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Showing posts from May, 2006

Copout; Question

I know I promised a meaty post today, but I'm still doing a bit of research for the one I want to write, and I also really, really, REALLY have to get some non-blog-related work done today. So in lieu, I'm asking all you smart book people a question. Q: What is the future of bookselling? Lots of media and industry types have sounded off on this, but I want to know what you, the folks in the trenches think. We've talked about what ought to happen, but now I want to know how you think it's really going to play out. How will bookselling venues evolve, including chains, superstores like Wal-Mart, independent stores, and the internet? Who will rise and who will fall? Are we headed toward increased corporatization or increased local independence? How are consumers' and readers' tastes changing or remaining constant? How will authors' roles evolve? What will independents need to do to stay viable? What will the next generation of booksellers be like? T

Link-Mad Monday: Indie Booksellers In the News

I've been so impressed with the level of discourse in your comments on my "Blogs, Books, and Anti-Indie Backlash" post -- your passion and the different perspectives you bring (bookseller, publisher, consumer, etc.) are truly illuminating. Please feel free to keep the conversation going, and I'll try to post a recap of your insights at some point. In the meantime, here's some food for thought, some of which relates directly to the issues under discussion. Former Brooklyn boy Robert Greene of Book People in Moscow, Idaho (not to be confused with the Book People in Austin, or with any of the other American Moscows) writes that "various groups in moscow have been fighting big box stores much to the ire of the local newspapers, chamber of commerce, city councils etc." More power to them -- click on their website to give the good folks at Book People some love. Laura Miller, she of the book RELUCTANT CAPITALISTS which is sparking some of this debate, has a

Comment: Blogs, Books, and Anti-Indie Backlash

Friday morning at BEA I attended a panel discussion titled "Blog 2.0: How Blogs Continue to Re-Define Author, Publisher and Reader Dynamics." Other bloggers (Ed, Max) have commented on the perplexing fact that the panel contained not a single literary blogger (i.e. one who reviews books and book news). The closest thing was the presence of Kyle Crafton of Media Bistro (which hosts blogs, including GalleyCat, runs writing classes and contains advertising but isn't exactly a blog) and Michael Cader of Publishers Lunch / Publishers Marketplace (which is more of a newsletter, and which I admit I've stopped reading because it's more about publishing personnel than books, and because I got tired of the ads for the pay version of the site). The other panelists were Ana Marie Cox (i.e. D.C. gossip blogger/fiction writer Wonkette), Dan Berstein (author of the book BLOG!), and Marcos Zuniga (famed force behind the political blog Daily Kos). The panel did come up with so

Link-Mad Monday, BEA Style

As one of my friends put it, Book Expo America 2006 was truly Book Nerd heaven. I think this was the most productive and educational BEA I've ever been to -- I spent far more time in workshops and panels than on the show floor -- and also the most fun, since I seem to know enough folks in the business to get invited to some of the cool parties. And the best part, as always, was the people. I feel like I need to invest in (horrors) a Rolodex to keep track of the brilliant and interesting people I met. I plan to spend the next few weeks focusing on those panels and workshops and what they might imply for the book biz, but today, my first day back, I just want to relive the fun stuff. For Link-Mad Monday, I'm giving some shout-outs to some of the great people and institutions I met and learned about this weekend (in approximate order of meeting them), so that you can give them some love. These are all people and places that are going to be added to my links list as soon as I have

Surprise Sneak Post from BEA!

Dude, am I letting my book nerd flag fly at the D.C. Convention center. Max at the Millions and Ed at Return of the Reluctant (find his link through Bookdwarf -- I don't have time to create a new link right now!) have objected to the lack of wireless or other free internet access for press folks, but us lucky American Booksellers Association member get to use the computers in the ABA lounge, so I'm unexpectedly getting a chance to post. Of course way too much has happened in the last couple of days to fully describe, but highlights include: watching bookseller/actors demonstrate "bad handselling" in a hilarious series of videos (the acting wasn't quite as bad as the sales techniques); hearing John McPhee describe what sounds like a fascinating new book about transportation over Spanish tapas; giving Jonathan Franzen my brilliant opinion on why he doesn't need to worry about offending right wing readers; meeting Bookdwarf, Max from The Millions, and other blo

BEA: This Year, It's Truly Monumental

That's actually the official slogan of this year's Book Expo America, managed by Reed Exhibitions (related to Reed Elsevier, which owns Publishers Weekly) and sponsored by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the American Booksellers Association (ABA). That’s a lot of big corporate and institutional money behind the event, yeah. But what it's all about, for me, (and really, isn't everything?) is the one-on-one stuff . The workshops and panels with authors, booksellers and editors I respect. The meetings with sales reps I've only contacted by email. The random encounters with fellow booksellers and other folks that I only get to see once or twice a year. The conversations. The reading copies (oh yes, the swag). And the parties (oh yes, the parties). Not everyone is as excited about BEA as I am. For those on the publishing side, I can understand it completely – the expo for them means sitting in their publisher's bo

