February 5, 2010

Bookish Discoveries 02-05-10

Bookish Discoveries

Weekly update of interesting bookish buzz I have picked up on:

1. Cigarette Books- Galleycat has a story on Tank Books and how "while the rest of the world debates prices for digital books," they have decided to work on a completely novel (no pun intended) idea. They are taking classics, such as "The Man Who Would be King" by Rudyard Kipling, Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis", and Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and have put them into the cool design of flip-top cigarette packs. They are the same size, with the same foil wrapping and sealed in cellophane BUT they are still unabridged and in an easy-to-read format. How they have done that, I don't know, but I do know I want my hands on these!

2. As I am sure you know, this week Amazon caved to Macmillan's demands and agreed to sell their e-books for more than the $9.99 price Amazon had set previously for all of its e-books for the Kindle. If you ask me, it is both a smart move and a cowardly move. Smart because some readers will want to get the books no matter what the cost. Cowardly because it is a freaking e-book people! I in no way think that they should cost as much as a regular book, which has way more production costs. I am disappointed in both Macmillan, and especially Amazon. Amazon is a big enough company to be able to stick to its guns.

3. Exciting news for Booker Prize fans! The committee announced Monday that it is going to make up for a 1971 rule change that left many 1970 contenders out of the running for the prize. It is doing this by having a Lost Man Booker Prize! The 3 judges were all born in or around 1970 (though I think they should have chosen judges who would have actually been reading the books in 1970, but whatever.) The shortlist will be announced in March. Who is on the longlist?

o Brian Aldiss, The Hand Reared Boy
o H.E.Bates, A Little Of What You Fancy?
o Nina Bawden, The Birds On The Trees
o Melvyn Bragg, A Place In England
o Christy Brown, Down All The Days
o Len Deighton, Bomber
o J.G.Farrell, Troubles
o Elaine Feinstein, The Circle
o Shirley Hazzard, The Bay Of Noon
o Reginald Hill, A Clubbable Woman
o Susan Hill, I'm The King Of The Castle
o Francis King, A Domestic Animal
o Margaret Laurence, The Fire Dwellers
o David Lodge, Out Of The Shelter
o Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat
o Shiva Naipaul, Fireflies
o Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander
o Joe Orton, Head To Toe
o Mary Renault, Fire From Heaven
o Ruth Rendell, A Guilty Thing Surprised
o Muriel Spark, The Driver's Seat
o Patrick White, The Vivisector

4. Get this: Shakespeare has become a popular online game in the U.K., and is growing globally with 22 million players worldwide. Whether that draws crowds to Shakespeare Country remains to be seen. Wherefore art thou visitors?

5. Amazon purchases Toucho: Just to quote directly from the article I read it from in the NYT: "In a sign that Amazon wants to upgrade its Kindle e-reader to compete head-on with the Apple iPad, Amazon has acquired Touchco, a start-up based in New York that specializes in touch-screen technology, a person briefed on the deal said Wednesday."

6. If you are as nosy as I am about writers, then you will love this: LIFE has put together a slideshow of Famous Literary Drunks & Addicts. Some of those included are Edgar Allan Poe (saw that coming), Ernest Hemingway (that one too), Hunter S. Thompson (who didn't see that coming), Ayn Rand, Stephen King, and Louisa May Alcott (okay, totally did not see that one coming.)

7. Best-selling chick-lit author Susan Morgan, who wrote under the names Zoe Barnes and Sue Dyson, has been confirmed by the coroner to have committed suicide by overdosing on painkillers. The 52-year-old author penned 45 novels, including Wedding Bells, Just Married, and Return to Sender.

8. The magazine The American Prospect asks: Can and should a writer's former home be turned into tourist destinations? While, as a reader, I say 'Hell yeah!', I also understand I don't live in their former neighborhoods. See what the debate is about.

In another article from American Prospect, the debate of whether a new anthology, entitled Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic, can elevate the poetic writing of Nas's 1994 album Illmatic, as well as the hip-hop genre as a whole, to the literary level of other poetry nonfiction. It also discusses whether authors Dyson and Daulatzai are correct in assuming that this genre is a dying art form. For my two cents, I think that while hip-hop itself is not a dying art form, the reasons it was started in the first place as well as the richness of the messages and the cleverness of the lyrics are indeed a dying art form, as the number of new songs that repeat the same ten words over and over again are apt to show.

Photo of Nas

What story from this week did you find most interesting (whether I noted it here or not)?


  1. Great compilation of links here! The cigarette books are quite interesting...

  2. All great news items. I really enjoyed this post and as new reader of your blog, I will be back much more often. Thanks!!

  3. The cigarette box books are SO awesome! Me wants =O)

    I was excited to see Mary Renault and Iris Murdoch on the longlist. Hope they make the shortlist!

    That is so sad about Susan Morgan. Although I have not read her work, it is always tragic when someone takes their own life. May she rest in peace.

    Great post Rebecca! Thanks for all the info.

  4. Yeah, those cigarette books look fricken fantastic. I definitely want.

    To be perfectly honest, I've been following the Amazon ebooks price war. I hate to say this, but I will never pay more than 10$ for an ebook. I have an ereader, and right now the only books on it are books which are already in the public domain, so basically free books. When I run out of those and finish all my physical TBR, then perhaps I will consider buying more ebooks, but not until the prices come down, or I am able to lend out my ebook to as many people as I wish, or can sell my used ebook, just as with a physical book.

  5. I do like those cigarette books!! Having to pay more than 10 bucks...I wouldn't, but then again I wouldn't pony up $200+ for an e-reader either!! I would love to see the slideshow of the Drunks and Addicts!! LOL!!

  6. Boy ... there was quite a bit of interesting things to check out on this one!

  7. I bet the print on those cigarette books has to be tiny!

    I am not thrilled with the outcome of the Amazon-MacMillian war. I know I will never pay over 10 for an ebook. I don't even buy my favorite authors in hardcover, I rarely buy the hardcover. If I do its at Amazon b/c of the low price. But for an ebook that I can't show off, lend, giveaway? No thanks.
    Funny how the authors back the publisher, but MacMillian screws them out of fair royalties. I think with the other pubs ready to join in Amazon had no choice. But I think the pubs will be surprised when people don't spend like they want.

  8. I'm so excited to see Fire from Heaven on the longlist for the Lost Booker Prize! Yay for Mary Renault!

  9. It's so nice to see an opinion I agree with on the Macmillan/Amazon debate. I leaped to a bunch of opinions from Twitter and all of them said, "This is a victory for publishing." Maybe so, but it's not any good for those of us who have crap libraries and have to buy on a budget.

    I do think Amazon wields a bit too much power in setting prices, but more than $10 for an ebook? That is insane. So far, I'm not even willing to buy the reader because I think they're too expensive, but if I do . . . I'll be reading public domain books like April.

  10. Louisa May Alcott??? :O *falls over*

  11. I love the LIFE list. Some were certainly predictable, but others I had no idea. I really loved seeing all the old photos of them too.


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