Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oh BEA...How I Wish I Were at You Right Now...

The Book Expo of America--BEA--is one of the largest annual events in the book publishing industry. Booksellers, buyers, authors, agents, in-house publishing folk, and even consumers come from all over the country to convene at the Javits Center in NYC every summer.

Lectures, lunches, booths, panels, and signings, BEA has it all. (This year, it even has Rick Springfield! :-o.) And while every attendee leaves with a massive number of free books and galleys, it's not all rainbows and butterflies.

After attending the opening day of BEA yesterday, agent Janet Reid (love her!) has some interesting things to say about her love-hate relationship with the expo on her hilarious blog:

BEA is the both a revival meeting and trade show for the publishing industry. We come from all corners of the country, the globe really, and talk to each other about the terrible dire straits publishing is in, how it was so much better way back when, and how we really can't see ourselves doing anything else. Honest, it's kinda fun in a Eeyore kind of way.Today was the first real day even though the actual show doesn't open till tomorrow.

Today was the chance for seminars and panels, the chance to remember where the Javits Center is and that water costs $3.00 a bottle so bring some from the corner bodega tomorrow.

The first presentation I attended was "Bringing Your Authors to the Social Media Party...and Getting Them to Stay." Frankly I'm not sure if the presenters didn't know what the title was or didn't have a clue how to actually do what the title said. It was worse than useless as a panel because it made social media sound corporate, difficult and not much fun. None of those are true.

It was all I could do not to leap up, grab the mic and say "ok, who here understands that Twitter is simply about making friends?" and then talk about how to make friends. Because honestly that really IS what Twitter is about. The reason that's important: marketing studies tell us (and have for YEARS) that word of mouth is the most effective form of book publicity.

Let me say that again:
Word of mouth is the most effective form of book publicity.

How do you get people to talk about your book?
You meet them and befriend them.

How do you do that?
(And a myriad of other ways.)

It's not rocket science. And it's fun.

I think what annoyed me most about the panel is that it was clear they weren't even familiar with what authors in trade publishing need to do, or the barriers they face. The panelists described themselves as publishers, but their company is a software company, and what they publish looked and sounded like books for established customers.

This is apples and oranges with trade publishing.

Unfortunately I was trapped on the inside row, and it was too early in the morning to levitate out of my seat and leapfrog over the assembled multitude, so I just suffered. As did most of the people around me when the session (finally!) ended and we rolled our eyes at each other.

Read the rest of her post HERE

Personally, I love BEA. I've only gotten to attend once though when I was in the sales department, and I didn't really have to participate in quite the same way Janet did. I'd definitely be interested in checking it out again though with my editorial position in mind!

Oh well. Maybe next year.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An Early Morning Surprise Link

My friend Sophie sent me an e-mail last night. The subject was "I think you'll enjoy this." But all that was in the body of the text was a link.

So, of course, my curious nature made me click right away (just as yours will..muahahahaha):


Hilarious. Though I know some of my manly readers can do better.

So, let's have it boys. Go get yourself up there...and remember...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Books are Like Ice Cream

As a member of the book publishing industry, I am well aware that my job is more or less subjective. Just like flavors of ice cream, not everyone is going to like a book and not everyone is going to have the same favorite "flavor."

There are some books, however, that we're expected to like, either because it's a "classic" or because it's been on the bestseller list for ages. Sometimes these expectations make us more likely to enjoy it because we assume we should and are looking for reasons to do just that. I, on the other hand, find that I'm much more critical of books that have seen much great acclaim. Prove to me that you deserve it.

Take for example, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. A couple years ago, a book club I was in at the time chose Diaz's novel for its monthly selection. Everyone was stoked to read it since it'd been on the New York Times bestseller list for basically 100 years (clearly, I am exaggerating) and won a Pulitzer. But I was lukewarm even about the concept. But despite my reluctance, we all dove in.

The majority of the members zipped through it so fast
I couldn't believe it. Especially since I was struggling to read each page. It wasn't for me. I didn't get it. I didn't like Diaz's writing or his protagonist. I tried very hard to read the whole thing, but stopped torturing myself about 3/4 of the way in. When I went to the meeting, I was the only one who wasn't head over heels.

