Friday, July 24, 2009

On hiatus

We won't be posting for a couple of weeks. We will return around the middle of August. See you then.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New uses for books (other than reading)

In surfing the web for interesting book-related stories, one site just naturally leads into another. Boing Boing is the connection we got to the site, and their illustrated guide to uses for books (other than reading).

Traffic jam in big Fall books

There are books coming out this autumn from Dan Brown, Michael Crichton, Audrey Niffnegger, to name just a few. Things will be jumping—maybe against each other—in the bookstores, according to the New York Observer.

NYO: “I have never seen another year like this,” said Sarah McNally, the owner of the popular Soho bookstore McNally Jackson. “I can hardly bear to think about fall’s books, it’s like looking bare-eyed into the sun.”

“I can’t really think of any time since I’ve been in the business, when I had a sense of the degree of anticipation for upcoming books, that would equal this fall,” said the Gernert Co. literary agent Chris Parris-Lamb.

With optimism, however, comes worry—particularly because shoving every major release into the same three months could very well result in a traffic jam that will benefit no one. More...

A culture of confusion on the e-book front

The booksquare blog sums up the situation with e-books, with B&N announcing its entry into the fray. The thinking here makes sense to us. Things are going to be, for a while, really complicated.

Booksquare: What is happening — to the surprise of very few — is an ever-increasing Landscape of Confusion. This doesn’t, actually, help publishers achieve their apparent goal of creating a competitive marketplace. Now if the goal were chaos, we have a winner! All these devices, all these formats, all these stores…and readers are reeling because they simply don’t know what formats work with what device (or, heck, operating system). More...

Wrap-up of the Romance Writers of America meeting

Publishers Weekly sums up the whole thing, which we've been touching on over the last few days.

PW: RWA is three days of hard work. Authors attend tense rapid-fire pitch sessions with agents and editors (one called it "speed dating for writers") and countless workshops on the writing craft and the ins and outs of publishing. Hallways, lobbies, and the nearby bars and restaurants are crowded with people—mostly women—clutching piles of free books, handing out glossy promotional cards and pamphlets, and sharing valuable insider gossip. Fans mob the daily autograph sessions and get dressed to the nines for the Golden Heart Award and RITA Award ceremony, the Oscars of the romance world. More...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Conundrum: E-readers need real bookstores

Jason Young of discusses an interesting problem. He's a committed e-book reader, but he finds his next book to read by wandering brick-and-mortar stores. With e-books killing brick-and-mortar, where's the future in that?

JY: A good bookstore brings an incredible wealth of inventory to bear. The ability to "sample" in person is far better than in digital format. Great bookstores are also strong gathering points for discussion and guidance from experts and actual authors.

Here's the problem. The culmination of my bookstore experience is the process of taking my Kindle out and downloading the book(s) I've discovered through the wonders of the retail experience. That's financial ruin for the bookstore. More...

Classic children's books. Not.

Normally I like to celebrate the good things in books, but some ideas are just too appealing. Like the worst children's books ever, on

TAS: So while we’re making lists, how about one of the most overrated children’s books? Not really the “worst” ones, I guess – much better to put together something along the lines of Noah’s list, with the targets limited to books that are regularly described as “classics,” as “beloved,” etc. After a bit of thought about the matter, I’ve got two from my son’s bookshelf that deserve a calling-out. More...

Update from the Romance Writers conference

Romance writers apparently get no respect. Blogger Ron Charles discusses the situation in depth.

RC: Last week I received an uncomfortable honor, the kind I'm not sure I should include on my résumé. At their annual conference in Washington, the Romance Writers of America presented me with the Veritas Award. It's "given annually for the article that appears in print or in another medium that best depicts the romance genre in a positive light." Not surprisingly, there are years in which the Veritas award is not given. Positive light, it would seem, falls fairly rarely on this genre. More...

