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Archives: April 2009

Now, Let Us Talk Like Good Friends at Tosca

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When Wells Tower showed up in San Francisco Tuesday night to promote his new short story collection, Everything Ravaged Everything Burned, among the local literati who came out to the party at Tosca Café to cheer his success was Laura Albert. The two writers exchanged copies of each other’s books, with Tower accepting a copy of Sarah, published under the pseudonym JT LeRoy.

W.W. Norton Offers Build-Your-Own Online Texbooks

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Publisher W.W. Norton has launched Chapter Select e-Books program for schools, allowing teachers and students to choose which school book chapters they want to buy–building a customized online textbook for the classroom.

Prices average between $1 and $3 for each chapter, with $20 as the minimum e-book price. These books can only be read online, but students can use note-taking, highlighting, and search functions. Available titles include a full range of disciplines.

Here’s more from the site: Save your students money. Assign only the textbook chapters you want … After you create your Chapter Select Ebook, students can easily purchase it at nortonEbooks.com.” (Via Ryan Chapman)

PEN Festival Book Trailer Tips

Last night at the Rattapallax/PEN World Voices Literary Film Feast, GalleyCat went searching for advice about book trailers. Hundreds of authors have tried to build videos, but the festival showcased the work of the world’s leading literary filmmakers.

GalleyCat interviewed Ram Devineni, publisher of Rattapallax and film curator for the PEN World Voices Festival. We also spoke with literary filmmaker D J Kadagian about his short poetry films, Rant and Rave–a seamless blend of classic poems and found images.

Here’s more about Kadagian’s work: Each of our 15 poems has been crafted into a short film with its own unique image set and soundtrack … you will find yourself on the front seat of the Cyclone in 1940′s Coney Island, scrambling for cover in present day Iraq or on the Space Shuttle looking back at earth. Maybe you’d prefer hanging out in a smoky Tango bar in 1922 Argentina, participating in a Union strike during the Great Depression, wandering the desert in Israel looking for meaning or dancing with a tribe of American Indians in 1895.”

Peter Brett Writes 100,000-Word Novel on Cell Phone

amd_brett.jpgForsaking more traditional tools like notebooks and laptops, high-tech novelist Peter Brett typed out a 100,000-word novel on his cell phone while riding the train to work every day.

The NY Daily News reports the nimble-fingered novelist could churn out 400 words during his 45-minute commute–producing a draft of “The Warded Man” on his phone.

Here’s more from the article: “The 400-page novel, which centers on three characters’ struggles in a world where killer demons roam the Earth at night, is the first in a series of at least three books. The book has sold 2,500 copies since Del Rey Books released it in the U.S. five weeks ago.” (Via TeleRead)

Amazon Coy about Stanza Plans

stanzaamazon.jpgGalleyCat followed-up on the surprise news that Amazon.com, Inc. has acquired Lexcycle, the company that created the iPhone reader, Stanza.

The online bookseller now owns the two top Book related applications in the Apple App Store, prompting endless speculation about the future of the e-book. And that speculation will continue, as Amazon has only issued guarded statements.

In an email interview with GalleyCat, spokesperson Cinthia Portugal responded to five questions about format, pricing, and e-book monopoly with this statement: “It’s very early days for ebooks and we believe there is a lot of innovation ahead of us. Lexcycle is a smart, innovative company and we look forward to working with them to innovate on behalf of readers … As a standalone business unit within Amazon, Lexcycle will maintain its business model while continuing to innovate as new opportunities arise. The goal is for the combination of the two company’s strengths to offer great experiences for ebook readers.”

Evolving Deep Web Search Engine

deepdyve.jpgAs more and more content is digitized, readers need better tools to sift through the voluminous material. Earlier this week, DeepDyve launched an online toolbox designed to help readers search by whole sentences, paragraphs, or entire articles.

At DeepDyve, users can search the “deep web” through more complex search strings like “Human cases of swine influenza.” Readers can also highlight pieces of text within a particular document, and search for similar documents without even leaving the page.

