Mad Men Makes My Holiday Season (Just A Bit) Brighter

Posted on October 29th, 2010 in Uncategorized by Gerry


In November, Grove Atlantic will be publishing a tie-in to my favorite television show (one that gives my life meaning) Mad Men.

As faithful followers of the show already know, senior ad agency partner Roger Sterling spent the past season dictating his memoir, , which he self-publishes as Sterling’s Gold.

The real-life Sterling’s Gold will basically be a collection of Roger’s various quips, which make it nice as a quicky gift idea. However, I’m kinda bummed that it isn’t a book that offers deeper background on the history of the agency known as Sterling Cooper (later Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce).

When I first heard about this book, I was given only the vaguest of details, and I was expecting a book along the lines of the Twin Peaks book The Secret Life of Laura Palmer, which gave fans a ton of background on everyone’s favorite wrapped-in-plastic icon. To find out that it is really on the wit and wisdom of Roger Sterling, well, that lets me down a little.

Still, I know a lot of Mad Men fans who will be getting a copy of this as a holiday gift. It’s certainly a better gift idea than the latest variation on Bad Cats.

Maybe next year we can get a collection of Don Draper’s cocktail recipes.

Sherlock Arrives In America

Posted on October 27th, 2010 in From Page to Screen by Gerry

This past Sunday saw the premiere of a three-part series on Masterpiece Mystery that gives Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s master sleuth a post-millennial upgrade.

I just watched the first episode of Sherlock, and I have to tell you, it was fantastic. And, while I was never a big fan of either the books or previous on-screen incarnations of Sherlock Holmes, everybody I have spoken with who is also loves this new interpretation. How can you resist the allure of a detective who describes himself as a ‘high-functioning sociopath’?

There are two more episodes to go, and I am already wondering what I will do when this mini-series is finished. A second series is in the works, but it isn’t set to air in the UK until the Fall of 2011.

Check out this trailer for the series and tell me you’re not at least curious.

Keith Richards Discusses The Meaning of ‘Life’ With Terry Gross

Posted on October 26th, 2010 in New Releases by Gerry


It’s a slow news day, publishing wise.

So, instead of my usual prognostication and pontification, I direct you to this very entertaining interview with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who is out promoting his memoir called Life (LB HC 9780316034388 $29.99, due today), which, I have to say,  is an uninspiring title from the man who co-wrote Gimme Shelter, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and Satisfaction.

If the book covers even half of the scandal that Richards has been involved in over the years, it should prove to be  a very compelling read.

(photo credit-Deborah Feingold/NPR)

Kindle Adds Lending Feature

Posted on October 25th, 2010 in Book News by Gerry


Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

With regards to e-books, it may be fairly easy to follow Polonius’ advice to his son in Hamlet.

Amazon has just announced that they will be enabling a lending feature to their Kindle e-readers.

As with many things, there are a few caveats: an e-book can only be loaned once, for only fourteen days, and the owner cannot read it during that period.

I don’t think I’m the lone bibliophile that has loaned a book to somebody and it took them forever to read the book. Recently, I got a stack of books back that I had loaned to a friend in 1998. I think she read about a third of them.

Does anybody really think that anyone other than a devoted and expert time-managing reader will be able to take advantage of a Kindle book owner’s generosity?

Although, the frequent claim is that readers are reading more books because of the device.

This subsequent disclaimer, though, is a doozy. According to Amazon, “not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending”.

You think Kindle owners are ticked off now because of ebook prices, watch how upset they’ll be when they are told by Amazon that “we’d love to let you loan Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants to a friend, but their publisher will not allow it. Click here to express your displeasure”.

Ultimately, this silly square dance of limitations is just a way for Amazon to offer customers added benefits, and then cry out that they are being forced to capitulate to publishers and rights holders when they assert themselves by not giving away their content.

I don’t have that much against e-readers. The genie is already out of the bottle, and, I can really see some advantages for some readers. However, in regards to lending, chalk up yet another victory to the old-fashioned book

But be sure to ask me again when it takes another decade-plus to get back my loaned books.

(via Galley Cat)

Partners West Road Show Concludes @ SCIBA

Posted on October 21st, 2010 in Topically Topical by Gerry


The Partners West road trip continues their way down Interstate 5 and will arrive at the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Authors Feast and Trade Show, happening this Saturday (October 23) at Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa.

We look forward to seeing all of our bookseller and publishing friends, as well as working on our tans before Fall turns into Winter.

Will Hunger Games (The Movie) Pass The PG-13 Test?

Posted on October 19th, 2010 in Children's Books, From Page to Screen by Gerry

This is the question being asked by EW’s Shelf Life book blog.

The Hunger Games trilogy is by most accounts (I *still* haven’t read them) incredibly violent, which makes sense given its a plot driven by a teenage death match.

I wonder if the parents who are happy that their children are reading the series are aware of the level of violence that I’m inferring from everyone I know who has read them?