Target's Book Club Proves to be Bestseller-maker

If Oprah can do it, why not Target? Target's book club has proven to be a huge boon to small-name authors who've been fortunate enough to have their books selected for the Target book club. We love the idea of unheralded authors getting some unexpected sales.

NYT: In publishing circles Target has long been known as a place that can move many copies of discounted best sellers, as do other mass-merchant retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco. But in the last few years, much in the way it has cultivated its image as a counterintuitive purveyor of Isaac Mizrahi clothes or Michael Graves tea kettles, Target has been building itself into a tastemaker for books. Through its book club, as well as a program it calls Bookmarked Breakout, both started in 2005, the company has highlighted largely unknown writers, helping their books find their way into shopping carts filled with paper towels, cereal and shampoo. More...

More on Plastic Logic's e-book reader

We reported earlier this week that Barnes and Noble would be using this reader in their answer to Amazon's e-book store. It wasn't until I read this piece in the Times blog that I realized that I actually knew nothing about Plastic Logic. This article fills the gap.

NYT: The Plastic Logic Reader, the size of a regular piece of paper, will be slightly larger than the Kindle DX and sport a touch-screen. Plastic Logic says the device will be targeted at business users, which typically suggests a higher price and the need to lure more affluent customers.

Unlike the Kindle, the Plastic Logic Reader will also be able to access Wi-Fi hotspots. More...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

NYC Library goes Wi-Fi calls this new site in Manhattan's public library "[probably] the grandest Wi-Fi hotspot in the country." It's hard to disagree with them.

pfsk: The Beaux-Arts room is decorated in the classical style with 4,500 square foot of rectangular space and boasts dark maple wood floors. It has seating for 128 people on brown leather chairs and custom-made black walnut tables, according to the library.

You can bring your own laptop or borrow one for free starting July 28. More...

Summer chick lit

From Marisa Meltzer at The Daily Beast comes an exploration of some of the big chick lit books of the summer. These kind of tales tend to be a little less family-oriented than the fare we publish in Select Editions, so we look at these books mostly from afar...

MM: Over the past six days, I read four of this summer’s anointed beach books: Twenties Girl, Best Friends Forever, The Wedding Girl, and Hope in a Jar. I did not have the good fortune to read them in their intended setting: near a body of water, preferably accompanied by frothy cocktails and cupcakes. But they did leave me feeling fuzzy in the head nonetheless. More...

The book tour

Author Joe Queenan describes some of his favorite people, his companions on his literary tours.

JQ: I have always loved book tours. I became a writer only so I could go on book tours. I have done tours as small as four cities and as large as 16. They have taken me to places I never expected to visit — Iowa City, Coconut Grove, Hay-on-Wye — and introduced me to passionate book lovers I will remember forever. Among these book lovers, the most memorable are the “literary escorts” who ferry authors around town.

Literary escorts, by and large, are middle-aged women who make a living by picking up authors at the airport, shuttling them from one media outlet to another, filling them in on the next interviewer’s background, buying them lunch, telling them where the liquor store is, preventing them from having nervous breakdowns. Some do it as a job, some as a hobby. Escorts are always smart and invariably funny. A lot of them smoke. More...

Monday, July 20, 2009

B and N goes head-to-head with Amazon on e-books

Things have sort of heated up on the e-book front. Barnes and Noble has just announced their foray into the business, up against (at the moment preeminent) Amazon. With luck, it will be consumers who win in the end.

From Barnes & Noble, in the midst of severe cost cutting and reorg, is getting serious about the e-book market, following Amazon’s lead: it is launching an e-books online store, that it says will work with iPhone and iPod touch, BlackBerrys, as well as most laptops and desktops. Also, more interestingly, it will be the exclusive “eBookstore provider” on the Plastic Logic’s eReader device.

Whether B&N would be able to unseat Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Kindle, it is too early to say, but if anything, this may force Amazon to open up its store and formats more. And yes, a likely price war. Meanwhile, the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) factor still hovers on their minds, as any launch from the company could stop the two book giants cold. More...

