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Archives: December 2008

Digital Books on Christmas Morning

phome.jpgLast week’s gift-giving filled stockings with more digital book-reading devices.

According to the Huffington Post, five of the six most popular Christmas morning Google searches were iPhone, iTunes, and iPod Touch-driven. Check it out:

“1. itunes.com
2. itunes download
3. itunes store
4. stores open on christmas day
5. www.itunes.com downloads
6. itunes gift card”

What does this mean for publishers? Start courting these new readers. Digital reader companies like Lexcycle’s Stanza and the new application ScrollMotion are teaming up with publishers to get these new users reading.

Will Amateur Booksellers Kill Publishing?

twittelogo2.jpgOver the weekend, NY Times writer David Streitfeld ignited a literary blogosphere controversy by blaming amateur booksellers for publishing’s current state of financial distress.

The article’s central point proposed that avid readers resell books so often that they have devalued the books they love so much. Here’s the rub: “it’s all the fault of people like myself, who increasingly use the Internet both to buy books and later, after their value to us is gone, sell them … the rise of a worldwide network of amateurs who sell books from their homes or, if they’re lazy like me, in partnership with an Internet dealer who does all the work for a chunk of the proceeds.”

So far the piece has raised plenty of questions on Twitter, as Soft Skull Press, publisher Michael Hyatt and GalleyCat’s own Ron Hogan debated the piece in pithy posts. What do you think?

Harold Pinter Has Died

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Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter passed away on Wednesday, leaving behind a legacy of 32 plays, one novel, and work on 22 screenplays.

The 78-year-old playwright made his career with award-winning plays like “The Birthday Party” and “The Homecoming.” He won the Nobel Prize in 2005, railing against President George W. Bush and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair in his acceptance speech.

Here’s fierce Pinter quote from his AP obituary: “The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don’t hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, and anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its true place. When true silence falls we are left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.”

GalleyCat’s 2008 Year in Literary Web Video

cat.jpgAs GalleyCat takes a holiday break, why not watch some literary web video? Just in time for your vacation, we collected some of GalleyCat’s web video content in a single post.

Earlier this year, we attended The Sexiest Book Party Ever for Francis Levy’s new novel.

Then, we joined Mike Edison, Jonathan Ames, Amanda Stern, Rachel Shukert, and Jon Spencer for a night of rock & roll and literary mayhem.

Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City, talked about what the recession means for writers.

We met a dog-walking poet who lives, works, and writes in Brooklyn.

NBA-winning novelist Barry Lopez gave his thoughts on the historic election.

Then, Peter H. McGuigan, founding partner at Foundry Literary + Media, pondered the publishing meltdown.

HarperStudio publisher Bob Miller talked about reforming book return policies.

At the National Book Awards, GalleyCat landed exclusive interviews with NBA Young People’s Literature winner Judy Blundell, Nonfiction winner Annette Gordon-Reed, Poetry winner Mark Doty, former finalist Joshua Ferris, and in short feature, Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell and finalist Salvatore Scibona discussed poverty and writing.

If you want more literary content, The Millions just completed A Year in Reading and Largehearted Boy continues to archive the Best of 2008 book lists, and finally, GalleyCat readers picked the Best Writing Music.

Curiously Discussing Benjamin Button

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As the literary blogosphere closes up shop for the holidays, Jacket Copy will feature a special blogged conversation about F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

The story hits movie screens this holiday season, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Over at Jacket Copy, a number of literary bloggers will talk about expectations for the film and thoughts about the story. Join the conversation after reading a free copy of the story.

Here’s the all-star list of bloggers discussing the story: “John Fox of Bookfox, who has been focusing on short stories this year. David Gutowski, who blogs about music and books at Largehearted Boy. Baby Got Books‘ pseudonymous blogger Shaft. Amy Shearn, whose debut novel "How Far is the Ocean From Here" was published by Random House earlier this year. She blogs at Moonlight Ambulette. And me, Carolyn Kellogg, lead blogger at Jacket Copy.”

