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Monday, December 22, 2008

Book Ends

More chatter about the end of the publishing industry showed up in the Los Angeles Times yesterday in this article written by Tom Engelhardt.

The article updates a lot of similar articles that this site has linked to and discussed in the past with new information about recent layoffs and cutbacks in the industry. So in some sense, it's a traditional "Here lies the publishing industry" piece. However, one new bit of insight is Engelhardt's commentary that the book has resisted the presence of advertisements more effectively than any other print media:

This, in our world, has to be considered some kind of unnoticed miracle. Yes, early books sometimes had quack medicine ads in them and, for years, certain paperbacks had ads for other books (by the same publisher) at the back, but the book largely resisted the ad. Even after publishers began wrapping book covers around anything from movie novelizations to material that had once been confined to "police gazettes" or Hollywood fan mags, the ad still -- against all logic -- stayed away.

Now that is interesting. And even at the expense of the industry, I hope the ad continues to stay away from the novel.

Thanks to the many people that drew my attention to this article.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reading as a Memory

In a recent interview with Jacket Copy, the Los Angeles Times literary blog, National Book Award finalist Salvatore Scibona, author of The End, says about reading:

For me, ideally, a novel should be read slowly, in some version of solitude, in a state of willfully suspended disbelief, while alert, with a lot of sympathy to spare, while warm, in a room without too much unnecessary light, while one is 16 years old, lonesome, lovelorn, while there's something else one is supposed to be doing, late at night, hoping a certain person will call; and she doesn't call.

That simple but clear description made feel for the sixteen year-old boy reading in the dark room. It made me feel like I was him.

More importantly though, it reminded me of my own reading memories: a rare overcast day, curled up in the reading corner I'd carved out of my childhood bedroom, beside the window, my grandparents' red down comforter in various states of wrap over and underneath me, alternately reading and praying for rain. To this day, that memory is exceptionally strong for me. The way it felt, the way it smelled, the feeling of satisfaction in the reading.

That is where I fell in love with reading, and it is an experience that is long lost to me. As I continue to read, I will create new reading memories that will also be a part of my passion for books, but none will ever rival that first.

What about you? Do you have a memory of reading, more powerful than all others?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Now That's What I Call Success

At Barnes and Noble the other day, I begged Sven (To Make a Long Story Short) to snap this pic for me on his iPhone. It's a little blurry, but you get the idea. An entire wall of the Twilight series, floor to ceiling. And had his camera phone wide screen capability, you'd see two more panels of shelves on either side.

Needless to say, I was stunned.


The End Has Come.... Somewhat

The Tribune Company, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday. I'm not at all surprised. Not only because of the current economy, but because the weakness of the Los Angeles Times, and other print media, was a topic of discussion on this blog back in July.

I can't save the Los Angeles Times. It should be able to save itself. It is a pulitzer prize winning brand, and I am convinced that if they begin to think of themselves as a news and content provider instead of a newspaper provider, they will be able to refocus on what parts of their company they need to rebuild and expand to get revenue flowing in the right direction. As we've been saying on this blog for months now, publishing will survive, we just need to reimagine it and change our expectations.

So I won't say that this is the end of print media, or the end of the Los Angeles Times.

It is, however, the end of 2008, and like the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times released their 2008 Favorite Books list. I particularly like that they sectioned out Science Fiction, Children's Fiction, and Crime Fiction - a nice way to draw some deserved attention to those genres - and took the time to actually explain their selections. Check out their various lists here.

Though I have to ask, can someone please explain to me why "Books" are categorized in the "Living" section of the website, along with "Health" and "Autos" among others, instead of "Arts/Entertainment?" Los Angeles Times, if you're going to start fixing things, that might be a place to start.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Before You Shop...

Well... I have to admit... I still have two gift cards to the book store. I know, I know. I've been pestering you all for help and still can't make up my mind! While I appreciated all of the suggestions, notwithstanding Lesbian Erotica (I'm looking at you Prince, Sven), I still haven't stumbled on that paperback I'm excited to read.

So if you're anything like me, it might be wise to prepare yourself before heading to the bookstore for some shopping where the broad scope of options may dazzle you into paralysis.

Thankfully, the New York Times Sunday Book Review is doing its part to help. Check out their recently released 10 Best Books of 2008. While none of these books appear to be out in paperback, they just might make the perfect holiday gift you've been looking for.

As for me... I'm still searching for that perfect purchase...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Roswell vs. Twilight: BATTLE ROYALE

Way back in August, I wrote this post about the similarities between Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and the old TV show Roswell that used to air on the WB and later UPN. That single post has drawn more readers from web searches than any other post from this entire year. Clearly, I was on to something.

Today, Mike Moody over at the TVSquad (cheers, Mike) went up with a side by side comparison of the Roswell series and the Twilight movie. Check out his excellent post here.

While I have been very hard on Twilight on this site (this was my original review of the book) I do think there is something encouraging about its smashing success. According to Box Office Mojo Twilight raked in a near $70 million on its opening weekend, a bigger opening than Quantum of Solace the most recent James Bond effort. That's some big money.

Why is it encouraging? Because it demonstrates, yet again, that young women have buying power and that they are a demographic worthy of the attention of publishers and studios alike. And for someone like me, a writer of fiction with a decidedly female bent, that is nothing but good news.

I still hold that the comparison between Roswell and Twilight simply reveals the formulaic foundation upon which they are each built. And it's to that formula, the teen love rescue gambit, that I attribute the success of both. Women (and pre-teens, tweens, teens, whatever) enjoy a good romance now and again, and if you combine that with some creativity, and some quality writing (hopefully) you're increasing your odds of success in that market.

So who is the winner in the Roswell/Twilight showdown? Well, I know which way I vote, but the bottom line is, we all win.