So, given my past experience with the matter, I was intrigued when Linnea over at Art Ravels tweeted about The Book Examiner's "50 best author vs. author put-downs of all time." Examiner writer Michelle Kerns researched some of the most renowned authors of all time and found some terrible critiques of their work:

One man's Shakespeare is another man's trash fiction.

Consider this pithy commentary on the Great Bard's work:

With the single exception of Homer, there is no eminent

writer, not even Sir Walter Scott, whom I can despise so entirely as I despise Shakespeare....

But, of course, there must be SOME writers we can all agree on as truly great, right? Like Jane Austen. Or not:

Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice,' I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.

Robert Frost?

If it were thought that anything I wrote was influenced by Robert Frost, I would take that particular work of mine, shred it, and flush it down the toilet, hoping not to clog the pipes.

John Steinbeck, surely?

I can't read ten pages of Steinbeck without throwing up.

Oh, dear.

But don't think these pleasantries were penned in a frolicsome hour by dilettante book critics with an unslaked thirst for a bit of author-bashing.

The Shakespearean take-down was George Bernard Shaw, the Austen shin-bone

basher was Mark Twain, the anti-Frost poet was James Dickey, and the quick!-bring-me-the-bucket-it's-Steinbeck was James Gould Cozzens.

Yes, hell hath no fury like one author gleefully savaging another author's work.

And, lucky for us, there's plenty to be had where that came from.

Cast your eye on these, the 50 most memorable author vs. author put-downs (in no particular order; though if you've got a favorite, by all means, comment on it, below).

1. Ernest Hemingway, according to Vladimir Nabokov (1972)

As to Hemingway, I read him for the first time in the early 'forties, something about bells, balls and bulls, and loathed it.

2. Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote, according to Martin Amis (1986)

Reading Don Quixote can be compared to an indefinite visit from your most impossible senior relative, with all his pranks, dirty habits, unstoppable reminiscences, and terrible cronies. When the experience is over, and the old boy checks out at last (on page 846 -- the prose wedged tight, with no breaks for dialogue), you will shed tears all right; not tears of relief or regret but tears of pride. You made it, despite all that 'Don Quixote' could do.

3. John Keats, according to Lord Byron (1820)

Here are Johnny Keats's p@# a-bed poetry...There is such a trash of Keats and the like upon my tables, that I am ashamed to look at them.

4. Edgar Allan Poe, according to Henry James (1876)

An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.

Check out the rest of the list HERE

I think my favorite is #27: William Faulkner, according to Ernest Hemingway

Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You're thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes -- and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he's had his first one..

What's YOUR fave author put-down?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Guest Blogger, LG: Book Review - "The Carrie Diaries"

I came to the "Sex and the City" phenom as the show was wrapping up its TV run. My family didn't have cable, but when I got to college and one of my friends had the first two seasons on VHS, we'd throw viewing parties. Though we were all young and inexperienced in the dating department (all of us virgins at the time, too), we found the show utterly relatable--and totally addictive. I collected all of the seasons as they were released on DVD, and to this day still enjoy long marathon sessions watching the episodes. Suffice it to say, like countless women and men the world over, I'm a big fan of Carrie and company.

The lack of background on the characters always bothered me in the show, particularly with Carrie. I wanted to know how she became a writer. All you really get from the show is that her father left she and her mom when she was a kid. You don't know where she grew up, where she went to college, when she moved to New York, if her mother is alive, if she has siblings, or where she went to college--or even if she went to college. You also occasionally get snippets of information, such as how Carrie lost her virginity (on a ping pong table in some guy's basement in high school).

Last year I attended a lecture by Jennifer Weiner and Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell at the 92nd Street Y. Bushnell briefly mentioned her next project: The Carrie Diaries, a YA novel about Carrie in high school. My stomach flipped, my heart fluttered. I would finally get a look into the youth of my beloved fictional characters!

While TV-Carrie's man issues seem to reek of Absentee Father Syndrome, The Carrie Diaries takes a whole other direction. Fifty pages into the book, I felt betrayed. I felt like Bushnell had never even seen the TV show, certainly not as many times as I had. In the book, Carrie has two sisters, her mother is dead, and they're being raised by their overprotective father. Carrie is a little rebellious, which is fun to see, but there are quite a few disconnects between TV-Carrie and Bushnell's young-Carrie.

