Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
But in President Barack Obama's health care speech on Wednesday, March 24, the two went together like peas and carrots.
Iowa City independent bookstore Prairie Lights was vaulted into the national spotlight yesterday after President Barack Obama's speech about health care singled the bookstore out as an example of a small business that would benefit from tax credits that would help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees.
"This is a small business that's been offering coverage to their full-time employees for the last twenty years," Obama said about the 32-year-old store. "Last year their premiums went up 35%, which made it a lot harder for them to offer the same coverage. Starting now, small business owners like...the folks at Prairie Lights will have the security of knowing that they could qualify for a tax credit that covers up to 35% of their employees' health insurance."
After the speech, President Obama stopped inside the bookstore and, according to the Associated Press, spent $37.44 on three books: The Secret of Zoom (Henry Holt Children's) by Lynne Jonell and Journey to the River Sea (Dutton Children's) by Eva Ibbotson, and a Star Wars pop-up book. He also posed for this rather amusing photo, [posted on the] WaPo Political Bookworm blog.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Kathryn Stockett and Tate Taylor have been best friends all their lives. Now they're collaborating on a major motion picture.
DreamWorks Studios recently slated Stockett's firecracker of a first novel, The Help, for production. Taylor will be at the helm of his first major studio film.
Watch out Hollywood.
"Tate is trouble and put it in capital letters," Stockett said. "He is so much fun. We had a ball growing up. We got in so much trouble all the time. I was always getting grounded when Tate was there."
The book tells the story of a group of black domestic maids in 1960s Jackson, Miss., who band together to tell the sometimes sad, sometimes triumphant stories of lives spent toiling for upper class Southern whites. The Help is both uproariously funny and poignant, resonating with readers across the country.
The book seems ready-made for a film and Taylor saw the possibilities early on when Stockett showed him her manuscript. The creator of a well-received short film, "Chicken Party," and 2009's "Pretty Ugly People," he was looking for a larger vehicle to develop, and his best friend had just the material for him.
"She didn't even have a publisher yet and I said, 'You've got to let me option this,'" Taylor said in an interview from New York, where he was having casting interviews. "And she said, 'I'm going to hold you to this. It's going to be so much fun.' And then, of course, she got her agent and I was the last person in the world they wanted."
Taylor had a few things going for him, though, including his relationship withproducer and filmmaker Chris Columbus, who greatly admired "Chicken Party." Columbus, itturns out, is tight with Steven Spielberg, a co-founder of DreamWorks.
Columbus wanted to work with Taylor, but Taylor didn't immediately have a project, he said. Then, "The Help" came along.Read the entire article HERE
Tate Taylor is obviously directing.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The Huffington Post recently filled readers in on Tank Books and their new "Cigarette Pack Books":
Smoking has become less and less publicly acceptable in recent years, from the ban in restaurants and bars to the outcry against cigarette advertising, but one British book publisher has used smoking's continued popularity as a new way to package and market books.
Tank Books has released a line of classic literature packaged in cigarette packs. The set of ten includes greats like Heart of Darkness, The Metamorphosis, and Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and the company boasts, "TankBooks are for people on the move, lovers of literature and connoisseurs of design. Try one and you'll be hooked."
Why cigarette packs? Tank Books declares that "The flip-top cigarette pack is one of the most successful pieces of packaging design in history. TankBooks pay homage to this iconic form by employing it in the service of great literature."See the article HERE
It sounds to me like Tank Books is really reaching to justify themselves on this one. They're using a common vice and milking it for all its worth, and they've got to know it.
Sure it's eye-catching and a "fresh" idea, but let's not encourage a habit that has been proven to kill, shall we?
Monday, March 22, 2010
I run a mostly-YA book club and am a member of a classics book club, and have been part of a smattering of other BCs since I moved to NYC four years ago. So, when I heard that Borders has opened its doors to my fellow book clubbers, I was pretty darn happy.
In the increasingly brutal book wars, Borders Group Inc. is learning what coffeehouses long have known: Encourage shoppers to think of you as a home away from home and they'll spend more, maybe even become regulars.
To spur that feeling, Borders quietly unveiled a program late last month that invites book club groups to convene at its cafe spaces instead of in club members' homes. The step is geared toward helping the money-losing bookstore chain drum up sales and reshape itself into a local gathering place instead of a faceless superstore.
Signs and posters telling shoppers to bring their book group to the store have gone out from corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., to Borders' 507 outposts, including 18 stores in the Chicago area, said Mary Davis, spokesman for the chain. Borders' Chicago flagship on North Michigan Avenue, which is slated to close next year, already has hosted a few private book clubs in its third-floor event space.
"We're encouraging stores to reach out to the public to say, ‘We're here,'" Davis said. "It's a way to drive traffic to the stores."
