Thursday, August 26, 2010

Facebook Sues Educators Over the Word "Book"

"What's in a name? A rose by any other word would smell as sweet?"

At least that's what Shakespeare's Juliet (of Romeo and Juliet, that is) thought. The creators of Facebook think otherwise.

It seems the ever-growing Fbook Inc. is claiming that the "Book" in Facebook" is theirs and theirs alone. According to Wired, a lawsuit has been enacted by the social networking site against the site Teachbook, a similar site for educators and school administrators:

Facebook has sued a little-known website for educators called Teachbook, claiming Facebook literally owns the “book” when it comes to naming social networking sites.

“Misappropriating the distinctive book portion of Facebook’s trademark, defendant has created its own competing online networking community in a blatant attempt to become a Facebook for teachers,” (.pdf) according to a filing in San Francisco federal court.

Facebook, with some 500 million users, is policing its trademark in a bid to prevent others from capitalizing on its famous name or diluting its value.

Facebook is not alone in pursuing trademark actions to protect household-name recognition.

Facebook’s lawsuit follows recent threatened litigation by Best Buy against a Wisconsin priest who outfitted a Volkswagen beetle to look like Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” vehicle. The priest had painted “God Squad” on the beetle, but has since agreed to remove it.

Facebook’s lawsuit Wednesday seeks unspecified damages and demands a judge order Teachbook, of Northbrook, Illinois, to immediately cease using “book” in its name.

This begs the obvious question: Would Facebook sue a social-networking site for priests named Goodbook? Or a librarian-networking site named Librarybook?

Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman, pointed out that “we have no complaint against Kelly Blue Book or Green Apple Books or others.”

“However, there is already a well known online network of people with ‘book’ in the brand name. Of course the Teachbook folks are free to create an online network for teachers or whomever, and we wish them well in that endeavor,” he said in an e-mail. “What they are not free to do is trade on our name or dilute our brand while doing so.”

Teachbook declined immediate comment.

It bills itself as a “professional community for teachers” where they are encouraged to share lesson plans and instructional videos, and to manage “communications with parents and students.”

No hearing date has been set.

See the full article HERE

Now, I don't know about you, but this seems a tad extreme to me. We all know what Facebook is. Raise your hand if you'd heard of Teachbook and actually confused it with Facebook? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I didn't think so. The word "Book" is not up for grabs. Yes, Facebook was the first site--that I know of, at least--to coin that type of naming convention, but these things happen all the time. People are always trying to capitalize on others' successes. It's the way the cookie crumbles. Besides, it's not reducing Facebook's popularity or usage levels. It's an entirely different audience for an entirely different purpose. So, who really cares?

I am curious to see, however, just what happens with this debacle. Facebook as a corporation has a lot of power, whether we want to admit it or not. Could they actually force all other networking sites from using the word "book" if there's no space between it and the previous word in their name? Should they?

What do YOU think?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Blogger, Dan Cabrera: Books Not Bombs: Can Reading Bring Peace To Afghanistan?

Yesterday a friend of mine posed an interesting question: If you could translate one and only one book into Pashto, the official language of Afghanistan, what book would you choose?

It so happens that a friend of mine—who is currently serving in the Military Intelligence Corps of the United States Army—was asked by one of his superiors for a recommendation of a novel to translate.

This got me thinking, naturally, as to which novel I would choose (more on that later). But I also thought, perhaps more importantly, why is the Army translating whole novels for the Afghani population? Aren’t there more pressing issues at hand over there?

Bibliophiles like to believe that books make a difference in the world. Reading enlightens, educates, and connects us all through a shared experience—or so it can be argued. Sure, some books and documents have unquestionably changed the course of human history, from The Communist Manifesto to The Jungle to Harry Potter, among others. And let’s not forget that little missive called the Bible.

There’s no question that books can shock, delight, and make readers see the world from a different viewpoint. If a book neglects to move the reader in one way or another then that book has failed. But is the U.S. Army hoping to move the Taliban to tears after reading Sophie’s Choice? Do they hope insurgents will see the error of their ways and the frailty of human life after reading All Quiet on the Western Front?

No matter what book the Army chooses to translate, they may have to deal with a bigger problem than subjective taste to confront. It turns out that most of the Afghani population has the reading comprehension of an American Kindergartener. According to a recent Wired blog post, Afghani police officers and soldiers can’t even read their bank statements or the serial numbers on their weapons. Soldiers who believe they’re not getting paid won’t be soldiers for long, and even if they do stick around they can’t keep track of their weapons?