Handy list of postmodernist books

If you asked me off the top of my head my opinion of postmodern books, you probably wouldn't get a good word out of me. But then I looked at this list in the L.A. Times and found a few books I was quite fond of. Each book is marked with icons indicating what kind of postmodernism the book deals with. You might even find some books worth reading here. Who knew?

LAT: The thing about postmodernism is it's impossible to pin down exactly what might make a book postmodern. In looking at the attributes of the essential postmodern reads, we found some were downright contradictory... Below is our list of the 61 essential reads of postmodern literature. It's annotated with the attributes below -- the author is a character, fiction and reality are blurred, the text includes fictional artifacts, such as letters, lyrics, even whole other books, and so on. More...

Seamus Heaney interviewed

Ireland's Greatest Living Writer, the headline in this Guardian piece says. He's a person worth knowing more about.

The Guardian: Seamus Heaney is taking a taxi from his home in Sandymount, which overlooks the bright grey waters of Dublin Bay, to the centre of town. Our driver is silent, but bursting with respect. When the poet compliments him on the ingenuity of his route through the lunchtime traffic, the cabbie exclaims, with a sudden loss of discretion, "Only the best now for Ireland's favourite son."

Everyone wants a piece of Ireland's first Nobel-winning poet since Yeats. More...

Romance Writers of America convene

The Washington Post reports on this year's gathering of the clan. The romance genre is vast, with something for every taste. The word at the convention is that, among other things, the supernatural fad is running its course.

TWP: There is no prototypical romance writer. Here at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, some 2,000 women of all races and ages wear everything from chunky Goth boots to strappy stilettos. (There are also men. Maybe five of them.) But if you squint and look for a general appearance trend, this is it: They look like your mom. They look kind, comforting, domestic, as if they are wearing perfume made from Fleischmann's yeast. More...

49 years ago...

The National Book Awards, as noted previously, is running through its award-winning titles, and just published a piece on the 1960 winner, Philip Roth's Goodbye Columbus. It was Roth's first book, winning possibly the most prestigious literary prize available right out of the gate. (He was recipient of the Award for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from that same group for his body of work in 2002.)

In addition to reading the appreciation of Goodbye Columbus, it's fun to poke around the other corners of 1960. Other nominees included John Updike, Robert Penn Warren, James Jones, William Faulkner and Shirley Jackson. Stiff competition! And that year Allen Drury's Advise and Consent won the Pulitzer. We could use a year like 1960 again.

Enjoy the article in full.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Big Brother follows up

This just in from Mashable: Amazon has responded to today’s Kindle book deletions story in an emailed statement, explaining the publisher did not have the rights to distribute the books, but adding that they won’t handle the situation the same way if it happens again. More...

Bye-bye, Big Brother

You may not have heard about the books disappearing off Kindles, so we'll reprint an article here that we read at the tech site Mashable. The fact that one of the books was 1984 is especially apt.

Ever bought a book from Barnes and Noble, then turned around to find it missing from your bookshelf and replaced with a voucher? Bizarre though it may seem, that’s exactly what’s happened to hundreds of owners of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm books, with Amazon remotely deleting copies on user’s Kindles and crediting their accounts. More...

Friday, July 17, 2009

A controversial dictionary

Webster's Third Unabridged was not unchallenged on its publication in 1961. As a matter of fact, it was fairly universally reviled. This article in Humanities (via ArtsJournal, is absolutely fascinating. Maybe a little arcane, but the sometimes the business of words is, just, strange.

Humanities: The major point of [editor] Gove’s article was to note that many precepts of linguistics, some of which had long been commonplace in lexicography, increasingly underlay the teaching of grammar. The National Council of Teachers of English had even endorsed five of them, and Gove quoted the list, which originally came from the 1952 volume English Language Arts:
1—Language changes constantly.
2—Change is normal.
3—Spoken language is the language.
4—Correctness rests upon usage.
5—All usage is relative.
These precepts were not new, he added, “but they still come up against the attitude of several generations of American educators who have labored devotedly to teach that there is only one standard which is correct.”