Comment: More Links, Review #23, BEA Anxiety

Between reading and gathering the "cold call" blogger conversation and frantically emailing everyone under the sun with BEA plans, there's been almost no time for the regular stuff of the blog. I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon for Book Expo America in Washington, D.C., and I'm hoping to get in one last post before then about my hopes and excitement about the conference. But today I want to get to the odds and ends that are in danger of falling through the cracks. The Best American Fiction of the Last 25 Years The New York Times asked several hundred "prominent writers, critics, editors and other literary sages" what they believed was the best American novel since 1980, giving them no list to choose from and completely free range to pick their favorite. The winner(s) are here . Definitely click on the always hilarious A.O. Scott's essay for some thoughtful analysis of the results. Toni Morrison's BELOVED got the most votes in a wide-open cont

Link-Mad Monday Special Edition: Bloggers and Publicists

I noticed a single issue was getting a lot of play in the world of litblogs this week: publicists and authors who solicit bloggers to read/review/promote books, and the right and wrong way to do it. Here's a rundown on who's been talking about this, followed by my own two cents on the issue: Dan Wickett of Emerging Writers Network opens the can of worms with a post entitled "Please Read The Freaking Blog First". His very reasonable, if frustrated, contention is that if you're going to send a blogger a book or email them asking if they're interested, it makes sense to read the blog first to find out what kind of books they are generally interested in. He even gives a couple of examples of literary bloggers and their interests. In the comments on his post, someone left this hilarious mock solicitation: Dear Sir: I have a self-published chapbook that won a special "Certificate of Participation" at a recent Bay Area literary festival. I am convinced t

Comment: No Me, Just Mitchell

I really have to spend the day knuckling down to some freelance work, so instead of reading the blog today, read this: A brand-new story from David Mitchell. It features one of the characters from BLACK SWAN GREEN, all grown up, and is (of course) structurally innovative as well as being a meditation on family, selfishness and happiness, and the state of England's freeways. Enjoy!

Link-Mad Monday #2; Review #22

It's Link-Mad Monday again! Here are a few of the things I wanted to be sure to mention this week. This one's a little old already, but did you read this infuriating article in the April 28 Sunday Times? Titled "Dizzy or Smart: What's a Girl To Be?", it posits that "dizzy is the new smart" in literature, especially chicklit, and suggests that dizzy "means rejecting a caricatured version of feminism, studiousness or ambition in favor of even more caricatured womanly wiles." No wonder teenage girls are reading the GOSSIP GIRLS and THE A-LIST (see Bookseller Chick's many-sided conversation on this issue) when the adult women are reading THE MEN I DIDN'T MARRY and THE DEBUTANTE DIVORCEE. Call me a snob, but it's not that I'm opposed to chicklit; I'm just not sure when smart, principled, multi-faceted women got labeled humorless and no fun and dumped in favor of boy-obsessed fashion models. Maybe it has something to do with the

Chronicle: Brooklyn Literary Mingle (and a bit of SSP*)

Last night the ALP and I found ourselves in glittering company under the lights of the paparazzi cameras at the Brooklyn Literary Reception and Mingle in the beautiful old Brooklyn Borough Hall. Air kisses were exchanged, heads were thrown back in tinkling laughter, and wine glasses clinked in bookish toasts as Brooklyn's literary elite celebrated the kickoff of preparations for the Brooklyn Book Festival. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that glamorous – the wine glasses were plastic, the dress was casual, and the guest list may have been impressive only to a passionate Brooklynite and book nerd like myself. This is Brooklyn, after all, and our celebrations tend to be a little more down-to-earth and egalitarian than swanky Manhattanite soirees. The guest list was geared toward publishers, editors, and other behind-the-scenes book folk, rather than rock star authors (though those got name-dropped plenty). But it was great fun, and an exciting way to begin to build the buzz for

Reviews #20 and #21: Kids' Stuff (Like Censorship and Racism)

FLY BY NIGHT by Francis Hardinge (HarperCollins, April 2006) THE LOST COLONY, BOOK 1: THE SNODGRASS CONSPIRACY by Grady Klein (First Second, May 2006) Once again, two books, thematically linked. This time they seem to reveal my penchant for the kids' stuff: one is a fantasy novel geared toward young adults, the other a graphic novel with childlike drawings. It's true, I have a serious weakness for intrepid heroes and heroines, impending peril, swashbuckling, pratfalls, and nonsense. But there's a lot more going on in these two books than adventure and wackiness. Both have managed to effectively engage with several serious themes, while still remaining as entertaining as Saturday morning cartoons. I picked up a reading copy of Francis Hardinge's book in the store because I liked the cover: a running, scowling girl clutching a goose, her face partially obscured by a banner reading "This Book Has Been BANNED! By the Mandelion Guild of Stationers." * The girl i

New Feature: Link-Mad Monday!

I've realized that just as I can't quite get to all the books I want to read, I can't write about all of the topics I think are interesting in the book world. I've got a folder full of interesting tidbits I want to share here on the blog, but since I really only have time to write two or three days a week, there's no way I'm going to get to them all before the links expire or the story's no longer interesting. As a solution, I propose to institute Link-Mad Monday here on The Written Nerd. Every Monday I'll post links to all of those fascinating stories, for you to click on as you have the time and inclination. I'll feel less guilty about that backlog of tidbits, and you won't miss all of this vital book world news and commentary. I may also end up writing more extensively about some things later in the week. So here we go: The NEW YORK POST has broken the story that bookstore chain Borders has signed a lease on the retail space in the Williamsbu