Are parents more comfortable with their children reading about horrific violence because it’s less passive than watching it on screen? Or is it a case that the sophistication required to conjure up such images from reading suggest an ability to process it better (ie. less chance of nightmares)?

Either way, I have a difficult time imagining that many parents would be copacetic with their children going to see an R-rated picture of The Hunger Games even if the kids had previously read the books.  But the notion of making a PG-13 rated film might worry fans that the material would be watered down.

I guess it boils down to how people use their imaginations. One of the most squirm-inducing moments in cinema is in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, when a sadistic criminal cuts the ear off a policeman that he’s holding hostage. The viewer never gets to see the actual removal, as the camera pans away to the corner of room when it happens. The viewer has to use a bit of their imagination to visualize the process (of course, the blood-curdling screams help).

It’s entirely possible that the films can be every bit as intense as the books and carry a PG-13 rating. Remember, the film that got the whole ball rolling on PG-13 was the outcry over the scene of a man pulling out another man’s heart and showing it to him, still beating, in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. That was over twenty-five years ago, and I imagine that tweens have become much more desensitized since then.

But ask me again after I’ve read them.

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy To Dominate The NY Times

Posted on October 18th, 2010 in Topically Topical by Gerry

Their bestsellers list, that is.

Years ago, I got a call from the agent of a retired professional wrestler, who wanted me to purchase thousands of copies of a book that was written by his client in an effort to get said book into the New York Times Bestseller list.

I personally didn’t have an issue with it, and since the arcane rites of how the Times concocts their list are as secret as the Colonel’s secret recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken, I wasn’t sure what kind of impact this purchase would really have on it.

However, he wanted to return the books to me after topping the charts, so I told him to get lost.

Politico has a story about how former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is requiring organizations that hire him for speaking engagements spend at least half of his reportedly $50,000 speaking fee to purchase copies of his book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness from Regnery.

Why anybody is shocked by this is beyond me. This sort of thing happens quite often, from politicians to wrestlers (or possibly both-does anybody have a line on how Jessie Venture racked up his sales?). And, at the end of the day, I don’t really know how effective it is.

What puzzles me about this is why? My impression is that it’s popular for conservatives to blast the Times for being some kind of US version of Pravda, making the country safe for socialism. If they dislike the Times so much, why go out of their way to gain the imprimatur that ranking as one of their bestsellers confers?

(via Jacket Copy)

Are Short Attention Spans The Next Frontier In Publishing?

Posted on October 15th, 2010 in Topically Topical by Gerry

I came across a very interesting post over at Moby Lives, about a new content format that Amazon is experimenting with called Kindle Singles, which is described as “twice the length of a New Yorker feature or as much as a few chapters of a typical book”.

The timing of this is funny, because I was just saying to a colleague how books are different from music, in the sense that with music, if you just want a song, a service like iTunes gives you instant gratification. But, if you think an entire album is worth owning, you’ll probably go to your local record shop and buy it (unless you aren’t bothered by the notion of losing the album if your computer crashes, in which case you’ll just download the whole thing).

However, with books, you can’t really buy just a sliver of it. You can download a sample chapter for free, but if you want to get the full gist of it, you have to pony up the loot for the entire book.

So, does this mean that books will go the way of MP3’s, slicing and dicing a work into smaller, more easily consumable chunks? My money is saying no, for the same reason that magazines and journals haven’t replaced books.

If you want to know, for example, about the recently freed Chilean miners, you can read about it in the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, etc.. If you really want to know the hour-by-hour account, you’ll pick up one of the inevitable books that will soon be crash published.

Amazon is simply figuring out a new way to sell content, from, as Moby describes, “journalists, would-be as well as professional”. Just as in music, singles and albums are different creatures.

However, if the reading public decides, en masse, that they would rather have the YouTube equivalent of a reading experience, that’s when we’re all doomed.

The Partners Road Trip Continues

Posted on October 14th, 2010 in Uncategorized by Gerry


Partners’ caravan of merry pranksters will be making a pit-stop in Oakland from October 14th (today) through the 16th (Saturday) to attend the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fall Trade Show at the Oakland Convention Center/Oakland Marriott City Center.

Come on by and say hello. We don’t bite (anymore), and we’d love to see you.

Howard Jacobson Wins The 2010 Man Booker Prize

Posted on October 13th, 2010 in Book News by Gerry


As a professional bookbuyer, I love the Man Booker Prize. When you’re trying to purchase books by an author who wins the Nobel, it becomes a guessing game of which books to buy, since the award is given for a body of work, not a specific novel. And, unlike the Pulitzer, (with the exception of Tinkers), I generally find the Bookwer winners more interesting works.

This year, the Man Booker Prize was awarded to Howard Jacobson for his novel The Finkle Question (Bloomsbury PB 9781608196111 $15.00), which I have not yet read, but is now fasttracking into my “read” pile.

I have to say, I really wish that Emma Donoghue had won for Room, only because there are such abundant supplies, and, as The Finkle Question was just released, copies are kinda scarce. But what can you do?

(Photo credit/Luke Macgregor/Reuters)

Next Page »