As a reader, I simply had to reconcile with this fact, and enjoy the book as a separate entity from the show. After all, Bushnell didn't write the teleplays for the show, she just created the characters in her iconic book of the same name. Despite the factual differences (Carrie graduates high school with her virginity in tact), the essence of the beloved character of TV and pages is embodied in this very fun read.

Young-Carrie makes so many mistakes that I found myself waving my imaginary hand, going "What are you doing?!" She's plagued by insecurities that every teenage girl faces, makes bad decisions, and possesses friends that are at times so bitchy (and real) that you wonder why she's kept them around and understand why they'd no longer be in her life come the start of the show (if this were chronological publication, of course). This young-Carrie is no Sarah Jessica Parker, and I loved that fact. Bushnell has stayed true to her original vision of a character that is completely hers, and lets readers wholly into the fictional world of a teenage version of one of the most iconic American characters of the last 20 years. Bushnell owns her character, and she never apologizes for making Carrie do or think anything that you may not like. This book is a complete success.

For fans of the show and the original book, I highly recommend. For anyone who likes a saucy little YA adventure, I also highly recommend.

Read an earlier post about The Carrie Diaries HERE

And don't forget to check out LG's blog, "Big Girl, Bigger City"


So, apparently Amazon put things up for pre-order waaaay in advance. But I'm very happy that they do because A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang, the first book in an amazing urban fantasy series I'm editing, is up there and people have already pre-ordered it!!!

Check it out HERE!!!! And if you want to pre-order a copy, I won't hate it :-p tee-hee!

Well-deserved Accolade for "The Good Soldiers"

David Finkel's The Good Soldiers, which I reviewed last month, was just announced as the winner of the 2010 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, beating out his fellow nominees with books ranging "from oil to women’s rights to the financial crisis" (The Daily Beast).

I have to admit I'm not surprised. I was super impressed by Finkel's account of the 2-16 Battalion, to the point where I've been recommending it to people left and right.

Here's what The Daily Beast had to say about the memoir:

While Washington bickered over the merits of George W. Bush’s surge, David Finkel headed off to Iraq for The Washington Post to see what was actually happening there. The result is one of the most compelling books on war since Michael Herr’s Dispatches. There is no better example of why great journalists matter than to be taken into Finkel’s devastating, harrowing, and moving account of one battalion’s efforts to turn the tide in their bloody section of Baghdad. It takes spirit and an admittedly slightly perverse sense of self-preservation to do what he did and insert yourself into the middle of a war, but as he spoke on Tuesday night it was clear that he did it for the soldiers as much as for us readers.

Click HERE to read about the other nominees

Congrats, David! (not that he readsmy blog lol)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Book Review: High Before Homeroom

I'm very sorry for my absence, dear readers. Things have been a tad bit crazy here in the Big Apple.

However, in my time away, I had a chance to finish up Maya Sloan's unique and compelling young adult crossover novel, High Before Homeroom (the title of which was all yours truly :-p), edited by one of my colleagues.

Sloan tells the story of Doug Schaffer, a sixeteen-year-old boy who can't seem to fit in with anyone. Accept he gets along famously with Laurilee, a girl he works with at the mall and wants more than anything. But Laurilee only dates "bad boys." So, what is a dorky, unpopular kid to do? Adopt a drug addiction to meth, of course! But, Doug's master plan to get just effed up enough to land himself in rehab like one of the popular kids backfires in the most awkward and hilarious ways.

High Before Homeroom is as unconventional as they come, but in the best of ways. With its brutally honest and confused protagonist and its quirky premise, this debut novel--which hits shelves in June 22nd--is sure to intrigue. It also will give you a run for your money with twists and turns along the way that you never saw coming.

My only disappointment with this one was that I had a difficult time relating to Doug. Perhaps it's because I'm a girl or maybe it's because of my pretty straight-laced views of drugs, but I definitely would've liked to feel more connected to him and really understand what he was thinking and feeling. Also, most of the characters are male, so in general, there's a bit of a disconnect. Doug is such an entertaining and open character though that I could certainly still enjoy the book, even sans relatability.