Riverhead To Publish Barack Obama Book by NY Times’ Staff

51EPAQ7CT1L._SL500_AA240_.jpgFollowing news of an “instant book” version of Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural poem, Barack Obama will get the practically-instant-book treatment from the NY Times in February.

Riverhead books will publish Obama: The Historic Journey in mid-February, reported FishbowlNY this morning. Loaded with photographs, the collector’s item book was sold by Scott Moyers at The Wylie Agency.

Here’s more, from the post: “[The book includes] a 32-page photo essay by 12 New York Times staff photographers, with an introduction by NYT executive editor Bill Keller and essays from Times staff and contributors including Frank Rich, Thomas Friedman, Paul Krugman, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, and Gail Collins, to Geoff Kloske.”

Oprah Winfrey’s Production Company in Court over Digital Book Technology

compbook3.gifThis morning, GalleyCat reported on two authors who built do-it-yourself book club tours. At the same time, a software developer is suing Oprah Winfrey’s production company for infringing on the company’s digital reader software patent.

Illinois Computer Research sued Harpo Productions and Sony in federal court, alleging that both companies had infringed on a patented piece of software that helps book club readers explore new books.

From the news report: “[The patent] allows the reviewing of excerpts from a digital book for preview prior to purchase, but prevents the reader from obtaining and reviewing the entire book prior to purchase. The suit states Harpo Productions infringed on the patent by encouraging or contributing to others use of its Oprah Book Club product.” (Via HuffPo)

Authors Create Self-Guided Book Club Tours

As book review outlets and publicity budgets evaporate with the recession, two writers have discovered the perfect way to reach readers–self-guided book club tours.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on how novelists Joshua Henkin (who was featured in that exclusive GalleyCat video) and Kelly Simmons have collectively spoken with 150 reading groups in person or by speakerphone.

Look for more authors adapting this time-consuming, but rewarding practice next year:

“Henkin – who has visited more than 80 book groups in person or on the phone…. will visit yours even with only a few hours’ notice … Henkin and Simmons readily admit their motivation is selling books and building readership. They do not charge for visits (a Web site from New Zealand lists dozens of authors willing to visit book groups for $100). Henkin asks for a minimum of 10 or 12 when he is driving, and tries not to travel more than two hours from his home. For the year after the book came out in 2007, Henkin and his wife lived in Philadelphia.”

Happy Holidays from GalleyCat!

Let’s close out our annual winter pet photo parade with a few more holiday-themed pictures…

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“We were surprised when Lula developed a sudden interest in Judaism, though she has yet to move beyond the ‘knocking the lit candles out of the menorah’ phase,” emails Lena Phoenix, “but she has always shown an interest in religious matters.” Phoenix explained that while she was writing her first novel, The Heart of a Cult, Lula was particularly fond of sitting on the pages of freshly printed drafts.

Pistachio may look familiar to readers with young children—he’s the model for Ian Schoenherr‘s Cat and Mouse. Although usually, Schoenherr reports, “he’s not this animated.”

And Kat Meyer of The Bookish Dilettante sends us a collage with Tosca the cat and pugs Petunia and Diesel (the latter of whom is “still learning the difference between ‘smile’ and ‘look at the ground’”). “They are bookish pets that love being read to but don’t like wearing silly Santa hats,” she tells us.

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I’ve Been a Good Dog, Santa!

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Kristien Weber, a senior editor at New American Library, and her fiancé took their pug Samson out to have his picture taken with Santa Claus—although she confesses that just a few minutes later, the dog was using Santa’s beard as a chew toy… Meanwhile, Angela James, the executive editor at Samhain Publishing, sent us a picture of her younger beagle/border collie mix, Reese. “He just turned one and this is his first Christmas with us, but he’s had no problem embracing all the holiday decorations and festivities,” she says. “His brother, Heath, is a little more camera shy and aggressive, and would just as soon eat the pillow as snuggle up to it.”

Cats, on the other hand, take a much more jaded view of this Santa business—if Poly, who lives with Black Dog and Leventhal production designer Marie Mundaca, is anything to go by. Her name is short for Polyhymnia, but as it happens she’s also polydactyl…just like Ernest Hemingway‘s cats.

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