While these precepts may seem quite radical, they are in reality a defense of convention. All usage is relative (5), Gove made plain elsewhere, but only to the standards of a relevant linguistic community. Formal platform speech with precise use of who and whom will not get you far in prison; prison slang meanwhile will not get you far up the corporate ladder. That change is constant and normal (1 and 2) is not to say that at any moment night can mean day and day can mean chocolate, but that, among other phenomena, some words fade from usage while others accrete new meanings. Even the head-scratching idea that “spoken language is the language” is an oblique way of saying speech is the primary form of language, writing (historically, developmentally, and quantitatively), secondary. More...

Roundup of books on the epidemic of fattened-up Americans

Elizabeth Kolbert, in the New Yorker, reviews recent books about America's growing waistlines. There are a number of theories, and the books cover a broad span. The article itself is enlightening.

EK: Hospitals have had to buy special wheelchairs and operating tables to accommodate the obese, and revolving doors have had to be widened—the typical door went from about ten feet to about twelve feet across. An Indiana company called Goliath Casket has begun offering triple-wide coffins with reinforced hinges that can hold up to eleven hundred pounds. It has been estimated that Americans’ extra bulk costs the airlines a quarter of a billion dollars’ worth of jet fuel annually.

Such a broad social development seems to require an explanation on the same scale. Something big must have changed in America to cause so many people to gain so much weight so quickly. But what, exactly, is unclear—a mystery batter-dipped in an enigma. More...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Portrait of Jack Vance

Jack Vance is a genre writer who, some say, has never been given his due. The NY Times has an in-depth profile of this author you just might want to get acquainted with.

NYT: Dan Simmons, the best-selling writer of horror and fantasy, described discovering Vance as “a revelation for me, like coming to Proust or Henry James. Suddenly you’re in the deep end of the pool. He gives you glimpses of entire worlds with just perfectly turned language. If he’d been born south of the border, he’d be up for a Nobel Prize.” Michael Chabon, whose distinguished literary reputation allows him to employ popular formulas without being labeled a genre writer, told me: “Jack Vance is the most painful case of all the writers I love who I feel don’t get the credit they deserve. If ‘The Last Castle’ or ‘The Dragon Masters’ had the name Italo Calvino on it, or just a foreign name, it would be received as a profound meditation, but because he’s Jack Vance and published in Amazing Whatever, there’s this insurmountable barrier.” More...

Thriller awards

The group International Thriller Writers has a website that should certainly be interesting to fans of the genre. And they've just announced their annual awards. Best Thriller of the Year went to Jeffery Deaver's The Bodies Left Behind. Here's the full announcement with the other honorees.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When to publish e-books

The question of when to publish e-books seems to be a hot one. As a comparison, in classic publishing, the hardcover comes out first, and the paperback comes out about a year later. Standard stuff. The e-book, like the paperback, is considerably cheaper than the hardcover. E-book purveyors want titles the minute they're published. What to do, what to do, if you're a writer or publisher.

The Times summarizes the situation here.

Booksquare gives a personal view of the situation: Robert Gottlieb, literary agent, says “he doesn’t allow any of his authors’ books to be published simultaneously as an e-book when he can prevent it.” In the same article, agent Richard Curtis is just as blunt, saying, “We don’t want to undercut the sales and royalty potential of the printed hardcover.” This makes me wonder: does withholding product from the market actually help sales? Are Curtis and Gottlieb assuming the ebook customer will shrug and purchase the print book? More...

Albert Camus revisited

This post from the PowellsBooks blog (Powells is a famous Portland, Or, bookseller) on Camus celebrates Bastille Day, and a new biography of the Nobel laureate. It reminds me of a time when real philosophers made the bestseller lists.

