Is The Baltimore Sun Smoking Crack?

Posted on July 30th, 2009 in Topically Topical by Gerry

How else then, to explain that one way to save money is to avoid buying books?

Okay, I’m not saying that you can’t save money by not purchasing expensive (depending on where you buy them) hardcovers, but, as MobyLives points out, aren’t they the industry that is crying out “help us! Print is dying!”?

I notice that none of these suggestions mentioned reading their paper online for free instead of paying for it everyday?

Perhaps they could have suggested buying used books, or even suggesting that a book might be a better entertainment value than cable television. But no…it’s ditch books because watching grass grow is always free and lasts longer.

There are many reasons to love Melville House, the publisher that runs the MobyLives site. One of which is their single-handed resurrection of German author Hans Fallada (Every Man Dies Alone). Another is this blog post, which explains how facile the Sun’s suggestions (for the most part) are.

When I grow  up, I want to blog like they do.

Summertime Bummertime

Posted on July 29th, 2009 in Uncategorized & Demented by Gerry

I was going to blog about how J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate is suing the makers of the Hobbit film, claiming they are owed millions of dollars.

But it’s too hot.

I was going to blog (yet again) about the Amazon-Orwell Fail, in light of David Ulin’s L.A. Times editorial.

But it’s too hot.

Then I thought about blogging about Richard Nash’s new publishing venture, which sound simply awesome.

But it’s to freaking hot!

With temperatures in the Northwest peaking at 103-105 yesterday and today, this video is replaying over and over in my mind.

What a world, what a world!

Can There Really Be Too Many Quality Releases?

Posted on July 28th, 2009 in Topically Topical by Gerry

This Fall is shaping up to have one of the busiest release schedules in recent memory, with new books from Audrey Niffenegger, Pat Conroy, Dan Brown, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, Barbara Kingsolver to name merely a few.

I have to admit that as a buyer, I would load up on any one of these books being released on their own, but in a jumble like that, I’m worried about clogging the marketplace; especially as these are all expensive hardcover releases. Fall is always when the big guns come out, but I really don’t remember one quite so chock-a-block as this.

But, on the other hand, not everybody is going to find the tsunami of titles difficult. Not all of Jonathan Lethem’s readers are going to struggle with choosing between his new novel (which is awesome, by the way) and Audrey Niffenegger’s. Nor will Richard Russo’s readers necessarily weep  if he or she can’t also afford the new Dave Eggars.

For the reader who skates easily and anxiously between John Irving, Michael Chabon and Thomas Pynchon, these may be rough times indeed.

My feeling is that this will also make gift giving a lot easier as there will be almost literally something for everyone…except a new Harry Potter, so don’t even go there.

As a sidebar to this, what new Fall release are you really looking forward to reading (if you already haven’t received a galley of it yet)? What are you really looking forward to selling?

(via Bookninja)

Book Marketing Gone Wild

Posted on July 24th, 2009 in Topically Topical by Gerry

First the bad news: In the UK, Dan Brown’s publisher found a unique way to pimp his upcoming Lost Symbol. If customers pre-order the book at WH Smith, they get a free mass market edition of Simon Kernick’s Deadline.

The downside to the deal-look at the cover of the book. Some readers bloggers are gnashing their teeth over it, saying it confuses customers and diminishes Kernick’s work.


Kernick doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, and since customers have to preorder Lost Symbol to get the free book, I don’t think they’ll feel ripped off or duped.

But, a book marketing idea (so to speak) that I really like is this. Get an iPhone skin that hawks various Dark Horse comic properties.

Personally, I’d go for the Goon myself.


(Deadline image from Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind)

What Would Don Draper Do?

Posted on July 22nd, 2009 in Book News by Gerry


David Rees, author of Get Your War On, is going ballistic.

It seems that a juice company has ripped of his shtick of using public domain clip art as a basis for jokes and commentary, and is using it to sell their products.

