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Daily book biz round-up: LBF discounts; Monroe’s musings; and more

Book news pour vous:

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The publishing industry: this week in quotes

“Many people in the beleaguered industry are hoping that [The Apple Tablet] will do for reading what the iPod and iTunes did for music. A survey among booksellers claimed that an Apple e-reader would one of the main factors that will help push digital publishing forward.” – Thomas Rogers via Salon.com

“The fact is: My septuagenarian mother is delighted with her first-generation Kindle and my sixty-something-year-old mother-in-law is delighted with her Kindle 2 and my 14-year-old nephew is delighted with his iPod touch…If I were to guess, out of all the aforementioned people who already own devices, the only one likely to spend money on an upgraded device anytime soon will be my teenage nephew. That’s not a very large percentage of current owners willing to re-invest in this newest generation of devices, the ones we’ll be hearing about over the next week.” – Edward Nawotka, in an editorial on publishingperspectives.com

“Writing about writing is the best way I know to discover what I think about a book and what I think about what other people think about it. Sometimes reviews bring new readers and sometimes they don’t. Tony Hoaglund’s book Donkey Gospel published by Graywolf didn’t receive one review yet became widely read. A positive or opinionated review in the NYTBR can bring many readers, but reviews in smaller magazines do not have much effect.” – poet Emily Warn, on Lemon Hound

“I spend an inordinate amount of time doing nothing. I don’t even think it can be called daydreaming.” - Joyce Carol Oates, via Paris Review.

“I’m beginning to see just how irrelevant our prejudices about new technology really are. Books are wonderful partly because they have been an unchanging corner of our lives in a world that thrusts change on us every day. But anything that reassures us by being constant should also make us anxious, because there are no exceptions anymore — everything is being transformed in the digital age.” – Peter Scowen on the Globe‘s book blog

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Bookmarks: Apple Tablet rumours, books banned on airplanes, and more

A few bookish links from across the Web:

  • The rumoured Apple Tablet comes closer to reality: the new product, potentially called “iSlate,” is expected to be unveiled on Jan. 26 in San Francisco
  • Danger! Apparently, books and magazines pose a security threat to airplanes. They have been banned as carry-ons by Transport Canada until further notice
  • Hobbit-lovers, mount your high horses: The Guardian’s Andrew Brown turns his blog into “a place to discuss the literary demerits of Lord of the Rings
  • The Onion on adults who get slightly overexcited by children’s picture books, including the gem Green Man, Blue Cat
  • Katherine Paterson, author of The Bridge to Terabithia, has been named the national ambassador for young people’s literature in the U.S.

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New Yorker cans short fiction issue

On December 4, Douglas Hunter published an opinion piece in The Globe and Mail suggesting that the annual CBC literary smackdown known as Canada Reads is biased against non-fiction:

I think it’s super that Canadian novelists and short-story writers are getting another annual boost from the Mother Corp. I just find it discouraging that we seem to think serious, memorable reading only involves fiction. Canada Reads has not once in nine years included a non-fiction title. Were a celebrity participant to defend Ken McGoogan’s Lady Franklin’s Revenge or Ken Dryden’s The Game, I’d keel over in a dead faint.

The CBC is not alone in its bias. Non-fiction remains a second-class literary citizen in the Great White North.

Whether this ingrained national bias actually exists is open to debate (Quillblog would like to point out that non-fiction consistently outsells fiction in this country); the same is apparently not true south of the 49th parallel. WWDMedia today reports that The New Yorker has decided to pull the plug on its second fiction issue of the year (the first one appeared in the early summer) and instead publish a “world changers” issue, which hits stands this week.

“I think one is enough for the time being,” said editor David Remnick of dropping a fiction issue. “We’ll still continue to publish fiction every week. I think we’re one of the last magazines that does.”

And apparently the decision to replace the fiction issue sits well with advertisers:

Ad pages rose more than 50 percent for the issue, making it the biggest of the year. Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton are among the fashion advertisers and the automotive category has seven more pages than last year, thanks to BMW, Acura, Ford, Cadillac, and Toyota. Total ad pages for “world changers” is almost 69, compared with 45 for last year’s winter fiction issue.

