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Archives: July 2009

Barnes & Noble, Inc. to Offer Free Wi-Fi in Stores

barnes-noble-logo1.jpgTeaming up with AT&T, Barnes & Noble, Inc. will install free wi-fi at the company’s 777 bookstores around the country.

In the release, the company stressed that wi-fi hookup will allow shoppers to download titles from the company’s newly created digital library of 700,000 e-book titles. In a sci-fi twist, customers can choose to receive “personalized messages” from the bookseller via their wireless device whenever they enter the bookstore–receiving coupons, author appearance news, and other information.

Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio described the initiative: “Barnes & Noble pioneered the concept of retail stores as community centers … By providing no-fee Wi-Fi access, we are not only meeting our customers’ needs, but extending the sense of community that has always been in our stores.” (Via Publishers Lunch)

Editing William T. Vollmann

9780670020614L.jpgWith a seven-volume, 3,000-page meditation on violence behind him (“Rising Up, Rising Down“) and a 1,300-page book ahead of him (“Imperial“), William T. Vollmann presents a unique, obsessive task for any editor.

In a NY Times profile, Vollmann pulls back the curtain on his writing studio, his reporting style, and talks about his editorial relationships. His new book will study the U.S. and Mexican border, exploring everything from drug ballads to border crossing deaths. For more about the dark side of American borders, check out the New Yorker profile of Arizona’s sheriff and author, Joe Arpaio.

Here’s a glimpse into the editing process of Vollmann latest book: “Mr. Vollmann’s editors urged him to cut, he said, and he resisted: ‘We always go round and round. They want me to cut, and I argue, so they cut my royalties, and I agree never to write a long book again.”

UnBeige: Could Literature Become an Art Object?

Thanks to a heads-up from Stephanie Murg, the co-editor of’s design blog, UnBeige, we’re captivated by the concept of The Journal of Popular Noise, a limited-edition “audio magazine” that packages three vinyl records (“issues”) made by three different bands, each of whom work from the same set of “instructions,” and wraps them in a fold-out letterpressed document that talks about the musicians and the structural guidelines under which they’re operating. Only 100 copies of each three-disc set are made, and they retail for $30. (Actually, there is a “zine” edition of 400 copies that isn’t letterpressed; that’s only $15.) Issues 13-15 were released earlier this month, featuring a triptych of spoken-word performances from Andrew WK, Ian Svenonius, and Walker & Cantrell.

It’s a fascinating approach to the presentation of music in the age of the ubiquitous MP3, and it ties in with thoughts we’re not alone in having about the future of the printed book once the e-book reaches the level of saturation the MP3 has. To put it another way: When information can be had with a couple dozen keystrokes or a simple mouse-click, what will compel readers to choose the print package? Or, as I put it nearly two years ago, maybe instead of asking “how can [readers] convince publishers to give us cheaper books sooner?” the question should be “what can publishers do to make hardcovers so attractive to [readers] that we can’t wait until next year for the paperback?”

It’s Like Love Letters, With More Laffs

A few years back, we met Annabelle Gurwitch to talk about Fired!, the book (and subsequent documentary) which began by detailing her own experiences being dismissed from jobs and then expanded to incorporate the experiences of other people, including Michigan auto plant workers and Best Week Ever host Paul F. Tompkins. Since then, Gurwitch has helped launch the Planet Green cable network with the recycling-reality show Wa$ted, and, for her next foray into book publishing, she’s teaming up with her husband, Jeff Kahn for a relationship memoir called You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!

Here’s a ten-minute video of Gurwitch and Kahn workshopping material from the book in front of an audience last month. (The language is totally safe for work, although there’s a stretch in the middle where some of the subject matter may not be appreciated by your officemates.) We’ve become increasingly convinced that the “traditional” book reading is in desperate need of an overhaul, and this performance piece—while not something every author can emulate—is a great example of an alternative approach to engaging readers by revealing your authoritative passions through storytelling.

(Don’t have ten minutes? A six-minute clip from another performance highlights the story about the Facebook fight.)

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up! is coming in February 2010 from Crown.

Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Merriweather

Daddy Was a Number Runner (The Feminist Press) is my featured book of color pick of the day. It is written by Louise Merriweather and is a novel and this is the reprint of the original edition which was published in 1970.

