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The Evolution of Book Clubs

posted July 9, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling E-books book design books digital media events technology translation trends world literature


Book clubs are pretty amazing things. I don’t belong to one at the moment, but I would say 80 percent of my friends are members of book groups. I really believe there is a book group for everyone. There are highly structured book groups, very laidback ones, clubs that read only classics, I could go on and on. Well, I just learned of a public book club in Minneapolis called Books & Bars. The group meets once a month at Bryant Lake Bowl, a theater that is adjoined by a pub and bowling alley.

Books & Bars has a moderator, comedian Jeff Kamin, and each session boasts about 70 attendees. Among the book club’s sponsors are independent bookseller Magers & Quinn and satirical newspaper The Onion. Participants are encouraged to purchase the selected books from Magers & Quinn and to enjoy food and drink at Bryant Lake Bowl during the gatherings. And even though it’s a book club, reading the book selection is not a requirement.

Upcoming book selections include The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, and illustrated novel Blankets by Craig Thompson.

Digital Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

posted March 5, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling E-books books publishing technology trends

A Picture of a eBook
Image via Wikipedia

People seem to have very strong feelings about digital media. It seems every day I read articles embracing digital media and articles dismissing it. And even within the differing camps there is discord—Kindle vs. iPad vs. whatever the e-readers from Sony and Barnes & Noble are called. Putting aside the nuts and bolts of publishing costs, I just don’t understand what the big deal is. If you want to read books on paper, then read books on paper. If you want to read ebooks, go right ahead. Can’t we all just get along?

One thing on which we can probably all agree is that the traditional publishing model is outdated and needs to be modernized. So, whichever tribe you belong to, you might find some humor in this tongue-in-cheek article from The Atlantic.

Global Marketplace Demands Literature That’s Easy to Translate

posted March 4, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in Bookselling E-books events translation trends uncategorized virtual offices world literature

global novel

Tim Parks, who blogs for the New York Review of Books, had an interesting post recently about the pressure that writers (particularly non-American writers) feel to reach an international audience and the way this is affecting what and how they write:

There is a growing sense that for an author to be considered “great,” he or she must be an international rather than a national phenomenon . . . [M]ore and more European, African, Asian and South American authors see themselves as having “failed” if they do not reach an international audience.

Parks goes on to describe how this pressure has increased with the advent of electronic submissions, which enable an author to send a new work simultaneously to publishers all over the world, such that international rights may even be purchased before the writer has found a publisher in his or her own country:

An astute agent can then orchestrate the simultaneous launch of a work in many different countries using promotional strategies that we normally associate with multinational corporations. Thus a reader picking up a copy of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, or the latest Harry Potter, or indeed a work by Umberto Eco, or Haruki Murakami, or Ian McEwan, does so in the knowledge that this same work is being read now, all over the world . . . This perception adds to the book’s attraction.

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Glenn Beck: An Anarchist Book’s Best Friend

posted February 23, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in Bookselling E-books books trends uncategorized

In a surprising twist, it appears that Fox News’s Glenn Beck has helped to make a best seller of The Coming Insurrection, an incendiary text written by French anarchists under the pseudonym “Invisible Committee,” whose call to arms “takes as its starting point theft, sabotage, the refusal to work, and the elaboration of collective, self-organized forms-of-life.”

Written in the aftermath of the 2005 riots in the Paris suburbs and published by La Fabrique in 2007, L’insurrection qui vient was denounced by the French government as a terrorist manual. The text first gained significant attention in 2008, following the arrest of its alleged authors, a group of youths now known as the Tarnac 9, on charges of sabotaging French train lines.

anarchy coming insurrection anarchy

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An iPad is an Apple. A Kindle is an Orange. What Is an Orizon?

posted February 19, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in E-books books technology


Inundated with a never-ending stream of tech news, it’s easy to confuse apples and oranges, so here’s a simple thing to keep in mind. The Amazon Kindle is an e-book reader. The iPad is a multipurpose tablet that can be used for many things, including reading.

In fact, the iPad doesn’t come with an e-reader app. If you want to read a book on it, you will have to download Apple’s iBooks app from its App Store. It will be interesting to see how many people will never bother to download the iBooks app and how many people will never use the iPad for book reading. It’s worth remembering this comment about the Kindle from Steve Jobs in the New York Times.

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

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