Last Word: When the time comes, grab a copy STAT. This is a book unlike anything you've ever read before. Oh, and check out the fantastic book trailer from S&S below! I won't be shocked if this one gets optioned for film this summer!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Second Dose of Palin

So it seems to be becoming an annual trend--Sarah Palin has another book coming out this fall (causing me and my peeps to have to move a pub date of our own, but I'm not irritated, no, not at all heh).

HarperCollins announced the book's release yesterday, according to USA Today :

Sarah Palin's new book has a title, America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, and a release date, Nov. 23, publisher HarperCollins announced Tuesday.

The Alaska ex-governor and former Republican vice presidential candidate, whose memoir Going Rogue has sold more than 2 million copies, has been working on a tribute to American values.

It will include "selections from classic and contemporary readings that have moved her," according to HarperCollins, along with "the nation's founding documents to great speeches, sermons, letters, literature and poetry, biography, and even some of her favorite songs and movies."

The book is inspired not only by her "strong belief in the importance of family, faith, and patriotism," but by some of the people she met last year while promoting Going Rogue. Palin skipped major cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles, traditional stops on most author tours, and instead focused on smaller communities more receptive to her conservative message.

"The book will also include portraits of some of the extraordinary men and women she admires and who embody her deep love of country, her strong rootedness in faith, and her profound love and appreciation of family," the statement from HarperCollins reads.

HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis said Palin will likely tour for America By Heart, but added that details were still being arranged. The book will have a first printing of 1 million copies the initial run for Going Rogue was 1.5 million and a list price of $25.99.

Read the rest of the post HERE

I don't know about the rest of you, but this blogger would rather have the Palin coloring book than deal with another of her agendas.

Monday, May 10, 2010


My friend Rebecca just brought my attention to a great upcoming NYC event for those interested in helping to fight illiteracy--"WRRRROCK ON" 2010.

Girls Write Now is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 by a group of young female writers. Their mission is to "provide guidance, support, and opportunities for New York City's underserved or at-risk high school girls, enabling them to develop their creative, independent voices, explore careers in professional writing, and learn how to make healthy choices in school, career, and life" (

So far it's been a successful goal. They have "empowered nearly 6,000 women writers, including nearly 3,000 underserved or at-risk girls from New York City’s public high schools" ( and the college-acceptance rate within the organization is 100 percent.

With volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, girls are able to interact and be mentored by women "who stand as shining, real-life examples to our girls of exactly who you can be as a woman, as a writer, and as a professional" ( But as a non-profit, this one-of-a-kind organization needs our help.

Two Dollar Radio, with the support of several NYC small presses, will be holding a donation-only concert on May 25th in Brooklyn, NY to benefit the Girls Write Now cause:
Two Dollar Radio [...] announced "Wrrrock On," an evening to benefit Girls Write Now happening Tuesday, May 25th at Galapagos Art Space, located at 16 Main Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn, from 7-9PM. Admission is a suggested donation of $2-22 at the door, with 100% of those proceeds going directly to Girls Write Now. Japanther and Care Bears on Fire will perform, and [bestselling author] Joshua Mohr will emcee the event. "Wrrrrock On" is made possible by the support of Chin Music Press, Coffee House Press, Exterminating Angel Press, Featherproof Books, Seven Stories Press, Small Beer Press, Tin House and Unbridled Books.

Click HERE to see more info about the benefit and about the scheduled performers

The Ever-changing Book Cover

Several times a month, one of our subsidiary rights managers brings me over a stack of foreign editions to send to an author. While I dread these visits because they usually come with annoying and tedious work I'm always anxious to see what *insert country here* did with the book cover. There's always a striking difference between a U.S. edition and its foreign counterpart. Sometimes the foreign cover is surprisingly compelling, but more often that not, I've found that they're strangely off-putting, literal, and frequently don't even make sense to the naked eye. It's baffling.

In a time when movies and music usually maintain their packaging worldwide, why is it that the book biz breaks convention and redesigns? Some say it's simply a cultural difference, that it's just good business sense for foreign publishers to market their books for their specialized consumers. On the surface level, this makes complete sense. But if it works for other kinds of media to use American art, why are books any different?