Realizing this, and recognizing that reading comprehension is just a good thing to have in general, NATO forces in Afghanistan have decided to give all soldiers, police officers, and recruits some homework.

This war on illiteracy may prove just as tough as the real war, especially after considering that smoking heroin and opium—made from the abundant poppy plant found in Afghanistan— is a way of life for soldiers. U.S. generals would rather have Afghanis hooked on phonics than on drugs and are hopeful they are hopeful they can create some bookworms within a year.

So it makes sense that if Afghanis are going to be reading we might as well provide them with some good books. Unless, of course, our intentions aren’t as benevolent as they seem (are they ever?). Books are information, after all, and it wouldn’t be a war without some good, old-fashioned propaganda. Not that I’m suggesting the military is planning something insidious with their translations—though perhaps some publishers, agents, and authors who are losing out on foreign and translation money may think so—nor am I getting ready to don my tinfoil hat and break out conspiracy theories.

After all, propaganda comes in many forms. We love dropping pro-American leaflets on our enemies almost as much as we love dropping some BLU-82 Daisy Cutters or GBU-43 MOABs. And while some may argue that Military Intelligence is an oxymoron, spreading pro-American sentiment through radio and TV broadcasts, websites, and pamphlets can help win the hearts and minds of civilians and, in the best case scenario, change the minds of some bad guys.

So, is the Army using books to help spread the word that we’re the good guys, then? It’s a little far-fetched, considering what we already know about the reading level of the majority of Afghanis. Add to that the fact that novels can take a heck of a long time to read.

Then again, maybe that’s the point: sit everyone down with a good book and fighting will stop. Both sides can form book clubs, discussing which characters were their favorites, which endings surprised them the most, and who would play whom in the inevitably movie adaptation.

One can only hope.

My friend who brought up the subject suggested the Lord of the Rings trilogy (okay, it’s three books—four if you count The Hobbit—but really it’s like one big, long book). A good choice, I think, since 1) it’s a great read, and 2) the story captures the universal themes of good versus evil, bravery versus cowardice, greed versus selflessness. Another friend of mine suggested To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus Finch is the embodiment of justice; Scout the embodiment of childhood innocence. Both books should be read by everyone, no matter where he or she is from, in my opinion, but I’m not certain they would be top picks for the Army.

Someone else I know suggested The Kite Runner, but that might be a little too raw and harrowing for a newly minted reader. Three Cups of Tea? Sure, definitely, but not exactly the lay-down-your-arms and support your local G.I. book the brass in the Pentagon might be hoping for (plus, it’s non-fiction, which deserves another list).

What novel would you choose as your one book to be translated to Pashto?

Would it be an anti-war book like Catch-22, Slaughterhouse Five, or Johnny Get Your Gun? Maybe some flag-waving novels like The Red Badge of Courage or most anything by W.E.B. Griffin or Tom Clancy?

Or would you choose something timeless and profound, a book that exposes the best and worst of humanity, something that cuts right to the core of our beings, something so devastating that one cannot put down the book without being moved to tears and filled with an overwhelming sense of compassion?

Or maybe you’d pick something fun and frivolous to give the war-ravaged citizens some levity and a brief respite from their troubles? After all, it’s the least a book can, and should, do.

My pick? The Giving Tree.

About the Blogger: Dan Cabrera is currently a peon in the world of book publishing. He enjoys reading all kinds of books, particularly any that involve animals, mysterious diseases, or bittersweet endings. You can read his blog at

Welcome to Reading Between the Lines, Dan! We're happy to have you aboard!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Historically Accurate Vulgarity? Sign Me Up!

My dear author Allison Pang wrote a blog post earlier this week about a hilarious--but supremely useful for some--book: 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:

Just a little nod in the direction of a great resource for world-building and historical accuracy. If you're don't own this book and you write Steam Punk, Historical fiction, Time-travel, Fantasy, whatever - you totally should.

Essentially it's a compilation of slang used by actual people, back in the day - circa 1790 to 1820. You'll find bits of peasant cant, Romany and just the conversational words used by the average everyday Joe of the moment.

And yes, some of the words *are* vulgar, but it's just so interesting to see the history of the English language and how much of it is still used today (and with the same connotations.)

The beauty of it is that the book was actually written in 1811, so copyrights don't really apply. You can find it over at the
Gutenberg Project for a quick look through electronically, or buy one of the many versions out at the book store. (If you click the link you'll find it in both hard cover and paper back, and I think it's also out for the Kindle, as well.