And, it’s not enough that they’re appropriating his style, they’ve also appropriated his specific style of word balloons, or, as Rees puts it, they’re “a bunch of Balloon Biters (emphasis his).

It’s really sad for a couple of reasons. yes, Rees’ art is dependent on public domain graphics, but the intention behind his message was subversive. It is also sad because I’m sure that there are a few dummies out there who will see this ad and think that Rees is selling out.

Unfortunately, this is part of the ongoing process that Thomas Frank describes as the conquest of cool.

I don’t think he has a leg to stand on legally, but I’m sure this could provide him with ammunition for some awesome material.

(via Richard Nash’s Twitter feed)

Joe Queenan Sings The Praises Of Escorts

Posted on July 21st, 2009 in Topically Topical by Gerry

Literary escorts, that is.

On the back page of the most recent New York Times Book Review, humorist Joe Queenan praises the unsung heroines (yes, they are usually women) of the book business, the literary escort.

Frankly, I found this absolutely charming. I’ve never met a literary escort that wasn’t the nicest, most together person you could imagine.

Queenan, by penning this essay, reminds us of another group with something to lose if we abandom print culture.

Follow Up To Amazon's Kindle-Zapping of Orwell

Posted on July 20th, 2009 in Uncategorized & Demented by Gerry

Okay, I’m not trying to pick on Amazon (though I don’t think we’ve heard the last of situations like this), but I thought this was really funny.

io9 is one of my favorite blogs, covering science fiction/fantasy/horror and technology. Recently, they posted about the Amazon/Orwell fiasco, and I noticed the rather unfortunate Google Ads featured at the bottom of the post as it appeared in my RSS feed.

kindle comment

Frank McCourt: 1930-2009

Posted on July 20th, 2009 in Book News by Gerry


After a long struggle with melanoma and meningitis, Angela’s Ashes author Frank McCourt passed away Sunday in New York City.

In a nod to the Irish way of looking at things, Carolyn Kellogg at Jacket Copy asks: How will you remember Frank McCourt and Angela’s Ashes.

I remember Angela’s Ashes not only as a great story, but also the source of one of my favorite anecdotes. Years ago, probably when it first appeared in papercover, a pair of women were looking over titles on a display table in the store where I worked. One of the women picks up a copy of Angela’s Ashes and the following conversation ensues:

Customer: Is this book funny?

Me: It is in an Irish kind of way.

Customer: What do you mean by that?

Me: Well, if anybody can find moments of humor amongst alcoholism, poverty, spousal abuse and infant mortality, it’s the Irish (I should add that my one hundred percent Irish family has experienced many of these things).

Woman: Well…I’m starting chemotherapy tomorrow, and I don’t need that kind of humor.

(Photo Hiroko Masuike for the New York Times)

Amazon Yanks Books From Customers' Kindles

Posted on July 17th, 2009 in Uncategorized by Gerry


This just cracks me up.

David Pogue, writing at his New York Times tech blog, tells of Amazon removing copies of George Orwell’s 1984 & Animal Farm from customers’ Kindle devices without warning, but crediting the customers’ accounts.

The blog posting was followed up by lots of Internet chatter (I found out about it on somebody’s Twitter feed-dunno if it was Richard Nash or Eric Obenauf-probably both), as well as an article proper in the Times, where Amazon states these were unauthorized copies they allowed to be sold by mistake.  A spokesman for the etailer stated “We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances”.

Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a change in their EUAs in the near future.

Let this be a reminder to all that despite the covenience offered by portable media devices such as Kindles and iPods, you don’t really own a song or an ebook, you are merely liscensing content.

Nick Cave Reads Bunny Munro

Posted on July 17th, 2009 in New Releases by Gerry


If I were more computer savvy, I would figure out a way to embed this video.

Instead, I’ll just have to provide this link so that you can bask in the glory that is Nick Cave, reading from his upcoming novel The Death of Bunny Munro (Faber & Faber HC 9780865479104 $25.00, due September 1st).

(via Richard Nash’s Twitter feed)

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