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November 2009
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Archive for November, 2009:

When Fiction Is Nonfiction But Meant to be Fiction

posted November 25, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in books

Cover of

Cover of The Red Hat Club

Say your best buddy from childhood writes a novel. Let’s say you pick up a copy at your local independent bookseller (of course!). You’re reading it, and you’re thinking, gee, some of these characters and circumstances seem awfully familiar. Then you realize, hey, some of this stuff happened to me!

Well, something similar happened to Vicki Stewart. Stewart felt that a character in the novel The Red Hat Club by childhood friend Haywood Smith tread a little too closely to home, so she sued Smith for libel and invasion of privacy. The jury gave Stewart $100,000 for the libel suit but nothing for invasion of privacy. The jury also declined to cover Stewart’s attorney fees.

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What’s That Smell?

posted November 23, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in books

As the digital revamp of our reading lives surges remorselessly forward, defenders of “the old technology” inevitably cite the tactile, or sensuous, quality of paper books as a pleasure that cannot be quantified, much less duplicated by an e-reader. The physicality of a paper book, especially an old one, they say, carries with it a certain mystique, having passed through the hands of generations of readers, its pages becoming weathered and worn.


And what is the most evocative aspect of this sensory allure, the hallmark of a book’s longevity and import? It’s the smell, of course—that musty, dusty, indescribable funk that wafts out of the open tome to remind you: these ideas were forged in another time; you, dear reader, are but a single traveler over the vast continent of human intellectual history.

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Why NOT Judge a Book by Its Cover?

posted November 17, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling book design books publishing

From an early age we are warned not to judge a book by its cover, but now that I am an adult, I question this advice. Why can’t we judge a book by the cover? Isn’t that why new books are displayed face out, to capture one’s attention? Why are book designers and illustrators paid good money to create attractive covers if they don’t matter? Now there are certain books I will buy no matter what the cover is, but with undiscovered authors when I am wandering aimlessly through a bookstore? Something needs to catch my eye, and an ugly or boring cover isn’t going to do it.

So let’s conduct a little experiment here. Following are four covers for the same book, Chinua Achebe’s seminal Things Fall Apart.


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1666 Words Per Day = Piece of Cake (?)

posted November 13, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in books publishing trends


November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a literary marathon that challenges aspiring writers to generate a 175-page (50,000-word) fiction manuscript in 30 days. Conceived in 1999 by a bunch of twentysomethings in San Francisco with “nothing better to do,” the event now attracts more than 120,000 participants from around the world and has spawned a full-fledged nonprofit organization, the Office of Letters and Light, to keep it running.

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OR Books Going Rouge

posted November 12, 2009

Posted by Thomas Riggs in Bookselling books publishing

A while back I wrote a post on an innovative new publisher, OR Books, that plans to sell ebooks and print-on-demand paper books . . . but only from its own website. You won’t find its books in stores or on Amazon. This strategy greatly reduces the publisher’s costs (in distribution and returns) but also greatly reduces the potential visibility of its books. In fact, the start-up would have seemed less than promising had its founders, John Oakes and Colin Robinson, not been such well-known and highly respected editors.

going roguegoing-rouge-small

After months of keeping a low profile, OR Books finally announced its first work: Going Rouge: An American Nightmare. Sound familiar? Its title, Going Rouge, has the same letters, with just two switched around, as Going Rogue, Sarah Palin’s upcoming memoir. It also has a nearly identical Read the rest of this entry »

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