Notes: Love Letters; Rowling's Potter 'Prequel'
Sex and the shitty.
Love Letters from Great Men, the book Carrie Bradshaw reads while in bed with Mr. Big in the new film Sex and the City, is fictional, even though it cites real letters. Demand for the book has been high, according to the Associated Press, and has resulted in a run on a similar title, Love Letters from Great Men and Women: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day edited by C.H. Charles, first published in the 1920s and reissued last year by Kessinger Publishing ($31.95, 9781432576103/1432576100).
Kessinger, Whitefish, Mont., which says it uses "advanced technology to publish and preserve thousands of rare, scarce, and out-of-print books," appears to do so with low regard to copyright laws--so much so that its website invites copyright challenges. For an account of the ugly side of POD, see Denny Hatch's blog entry about Kessinger's apparent theft of his father's copyrighted 1947 biography of Franklin Roosevelt.
Audio Holdings has bought the assets of Durkin-Hayes Publishing and will begin reissuing many of Durkin-Hayes's classic bestselling audiobooks for the first time on CD as well as in other formats and with updated packaging. Durkin-Hayes has more than 1,000 master recordings in a range of categories, most of which are read by familiar people, including Margot Kidder, Ed Begley, Jr., Sam Waterstone, Jerry Orbach, Lauren Bacall, Julie Christie, Kathleen Turner, Linda Dano, Tom Bosley, Dick Cavett and Paul Sorvino.
Half the titles have been digitized, and Audio Holdings is continuing "to confirm rights and check master recordings for quality and completeness," the company said. Audio Holdings, whose president and CEO is Michael Gladishev, is distributed to the book trade by NBN.
An 800-word "prequel" to the Harry Potter series that J.K. Rowling
wrote on a single sheet of paper sold for £25,000 (US$48,858) during a
charity auction held at Waterstone's flagship London bookstore to
benefit English PEN and a dyslexia charity.
According to the Associated Press, the handwritten "storycard," which "goes online Wednesday, does not offer hope for a new Potter novel. Rowling finished her card by writing, 'From the prequel I am not working on--but that was fun!'"
A dozen other authors and illustrators contributed cards to the auction, including Doris Lessing, Nick Hornby and Margaret Atwood. The AP reported that a "short mystery story by acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard raised $7,816."
"Political books ride in on election's coattails," according to USA Today, which introduced a preview of upcoming titles by noting that Scott McClellan's bestseller What Happened "is just the warm-up act for more political books to come this presidential election year."
Saad Eskander, director of Baghdad's national library, still works in his troubled native city five years after returning to Iraq from London, where he spent 13 years in exile.
In a Guardian profile, when asked what a "cultural education" means to him, Eskander said, "We want to change people's orientation through our books. Otherwise there is no alternative but mosques. I would always say invest in secular education, because religious extremism is a cultural phenomenon--it is not wholly an armed phenomenon. We need to prove to people that there is an alternative."
Encyclopaedia Britannica has decided to get a bit wiki, according to Wired magazine, which reported, "In a bid to wed the comprehensive, grassroots information factory of Wikipedia with the authority of the traditional encyclopedia, Encyclopaedia Britannica is opening the floodgates for online user submissions into its 240-year-old publication--a move it long resisted and sniffed was akin to intellectual pollution."
It will not be completely open season on information, however, because "Britannica is going halfway to where it's never gone before: it is opening up its site to the crowd, but keeping the gates up against the barbarians as far as the official version of the publication concerned."
In an article headlined "Somerville bookstores few and far between," the Somerville News examined challenges faced by local booksellers present and past, reporting that rent has caused some Somerville bookstores to close or move--in the case of McIntyre and Moore Booksellers, a relocation earlier this year to Cambridge's Porter Square.
"For us, it was just too much for rent," co-owner Daniel Moore said. "It was nice to hear people say they were going to miss us but they didn't really buy anything when we there."
At Three Geese in Flight Books, manager Genevieve Robinson said, "Most of our sales come from internet buyers. I don't see people who come in who live nearby often."
"The bookstore business has fun and magic inherent. Dry cleaners don't," added the bookshop's owner, Samuel Wenger. "But it's a hard way to make a living. The rents are impossible. I have a fair rent and a good landlord, but it comes at the price of very little bookstore traffic. The only way to have a bookstore is to have an Internet business on the side."
After 26 years in business, Bill Healy, owner of Bibliomania, Schenectady, N.Y., is "packing it in," according to the Albany Times Union. Healy said he is reacting to the changing face of the city's downtown area: "There were a lot of downtown stores in the '80s and '90s, but since they left, the once-large base of shoppers has really diminished,"
He added that for years in-store sales accounted for 80% of his business. Now, however, only 10% comes from walk-in traffic.
"Book 'em" has taken on an entirely new meaning for one British police division. The Daily Mail wrote, "In the first commercial deal between an author and the police, a £9,000 [US$17,802] Hyundai Getz will soon be patrolling the streets of Sussex, embellished on all four sides with the name of Peter James. . . . His series of Brighton-based Roy Grace novels has sold more than three million copies worldwide and been translated into 30 languages."
Although James "has developed a close working relationship with Sussex police while researching his books," citizens may or may not be reassured by the fact that "the car will not be used to respond to emergency calls but is solely for use in the local community, to provide visibility and reassurance, and to provide a quick way for officers to get to their local neighbourhood areas."