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Archives: March 2009

Short Story Published in a Spreadsheet

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Author David Nygren released an experimental spreadsheet short story, “Under the Table”–stuffing the plot, dialogue, and characters’ thoughts into the cold, hard lines of an Excel page.

The one-scene story follows a disastrous dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant, and the boozy interaction between couples creates a curious tension with the spreadsheet columns. Download the story here, and add your thoughts. Nygren encourages readers to join his experiment.

Here’s more from the post: “The first worksheet of the Excel file has the ‘raw data,’ the story itself (8 columns x 30 rows). The easiest way to read it is to click on the first cell and then use the arrow keys to move to the next cell you want to read … I encourage everyone to read the story in its electronic format. I’ve turned on ‘Track Changes,’ thereby cordially inviting you to collaborate with me on this short story spreadsheet.”

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Todd Palin Gets the Celebrity Treatment

His wife shopped a book and starred in a comic, but an upcoming Esquire feature might put Todd Palin next in line for a memoir.

As this compelling video illustrates, Sarah Palin‘s has all the fixings for a classic 2009 celebrity book deal–a life lived in the headlines, family conflict, and plenty of insider gossip. Look for more speculation when the story hits newsstands.

Here’s more from Esquire: “Alaska’s first husband is not scared of you, the cops, or his wife. Get a sneak peak at a week in the life of the ultimate stay-at-home dad, hunter, fixer, and champion snowmobiler right here, then pick up the May issue of Esquire for Luke Dittrich‘s full, in-depth profile.” (Via HuffPo)

OUP Executive Explains “Why Ebooks Must Fail”

img_0095-150x150.jpgEvan Schnittman, head of Global Business Development at Oxford University Press, opened his personal website yesterday with an evocative first post: “Why Ebooks Must Fail.”

While calling the current publishing model a “Ponzi scheme,” Schnittman outlined how stand-alone ebooks could quickly sink the industry. He explained how digital copies currently sell at least 50 percent discount from the cover price, upending a manufacturing and pricing structure that has stood for the last century.

Here’s an excerpt: “How do ebooks cover the huge advances needed to buy books if we cannot generate the cash, especially at their extremely low, discounted prices, cover the advances that an entire industry has come to require? The answer is that ebooks, alone, cannot … It means that the need for blended e plus p models will evolve, in order to take advantage of all the great qualities of ebooks, while providing the financial support and structure that print offers. It means that consumer ebooks, as a stand-alone version of an intellectual property, must fail.”

Journalist Studies Indie Religious Publishing

1070.jpgAuthor Kathryn Joyce explores the Christian patriarchy movement in her new book, “Quiverfull.” GalleyCat caught up with Joyce for an interview about her research.

Joyce analyzes the work of countless evangelical Christians authors, including Debi Pearl and Michael Pearl–authors of the controversial “To Train Up a Child,” which encourages parents to use corporal punishment with their children. Joyce discovered these authors earn nearly one million dollars a year, writing: “Michael Pearl has said that a sixth of the three million home-schooling families in America use his materials.”

In her interview, Joyce discussed religious stories to look for in the future: “I think some stories to watch in the next year or so include the ways in which the conservative movement and the religious right are restructuring themselves; at the evolution of a vocal religious left and the continued journey of the more politically centrist progressive evangelical movement, and the tensions that exist between them; and how the enduring culture war issues like gay marriage and abortion are fought under a Democratic administration.”

Read more

Welcome to the Monkey Bar

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Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter recently re-launched the Monkey Bar in Manhattan, a hip new spot for editors and writers who can still afford to get drinks in Midtown.

As the NY Observer reported, the watering-hole first opened its doors during the Great Depression, attracting novelist Harold Robbins and playwright Tennessee Williams. The bar also features mural of famous cultural figures, inspiring guessing-games among guests.

Yesterday, Joshua David Stein (who took that photo) uncovered the literary figures adorning the walls of the refurbished bar: “[It's a] who’s who of who is in New York between the wars. We have Fred Astaire, this is the Fred Astaire who appeared on Broadway with his sister. There’s also Henry Luce, Herb Ross, Conde Nast, Blanche and Adolph Ochs, the Fitzgeralds–Zelda and F Scott, Billie Rose, Dorothy Parker and Edna Ferber.” (Via Gawker)

Toni Morrison and Tom Piazza in Final for Tournament of Books

a_mercy-thumb-121xauto-34.jpg“A Mercy” by Toni Morrison and “City of Refuge” by Tom Piazza face off in the conclusion of The Morning News’ annual Tournament of Books.