Last year, the company began book club nights hosted by store employees based on books that Borders selected, starting with Kate Jacobs' "The Friday Night Knitting Club" in April. At that time, the retailer also introduced display tables stacked with Borders' recommendations for book club discussions.
The latest effort focuses on bringing in readers interested in selecting their own books and leading their own discussions.
Personally, I think this is a brilliant idea. Not only will it succeed in building store traffic, but as a direct result, it will hopefully help to fend off the recent series of store closures. According to the Trib, Borders/Walden cut 10 percent of its workforce this past January, in addition to the 200+ store closures that occurred that very same month (Publishers Weekly). The book biz is fading at a quicker rate than many of us in the industry--myself included--expected or wanted to admit. So anything booksellers can do to help slow down the process--whether a big conglomorate like Borders or an independent--is a positive thing.
Friday, March 19, 2010
One of the library's patrons returned a library book last month. *gasp*
The kicker is...it was 45 years late. And a first edition.
Though it's obviously not a book of great monetary value, like a first edition of Cather in the Rye might be for example, it's an interesting tidbit from our friends across the pond.
Staff at the Dinnington library are used to people bringing books back late but the package they received last month was in a class of its own.
It contained a paperback first edition copy of Quatermass and the Pit by Nigel Kneale which had been borrowed on September 24, 1965.
"I thought at first it was just a normal return, until I saw the color of the pages: they were very brown around the edges," said Alison Lawrie, the Principal Library Assistant.
"It's true that some people like to take their time with a good book, but 45 years is an incredible amount of time!"
Staff believe the book was borrowed from the old Dinnington Library, in Sheffield, South Yorkshire which opened in 1936 and is close to the current building which opened in 2000. However, the identity of the borrower remains a mystery because records do not go back that far -- and there would have been no danger of a huge accumulated fine because all fines are capped at 6 pounds ($9).
"The person who posted it back to us would not be in any 'trouble' whatsoever," said Lawrie. "If the person who returned the book wants to come forward, we'd love to know the story behind it."
It's also a nice little tale as to why libraries shouldn't cap their fines! According to mirror.co.uk, at the present late-fee rate of 15 pence per day, the mysterious borrower would owe the library £2,500--equivalent to $3 753.25 in the U.S.
Thanks to my mom (yes, that's right) for putting this one on my radar!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Crouch's debut novel, Girls in Trucks, was phenomenal and I'd been waiting for her sophomore attempt since the deal was announced (funnily enough, check it out here), though at the time I seem to have had slightly incorrect information. The announcement was apparently for her third novel--to come in 2011 from Poppy--so, I'll take this moment to retract my statement last August that The Magnolia League would be her second novel. But that's neither here nor there.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Ready for the next chapter in the Twilight craze?
If the original Stephenie Meyer teen vampire novels, movies, DVDs, posters and T-shirts aren't enough, now comes Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 (Yen Press, $19.99), on sale today.
The 350,000 first printing is believed to be the biggest for any graphic novel in the U.S. market. Because of the original Twilight novel's length, the graphic novel will be published in two volumes. No date has been announced for the second. Nor is there any word on whether the last three books in the series will be adapted to the format.
The hardcover book, illustrated and adapted by South Korean artist Young Kim, was created with author Meyer's oversight.
"When it comes to really seeing Stephenie Meyer's personal vision of the Twilight property, this is as close an opportunity there is to accomplishing that," says Yen's Kurt Hassler. "Stephenie was very specific and has very clear images of what the characters look like in her head."
Becky Anderson of Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., wonders how fans will react after seeing the movies and envisioning Robert Pattinson as Edward and Kristen Stewart as Bella.
"People are really possessive of this book and how they feel about it," Anderson says. "It will be interesting to see how they accept this new visual image."
Fans and booksellers aren't sure what the response will be to the graphic-novel format or how the book will sell.
Read the rest of the article HERE
Torontolife.com has the scoop:
Margaret Atwood has joined the growing list of Canadian celebrities set to appear in the upcoming movie Score: A Hockey Musical, and thank heavens, yes, she’ll be singing. This isn’t the first time Atwood has gone on film to show her love of the good ol’ hockey game—remember her celebrity tip segment from Rick Mercer’s Monday Report where she dressed up as a goalie? N0? A reminder, at [bottom].
Set for an October release, Score follows a teenage hockey star’s ascent to fame (Olivia Newton-John plays the boy’s sports-averse mom). Directed by Michael McGowan (One Week), the film is the cinematic equivalent of a Canadian tourism commercial or the Olympic closing ceremonies in Vancouver, with appearances by Nelly Furtado, George Stroumboulopoulos, Hawksley Workman, Walter Gretzky, Theo Fleury, Dave Bidini, Alex Tagliani, Eddie Shack and Dan Hill. And by appearances, we assume brief cameos during the finale. Hopefully, this ode to our national sport will fare better than the last attempt to bring the Leafs and Hockey
Night in Canada to international audiences. For one thing, Mike Myers isn’t attached to the film. Yet.