PB: Camus was the first serious writer I engaged with seriously. Political writing is frequently disastrous; but Camus was never disastrous. Quite the opposite. He was spare, calm, controlled, lucid, stylish. He was, and so was his writing. Camus was also deeply principled; he was consistent in his principles. Like Sartre, he was, for a time, a committed Socialist; but unlike Sartre he sloughed off Socialism — and any ideological fealty to the U.S.S.R. — when he saw that it contradicted higher principles. Political expediency was not in his blood. He saw through the lie. He knew that a human being is a human being is a human being; and that human beings are more important than ideas.He knew that a human being is a human being is a human being; and that human beings are more important than ideas. More...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A portrait of Ray Bradbury

The L.A. Times has posted a wonderful portrait of Ray Bradury on the eve of his 89th birthday.

LAT: But rather than escaping from Waukegan, Bradbury turned it into Green Town and found the wonder there, in dandelions, and ravines, and the memories of old people, and the speed of young tennis shoes. It was not the worlds of wonder that Bradbury became a fan of, but of wonder itself, especially the prime wonder, life, and the joys of living it fully. The romantic science fiction wonders of Verne and Wells, Burroughs and Buck were just larger-than-life metaphors for the life-size wonders of everyday living, which, Bradbury seems to say, if you feel intensely will be anything but everyday. More...

Dead authors are getting hot

Very true. There is a slew of titles coming soon from authors we thought were unable to produce anymore. The Guardian explains in detail.

Guardian: They are the hottest authors in publishing, delivering works of murder, mystery, ribald humour and passionate love, and they all have one thing in common: they are long dead.

In the middle of the economic downturn, which has hit the American book trade hard, sales have been boosted by a remarkable series of discoveries of lost or unpublished works by some of the greatest names of modern literature which may soon be coming to the UK. Authors whose newly discovered or revised works are now being published in the US include Mark Twain, Vladimir Nabokov, Graham Greene, JRR Tolkien, William Styron, Mary Shelley and Ernest Hemingway. More...

Amazon's weekly review roundup

Their weekly wrap-up of newpaper reviews. The book that intrigued me the most was How the Beatles Destroyed Rock and Roll. See the list here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

60 years of great books

Thanks to the L.A. Times, we learned about the National Book Foundation celebrating 60 years of its award winning books. We love this sort of thing. You can sign up on their website to get information on them, including the other finalists for each year, one-a-day via RSS. Or you can just go to this page to click on the latest update.

Ousted from the literary canon

This is fun.

The Second Pass website has decided to throw a few famous books by a few famous writers out of the canon of accepted classics. We're glad of one of them, at least. We've always felt that A Tale of Two Cities is the worst of the Dickens novels, and the least representative (and, unfortunately, the one they always make kids read in high school).

TSP: Below is a list of ten books that will be pressed into your hands by ardent fans. Resist these people. Life may not be too short (I’m only in my mid-30s, and already pretty bored), but it’s not endless. More...

The L.A. Times, however, takes issue with the exclusion of Jack Kerouac's On the Road.

LAT: I would argue that whatever cultural hallmarks it might signal, the book is a work of literature, one with an intensity of vision and a language of impure steamroller incendiary jazz. More...

We say draw your own conclusions.

Portrait of Andrew Sarris

For some of us, Andrew Sarris is a founding father. The founding that he did was in the area of film criticism; his 1968 book The American Cinema is, as Amazon puts it, the manifesto of the auteur theory. Agree with him or disagree with him, his influence on film studies is undeniable. The article in the NY Times brings us up to date on this grand old man of letters.

NYT: Mr. Sarris cut a curious figure at the congenitally contentious Village Voice of the early 1960s. He had passed a year in Paris, he said, drinking coffee with New Wave directors and later would edit an English-language edition of Cahiers du Cinéma. But back in New York he lived with his Greek monarchist mother in Queens and went to “Gone With the Wind” four dozen times, as besotted with Vivien Leigh on the 48th viewing as the first. More...

