E-Readers vs. Love?
"I had one good pickup line, and e-readers ruined it."
"I had one good pickup line, and e-readers ruined it."
Last week during the Romance Writers of America conference, Kensington held a party for 75 authors and industry friends in its new offices, which (only for the party!) featured sparkling lights, male models in tuxedoes, dozens of roses, an ice sculpture and a spread that included chocolate confections, sugary delicacies and a romance cocktail. Here's Kensington publisher Laurie Parkin with some eye candy.
Amazon.com is purchasing the Book Depository International, the U.K. online book retailer that in parts of the English-speaking world outside the U.S. has been a growing competitor to Amazon for online book sales. (It is also well-known for its "watch people shop" feature, allowing users to see book purchases around the world as they take place.) The Bookseller estimated Book Depository annual sales at £120 million ($193 million).
The Book Depository was founded in 2004 by Andrew Crawford and has some six million books available at its fulfillment center in Gloucester and ships free. It also offers some 200,000 e-books. The Book Depository boasts a million customers, and its Dodo Press has re-published more than 15,000 out-of-print or rare titles, available both as books and e-books. Unlike Amazon, the Book Depository has retained a focus on selling books.
The deal will be studied by the U.K.'s Office of Fair Trading to determine whether it will lead to "a substantial lessening of competition" in markets in the U.K., according to the Bookseller. If the Office finds that competition will be lessened, it will refer the matter to the Competition Commission for investigation and a report.
The Office of Fair Trading has already issued an "invitation to comment" and aims to reach a decision by August 30.
Pearson Australia Group is purchasing the online operations of bankrupt REDgroup Retail, including the Borders Australia and Angus & Robertson websites, Bookseller and Publisher Online reported. Pearson plans to run the businesses separately from its other operations, which include Penguin Australia.
Pearson has reached an agreement with Kobo to ensure "ongoing service" for REDgroup's Kobo customers while reflecting Kobo's need to partner with bricks-and-mortar retailers.
Pearson Australia Group CEO Dionne Higgins called REDgroup's online operations "an integral part of the Australian retail landscape," which "has always enjoyed a strong market share, and an incredibly loyal customer base and we see this acquisition as an opportunity to further build this business."
This deal, too, may be subject to governmental review. The Bookseller reported that the Australian Booksellers Association has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to look into the purchase, charging that the move will "create monopolies in the supply chain" and favor Penguin.
Pearson's Higgins reiterated that the online business will be run separately and said that Penguin will be treated the same as any other publisher.
In related news, the last company-owned Angus & Robertson stores in Australia will be closed, Bookseller and Publisher Online reported. Two A&R stores in Queensland have been sold and will change their names; a third in Queensland may yet be sold. The other 16 stores will close by the end of July.
The remaining 47 A&R franchised stores are continuing in business and may become independent. The bankruptcy administrator for REDgroup Retail said that it's "likely these [stores] will undergo various name changes in coming weeks."
South Korea, which has been a pioneer in digital media, plans to replace all paper textbooks with electronic tablets at state-run schools by 2015, the Bookseller reported. The government plans to spend 2.2 trillion won (a tad over $2 billion) to convert existing school textbooks and develop cloud computing systems and expects students to download material on "smart pads, smart TVs and a variety of digital devices." Low-income families will be provided with subsidized tablets.
Fourth of July celebrations yesterday included this item from Fortune. At #57 on its list of "100 great things about America" was "Independent bookstores. Powell's in Portland, Ore., Kepler's in Menlo Park, Calif., the Strand in New York City."
And check out Brookline Booksmith's blog post for Independence Day, where Kate Robinson wrote, in part: "At the register today I had a surge of pride, our country is only 235 years old. How lucky I am to be on this land. How lucky that I can yell, and criticize and bitch to anyone I want, that my mouth is protected. Think of all the inventions that came for from this country (seriously... check out Wikipedia.) We were borne from brilliant extremist rogue savants.
"I think about how glad I am to work where I work. How there is something in this store to offend everyone, and to please everyone. How Brookline chooses everyday, to support this store, and how grateful we are to try and reflect back the fierce intellectual independence of this town.
"Enjoy your independence, and your independents."