Here’s more from the company release: “DeepDyve is a search engine that was developed to scour the depths of the so-called Deep Web, the vast collection of information-rich content that is largely overlooked by today’s traditional search engines. Since the company’s launch in September 2008, DeepDyve has worked closely with major publishers, building an index with hundreds of millions of pages that showcases content from the industry’s most respected research organizations, academic institutions and professional associations.”

“B” as in Beauty

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Latino author Alberto Ferreras hosted a swingin’ book launch party for the debut of Grand Central’s B as in Beauty last night at the Elmo Restaurant on 7th Ave. The room was packed with a diverse group of people from HBO, Berkley Books, Grand Central as well as some of the who’s-who in Latino entertainment.

Ferreras began his career producing projects for HBO Latino and he brought that creativity with him to the writing of the novel. Others seem to agree, as the buzz for the book from the Latino and mainstream community has started to heat up already.

Jeff Rivera is the author of Forever My Lady (Grand Central) and the founder of GumboWriters.com

Google Books Settlement Under Justice Department Review

googlebooks.jpgAfter meetings with parties rallying against the Google Books settlement–including the Internet Archive and Consumer Watchdog–the Justice Department decided to review the settlement that will allow Google to provide scanned access to millions of books.

According to The New York Times, the Justice Department told Google, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild that they will consider if the settlement presents antitrust problems. Yesterday, a federal judge granted authors a four-month extension to consider the settlement.

Here’s more from the article: “The inquiry does not necessarily mean that the department will oppose the settlement, which is subject to a court review. But it suggests that some of the concerns raised by critics, who say the settlement would unfairly give Google an exclusive license to profit from millions of books, have resonated with the Justice Department.”

In the Endcap Stands a Boxer

We’re unabashed fans of Hard Case Crime, but when the monthly “care package” from the pulp fiction specialists showed up in our mailbox recently, it seemed a bit thicker than usual. A cover letter from editor Charles Ardai explained that while the house’s usual “sweet spot” for its novels is 50,000 to 60,000 words, Peter Blauner‘s Casino Moon is more than twice that size. The boxing novel is also a departure for Hard Case in that it was first published in the mid-1990s, nearly a half-century ahead of its usual reprint strategy. But “I love this book,” Ardai explained, “and I don’t think it got the readership or the attention it deserved the first time out, in part because the original paperback edition had one of the least appealing covers I can remember.”

Surely that old cover couldn’t be that bad, we thought, firing up the Google. Well, in fact, it wasn’t as bad as Ardai made it out to be—it was significantly worse.

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The Hard Case cover, which we think everyone can agree is a substantial improvement, features an original painting by Ricky Mujica, who made his Hard Case cover debut late last year on burlesque perfomer Jonny Porkpie‘s The Corpse Wore Pasties(CORRECTION: We had a calendar brain fart looking at the Hard Case website, as Porkpie’s novel is a December 2009 title.) The former Golden Gloves competitor and Broadway performer has also worked on children’s adventure tales like Armstrong Perry‘s Call It Courage and Steven Kroll‘s Breaking Camp.

The Complete Works of Arlen Specter

specter.jpgFollowing his shocking announcement that he intends to run as a Democrat next year, Senior Republican US Senator Arlen Specter published an essay in, of all places, The New York Review of Books–his first essay there since 1988.

Entitled “The Need to Roll Back Presidential Power Grabs,” the essay has a bit of the drama and score-settling necessary for a political memoir, perhaps hinting at a future project. In 2008, he published the memoir, “Never Give In: Battling Cancer in the Senate;” in 2000, he wrote “Passion for Truth: From Finding JFK’s Single Bullet to Questioning Anita Hill to Impeaching Clinton.”

Here’s an excerpt from the essay: “I had lost the battle, but was not prepared to surrender. On January 18, 2007, Attorney General Gonzales testified before the Judiciary Committee and argued that proposals to restore habeas corpus, such as a bill Senator Leahy and I had introduced, were “ill-advised and frankly defy common sense.” I was astounded at his claim that “there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.”

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