Monday, 9 January 2012

News: Bookstore Buzz and Tolkien's Nobel Miss

Lots of stuff last week from Publishers Weekly.

  • Some interesting news bites include the closing of feminist US bookstore True Colors in Minnesota next month. Said to be the oldest independent feminist bookstore in North America, it was opened 40 years ago elsewhere as Amazon Bookstore - and later got into a trademark tussle with Bezos's behemoth.
  • Decade-old indie bookstore The Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, Maryland has changed hands, while Kansas City almost lost a mystery-genre bookshop - and got another.
  • In a bit of a reverse situation, three-year-old online bookstore La Casa Azul to open as a brick-and-mortar shop. It "will sell new and used books, e-books, coffee, and locally-made art and gifts", and "offer literacy programs, writing classes, and author readings.
  • Finally: Be one of the 5,000 "who keep book culture alive," exhorts Dan Simon of Seven Stories Press. "Read books, talk about them. Give them as gifts."

News elsewhere: The next chapter in Spanish author Lucia Etxebarria's quit threat sparks a digital publishing debate on the future of writers - and by extension, artists - in the digital publishing era. Some writers don't think quitting is the answer to problems such as strong-arm tactics by publishers and pirates. Author and publisher Harry Freedman, for one, is not worried about e-book piracy. Why?

Meanwhile, publishers are clashing with libraries over free lending of e-books. And so, the debates continue. Also:

  • As more good times ahead are predicted for e-books, some cases are made for vanity publishing. For instance, what if the books are good? One thing about e-books, though: easy to update may also mean easy to doctor. Another area to explore, innovate and make money out of.

    But the year Borders closed - last year - was a good one for small bookshops in St Louis, USA. So no, maybe bookshops still have a little life to them. And just look at all these books coming out of Oz and around the world.

    And indie bookshops aren't entirely helpless: some are fighting back against the likes of Amazon by creating their own unique titles. Just like Silverfish Books, as they'd love to remind us.

    And somewhere in Tokyo is Dokusho no Susume, a bookstore where a real human - the owner, Katsuyoshi Shimizu - recommends books based on one's moods and interests. Who needs algorithms?

    But will Amazon's Price Check app ruin bookstore browsing for everybody? Let's hope not.
  • The emergence of local e-book portal e-Sentral is good news for local authors. Though the name sounds a little... generic.

    Elsewhere, there's fledgling web site and digital publishing company Byliner, which is publishing short pieces by some well-known names. You might have heard about Jon Krakauer's Three Cups of Deceit.
  • Revenge of the paperback? A new book series attempts to revitalise the printed word.
  • JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings didn't get the Nobel (I'm assuming) literature prize because of... poor storytelling? Those who have read the book(s) will probably... agree.
  • Wow. The AP StyleGuard plug-in. Will it spell the death of editing? Not really, the piece argues.
  • Other victims of Thailand's floods: books. It's Germany's Centre for Book Preservation to the rescue in Ayutthaya.
  • Here's a hilarious excerpt from Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women. Pity we might not get the book in the bookstores here.

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