Friday, July 10, 2009

NPR reports on BookGlutton, a site for group reading and commenting on books. According to the article, educators might find this very useful. We can see why.

NPR: Reading a book evokes solitary images of lying in bed late at night or sitting beneath a beach umbrella lost in a fantasy. But, a Web site that permits readers to chat about books as they read, may be transforming a lone activity into a communal one. More...

New editions of The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows has always been one of my favorite books, although admittedly, the last time I looked at it, reading it aloud to a young daughter, I was a little struck by how odd some of it is. But mostly it was wonderful. Now there's two new annotated editions. The NY Times reports on them.

NYT: The years between 1900 and the outbreak of World War I, it has often been remarked, were a golden age in Britain for the writing of children’s books... In hindsight these books seem to reflect the long, sunny afternoon of Edwardian England, a moment of arrested innocence before the outbreak of the Great War. Many of them also yearn for a rural, preindustrial England that was already vanishing. Part of their appeal is that they’re nostalgic, as we are, for childhood itself, or for a simpler past that seems to embody childhood virtue. More...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Bulwer-Lytton Awards

How did we miss this? Last week the Bulwer-Lytton awards were announced. B-L, creator of the infamous opener, "It was a dark and stormy night," has (involuntarily) leant his name to a competition for folks to write the worst possible opening line of a novel. We'll reprint one, and let you savor the rest.

"In a flurry of flame and fur, fangs and wicker, thus ended the world's first and only hot air baboon ride." More...

The author as hustler

It's no secret that it is hard for an author to get the world to know that he or she has published a new book when that author is not already famous. And the state of publishing nowadays isn't helping. The Daily Beast reports on the phenomenon of authors reaching out to book groups to sell themselves. It means that not only do they have to write well, but they also have to sell well. That's pretty tough on those poor starving artists in their garrets or ivory towers or wherever they hang out.

TDB: Money is scarce for publicity, and the way it’s often hoarded to buy full-page ads for the books that make bank (think: James Patterson, Stephen King) means that authors must be on-call at all times. To make a living off of fiction, most writers must be as attuned to marketing as they are to writing... The focus on book clubs has spurred the evolution of a new breed: the author-hustler, the writer who succeeds in large part because of door-to-door salesmanship. After the writing comes a new challenge, one of industriousness, perseverance, and charm. More...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Best books of the year?

Amazon thinks so. Compare your own opinions, or at the very least, find some suggestions for your own personal reading list.

Amazon: Every summer about this time we Amazon books editors get together and look back at the books from the first six months of the year and choose our favorites for our Best of the Year ... So Far lists. With the glut of year-end best-of lists these days (we're guilty too!), I'm surprised more folks haven't followed our lead, but it seems like we still have the midyear field to ourselves. More...

The new Dan Brown novel

The Lost Symbol, the new Dan Brown novel (he's sort of famous for this other book you may have heard of, The Da Vinci Code), is coming out soon. The publisher is, not surprisingly, making a big deal out of it. There's a website with a countdown, and they've just announced the jacket art. If you're a fan, you might want to check it out.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Textbook rentals

We've seen mentions of this around the internet, but the site speaks for itself. It's called Chegg, and it's in the business of renting textbooks, which are famously expensive. Check it out:

Amazon's Sunday reviews

From the Omnivoracious blog at Amazon, the latest look at the past weekend in book reviewing. Chris Anderson's Free is perhaps the most talked-about book of the lot; the review referenced is Malcolm Gladwell's from The New Yorker, in which he quite sternly challenged Anderson's assertion that content on the internet is destined be free for the user.

In-book ads

The question of how people are going to make money from e-books is very much kicking around the internet these days. The price point of $10 seems to be popular, compared to a hardcover book at, say, $25. But the less money paid for a book means the less money going into not just the production of the book itself but also advertising and promotion and, yes, editing. This article in Fast Company, via Joe Wikert, talks about the possibility of advertising appearing in e-books. It could be the future.