Author George R.R. Martin has some gruesome plans for the Amazon.de employee who sent 180 copies of Martin's heavily embargoed new novel, A Dance with Dragons, to customers in Germany before its July 12 release date, the Guardian reported.
"I am not happy about this. My publishers are furious. If we find out who is responsible, we will mount his head on a spike," Martin wrote on his blog. "I know that the 180 readers who got advance copies are happy about this, but I assure you, my publishers are not. And thousands of other readers are now getting spoiled, most quite inadvertently and unwillingly, as they stumble over the spoilers cropping up everywhere on the Internet. (Some of the spoilers being posted are false, by the way). Most of those 'lucky' 180 are keeping mum, to be sure, but there are always a few jerkwads in any group, and those are the ones who cannot keep their mouths shut.... All I can say is, pfui."
Suggesting that the construction of the Great Wall may have been an easier undertaking for the Chinese government than banning books, CNN reported that the "banned in China" label has proven to have its advantages, since "thanks to historical circumstance, newfound mobility, and a thriving market economy, it is now easier than ever for curious mainlanders to get their hands on the entire back catalog of banned books."
Paul Tang, co-owner of the People's Recreation Community bookshop in Hong Kong, estimated more than 90% of his customers come from the mainland and noted the relative ease with which book tourists are able to smuggle banned books back to China.
Boing Boing showcased a 17th-century Chinese travelling bookcase, describing it as "the love-child of a steamer trunk and a bookcase."
The Guardian's world literature tour continued with reader recommendations for books about China and a call for suggestions as the series embarked on "something of a journey into the unknown for most English readers, into a country of 238 million people we should be better acquainted with.... We're searching for books which capture something of the Indonesian experience, whether written by Indonesian writers or those coming to Indonesia from elsewhere."
Are you a Janeite? "If Box Hill is as real to you as Floods Hill, and the summer reading dilemma isn’t which six novels to read, but in which order, you might just be a Janeite," the South Orange Patch observed.
Meredith Barnes, regional coordinator for the Jane Austen Society of America's Central New Jersey chapter, said that while the group meets about six times a year, a signature event is their annual Box Hill Picnic, held August 13 at the Battle of Monmouth grounds.
Barnes noted that in Emma, the Box Hill picnic is an important episode, but "our version is slightly different. At our picnic meeting, we usually share something from the novel that we enjoy or will start a discussion. We eat our lunches and have dessert. It is a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Some chapters have actually gone strawberry picking while others have a more formal tea to celebrate the occasion."
Obituary note: Francis King, who published more than 30 novels over six decades and "in a lengthy association with the Sunday Telegraph was a regular fiction reviewer and for 10 years its drama critic," died Sunday, the Guardian reported. He was 88.
Dan Brown has topped a list once again. BBC News reported that for the third straight year, Brown's novels were the most donated to Oxfam shops, though he finished third "on the list of bestselling authors at the charity shop chain, up from 10th in 2010."
Flavorwire showcased 10 great literary spin-offs, noting that "parallel novels are the alternative histories of the fiction world. They take the structure, setting, or characters of a different work of literature and retell them from the perspective of a different character: the monster in Beowulf or the slaves in Gone With the Wind retell the story in John Gardner's Grendel and Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone."
This morning on CNN's American Morning: Kitty Pilgrim, author of The Explorer's Code: A Novel (Scribner, $26, 9781439197196).
This morning on the Today Show: Lisa Pulitzer, co-author of Portrait of a Monster: Joran van der Sloot, a Murder in Peru, and the Natalee Holloway Mystery (St. Martin's, $25.99, 9780312359218).
Also on Today: Susan Gregory Thomas, author of In Spite of Everything: A Memoir (Random House, $26, 9781400068821).
Today on CBS' the Talk: Katie Lee, author of Groundswell (Gallery, $25, 9781439183595).
Today on Tavis Smiley: Michael Krasny, author of Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic's Quest (New World Library, $22.95, 9781577319122).
Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Gary Younge, author of Who Are We--And Should It Matter in the 21st Century? (Nation Books, $26.99, 9781568586601).
Today on NPR's All Things Considered: Richard Mabey, author of Weeds: In Defense of Nature's Most Unloved Plants (Ecco, $25.99, 9780062065452).
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jim DeMint, author of The Great American Awakening: Two Years that Changed America, Washington, and Me (B&H Books, $14.99, 9781433672798).
