Category Archives: Various

Why I live in Los Angeles

Because I like the part I live in and I can’t afford to live in Paris, Berlin or Warsaw. But also…

“Also, crucially: The Age of Innocence’s lack of diversity is an illusion. The book is entirely about the moment the barriers broke down—when the roiling masses started to gain cultural traction and define the city, when Society surrendered its capital S. It’s a portrait of the moment that created the city we know today.

“None of which should obscure the fact that the book is just flat-out great fiction, with one of the most perfectly melancholy endings you will ever have the excruciating good fortune to suffer through. It will, in other words, break your heart in the end, just as New York inevitably will.”
Greatest (NYC) Novel Ever, by Sam Anderson, NY Magazine, January 9, 2011

Now that I think about it, I can’t afford to live in New York either. Oh well. Guess I’ll have to suffer through another 70F winter on the Pacific.

Shameless J Frey

“But a little literary criticism wasn’t going to slow Frey down. As New York magazine reported in November, Frey has created Full Fathom Five, a company that recruits young MFA students to co-write novels with him — for as little as $500, $250 or even nothing — in hopes of sharing in the profits of their eventual blockbuster sale. The writing duties fell almost completely to the young writers: Frey would provide story ideas, writing guidance or polishing, and the connections to get the work published and in the right hands.

If it sounds suspiciously like a scam, Frey can show it’s not. “I Am Number Four,” co-written by Frey and recent Columbia MFA grad Jobie Hughes, under the pseudonym Pittacus Lore, was published in the fall of 2010. And that’s not all: It was subject to a film-rights bidding war, and the movie is being produced by Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios.

“The film version of ‘I Am Number Four’ is due in theaters Feb. 18. Its latest trailer is above.

“Honestly, I don’t get it. But Michael Bay brought us “Transformers,” and I didn’t get that either. Take a look — is James Frey’s fiction factory farm working? What do you think?”
The first fruit of James Frey’s fiction factory, by Carolyn Kellogg, LA Times, January 3, 2011

Words, they fail me.

Author Econ 101 (alas)

“New authors often have the misconception that they will sell a million books and be wealthy for the rest of their lives. But the book is just the beginning; authors shouldn’t put all their eggs in one basket—better to use the egg to hatch more golden egg-laying geese. One book can lead to a product line and multiple streams of residual income.”
Income Streams for Authors, by Irene Watson, SellingBooks.com, September 25, 2010

GPS and Jane Austin

“While digital devices create a number of exciting possibilities for reading, these concepts (and all the others like them) seem like the result of talented people fixing something that isn’t broken. Books have never had any trouble keeping readers’ attention, and they continue to hold their own in an increasingly crowded world of media. Adding GPS to Jane Austen isn’t necessary when generations of readers have fallen in love with her writing for what it is.”
Is this the future of the book?, MobyLives, September 23, 2010

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

The Ruricolist on the perfection of the short story

“There are too many short stories in the world. For all x, where x is heartbreaking or horrifying, mystifying or magnificent, pitiful or precius, agonizing or astonishing—some short story already satisfies it perfectly.

“There is always room for another novel. Novels are too long for perfection. All novels do something wrong, leave some promise unfufilled. There is always room in its interstices. The novel is fractal; from the right perspective we could see every novel grow from another—see Don Quijote as the Mandelbrot set, dark among haloes.

~snip~

“But short stories can be perfect. Pry open the novelist and you find a frustrated reader of novels; pry open the director and you find a frustrated watcher of movies. But pry open a short story writer and you find delight and devotion. This is strange. Perfection is so high and cold a thing; it should quell and silence us, it should make us resort to some open and unfulfilled field. What could inspire us to imitate what we cannot rival?”
Short Stories, by Paul M. Rodriguez, Ruricolist, September 12, 2010

That should be the ever thought provoking Paul M. Rodriguez.

Why printed books will be with us for a while longer

“There’s an underlying issue at play in all of this, the fundamental that books, in whatever their form, are simply text delivery systems. That sort of reductionist approach is true enough – whether ancient papyrus scroll, manuscript copy, printed book, or digital text the essential point is to distribute the written-word product of someone’s thinking – but the down to earth reality is quite different.

“Before books were printed, they were laboriously copied by hand and the text was often illustrated – illuminated – by artists of great skill. The book, very soon, became more than the text. The hundreds of years of perfecting the book were more than technical progression. A large measure of the book’s development has been due to it’s excellence as a medium of artistic expression, whether through its binding, the quality and appearance of its printing, etc. Long ago, books became a gestalt experience, the actual content surely its primary raison d’etre but not the only reason to appreciate and enjoy them.”
E-Publishing Consultant Mike Shatzkin Doesn’t Understand Books, by Booktryst, Seattle PI, August 19, 2010.