I saw this article and laughed out loud, so I just had to share it...even if it only entertains me and my dear friend Marie ;)
Thursday, March 11, 2010
"Alice" is a wonder: Alice may have fallen down a rabbit hole in Lewis Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland, but she's moving up USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list, landing at No. 31. Alice, and Carroll, are being helped along by Tim Burton's blockbuster "Alice in Wonderland, "which took in $116.1 million its opening weekend. The children's tale, with illustrations by John Tenniel, is a Barnes & Noble Classic and one of several editions being republished to coincide with the movie. A pop-up version made it into the top 50 in December 2003. Barnes & Noble and Borders are featuring Alice books and merchandise at the front of their stores, including tea sets at B&N and Cheshire Cat T-shirts at Borders.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The publisher's press release hit the PR newswire yesterday:
Hilary Duff, film and television star, recording artist, clothing designer, and philanthropist, has signed a world rights deal with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers to publish her first-ever young adult fiction series, it was announced today. The first novel in the multiple-book series, entitled Elixir, publishes in hardcover in October 2010. Also part of the deal are world rights for a nonfiction title to be published in spring 2012 concerning the challenges faced by children of divorce--an issue that has touched Duff's own life.
Duff's Elixir combines the overpowering allure of a dangerous love triangle with thrilling international adventure. Clea Raymond is a talented young photojournalist who has spent her entire life in the spotlight as the daughter of a Washington politician and a renowned surgeon. Haunted by the strange appearance of a mysterious young man in her photographs, Clea travels the globe with her best friends, Rayna and Ben, in a race against time to unravel a centuries-old mystery that could unlock the key to her soulmate's true identity and the secret of her father's disappearance--and ultimately save all their lives.
Says Duff, "I've always loved the escape of a great book, especially one that features a strong, inspiring female character you feel you really understand, someone who could be you, but living a more fascinating life. I'm hoping Elixir will be that kind of book--a novel that will transport readers and open new worlds for them."Read the complete press release HERE
Following in the footsteps of L.A. Candy author and reality star Lauren Conrad, Duff will now add "author" to her list of accolades. Whether her novels will be as big a success as Conrad's, however, remains to be seen.
And I'll admit it--I'm kind of excited to find out. I like Hilary Duff.
There, I said it.
I'm sure I'll own up to more of my Hilary Duff vice when the book comes out, as I know now, I want to review it. ;-) But for now, that's all you get.
Monday, March 8, 2010
It used to be that the only adults who read youngadult literature were those who had a vested interest -- teachers or librarians or parents who either needed or wanted to keep an eye on developing readers' tastes.
But increasingly, adults are reading YA books with no ulterior motives. Attracted by well-written, fast-paced and engaging stories that span the gamut of genres andsubjects, such readers have mainstreamed a niche long derided as just for kids.
Thanks to huge crossover hits like Stephenie Meyer's bloodsucking "Twilight" saga, Suzanne Collins' fight-to-the-death "The Hunger Games" trilogy, Rick Riordan's "The Lightning Thief" and Markus Zusak's Nazi-era "The Book Thief," YA is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak publishing market. Where adult hardcover sales were down 17.8% for the first half of 2009 versus the same period in 2008, children's/young adult hardcovers were up 30.7%.
"Even as the recession has dipped publishing in general, young adult has held strong," said David Levithan, editorial director and vice president of Scholastic, publisher of "The Hunger Games," as well as of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, the series largely credited with jump-starting this juggernaut of a trend.
"You go on the subway and see 40-year-old stockbrokers reading 'Twilight,' " said Levithan, himself a YA author. "That wouldn't have happened five years ago."
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
It has been a year since Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was unleashed upon the unsuspecting masses.
Rather than running for their lives, readers ran to bookstores, making the quirky collaboration between Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith a huge hit, with more than 1 million copies in print.
With the surprising success of that first literary mashup from Quirk Books, there has been no stanching the flow of bloody titles featuring classic literary icons doing battle with B-movie demons.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters followed Zombies last year. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, a prequel by Steve Hockensmith, will walk among us starting March 24.
In Sherri Browning Erwin's Jane Slayre (Gallery Books), hitting stores April 13, Charlotte Brontë's plain Jane Eyre is an indomitable zombie killer.
We've seen gimmicky titles like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim (Coscom Entertainment) and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter (Eos) jump on the bandwagon.
But is the trend threatening to jump the shark, as well?
"There are so many classics to explore and so many ways people are approaching mashups. I think it has a long way to go before it exhausts itself," says Slayre author Erwin.