Tom Lamont of the pondered the very same thing in his post in The Observer yesterday:
[...] "What you are trying to get across on a cover is the essence of a book, quite an ambiguous thing," says Nathan Burton, a British designer who created the striking cover for Ali Smith's The Accidental, based on an image of a dead woman. "Designers in different countries read and interpret the fiction in different ways." It doesn't quite explain how Germany arrived at silhouetted dancers for House of Meetings, but "the germ of an idea can come from anywhere," says Burton. He points to the Swedish cover of The Accidental, on the surface a starkly different treatment – "but there's a photograph of a girl, bold sans serif type... You could argue that they are born out of a similar thought process."

There are colder business reasons for creating jackets that differ by territory, says Julian Humphries, head cover designer at Fourth Estate: "Different sales channels have different sensibilities." It can be hard to pinpoint what exactly these sensibilities are – "It's a cultural thing," he says, "as taste-driven as different countries eating different things for breakfast" – but broadly speaking, literary fiction is an easier sell in mainland Europe than in the UK or the US, so publishers there can be less overt in their attempts to grab the attention of customers. "In Europe you often see book covers with simple images and plain type, and that sells books for them," says Burton, whose colourful design for A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz stands in stark contrast to the black-and-white German edition. "The UK book market is more competitive, all the covers in shops shouting: 'Buy me!' We have to put on a bit of extra spin."

The US, meanwhile, tends to signpost its literary fiction more than the UK, says Humphries. "With their version of Wolf Hall, for instance, they picked out the history bent of the novel much more. Theirs was a great cover, and won prizes everywhere."

Why don't publishers, then, replicate covers that have been a success abroad? "It does happen but it's quite rare," says Humphries. Megan Wilson, an art director at Knopf Doubleday in New York, says that American designers are sometimes asked to look at British jackets, "as an example of something that works or doesn't, but we are rarely asked to use them directly." Burton tries to avoid looking at alternative covers if he's working on a book that's already been published. "It can take you off on odd tangents. It's always best to work from fresh."

Having worked in both the US and the UK, Wilson is sceptical about book buyers being so different in each country that they require different covers. "Why is there a need to design different covers for different countries? I don't believe there is one. When I crossed over to New York publishing after working in the British industry, I didn't change my style at all."

"I don't know whether it comes down to bloody-mindedness to do our own thing," says Andrew Smith, a designer at Penguin, "but it has certainly become the norm to start covers from scratch." Could it be that all this re-jacketing zeal – the Alexander McCall Smith reimagined in France to look like an issue of National Geographic, a British Stieg Larsson designed with all the artistic nous of an NHS pamphlet – comes down to pride? [...]

Read the full article HERE
Lamont and his interviewees make some interesting pointsm but they make no real headway here. The logic behind the redesigns is still a big question mark. Maybe it always will be.

But at least the varied covers can give us a little laugh--and some WTFs--here and there (re: the below UK (and US offshoot) vs. French Everything is Illuminated and US vs. Italian Harry Potter).

and vs.


Anyone want to guess why Harry's wearing a mouse hat? LOL.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Book Publishing: Women Vs. Men

When you walk down the halls of a publishing house, you think three things:
1. Damn, that's a lot of paper.

2. Oooh free book shelves!

3. Where are all the men?
The book biz is notorious for being an industry of mostly women, with some gay men thrown in and the rare straight man off in some corner hiding from the hoards of ladies who look at him like the eighth wonder of the world.

As a result, some people blame the fairer sex's presence in the editorial world for the stastical descrepancy between male and female readers. In 2008, for example, "44 percent of women read more than ten books a year compared to three in ten (29%) men" (Harris Interactive).

It's said by some that us female editors gear our publications towards women simply because we are women, though quite frankly, it only makes sense when the majority of your readership is female. Plenty of male-oriented books are published on a regular basis, and when they sell well, we'll put out more of the like. But if they don't, then well, uhh, we won't. It's just logic.

Laura Miller from had some interesting points to make on the subject though, also getting into the nitty-gritty as to why publishing is mostly women:

Much as I enjoyed Roman Polanski's suave political thriller "The Ghost Writer," one early scene struck me as egregiously off. The main character, a scribe-for-hire played by Ewan McGregor, takes a meeting to discuss writing the memoirs of a politician. The other attendees are the head of the book publishing company, one of the editors, the writer's agent and a representative of the politician. Five people in a room discussing a book deal, and all of them men.