Tomorrow morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Matthew Algeo, author of The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth (Chicago Review Press, $24.95, 9781569763506).
Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Georgette Jones, author of The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George (Atria, $25, 9781439198575).
Tomorrow on the Late Show with David Letterman: Eric Ripert, author of Avec Eric: A Culinary Journey with Eric Ripert (Wiley, $34.95, 9780470889350).
Tomorrow on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Timothy Garton Ash, author of Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name (Yale University Press, $35, 9780300161175).
John Malkovich will play the role of Grandfather Kuzja, "who teaches his grandson Kolyma (played by Lithuanian actor Arnas Fedaravicius) the morals of 'honest criminals,' " in Siberian Education, directed by Gabriele Salvatores (I'm Not Scared), Variety reported. The movie, adapted from Nicolai Lilin's autobiographical book Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld, is about "the Mafia-like Urka community in the small republic of Transnistria, between Moldova and Ukraine."
"It was when I saw Dan crying. Then it really hit me. I'd never seen him that upset. It was just really, really raw," Rupert Grint told the Guardian regarding the last day on the set of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.
Like his co-stars, Grint grew up on film (as Ron Weasley) as well as under a movie star microscope. "Imagine being 11 and auditioning for the school play. You get the part--high fives--then that school play is rehearsed, performed, expanded, performed again, again, again, all the while discussed at quite some length, until you are 23 years old," the Guardian wrote.
The films ultimately became life reference points for Grint, like pencil marks on a wall marking changes in height. The Guardian noted that when Grint was asked "at what age he felt himself begin to withdraw into himself, he answers: 'Four, I guess? Three or four.' I scramble through my notes. Four? He should've been at home in Hertfordshire, learning lines for Noah's Ark.... But of course he means the films. Grint dates his age by the films. First shave: four. First time journalists started asking him about girls: five. 'You measure your life that way,' he says. 'I don't want it to sound like it wasn't enjoyable, it was. Just sometimes hard to keep track.' "
Harry Potter producer David Heyman said Grint "lived his teenage years under a spotlight, but one of the many things I love about Rupert is that he just gets on with it. He enjoys life. He'd rather focus on all the fun stuff he can do than talk about anything too serious."
Entertainment Weekly featured a gallery of "19 exclusive behind-the-scenes pics" from Deathly Hallows all the way back to Sorcerer's Stone.
The winners of the 2011 SIBA Books Awards, honoring the best in Southern literature and sponsored by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, are:
Fiction: Burning Bright by Ron Rash (Ecco Press)
Nonfiction: The Blueberry Years by Jim Minick (Thomas Dunne Books)
Poetry: A House of Branches by Janisse Ray (Wind Publications)
Cooking: Southern My Way by Gena Knox (Gena Knox Media)
Young Adult: Countdown by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic)
Children's: Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (Puffin Books)
During ALA, ForeWord Reviews announced the 215 Book of the Year Award winners in 60 categories. The Independent Publisher of the Year was McPherson & Co.
In addition, the two Editor's Choice Awards went, for fiction, to Oregon State University Press for Mink River by Brian Doyle, and for nonfiction, to Welcome Books for The Last Good War by Veronica Kavass with photographs by Thomas Sanders.
From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Silver Sparrow: A Novel by Tayari Jones (Algonquin, $19.95, 9781565129900). "The unconventional, morally troubling relationships at the core of Jones' Silver Sparrow illustrate the universality of the human quest for acknowledgment, legitimacy, love, and loyalty. As Chaurisse and her secret half-sister, Dana, move toward adulthood, they must shed idealistic notions of romantic and familial love to face difficult truths. A complex family drama, a richly crafted coming-of-age story, and a meditation on the nature of love and forgiveness, this is a gripping story with characters you will not soon forget." --Libby Cowles, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.
Joy for Beginners: A Novel by Erica Bauermeister (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399157127). "Kate has conquered cancer, and now she has the goal to ride the white-water rapids in the Grand Canyon. During a celebration dinner, she gives each of her six friends an equally personal challenge. Bauermeister masterfully weaves the stories of the seven women together, allowing the reader to empathize with and root for each one as she jumps her own personal hurdle. A great selection for book clubs!" --Sam Droke-Dickinson, Aaron's Books, Lititz, Pa.