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Bookmarks: Four magazines die, a classic threatened (again), and the two-timing ways of Archie Andrews

Bookish links from around the Web:

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It’s official: litmags to be cut out of CPF funding

There will be no exceptions for small literary and cultural magazines under the new Canada Periodical Fund, the department of Canadian Heritage has confirmed. In a letter to The New Quarterly managing editor Rosalynn Tyo, minister James Moore states that a 5,000 annual circulation minimum, first announced last February, will not be repealed, and nor will small, culturally significant magazines be given any special treatment. From his letter (via Canadian Magazines):

The CPF will support a broad range of periodicals, but it will no longer offer support to titles that sell fewer than 5,000 copies total per year, or specialized support for arts and literary magazines, including those that sell fewer than 5,000 copies a year. A recent evaluation of our existing programs found that specialized funding for arts and literary magazines currently offered by the Department was duplicating the funding offered by the Canada Council … I trust that this information is useful.

If you ever needed an excuse to subscribe to a couple (dozen) litmags, this would be it. As Tyo explains, the loss of Heritage monies will have a devastating impact on TNQ‘s finances.

The Canada Council does indeed support arts and literary publications; however, what the Council provides TNQ is operating support. All of the annual Council grant funding (for which we compete every year — it’s not a ‘given’) we receive goes directly to paying our contributors and printing our magazine. The funding we had been receiving from the programs the CPF is replacing was directed to subsidizing mailing costs (by the Publications Assistance Program) and to one-time business development projects like promotional direct mail campaigns (by the Canada Magazine Fund).

It’s worth pointing out that under the new funding regime, litmags are still eligible for the $1.5-million Business Innovation fund, which is aimed at  magazines with limited access to capital and has no circ requirement. Still, that fund is a small fraction of the CPF’s total budget ($75.5 million), and it’s unlikely to make up for the shortfall small magazines can expect to face in the new year.

For background on the CPF, and the grassroots movement that has sprung up to oppose it, see Q&Q‘s past coverage.

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Barnes & Noble launches world’s biggest e-book store

U.S. mega-chain Barnes & Noble announced in a press release yesterday the creation of the world’s biggest e-book store comprising “more than 700,000 titles, including hundreds of new releases and bestsellers at only $9.99.” Unlike Amazon’s Kindle-only e-books, e-books purchased through B&N’s store will be compatible with a number of platforms (aside from the Kindle, of course): iPhone, BlackBerry, and most Windows and Mac computers. Through a partnership with Google Books, the B&N e-book store will also offer more than 500,000 free and downloadable public domain e-books.

B&N als announced an exclusive agreement to provide e-books for the forthcoming Plastic Logic e-reader, a device that is geared toward business professionals. From Fortune:

Plastic Logic vice president of business development Daren Benzi says his device is geared for business travelers, and as such will support the display of PDF files, Microsoft’s MS Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, as well as newspapers and magazines. But e-books are a big part of the game plan. “Will we carry every single one of those 700,000-plus titles? I don’t know. We’ll announce that as we get further along,” said Benzi. “But we will have access to them all.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, The Book Oven analyzes how B&N’s move will affect the e-book market.

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BC Book and Magazine Week

It’s almost time again for BC Book and Magazine Week (BCBMW), the province’s week-long celebration of all things literary. Founded in 1999, the festival takes place at multiple locations across B.C., from Victoria to Vancouver to Kelowna. BC Book & Magazine Week runs from April 18 to 25. Most events are free. A sampling:

BOOK LAUNCH: FIST OF THE SPIDER WOMAN: TALES OF FEAR AND QUEER DESIRE
Arsenal Pulp Press and Xtra! West present the launch of the highly anticipated queer woman’s horror erotica anthology, Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Queer Fear and Desire, edited by Amber Dawn. Readings and books signings by Vancouver contributors Mette Bach, Kestrel Barns, Larissa Lai, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Amanda Lamarche and Amber Dawn.

