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December 2009
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Archive for December, 2009:

Looking Back at the Decade’s Mysterious Sleepers

posted December 24, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in books publishing

‘Tis the season for editors and bloggers everywhere to weigh in on what they believe to be the best books of the year. Some are even taking the opportunity to size up the whole literary decade. The most interesting list I’ve seen is The decade’s best unread books, compiled by the Guardian.

“While people are busy ranking the hit books of the last 10 years,” the Guardian says, “many a publishing insider is quietly mourning a volume that unaccountably never made the ‘best of’ or bestseller lists, but should have. Here publishers, agents and translators speak up for the ones that really shouldn’t have got away.”

It’s fascinating to get this behind the scenes perspective on books that were expected to do well but didn’t.


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Books = Gifts

posted December 18, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling marketing

books giftsThe holidays are a great time for giving books, but sometimes we need a little help coming up with book ideas. You might want to take a look at Books = Gifts for some book recommendations. The campaign is sponsored by Random House, but that doesn’t mean all the book suggestions are for Random House books. The website has book recommendations broken down by category and also provides links to other sites. If that’s not enough, Books = Gifts has a Facebook page, and you can also follow them on Twitter (use hashtag #booksgifts).

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Borges’s Library of Babel

posted December 16, 2009

Posted by Anne Healey in book design

Back in April I posted about these beautiful novels published by Les éditions du Panama. The Paris-based publishing house went out of business in July. It’s a shame—they put out a lot of lovely books, including some children’s books that you can still buy at Little Fashion Gallery.

In 2006 Panama began publishing French translations of “The Library of Babel,” a 30-volume series of fantastic stories by well-known authors selected and introduced by Jorge Luis Borges. The series is named after his story of the same name in which the universe is an unknowably vast library. The project was originally proposed to Borges in the 1970s by the Italian publisher Franco Maria Ricci and published in Italian as “La Biblioteca di Babele.” The books look beautiful and strange, like they came from an alternate universe—just like they’re from a Borges story.

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Moody Tweets Up a Storm

posted December 9, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in publishing social media trends


On November 30 Electric Literature (about which I posted earlier in the month) launched a bold experiment with author Rick Moody, using Twitter to publish his latest short story in “microserial” fashion. It was Moody’s idea to write a story expressly for Twitter, and the task of writing a narrative that could be transmitted 140 characters at a time turned out to be quite challenging. “I became obsessed with the idea of creating for that character clock,” he told The Brooklyn Ink.


The resulting story, “Some Contemporary Characters,” took Moody five months to write and was tweeted in 10-minute intervals over three days, for a total of 153 tweets.

The project ran into some unforeseen difficulty, however, as the story was being simultaneously tweeted from about 20 other sources (who were invited by Electric Literature to participate), including Vroman’s and other bookstores. Anyone who was following more than one of these Twitter feeds received an onslaught of identical tweets. Also problematic was the decision by many sources to inject the story installments into their regular ongoing twitter stream, so that the story was constantly being interrupted by extraneous tweets.

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A Little Something Extra

posted December 8, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in marketing publishing trends


I’ve always been a sucker for the whole “gift with purchase” thing. Offer me something for free, and I will most likely purchase something I don’t need or even want just so I can score the free item. I am a marketer’s dream. But really, who doesn’t like to get something for free or for a good deal?

Japanese marketers caught on to incentive marketing long, long ago. I remember visiting Japan during Japan’s prosperous years, and it seemed like every time I bought something, no matter how inexpensive the item, I would get a little gift (”omake”) or a raffle type of ticket that could be reimbursed for a “prize” of some sort. Nowadays Japanese companies aren’t as willing to dole out freebies, but the phenomenon certainly is not extinct. I recently visited Japan, and I received plenty of goodies, including gift socks at one hotel chain for making online reservations.

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