The Marrowbone Marble Company: A Novel by M. Glenn Taylor (Ecco, $14.99, 9780061923944). "Gripping and raw, set between the moral compass of the '40s and the social revolution of the '60s, this novel follows a West Virginia family though their turbulent relationships with war, poverty, social injustice and racial segregation. It would be hard not to call this a piece of fine art, with its classic storytelling and brilliant writing." --Scott Fultz, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, Wis.
For Ages 9 to 12
One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street by Joanne Rocklin (Amulet, $16.95, 9780810997196). "When a mysterious man and an orange construction cone appear on Orange Street one day, the children who live there and the street's oldest resident find unexpected connections with each other and a very old orange tree. This warm, gentle story of family, friendship, and childhood anxieties is peopled with real, likable characters and comes to an happily satisfying conclusion." --Carla Ketner, Chapters Books & Gifts, Seward, Neb.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]
Millennium People by J.G. Ballard (W.W. Norton, $25.95 hardcover, 9780393081770, July 5, 2011)
The psychopathology of everyday life in the late 20th century was a recurring theme for J.G. Ballard, and Millennium People (first published in the U.K. in 2003) covers familiar territory for the British science fiction writer's fans. Psychologist David Markham is stunned to see his ex-wife in television footage of a bomb explosion at a Heathrow baggage claim. He doesn't want to know merely who set off the bomb, he wants to find out why they did it, so he begins attending protest rallies, looking for signs of violent extremism.
Markham eventually falls in with Kay Churchill, a film professor who lives in a gated community in London's Chelsea district. She's got the right revolutionary mindset to have been involved in the Heathrow bombing, and she's tied to even more radical personalities, like Richard Gould, a disgraced pediatrician who preaches a philosophy that casts the middle classes as "the new proletariat," oppressed not just by the capitalist economy but by its cultural conventions. At first, Markham is dismissive. "These people want to change the world, use violence if they need to," he tells his wife, "but they've never had the central heating turned off in their lives." He's still drawn to the group, and soon enough he's helping Kay torch the National Film Center, and from there getting pulled into even more insidious schemes.
Ballard presses his themes hard: there's a lot of talk about how "the middle classes are meant to be the great social anchor, all that duty and responsibility," and how cataclysmic it would be if they decided en masse to stop paying their bills and conforming to society's norms. Yet he never quite manages to make the nudging of Chelsea Marina's residents into open revolt fully convincing, perhaps because too much of the community remains a cipher. (In contrast, look at how Stephen King built up the personalities of the people of Castle Rock before tearing that town apart in Needful Things.)
Markham's journey into the terrorist subculture also has strong echoes of Ballard's two immediately previous novels, Cocaine Nights and Super-Cannes, which also use the narrative structure of an outsider who discovers the sinister underbelly of a seemingly ideal, prosperous community. And, of course, there's Ballard's elaboration of the erotic qualities of extreme violence, especially when it's meaningless--as Gould argues, political violence just gets caught up in conventional narratives, but "a pointless act has a special meaning all its own." All of this is drawn out in Ballard's distinctively clinical tone, providing an aura of seriousness as Markham's world wavers between anarchy and nihilism, then finally comes to a seemingly safe--but subtly disturbed--resting position. --Ron Hogan
Shelf Talker: The first of two Ballard novels that Norton is publishing posthumously for American readers; the second, Kingdom Come, is scheduled for May 2012.
The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and around St. Louis, Mo. During the week ended Sunday, June 26:
1. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
4. Fifty-nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had by Edward Achorn
5. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees
6. Grant by Jean Edward Smith
7. The Strawberry Letter by Shirley Strawberry
8. A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
9. Why We Believe in Gods: A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith by Thomas Anderson Jr.
10. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
3. Oggie Cooder by Sarah Weeks
4. Blackest Night Green Lantern by Geoff Johns
5. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
6. Only One You by Linda Kranz
7. Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela Coyle
8. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
9. Mom, I Love Spaghetti by Gary W. Fort
10. Remarkable Animals: 1000 Amazing Amalgamations by Tony Meeuwissen
Reporting bookstores, all of which are members of the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance: Left Bank Books, Main Street Books, Pudd'nhead Books, Subterranean Books, Sue's News.
[Many thanks to the booksellers!]