Monday, 23 July 2012

News: Not-So-Goodreads, Book Covers, and Chefs

Ego tripping
The recently reported author hissy-fit is followed by Goodreads's somewhat telling list of authors who allegedly can't take criticism. Most of these are sci-fi and YA titles, the genres many authors tend to kick off their careers with. One guy has 19 titles on this list, probably with good reason.

So, do we really need a Rotten Tomatoes for books, when other platforms already exist for the purpose of bruising egos? And, as demonstrated by the responses to the latest summer blockbuster, the ubiquitous trolls in cyberspace can set fire to almost anything.

Besides, "most comments are horrible," anyway, and the cost of fighting online trolls may not be worth it. So bad reviews - and the bad responses to them - are, for the moment, part of the landscape. Deal with it, says this author.

For those of you who can't get enough of book review blogs, here's The Neverending Library, by the digital department of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

...If it's called "Goodreads", why all the zero- to two-star books?

Covering book designs
For those who wonder about books with those tattered page edges, here's the history and rationale for deckle-edged books. Who knew it was a prestige thing?

Also, book covers looking more and more alike - and retro. The recent spate of apparent copying isn't just about appeal, but also because simple covers are easier to render in e-readers. Oh, hurry up, technology, so we can have nicer e-book covers. But imitation may not be the sincerest or greatest form of flattery, as a 'tribute' to The Ipcress File stirs a book jacket plagiarism row.

The argument for better covers can be illustrated by a 6-year-old whose mom 'bribed' her to guess what some books are about by their covers. Hilarity ensues. I wonder if some adults pick what to buy and read the same way.

Oh, wait... they... do.

In the bubbling pot...
Hell's chef Ramsay denies racism suggested in former underling Marcus Samuelsson's memoir. So it's okay to verbally break your chefs' spines, as long as you're not racist about it? Kind of like English football, isn't it? And isn't it strange that Ramsay wanted to be a pro-footballer?

Elsewhere, Get Jiro! by potty-mouthed Anthony Bourdain (and illustrated by Joel Rose) tops New York Times' list of best-selling hardcover graphic novels. And is Gwyneth Paltrow to star in a silver screen adaptation of chef Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter?

Toni Morrison...
... says some things on...

...Community: "I live in places that I love. And I’d hate to lose them. ... But home is an idea rather than a place. It’s where you feel safe. Where you’re among people who are kind to you – they’re not after you; they don’t have to like you – but they’ll not hurt you. And if you’re in trouble they’ll help you... And we’ve moved from that in this country."

...pop culture: "The pop stuff – it’s – it’s so low. People used to stand around and watch lynchings. And clap and laugh and have picnics. And they used to watch hangings. We don’t do that anymore. But we do watch these other car crashes. Crashes. Like those Housewives. Do you really think that your life is bigger, deeper, more profound because your life is on television?"

...and more. Now I want to read some of her books. Don't you?

Other news
  • RIP Stephen R Covey. And RIP Alexander Cockburn, CounterPunch editor.
  • 16 books challenged for LGBT content includes several children's books and a YA novel that was subjected to book burning.
  • Australian bookstore business in doubt? This piece says 'no'. However, one should know that, like in France, the government in Oz also fixes prices for books.
  • The annual Hong Kong Book Fair spotlights works banned in mainland China. Speaking of banned Chinese scribes: activist Chen Guangcheng gets a deal for his memoir. But it may not be in time for the next HK Book Fair.
  • Sounds like a generation gap thingy: Old codger thinks Stephen King's overrated... ...and younger writer says, "That's BS."
  • Penelope Trunk clarifies her unflattering comments on the traditional publishing industry. But then she also says that "only small ideas get put on the Web", while big ideas go into books. What does that mean for bloggers who write long, well-crafted pieces on the web?
  • In the wake of the "Grey" phenomenon, sexing up classics might be a bad idea. And it's not as if they didn't know how to do it back then.
  • About time this happened: Barnes & Noble releases Nook for Web. Not that I'm buying e-books online yet, but at least I probably won't need an e-reader for accessing what is really a kind of compiled help module (CHM).
  • Radio DJs in Cleveland held a book burning for that piece of retooled fan fiction - as a joke, it seems. But some took it seriously, including one woman who "told [one of the DJs] to torch her Nook, which he eventually did throw to the flames." Cue the lo-o-o-o-ong sigh. And Americans expect the rest of us to believe that they can be trusted with firearms.
  • A visually impaired teen in Louisiana offers menus in Braille to local restaurants. Stories like these shine a light on the blindness by some towards the reading/eating needs of the visually impaired.
  • Life after Borders: The stories of several ex-employees as they look for work. Meanwhile, Waterstones' founder goes on about how the chain was ruined; this time, he cites Amazon and short-term business thinking. Dude should just get over it already.


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