Friday, October 30, 2009

Cheap books = fewer books

Sure, you can grab a bestseller cheap at the local megastore. But that aggressive pricing has consequences because it's only the bestsellers that come cheap, and if this keeps up, maybe it will be only the bestsellers that get published. But that doesn't make sense, either as a business or as a way to develop new authors. This piece by William Petrocelli laids it all out.

WP: Predatory pricing is a means of driving other booksellers out of business. When this happens, the choice of books is one of the first things to suffer. Some readers think that if their favorite store closes they can always buy the book they want somewhere else. But that's a dangerous delusion -- the books they want may not be there at all. In fact, these types of disruptions in how books are sold or distributed has a profound effect on what publishers decide to publish in the first place. More...

Behind Peter Pan

The story in the Johnny Depp movie Neverland was all peaches and cream, but this review of a new biography of J. M. Barrie suggests that the cream was, to say the least, curdled. But then again, maybe it's just the biography itself that's suspect. Janet Maslin of the Times explains.

JM: In a book with chapter titles that include the words “secret,” “corruption,” “predator,” “victim” and “suicide,” not to mention the phrases “demon boy” and “slipping into madness,” Mr. Dudgeon might seem to be in danger of false advertising. But no: his story messily incorporates all of the above. More...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twitter and publishing

In response to a posting on Mashable of 15 Twitter users influential in publishing, The Book Oven offers 15 more. If you've gotten here via Twitter, then these lists are for you: link. I'll be checking them out myself!

Sample a John Grisham short story

Grisham has a new collection of short stories coming out, his first according to the Daily Beast. Try a sample!

The Haunting of Hill House

A paean to one of our favorite books, from Amazon. (And the movie—the original with Julie Harris—wasn't half-bad either!)

Amazon: The story is superbly crafted and unnerving as hell, a classic of the genre and a perfect read for Halloween week, a book best read alone. More...

Monday, October 26, 2009

F. Scott Fitzgerald and money

John Scalzi writes on FSF's annual income, and annual expenditures. He earned a pretty decent living, all things considered, but he had some seriously high expenses to go along with it.

JS: Fitzgerald more or less consistently clocked $24,000 in writing income, which the author of the article, employing a 20:1 ratio of money values then to money values now, offers as the equivalent of making $500,000 a year in today’s dollars. This is a nice income if you can get it, and Fitzgerald got it in an era in which his tax rate was something on the order of 8%. More...

Book pricing

There's a war going on among the big retailers, each trying to see how much they can undersell each other on big bestsellers. Whether this is related to the pricing of e-books is anybody's guess, but now Stephen King's publisher has announced that his new book, being released electronically Christmas Eve, will sell for the same price as in hardcover ($35).

If you know where all of this is heading, you know more than anybody else.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why every book seems to look like every other book

Ever wonder why all the books on the bestseller list, and sometimes in the bookstores, all look and sound the same? Robert McCrum is writing about the British scene, but his thoughts are applicable to the US. It's the bean-counters who are making it all one big rerun. Originality and the editors who seek it don't have a chance.

Such is the climate in which new fiction is often published today. At the public end, there's the razzmatazz. Off-the-radar, new fiction by unknown writers, the lifeblood of the business, is being scrutinised by people who have neither appetite for, nor understanding of, originality. More...

Site for science fiction fans

We were just alerted to Tor Books' website, which is loaded with material to read, both complete short stories and longer works in serial form. And, of course, there's plenty of information on their in-print books and authors. If you're a fan, you need to check it out. Link.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thinking about ebooks

Nice think piece from Walt Shiel on the state of ebooks at the moment. Very timely, given the introduction of Barnes & Noble's new reader.

WS: Having monitored the genesis and the recent explosion of e-book readers and sales, I can’t help but wonder whether such explosive growth is, in any way, sustainable... More and more, I have stumbled upon online comments, blog posts, articles, etc. in which people who have tried one or more of the reading devices and software resort to complaining about all the things that even the best of the devices and software just can’t do. Things that we take for granted when reading an actual physical book. More...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Books for busting ghosts

Entertainer Dan Aykroyd posts on some ghost stories. Allegedly real ones, that is.

DA: Doctor Hans Holzer, probably the world's most credible and respected ghostbuster, writes in his Travel Guide to Haunted Houses (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers): "A ghost appears to be a surviving emotional memory of someone who died traumatically... but is unaware of his or her death." Wait! So ghosts are just our memories of those who have lived before? More...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Meet the vooks

We're fine with new forms of entertainment, or mixing and matching media, but we also believe that books are fine the way they are as a reading experience (on paper or electronically). David Finkle, from a similar perspective, examines the "vook."

DF: Vooks, in case you don't know, are books that come with supplementary videos to liven up dull old printed text. The idea is that reading is tiresome -- is, in the words of Times reporter Motoko Rich, "an archaic form of entertainment." This, from a journalist for one of our prime newspapers of record who doesn't indicate she's quoting anyone. She's speaking... I refuse to be a beetle-browed, archaic curmudgeon but intend to remain cheerful in the face of the inexorable march of time that throws up innovations like vooks and asks us to be serious about them. Truth is, we must be serious about them. More...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The modern bookstore

From the Huffington Post, a piece on the place of independent bookstores in community life.

HP: In October of 2008, as the financial world was crumbling, my wife and I bought a bookstore. This might strike some as slightly crazier than buying up the world's supply of phone booths or carbon paper, and at the worst possible time at that. But it wasn't insanity that made us take the plunge. It was our confidence that the physical book will continue as a medium for long-form text...that local bookstores are central to the life of their communities; and that technological developments are, in fact, shifting the economic advantage back to the local bookstore. I'll focus on this last point for now. More...

How not to write a query letter

A message to aspiring authors: do your homework. Walt Shiel explains why.

WS: If an author can’t (or won’t) take the time to do a few minutes of research and follow the simple, straightforward directions we provide, why would I expect that author to follow any subsequent instructions or to handle himself in a businesslike manner? More...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reevaluation of E. A. Poe

This interesting article via Critial Mass talks about the decline in Poe's readership, and raises serious questions about his writing.

CM: As we approach the 160th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death on October 7 – and it seems more fitting to talk about Poe on the anniversary of his death than of his birth – it might be time for a revaluation of sorts. In How To Read and Why, Harold Bloom commented that Edgar Allan Poe’s poems and stories, “despite their permanent worldwide popularity, are atrociously written ... and benefit by translation, even into English.” Ouch! Bloom is right about Poe’s stories and poems being atrociously written; they are often prolix and florid and most of them seem to have been written in a tone of near hysteria – though, considering most of Poe’s subject matter, one could argue that the tone was appropriate. More...

Woolf vs. Hemingway

Virginia Woolf reviews Ernest Hemingway, from the Tin House Books blog.

TNB: Of Mr. Hemingway, we know that he is an American living in France, an ‘advanced’ writer, we suspect, connected with what is called a movement, though which of the many we own that we do not know. It will be well to make a little more certain of these matters by reading first Mr. Hemingway’s earlier book, The Sun Also Rises, and it soon becomes clear from this that, if Mr. Hemingway is ‘advanced’ it is not in the way that is to us most interesting. More...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Check out the latest Big Thrill

The Big Thrill website is updated for October with tons of reviews and features.

BT: The autumn colors are spreading across the landscape and cooler weather is moving in, but there's still heat radiating off the pages of this month's Big Thrill selections. The October list includes 28 exciting new thrillers from some of your favorite authors and features the debut of 4 brand-new writers... More.