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All stories by Alison Potstra

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Bookmarks: E-books, Nooks, and poetry (or, one of these things is not like the others)

Sundry links from across the Web:

  • Amazon: 1, Print publishers: 0. Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has given Amazon exclusive e-book rights to two of his best-selling books 
  • The clandestine guy in the striped shirt gets appy: Where’s Waldo? is now on the iPhone 
  • The Wall Street Journal reviews the Barnes & Noble Nook and finds it doesn’t compare with the Kindle 
  • The Guardian asks the pessimistic question: “Will e-books spell the end of great writing?” 
  • This week in poetry: HTMLGIANT picks the 25 most important books of poetry of the 2000s; The Guardian considers the role of poetry in advertising; and Times Higher Education wonders if poetry is lost in a consumerist world 

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Publishers take stand against e-books

Simon & Schuster is taking action against the cut-rate $9.99 pricing of digital bestsellers by delaying the e-book editions of approximately 35 titles coming out in 2010. Hachette Book Group plans to follow suit.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, these efforts acknowledge that book pricing has become the most pressing issue on the publishing landscape.

From the article:

“The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback,” said Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, which is owned by CBS Corp. “We believe some people will be disappointed. But with new [electronic] readers coming and sales booming, we need to do this now, before the installed e-book reading devices gets to a size where doing it would be impossible.”

Simon & Schuster will publish e-books four months after the hardcover publication date. Titles affected by this action include Don DeLillo’s Point Omega (due in February), Karl Rove’s memoir Courage and Consequence (March), and Jodi Picoult’s House Rules (March).

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Forget Oprah, now it’s the Tiger Effect

A formerly obscure title, Get a Grip on Physics by U.K. professor John Gribbin, has experienced an increase in sales after a photo of Tiger Woods’ car accident revealed the book lying among the wreckage.

According to The Independent, the book has jumped to 2,268th on the Amazon bestsellers list from 396,224th the previous day.

From the article:

“This is one of my older and lesser known books – a guide to new physics for non-scientists. I can only guess that Tiger has been interested in the various stories about the Large Hadron Collider, and wanted to learn more. Several of my books have been doing better than usual this year,” Dr. Gribbin said yesterday.

The National Post has compiled reader comments from Gribbin’s Amazon page relating to Woods’ accident, such as:

“Just a warning, that although this book really does help you get a grip on physics, it should not be read while driving, especially at 2:30 am” 

The 2003 book is now out of print, and although Dr. Gribbin is delighted that people are reading his books, he wishes they were reading one that is in print.

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Bookmarks: Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood, the Brontë sisters, and more

A few bookish links from across the Web:

  • To help you with the holiday shopping season, The Inkwell Bookstore Blog compiles a selection of gifts for the Jane Austenite on your list, including the Pride and Prejudice board game 
  • Margaret Atwood picks the top ten gifts to give a budding novelist
  • The New Yorker has compiled the top ten books of 1709. The most colourful title? Cotton Mather’s The Golden Curb for the Mouth, a sermon against swearing
  •  The Brontë sisters get a little help from the Twilight phenomenon: The Guardian reports that new films of Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte’s Jane Eyre are being cast with younger, hotter stars to appeal to Twihards 
  • You’ve heard of the proposed Harry Potter theme park. How about a theme park dedicated to Gulliver’s Travels
  • Bask in “the soft periwinkle glow of the Alaskan morning,” because the results of Slate‘s “Write like Sarah Palin” contest are in
  • The blogosphere has been buzzing with the best books of the decade lately, so what about the decade’s worst books

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Bookmarks: Britain’s phone booth library, Herta Müller’s “psychosis,” and the Bad Sex in Fiction Award winner

Some sundry links from across the Web:

  • Resourceful idea of the week: British village transforms traditional red phone booth into local library
  • Coming soon to a theatre near you: the book trailer for Quirk Classics’ Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
  • Nobel Prize-winning Herta Müller “has a psychosis,” says Romanian spy
  • Neil Gaiman discusses audiobooks with David Sedaris and Martin Jarvis on NPR. Similarly, Douglas Hunter praises the e-book at The Globe and Mail and Mark Medley reviews the Kindle at the National Post
  • Nabokov’s posthumously published The Original of Laura is not a novel, says Nathaniel Rich
  • And the Bad Sex in Fiction Award goes to … Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones

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Literary evidence of Timbuktu’s written heritage

BBC News reports the reopening of a library in the centre of Timbuktu, the Ahmed Baba Institute, which will house and preserve thousands of ancient manuscripts that would otherwise have been destroyed by termites, mice, and rain.

These unique manuscripts, written mostly in Arabic script, reveal the legendary city’s overlooked intellectual history and status as a famous university town in the 1500s. They also “refute the notion that sub-Saharan Africa produced only oral histories, with little or no written records,” the BBC says.

From the article:

[...] this unique literary evidence is under threat, as time, the elements, and simple lack of resources take their toll in northern Mali.