This is not, to say the least, very realistic, as Jason Pinter would no doubt concur. Writing last week in the Huffington Post, Pinter, an author whose résumé includes jobs in publishing at "several major houses," recounted his difficulties in persuading his female colleagues to publish a book by Chris Jericho, a professional wrestler.

"Pitching Jericho's book to my editorial board was like pitching iPads to the Amish," he complains, despite the fact that Jericho had an enviable "platform" -- the publishing-world term for regular TV and radio gigs. His co-workers had simply never heard of the guy.

It wasn't until the 15-year-old nephew of one of the editors confirmed Jericho's fame that the board agreed to take the plunge; the book became a bestseller. For Pinter, this experience demonstrates that one of publishing's truisms -- men don't read books -- has become self-fulfilling. Few men work in book publishing, so there are few supporters in the industry for books that men in particular might like, causing fewer such books to be published or promoted and finally leading men to think that books are not for them.


It's worth asking, then, why there are so few men in publishing. Could it be the low pay, low status and ridiculous hours? (Remember that book editors seldom get to read manuscripts in the office -- that's what weekends are for.) Apart from a handful of celebrated figures, it's the rare editor who gets paid more than a secondary school teacher in a middle-class district. The profession has come to look a lot like a skilled, pink-collar ghetto, albeit garnished with a thin dusting of reflected glamor.


Book editing, by contrast, increasingly resembles those "caring professions," nursing and teaching, where the joy of laboring selflessly on behalf of a noble cause -- in this case, literature -- is supposed to make up for the lack of profits and respect. And we all know who does that kind of job, don't we?

Read the entire article HERE

Miller's article is sad but true for the most part. She raises some interesting points, particularly when she explains the responsibilities and financial ramifications of working in the book biz. Men in our society are generally encouraged to make more money and have more power and status than they would on a lowly editorial salary.

However, I'd like to mention that the primary reason for the female-dominated industry goes way back to its inception when women from wealthy families were sent to work in publishing just to give them something to do. It was at some point accepted as a career of "leisure,' though it most certainly isn't that way any longer. But some trends never die, so the gender scale has stayed women-heavy, even though the reasoning has shifted drastically (we are all broke, for one LOL).

Just some food for thought.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh New York, New York

Anyone who's ever lived in New York City has an "Oh, New York" moment when he or she first moves here. In fact, those moments continue throughout the years--I had a couple this morning myself--but they're never quite as exciting as those first experiences.

For example, have you ever had a seemingly drugged-up (but clearly harmless) Columbia lit student wearing Michael Jackson moonboots and a wide open polo shirt hand you his full wallet, ask to borrow your cell phone to call Eliza Dushku's brother, then follow you around like a sad little puppy dog, tell you he wants to buy you some candy and then pull a whole kiwi out of his boot, offer it to you, and then when you decline, take a big bite out of it like it's an apple?

No? You haven't? Well, I have--August 2005. My first summer living in NYC.

The staffers over at New York Magazine seem to agree that these early moments are by far the most memorable. So much so that they've pulled together a series of essays by 50+ of the city's most famous New Yorkers, including Yogi Berra, Parker Posey, Danny DeVito, Amy Sedaris, Mike Meyers, and more. The book, My First New York, hit shelves in late March from Harpercollins:

A book as effervescent and alive as the city itself.

My First New York features candid accounts of coming to New York by more than fifty of the most remarkable people who have called the city home. Here are true stories of long nights out and wild nights in, of first dates and lost loves, of memorable meals and miserable jobs, of slow walks up Broadway and fast subway rides downtown.

The contributors—a mix of actors, artists, comedians, entrepreneurs, musicians, politicians, sports stars, writers, and others—reflect an enormous variety of experiences: few have arrived with less than filmmaker Jonas Mekas, a concentration-camp survivor on a UN refugee ship; few have swanned in with more than designer Diane von Furstenberg, a princess. And an extraordinary number managed to land in New York just as something historic was happening—the artist Cindy Sherman arrived in the middle of the Summer of Sam; restaurateur Danny Meyer came on the day John Lennon was shot.