Zombies has had the best showing on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list, rising to No. 24. Sea Monsters, with a very respectable 375,000 copies in print, peaked at No. 100. But Queen Victoria and Zombie Jim failed to make the list's top 400.
"We're having discussions on how far we can push this formula," Quirk publisher Jason Rekulak says. "What I don't want to do is something like The Scarlet Letter and Dinosaurs, where you just take a classic because it's a classic and add an element because it's an element."
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I hadn't heard great things about the film so my expectations weren't very high. I also didn't love the book as much as many people I know did, so I wasn't as invested in the film as I would've been if it were a Harry Potter flick. I liked the book quite a bit, don't get me wrong. It was a fun, quick read with a great premise and a lot of fun characters. I just didn't feel that the writing or character development was up to snuff with the Harry Potter series, which anyone whose read them both will inevitably compare to Percy Jackson.
The film, however, was amusing at best. I was laughing out loud at moments that were not intended to be funny (though there were some genuinely humorous parts!), the graphics were a little ridiculous, and the characters were flat.
Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that I am a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I’ve often proclaimed that my love for this series is up there with my love for Harry Potter. So needless to say, I was pretty excited to see the movie adaptation of The Lightning Thief, especially since it was directed by the man behind the first two Harry Potter movies, Chris Columbus. I was also nervous---movies adapted from books rarely live up to their source material and barring most (but not all) of the Harry Potter movies, a few Neil Gaiman movies and Spiderwick, I’ve felt let down by recent book-movies. So I went in with a cautious but open heart and found myself completely let down. Here’s a list of reasons why (Caution: this list contains SPOILERS for both the movie and the book series):
*No Ares (the Cabin or the God) – one of the fun parts of the Percy books is that he encounters each and every Olympian god throughout the series and they’re “modernized.” The scenes with Percy and Ares were intense and exciting and it’s one of the first times Percy encounters one of the gods (aside from Mr. D). His absence was greatly noted and replacing him with Persephone (more to come on her) did nothing to improve the story. I was also annoyed that there was no Clarisse or Ares Cabin. While I get that the producers probably thought they were too reminiscent of Draco/Slytherin and wanted to steer clear of HP similarities, if they had thought ahead to the rest of the series, Clarisse and Ares Cabin play an important role later on, and Clarisse’s pride and stubbornness set up one of the most emotional moments (for me) in the final book. I was also annoyed that Annabeth became the stand-in for Clarisse (see my next point).
*Annabeth was all wrong - I know this is a superficial detail, but my first complaint is that Annabeth is BLONDE. It bothers me that (Buffy aside) we rarely get to see the blonde girl kicking ass and taking names. They’re always the pretty ones while the brunettes are the tough ones. That aside, I also didn’t like the changes her character was given. Book-Annabeth would NOT attack Percy that violently (in the name of training) and almost kill him. Setting her up as the violent warrior woman and then having her flip-flop to become his ally for her own selfish purposes did not make me like her as either a romantic foil OR a Hermione-esque “smart, female friend” for Percy. Again, they may have been trying to avoid HP similarities but they went a bit too far. Part of the fun of The Lightning Thief is that it has the HP skeleton (which JK Rowling didn’t invent, by the way) with its own unique and interesting story, mythology, and character development.
*The way race was handled – I had a BIG problem with Rosario Dawson playing Persephone. Not only was I annoyed that her character (a MAJOR deus ex machine) had replaced Ares, but she was clearly supposed to be the exotic, spicy goddess/wife and they didn’t even try to make her seem Greek. At one point my friend Zoraida, a Latina woman, leans over to me and says, “Why is Persephone Puerto Rican?” I have no idea. She’s supposed to be a GREEK goddess. If they wanted to have diversity in the cast, they had a great opportunity with the demi-god camp-dwellers (since they’re half Greek god and half-any race known to the human species). But they missed that opportunity by only focusing on the main demi-gods (another thing that took away from the greatness of the books – I loved all of the briefly mentioned side characters, just as I did in HP). I was actually really glad they cast a black actor to play Grover, since, ya know, he’s a satyr and they’re nature spirits. He could be any race. But I was extremely disappointed that they then went and changed Grover’s character to make him a stereotype of a black teen. Grover is a nervous, awkward, odd little goat-man and instead they turned him into a “playa” who was often distracted by hotties and speaks like he grew up in “the hood.” There was even one scene where the camera watches Percy and Grover walk up some stairs and you can clearly see Percy’s pants at a normal level and Grover’s are sagging, which doesn’t even make sense since Grover’s pants are supposed to conceal his GOAT LEGS! It just made me sad that they felt they had to completely change the character into a black stereotype rather than keeping the integrity of the character and casting him black. I found it insulting to people of all ethnicities.
Read the rest of T.S.'s fantastic and thorough review HERE