“We are losing manuscripts every day. We lack the financial means to catalogue and protect them,” said Mr. Boularaf, who recently rescued his collection from the rubble of a mud building next door that collapsed after a rainstorm.

After several years of building and delays, the doors are finally about to open at the Ahmed Baba Institute’s new home — a 200 million rand (£16,428,265) project paid for by the South African government.

“It’s a dream come true,” said South African curator Alexio Motsi, exploring the underground, climate-controlled storage rooms that will soon house some 30,000 manuscripts.

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TweetBookz: The next level of TwitLit

Yes, Virginia, you can now self-publish your banal tweets for everyone to enjoy. TweetBookz is a new company that will publish your Twitter feeds as a hardcover book (for $30) or a softcover (for $20).

Works can be published in English, French, Spanish, or Hebrew, and bulk order discounts are available. 

From the TweetBookz press release:

To keep the tweets authentic, users are not allowed to edit past tweets or add new tweets directly to the books. Additionally, users CANNOT purchase books of other people’s tweets, although they can send gift cards to fellow Twitter users enabling them to print their own books.

[...]

Says TweetBookz.com co-founders, Jacob Shwirtz and Asael Kahana: “This is a fun way to look back on your favorite tweets and capture all the emotion of those moments to keep forever. It’s a great gift either for family, friends or just for yourself.”

What a precious keepsake to pass down to your children. “Today I couldn’t find a parking space. FML” and “Dang. Store doesn’t carry my fave brand of toothpaste” are sentiments that future generations will surely cherish for all time.

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Bookmarks: Coolio cooks, Anne of Green Gables tweets, and more

A few sundry links from across the Web:

  • “Living in a Gourmet’s Paradise?” Rapper Coolio now has his own cookbook, Cookin’ with Coolio
  • A new audio-book version of the Bible is available, featuring Richard Dreyfuss as Moses, Luke Perry as Judas Iscariot, and — who else? — James Caviezel reprising his role as Jesus Christ. The L.A. Times Jacket Copy reports the audio-book is described as a “verbal cinema” complete with a musical score and sound effects
  • You can now be a follower, or “kindred spirit,” of Canada’s favourite redhead. Anne of Green Gables is using Twitter
  • We’re well aware how prevalent bad sex is in fiction … so how about awards for good sex
  • You are officially invited to attend Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry … with a new iPhone Spells app 
  • Sad but true: Finn Reeder, Flu Fighter is a book for middle-school aged children about the ubiquitous H1N1 virus

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Bookmarks: Going Rogue mistakes, aliens and werewolves, Xbox Bibles, and more

A few bookish links from around the Web:

  • Sarah Palin’s much-anticipated memoir hits shelves today. Palin tells Oprah in an unused clip from yesterday’s interview that “logistically speaking, practically speaking, it wasn’t a real difficult exercise to write the book” (via GalleyCat
  • The Associated Press has compiled a list of the errors found in Going Rogue
  • Stephenie Meyer, author of the wildly popular Twilight empire series, also sat on Oprah’s couch in a rare public appearance last Friday. In an unused clip (via Entertainment Weekly), Meyer admits to being “a little burned out by vampires” and says that she “may go spend some time with … aliens.” 
  • For those of you sick of everything vampire, Bookgasm offers a werewolf alternative in David Wellington’s Frostbite 
  • The New Oxford American Dictionary‘s Word of the Year is “unfriend,” which is defined as: “to remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.”  Runners-up for the title included “hashtag,” “sexting,” “teabagger,” and “tramp stamp”
  • The future is digital: the National Post reports that students at Toronto’s Blyth Academy will all receive a Sony Reader to replace those stuffy old textbooks of yore 
  • How would you like your Bible?  Handwritten or on your Xbox

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Bookmarks: a small town book tour, inappropriate books for kids, and Walt Whitman selling jeans

Bookish links from across the Web:

  • Test your celebrity poet knowledge over at Details and guess which verses have been written by Michael Jackson, Mr. Spock, Jewel, or William Butler Yeats
  • Battle of the sexes, poetry edition: Do women write “female” poetry? 
  • Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue tour skips San Francisco and Los Angeles and makes stops in Noblesville, Indiana, and Rochester, New York 
  • Don’t tell Scholastic: a new blog dedicated to inappropriate books for kids
  • Recordings of Walt Whitman reading “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” and “America” are being used in Levi’s Jeans new ad campaign. Controversial use of a dead poet’s work or clever marketing strategy? Slate Magazine discusses
  • Kazuo Ishiguro “auditions” characters to narrate his novels. Colum McCann will print out chapters of his incomplete book, staple them together, and take them to Central Park, pretending to be reading someone else’s work. The Wall Street Journal interviews 11 top authors about their writing habits
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Book Pictures

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Steve Artelle

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Jenna

Hall of Honourers

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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