MAGAZINE CABARETS IN VICTORIA, VANCOUVER, KELOWNA, AND PRINCE GEORGE
In Victoria, BCAMP [BC Association of Magazine Publishers] and The Malahat Review present a literary cabaret featuring M.A.C. Farrant, Michael Kenyon, Arleen Paré, Madeline Sonik, and Yasuko Thanh, who will read from their work recently published in B.C. magazines. In Vancouver, BCAMP and subTerrain magazine present a literary cabaret featuring Timothy Taylor, Paul Carlucci, Emily Kendy, penny k-kilthau, Alex Leslie, and Diane Tucker. In Kelowna, BCAMP and off-centre magazine present a literary cabaret featuring Adam Lewis Schroeder, Heidi Garnett, Ryan May, and Shelley Wood. And, in Prince George, BCAMP presents a literary cabaret featuring Rob Budde, Dee Horne, Sarah de Leeuw, Betsy Trumpeter, and Gillian Wigmore.

BOOK LAUNCH: THE VERSE MAP OF VANCOUVER, EDITED BY VANCOUVER’S INAUGURAL POET LAUREATE GEORGE McWHIRTER, PHOTOGRAPHS BY DEREK VON ESSEN
Join Anvil Press for the launch of The Verse Map of Vancouver, a full-colour publication – Vancouver’s neighbourhoods in verse by a myriad of local poets accompanied by Derek von Essen’s stunning photography.

More information can be found at the festival’s website.

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More bad news for American book coverage

It looks like the rumors were true about The Washington Post‘s standalone book supplement. According to The New York Times, Book World will cease publication after Feb. 15.

Book World was one of the last remaining stand-alone book review sections in the country, along with The New York Times Book Review and The San Francisco Chronicle’s Books section. The Washington Post’s move comes as the company, like most other newspaper businesses across the country, has been hobbled by a protracted downturn in advertising.

According to reports from Book World employees, the last issue of Book World will appear in its tabloid print version on Feb. 15 but will continue to be published online as a distinct entity. In the printed newspaper, Sunday book content will be split between Outlook, the opinion and commentary section, and Style & Arts.

Meanwhile, things aren’t looking very good for Quill & Quire‘s counterpart in the U.S., Publishers Weekly. The New York Times is also reporting that PW editor-in-chief Sara Nelson has been laid off, along with 7% of the magazine’s staff.

Ms. Nelson, 52, spent four years heading up the magazine and had become a lively presence within the industry, speaking frequently on panels and advocating forcefully for books in her weekly column.

According to a statement from [the magazine's owners] Reed Business Information … as a result of the restructuring, Brian Kenney, editor-in-chief of School Library Journal, will now be editorial director of that magazine along with Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.

It probably doesn’t need to be said that forcing one guy to edit three magazines is madness. The quality of all three titles is sure to suffer, no?

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A new home for short stories

Toronto-based authors Emily Schultz and Brian Joseph Davis have come together and launched a new website for short fiction, called Joyland. In a mass e-mail sent to Q&Q, they explain the impetus for the site:

Current literary publishing wisdom has it that the short story is dead. We think otherwise. We think the form is at its stylistic peak. It’s just that the traditional venues for short stories – commercial print magazines – have changed dramatically and jettisoned the once prominent short story.

Joyland is dedicated to finding a new way to publish short fiction, and rather than just start a web magazine we’ve wedded a strict mandate (only short fiction) to some principles of social networking sites.

The message goes on to list the initial contributors, and it looks like a pretty respectable line-up: Canadian authors Lynn Coady and Nathan Sellyn, and U.S. authors Ed Park and Harold Abramowitz. (Another aim of the site, apparently, is to get readers from both sides of the border reading authors they may never have encountered before.) They’ve also got an international assortment of contributing editors, including Schultz herself, Vancouver author Kevin Chong, and U.S. authors Janine Armin (New York) and Matthew Timmons (Los Angeles).

You can check it out for yourself here.

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Book Pictures

Do you have great photos from a recent book event in Canada that you'd like to share with us? Submit them to the Quill & Quire Flickr pool and they'll show up here.

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

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Lesley Strutt, Dean Steadman, Amanda Earl, Alastair Larwill and Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

Amanda Earl

Jewel of the Thames launch

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