Yeah, e-books, ebooks, eBooks, alas, this book, Electricland, won’t be on Kindle or ePub due to some text formatting neither of those formats likes one bit. It will, however, be a available, um, somehow as a pdf, but I haven’t worked that out yet. But I will and I’ll let y’know.

Demise of (mega)bookstores (but not books)

“When I was growing up, record stores were a place you could hang out. In a really great store — one of those big city leviathans spread over several stories — you could spend the best part of a day flipping through the racks looking for hard-to-find records, obscure titles, things you’d never even heard of.

“Teenagers today probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Who goes to a record store? Why don’t you just download your music onto your iPod?

“As recently as 2001 there were music stores everywhere. As many as 80,000 people worked in them, according to the Labor Department. And that was a number that had been steady for years.

“In 2002 the iPod took off. Today the number working in music stores is 20,000 — a 75% collapse.

“As for the book industry: About 125,000 people still work in book stores and news dealers, according to Labor. How many of them will still have jobs in two years? Another 75,000 work in book publishing. When writers self-publish in electronic format, how many publishers will still be left?”
Get ready for the bookstore massacre
Commentary: E-books are the future and Amazon dominates
, by By Brett Arends, August 17, 2010 (via PWxyz)

I think the model is changing to POD bookstores. Places where you browse the models (like haute couture), pick out what you want and have a cup of tea while it’s printed and bound in the back. There’s a bookstore with an Espresso machine like that in NYC right now, I just read about it at PWxyz last week. I think what will survive in the future are small bookstores, used bookstores, bookstores that sell other things or services, concert venues with bookstores, whatnots with bookstores, etc. Full disclosure: I never go to bookstores, but I would like to be able to if I’m ever so inclined. One of my favorite bookstores on Earth is at Beyond Baroque, but I never get there unless there’s a poetry reading I drag myself out to, which is seldom. But they have books, chapbooks, zines, and other cool book-like things of poetry that I can never find online and that I wouldn’t buy if I wasn’t able to flip through it standing in the store. I buy a lot of poetry there that way; it’s wonderful. So Long Live the Bookstore – Adapt or Die.

PS. I also don’t think eBooks are going to destroy print books. Unless we all end up living in sterile underground chambers where we read from screens suspended over our biochambers (or something – who knows?) I believe print books will be around for quite a while yet. We’re not hardwired to read books (books haven’t been around long enough) but the habit and the kinetic experience of reading paper books goes deep most readers. Shopping in bookstores is a luxury. The physical/emotional/intellectual experience of reading a paper book is almost a need. Childrens books, for example, how many copies of Goodnight Moon have been lovingly mauled over the years? Pop-up books will become museum pieces because there are no pop-up books in eBook format.

Lastly, if you drop your book in the bathtub, that’s one book. Drop your iPad, that’s your whole library, the iPad and whatever else you had on the iPad. So there!

(Also possibly of interest: Paper Freaks in the Digital Age, by Ginger Mayerson, J LHLS, Fall 2004)

I, for one, welcome our new POD masters

And a world without excess inventory and waste in general.

“For over a decade we have had before us a technique for publishing books called print on demand. Those who witnessed its introduction at a book expo in 1998 declared the process revolutionary. Though it’s taken a decade or so to refine the technology, they were absolutely correct. The delivery system has matured and begun to make serious inroads on the traditional one. Though representing only 2.5% of all book production in 2009, it is expected to grow at 16% per annum according to David Taylor, president of Lightning Source, the nation’s biggest POD firm. The first generation of Espresso POD machines, now being installed in libraries and bookstores, promises to expand the technology’s popularity even further. As anyone who has seen a demonstration of the Espresso can testify, the process itself is a technological miracle and will most certainly be miniaturized. It is easy to imagine a day when POD kiosks – in bookstore or non-bookstore venues – will issue books from an infinite inventory of digitally stored titles.

“But it is not just the technology that is so exciting to contemplate. It’s the business principle underlying the process that promises the invigoration and perhaps even the salvation of printed books.”
Publishing 3.0: A World without Inventory Part 1, by Richard Curtis, [e-reads], April 18, 2010

I’m glad I’m not the only one saying this. Also see the comments on the [e-reads] webpage.