynch version, the Sci-Fi Channel's 2000 mini-series, and the video games.

Although the public's interest in zombies has probably already reached its tipping point, I'm still super excited about a Frank Darabont mini-series based on Robert Kirkman's comic book, The Walking Dead. Altogether now: Brrraaaiiins!

Sideways director Alexander Payne is set to adapt Kaui Hart Hemmings' debut novel, The Descendants, a "bittersweet comedy" about a rich landowner taking his two daughters on a trip around Hawaii in search of his wife's lover.

Sony is sniffing around an adaptation of Jeffrey Archer's historical novel, Paths of Glory, about "the mysteries surrounding George Mallory's 1924 Mount Everest ascent." While no director has been chosen at this time, the screenwriter of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is currently attached as screenwriter.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gift Tips for the Bookish

'Attack of Literacy' t-shirt: $10 at (for a limited time!)

Book News, In Brief

Penguin Canada plans to promote the release of their new Dracula sequel, Dracula: The Un-Dead, with a blood drive.

37% of U.S. consumers say that they are interested in purchasing an e-reader, yet less than half that number have actually bothered to buy one. AdWeek attempts to figure out why the 'i-Pod moment' has yet to arrive for e-Books.

John Q. Olsen is a self-publishing, street husking, outlaw author. Sure he's regularly harassed by the Telluride cops for running a one man, mobile bookstore without a license, but on the bright side, at least he's not bitching to bookstores about carrying his work.

Remember the controversial and completely incompatible 'White girl' cover art for Justine Larbalestier's 'Black girl' book, Liar? Well, publisher Bloomsbury has bowed to the public outrage, announcing that they will actually use a photograph of a Black girl to, you know, represent a Black girl. (If you were waiting for them to admit any wrong-doing, though, you're just gonna have to keep on waiting.)

Someone left a smiley face made out of peanut butter on the front window of a Connecticut Borders. In a classic bit of Bush-era overreaction, the local authorities have released a statement saying, "We understand that kids will be kids and sometimes resort to pranks. But because exposing someone with a peanut allergy to peanut butter can become serious and even cause death — it could almost be thought of as an act of terrorism." And they're serious!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Sexy & Grotesque Cover Art of Tomer Hanuka

The Kiss Murder by Mehmet Murat Somer. Great cover, great book.
Philosophy in the Boudoir by Marquis de Sade. Kinky cover, kinky book.

These two beauties were done for Random House UK's re-release of John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra and Butterfield 8. Lucky Brits!

Hell, even Hanuka's rejected work is incredibly cover-worthy. Here are two pieces Tomer did for the re-release of Yann Martel's Life of Pi, only to have Knopf turn them down in favor of some other dude's work that nobody gives a good goddamn about. Seriously, how could any sane publishing house look at these and not get eyeball erections? The folks at Knopf need a big box of visual Viagra, STAT!

Hungry for more? Tomer and his twin brother, Asaf, have a blog where they've posted hundreds examples of their finished art, preliminary sketches, and the stories behind each piece. To check it out, click here.

Tuesday's Tips for Flailing Writers

Writing Forward asks and answers What's the Difference Between Proofreading and Editing? (The short answer: Tears of embarrassment vs. tears of pain.)

Editor Unleashed has come up with a simple yet sensible way to add detail to your writing: Visualize Your Scenes with Storyboards.

Quips & Tips for Successful Writers has 5 Tips for Ending Your Writing Procrastination. A sixth? Stop reading crap like this.

A seventh? Put a Post-It note on your computer that reads: Penny-pinching publishers are starting to use un-met deadlines as an easy out for unwanted book deals.

An eighth: Stop wasting your time pretending to write in distracting spots like coffee shops. Truth is, they don't want your laptop typing ass lounging around for hours, anyway.

...And a ninth: When sitting down to write a novel, the sheer size of the project will surely seem insurmountable. But fear not, for Writing Roads has a list of tips for Making Big Manageable.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Recommended Viewing:
Werner Herzog @ Book Soup

Close your cubicle curtain, slip in some ear buds, and enjoy 45 engrossing minutes of director Werner Herzog reading from/talking about his new book, Conquest of the Useless. Conquest is the so-unbelievable-it's-gotta-be-true journal Herzog kept while making his provocative and poetic 1982 film, Fitzcarraldo. The film, about a man's unrelenting drive to build an opera house in the middle of the Peruvian jungle, eerily parallels the book's account of the determined director's (mis)adventures filming a movie in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. Both are highly recommended, but as we're a bookstore, I'm leaning towards you renting the movie and buying the book.

Embedded above is part 1 of 9. For the complete Herzog@Book Soup playlist, click here.

Sales Pitch: I Killed Adolf Hitler by Jason

"It's like an old Twilight Zone episode...directed by Jim Jarmusch."

To read a random excerpt of I Killed Adolf Hitler, click here.

Book Battles, In Bulk

Target vs. Amazon: Remember Amazon's new 'Terms of Service' agreement that caused Goodreads to kick indie stores to the multi-click curb? Well, Target ain't playing that. Word on is, "Target is seizing control of its Web site from The discounter announced on Friday that it plans to build and manage its own platform for by the 2011 holiday season." So Target is more indie than Goodreads. Who'd'a thunk it?

Sony vs. Amazon: The e-Book pricing wars continue to drag on, with Sony lowering their price to $9.99 in hopes of capturing some of the Kindle crowd. The NYTimes reports, "'We all know that these companies are taking a loss and that’s not going to continue forever,' said Jonathan Karp, publisher and Hachette Book Group. But he added that '$9.99 has now become the effective price for e-books in August of 2009. Let’s just take a breath and see how long this lasts.'"

Canada vs. literary magazines: If your short story magazine sells less than 5k copies, the mighty Maple Leaf says, "Sooorry, non." According to Canadian Magazines, "Whatever hope small literary and cultural magazines had that they could change the minds of Canadian Heritage about its 5,000 annual paid threshold for the new Canada Periodical Fund are pretty much dashed." As a citizen of the section of America that's been crapping on its artists for years, let me say 'Welcome' to all of you Canadians suddenly suffering for your work.

J.D. Salinger vs. damned near everybody: Publishers Weekly purports, "The Second Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on September 3 to help decide whether an injunction barring publication of Swedish author Fredrik Colting’s 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye constitutes an 'impermissible prior restrain and an unwarranted extensio'” of copyright protection. [...] A number of high profile organizations, including major media companies like the New York Times, the Associated Press, Gannett, and Tribune, as well as librarians, free speech advocates, and legal scholars, have filed amicus briefs supporting Colting, urging the Appeals Court overturn Judge Deborah Batts’ injunction barring U.S. publication." You see? This is precisely why guys like him become recluses!

Dan Brown vs. your efforts to avoid Dan Brown: The Guardian UK reveals, "Transworld will whip up a Dan Brown frenzy with a marketing and PR campaign starting a week before global release of The Lost Symbol on 15th September. The ad campaign, which will run for two weeks from 7th September, is being put together in conjunction with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which releases the DVD and Blu-ray editions of the "Angels and Demons" film on the 14th. It includes backlit high street posters running nationally, as well as giant 48-sheet posters across the UK rail network and on roadsides, and posters on buses in London and Dublin. An extensive TV campaign from Sony will also include The Lost Symbol."