Some books never go out of style and this is one of them. It takes the reader into the life of 12-year old, Francie Coffin during the Great Depression in Harlem. It’s like taking a trip back in time, but strangely it is also perhaps prophetic as we attempt now to avoid another great depression and the perils of poverty.

The new edition added to James Baldwin’s foreword and afterword by Nellie Y. McKay.

Jeff Rivera is the author of “Forever My Lady” and the founder of

Ashton Kutcher and David Pogue Publish Twitter Fans

kiran.jpgAccording to FishbowlLA, Twitter superstar Ashton Kutcher recently used the microblogging site to find a joke for an upcoming movie. What does this mean for writers?

Today on the Morning Media Menu AgencySpy co-editor Kiran Aditham discussed this new trend in Twitter writing–outsourcing snippets of writing to your followers. Earlier this year, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue used his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers to write a new book.

Click here to listen to the literary episode, which also discusses the new digital editorial post at HarperCollins. Aditham defended writers: “It’s pretty interesting that Kutcher is taking user-generated content to a different level. At the same time, the screenwriter must be kicking himself saying, ‘Was it that bad that he needs to solicit jokes from his fans?’ In one sense it’s compromising actual screenwriters.”

G.I. Joe Fan Fiction Unleashed

92YTribeca hosted a small army of G.I. Joe fans over the weekend at the G.I. Joe Stop Motion Film Festival. These toys have spawned hundreds of comic books and cartoons, and the film festival collected cinematic acts fan fiction from around the globe.

One GalleyCat editor has harbored a long obsession with these toy soldiers, and brought back a video dispatch from the festivities. We interviewed Kieran Healy, the New York City host of the traveling festival and co-creator of an upcoming full-length stop-motion animation feature, “Viva the ‘Nam.”

These toys represent a vast repository of stories, and Healy explained that publishers should be interacting with these dedicated communities of fan fiction creators–especially as G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra hits theaters next week.

Nancy Drew Reader Endorsed by Senate Judiciary

Federal judge Sonia Sotomayor received a 13-6 endorsement from the Senate Judiciary Committee today, and according to the New York Times, her full-Senate confirmation “seems to be assured.”

In an ongoing GalleyCat investigation, we’ve wondered what Sotomayor’s affection for Nancy Drew means for a Supreme Court justice. Looking for more clues, Jezebel interviewed Chelsea Cain, author of “Confessions of a Teen Sleuth,” about girl detective’s politics.

Check it out
: “There’s no overt politics in Nancy Drew books. They’re conservative, in the sense that the status-quo must be maintained. Order must be restored. Nancy’s father — world-renown attorney Carson Drew, certainly would have voted for Hoover. But Nancy herself has a liberal bent — she is always lending a hand to orphans and the elderly — a true Roosevelt democrat.”

Man Booker Dozen Announced

manbooker2009.jpgThe Booker Prize Foundation has announced the 13-author “Man Booker Dozen” longlist for the 2009 edition of the £50,000 literary prize. Last year Aravind Adiga won the annual prize for “The White Tiger.”

Here’s a statement from James Naughtie, judicial chair: “The five Man Booker judges have settled on thirteen novels as the longlist for this year’s prize. We believe it to be one of the strongest lists in recent memory, with two former winners, four past-shortlisted writers, three first-time novelists and a span of styles and themes that make this an outstandingly rich fictional mix.”

Here are a few of the nominees, full list follows after the jump…
A.S. Byatt “The Children’s Book”
J.M. Coetzee “Summertime”
Adam Foulds “The Quickening Maze”
Sarah Hall “How to paint a dead man”

Read more

J.R.R Tolkien Estate Sues to Block “The Hobbit” Adaptation

9780061917738.jpgJ.R.R Tolkien‘s family and estate have sued to block production of the upcoming adaptation of “The Hobbit,” claiming they are owed $220 million from adaptation profits and should reclaim film rights to the book.

According to School Library Journal, the film rights to the late author’s books have traveled through different corporate hands over the years since they were sold in 1969, shuttling from United Artists to New Line Cinema. A Los Angeles law firm is representing the estate in a suit against New Line Cinema, News Corp, and the Tolkien Trust.

Here’s more about the film’s development: “Guillermo del Toro [will direct] and Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, and Hugo Weaving [are] reprising their roles as Gandalf, Gollum, and Elrond, respectively. According to Bloomberg Media, the three Lord of the Rings films have generated almost $3 billion in worldwide box-office receipts.” (Via Publishers Weekly)