Arranged chronologically, these moving and memorable stories combine to form an impressionistic history of New York since the Great Depression. They also provide an accidental encyclopedia of New York hotspots through the ages: from the Cedar Tavern and the Gaslight to Lutèce and Elaine's, from Max's Kansas City and the Mudd Club to the Odeon and Bungalow 8, they're all here, dots on the unbroken line of the Next Next things.

Read more about the book HERE

Thanks to Rebecca for pointing this one out to me--I'm definitely going to check it out!

Now, all you New Yorkers out there, what's YOUR most memorable NYC experience from your early days in the Big Apple?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CBA Requests All-Access Pass to American Publications

As some of you may know, I have a good number of friends in Canada. I love them to pieces and so when they occassionally ask me to send them books or certain clothing that they can't buy--or import--in Canada, I'm happy to help out. But not all Canadians are quite so lucky. ;) Most have no way of procuring such items as the country's import bans are pretty much iron-clad.

The Canadian Booksellers Association (CBA), however, is at least trying to address the book-related part of the issue, according to Quill and Quire:

In a bid to force publishers to lower Canadian book prices, the Canadian Booksellers Association is asking the federal government to consider amending the laws that restrict the import of foreign books into the country.

In a press release sent out on Friday, the association said the current regulations that limit “parallel importation” are “no longer commercially reasonable and should be repealed.” The CBA expressed its views in a meeting with Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore on Thursday.

Under the current guidelines, which are governed by the Copyright Act, Canadian booksellers must buy directly from Canadian-owned distributors (such as H.B. Fenn and Company or Canadian Manda Group) and the Canadian arms of multinational publishing houses (such as HarperCollins Canada or Random House of Canada). Booksellers can circumvent the Canadian supply chain and buy directly from the U.S. only if certain titles aren’t available from Canadian sources or are priced at more than 10% of the U.S. price, given that the Canadian dollar is at par. (When the Canadian dollar is valued at less than the U.S. dollar, the price discrepancy allowed under the act is greater.)

If the current regulations are repealed, and if the Canadian dollar (which closed at $0.98 U.S. on Thursday) remains at parity, publishers would be obliged to price their books in line with U.S. titles, or else booksellers could buy directly from U.S. suppliers such as Ingram or

In an e-mail to Q&Q, CBA vice-president Mark Lefebvre describes the current guidelines as “anti-competitive” and amounting to “a tariff on the Canadian book-buying public.”

Read more HERE

Lifting the ban, as the article explains, will cause a lot of strife in the Canadian publishing world, with publishers no longer being able to overprice their books. But for consumers, booksellers, and for us U.S. publishers, the amended law would be a win-win situation.

For the most part.

Ben McNally--owner of the indy bookstore Ben McNally Books in Toronto--is one bookseller who isn't on board with the idea. Below is Mr. McNally's letter to Q&Q in response to the above piece:

While there certainly is much precedent for the Canadian Booksellers Association to act in a short-sighted and self-defeating fashion, the news that the association has asked the Government of Canada to allow it to bypass Canadian agents and buy directly from the United States really has taken matters too far.

The Canadian book business is small and fragile. The only way it can hope to survive is for all the parties in it to recognize that we are in a partnership, not an antagonistic relationship. Anyone who thinks that the health of the publishing community is not the health of the bookselling community is seriously deluded.

When the dollar unexpectedly strengthened the last time we missed a glorious opportunity to stand together as an industry and explain to the people of Canada what a vital part of its culture we are, and that if we we’re to hope to maintain a publishing industry in this country, higher book prices are not only inevitable but desirable.

This time there is no excuse. If we turn our backs on our partners at this difficult time we will only have ourselves to blame if the Canadian publishing business withers on the vine.

In my opinion this is disgraceful behaviour. This is a selfish and short-sighted attempt to have the cake and eat it, and I am appalled that it has happened without consultation with the publishers, on whom we depend for all facets of our business.

The Canadian Booksellers Association does not speak for me. I have no wish to be a part of this organization.

See the full letter HERE
Come on now, my dear Canadian readers, let us know what YOU think!

Americans, you feel free to chime in too, of course. :-p