FC: Amazon's just filed a number of patents that point to the inevitable but perhaps undesirable expansion of advertising onto its much-vaunted Kindle e-reader. If it happens, would you tolerate in-book or in-magazine embedded ads? More...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Twitter meets a bad review

This story about an author seeking revenge for a bad review seemed too "inside baseball" when it broke, but we're not sure if the metaphoric baseball was publishing or Twitter. In any case, this article in the National Post, is a good summary.

History's first case of Twitter-induced book feuding started last weekend with The Boston Globe's review of Alice Hoffman's 21st novel, The Story Sisters, and the author's ludicrously over-the-top response in a series of tweets. Now that the Iranian Revolution is winding down...we can all enjoy the glorious new dawn of the literary spat, liberated by technology. More...

Open Library

A web page for every book ever written, with no axe to grind (or books to sell). This is a project that might be very valuable, from Englands The Guardian.

Guardian: The scheme is to create a single page on the web for every book that has ever been published; an enormous, searchable catalogue of information about millions of books.... But with information about books already being processed by hugely popular websites such as Google and Amazon, the question remains – why bother?

George Oates, the newly installed project leader, says it's a way to preserve book records for history and, crucially, make the information usable by anybody. More...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

2,000,000 free electronic books

Project Gutenberg has been around for a while. The World eBook Fair sounds amazing; we had trouble loading their page, though. The article comes from the Booksellers Association of the UK.

Project Gutenberg has joined forces with The World Public Library and Digital Pulp Publishing, Internet Archive, Baen to promote The Forth World eBook Fair. Two years ago The First World eBook Fairs introduced 1/3 million books, which became a million and a quarter last year and this year tops two million. They expect to have 2 1/2 million by July 4. More...

Daily Beast Book Club

The Daily Beast has announced a book club, to feature books that they have found particularly exciting. We love the idea of anybody getting behind a book or two.

TDB: It seems like every month, among the hundreds of books we receive, there’s one in particular that takes us away, turns us nocturnal, and transforms us into one-track conversationalists who can’t talk about anything but that book. In this space, The Daily Beast will profile such books. More...

Rare books

A fine article from the blog Bookride on collecting, and paying for, rare books, via Boing Boing.

Bookride: The first thing to remember is that most books are of low value or no value. Some books are worth less than nothing. More...

Amazon versus the States

The old saw is that nobody can avoid death or taxes, but there are some exceptions, at least to the taxes part of it. Amazon sells its books sales-tax-free in most states, primarily because they don't have any bricks-and-mortar presence in those states. The idea is that state taxes go to the support structures of the state (roads, police, etc.) and if a company doesn't use those services, why should they pay for them? The states, of course, take a different position entirely. You can draw your own conclusions: Forbes provides the background.

Forbes: Amazon's moves are the latest in a fight involving states trying to get out-of-state companies that perform commerce largely online with their residents but have little or no physical presence in the state to collect taxes. Governments could generate $3 billion in new revenues if Web retailers had to collect taxes on all sales to consumers, according to Forrester Research. More...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Introducing a new literary magazine

The Washington Post has alerted us to a new magazine, available in a variety of formats. We love the idea of someone in the writing game starting a new business rather than, as more and more seems to be the case, going out of business.

WP: Amid all the dismal reports about the death of fiction, here's a refreshingly bold act of optimism: a new bimonthly magazine called Electric Literature. And it's not just MFA kids self-publishing their diatribes against Mom and Dad. The first issue sports stories by such heavyweights as Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Cunningham and National Book Award finalist Jim Shepard. More...

Read Infinite Jest this summer

I admit it. I have a copy of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest on my shelf at home, and I fully plan to read it someday. I like reading big books (and small books too; I work here, after all). Apparently a bunch of people are tackling it this summer. Slate offers an audio discussion of the book here.

Amazon's weekly review roundup

Amazon's collection of interesting newspaper book reviews is always worth a look. They call it Old Media Monday.