Seventeen writers weighed in about the final contenders, and the winner is announced in the final post. Earlier, “City” scored a crucial victory in the semifinals as TMN copy editor Liz Entman chose the book over Roberto Bolaño‘s “2666″–which a few writers praised at a recent Granta party.

If you are looking for more book tournament action, check out the brackets at the Dear Author Bitchery Writing Award for Hellagood Authors at this site and the Bookspot Central Tourney.

Scribd Responds to Piracy Critics

logoscribd2.gifResponding to a Times of London article that found unauthorized copies of books by J. K. Rowling and Ken Follett on the document sharing site Scribd, the company said the news story “was misleading and included factual errors that must be corrected.”

According to the Scribd statement, digital books are only a “small reason” why 55 million Scribd readers use the site–many readers use it for fan fiction, recipes, screenplays, or official documents, for instance. In addition, the statement gave a glimpse at the company’s monitoring system for catching pirated works.

Here’s more from the statement: “Our system compares every work uploaded to Scribd against the tens of thousands of documents in our copyright reference database, and if someone tries to upload one of those copyrighted works, our technology prevents them from doing so. Every time a document is removed for copyright violation, the file is entered into our system, and that work cannot be re-uploaded. As our reference database grows over time, our technology will become even smarter and faster.”

FT Plunges into Science with New Imprint

tim-moore-ftscience.jpgThree or four years ago—give or take a couple months—Tim Moore of FT Press saw a cover story in The Economist predicting, as he recalled it, “that if the 20th century was the century of physics, the 21st century was going to be the century of biology… [there would be] an enormous boom in what we loosely call ‘life sciences.’” That set mental gears turning, he told us during a phone call last week, and, this season, he’s finally ready to launch FT Science, a new imprint dedicated to this field. “There’s so much money and new knowledge and interest floating around that it seemed like a no-brainer,” he told us cheerfully—and though this is “a signficantly smaller section of the bookstore” than FT’s traditional financial focus, Moore isn’t worried: “It’s grown tremendously in the last decade,” he said, “and it’s an exciting place to be.”

“I’m looking for books that will provide people with the opportunity to change the way they look at the world around them,” he continued, books like the recently published Lies, Damned Lies, and Science, which discusses how scientific research can be subject to politicization, and It Takes a Genome, which explains, in his words, how “we have set ourselves up to have our genetic makeup and the world we live in at odds with each other.” He plans to publish six more books this year, and 12-14 in 2010, with at least 50 percent expansion in the frontlist in subsequent years for a good stretch of time. “I would anticipate publishing 40-50 books a year in four or five years,” he predicted, “and if we do this right, those books would be a mix of consumer and professional books.”

They’re Only NOW Getting Around to This Question?

If you’ve been reading GalleyCat for a while, you may be familiar with the ongoing saga of Rogues’ Gallery, Michael Gross‘s unauthorized history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and how, after an initial misunderstanding, this blog helped establish detente with regard to the book’s cover art, which was finalized last summer.

Now, on the eve of the book’s publication, New York reports that the Met’s board of trustees is worked up, and claims to have gotten its hands on notes from a recent meeting where “senior vice-president for external affairs Harold Holzer was forced to explain how the book… came together.” Holzer comes off well in the secondhand story—we certainly don’t envy him having to deal with all the hoopla surrounding Rogues’ Gallery, or the hoopla it’s going to inspire—but we’re still on the brink of a major case of the giggles, as we can’t help but think of indignant trustees harumphing around a conference table, and rattling teacups with the pounding of their fists.

(We freely admit to an overactive imagination, one which sets our minds to a mildly skeptical ponderance: With New York’s gossip depositories tracking every step of Gross’s project from proposal to publication, who on that board could be so far out of the loop to only now be asking about it?)

Featured Book of Color

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My YA “Book of Color” Pick of the Day is Hot Girl by debut novelist, Dream Jordan. Bursting on to the publishing scene–geared for the underserved market of teens of color– Jordan tells the story of Kate. She is a down-in-the-dumps teen until she meets a fly-girl named Naleejah who turns her life around. But what seems like a welcome change to her social life, turns into a trip down treachery lane.

Dream Jordan
, a Brooklyn native is a NYU graduate who has made it her personal mission to write for the reluctant readers which often includes teens of color.

Jeff Rivera is the author of Forever My Lady and founder of www.GumboWriters.com

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