See the original post on her blog Borrowing Heaven, Subletting Hell
or at her author site, Heart of the Dreaming

Given that I just this week I made an offer (and won!) on a 3-book historical romance series, I think I'll be tracking down a copy of this one!

The Victorian era novels about three sexy Scotland Yard inspectors by 2010 Golden Heart winner Jillian Stone are sure to need some historically accurate vulgar language ;)

So stoked about working with Jillian on this series. It's going to kick some serious ass.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New from Fab Author Starr Ambrose...

AND one more thing!
(Aren't you LUCKY?!)
Another one of my fabulous authors, Starr Ambrose, just started up a new blog--Dirt Road Diaries! It highlights all the ins and outs of life on her farm and is perfect for any animal-lover! You can also check out her author site for more on her super fun books!!

Look for THIEVES LIKE US on 11/30/10!

It's my favorite one yet!
She just keeps getting better and better! :)

I'm alive!!

I know, I know. I've been MIA for way too long.

But I have good reasons!

I swear!

Reason #1: I've been swamped at work, often feeling like this little kitty in the cage, helpless and annoyed haha However, unlike said kitty, I must cl;aw my way out and make magic happen on a daily basis.

Reason #2: My dear friend Marie got married in Ottawa this past Saturday (check out her great blog, De-briefed!), so I went on a bit of a road trip to celebrate with her. I love you all and love writing for you, but it was totally worth it :-p

Reason #3: My guest bloggers are all sleeping. WAKE UP, GUEST BLOGGERS! I NEED YOU!

Now, since I still don't have time to write a full post, unfortunately, I will leave you with a sneak peek at A Brush of Darkness, the first book in Allison Pang's fantastic debut urban fantasy series :)

It's not officially final yet but it's AMAZING and I'm soooo excited! The cover came out fantastic and the book is even better! So proud of my author for doing such an incredible job and can't wait to work on book 2 with her!

Hits shelves 1/25/2011!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Unique Wine Pairings from Natalie MacLean

This past weekend, I connected with author and wine guru Natalie MacLean via none other than Twitter.

I started following her a while back when I'd been looking for a wine pairing to go with my famed maple mango salmon (original recipe taught to me by my dear friend, Kim) and stumbled across her website. With Natalie's handy--and easy-to-use--Wine & Food Matcher, I was able to compile a solid list of options. So, of course, I began to follow her on Twitter.

Several weeks and numerous reTweets later, Natalie responded to one of my Twitter replies, reaching out to me through this very blog. Funnily enough, the moment I received her email was the same moment I was researching her publishing history on my BlackBerry en route to NJ (I could see a fun and unique cookbook in her future!).

In the emails that followed, I learned that Natalie's first book Red, White, and Drunk All Over (Bloomsbury 9/06) looks fantastic and will be an upcoming review title (keep your eyes peeled!), that she's from my dear beloved town of Ottawa, and that in addition to loving wine (as do I), she also loves reading. So much so that she's gone ahead and paired some fabulous wines with some classic--and some not-so-classic--literature:
What are ten wines to drink with ten classic books?
Jane Eyre
by Charlotte Bronte with California chardonnay
The Scarlett Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne with red burgundy (pinot noir)
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy with vintage port
Wuthering Heights
by Emily Bronte with British sparkling wine or champagne
A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens with a southern France cabernet/merlot blend
Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen with Chilean chardonnay
The Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck with California zinfandel
The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald with Washington merlot
he Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger with cognac (or rye whisky)
The Good Earth by Pearl Buck with New York riesling

What are ten wines to drink with ten current books?
DaVinci Code
by Dan Brown with Italian chianti
ats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss with New Zealand sauvignon blanc
The World is Flat
by Thomas L. Friedman with Spanish rioja
The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls with Canadian riesling
A Year of Magical Thinking
by Joan Didion with South African sauvignon blanc
by Toni Morrison with Argentine malbec
Memoirs of a Geisha
by Arthur Golden with saké
The Tipping Point
by Malcolm Gladwell with a German riesling
The Devil Wears Prada
by Lauren Weisberger with Californian cabernet
Running with Scissors
by Augusten Burroughs with Canadian icewine

What are your ten favorite food and wine books to read with any wine?

The Omnivore's Dilemma
by Michael Pollan
by Bill Buford
A Year in Provence
by Peter Mayle
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
The Vineyard: A Memoir
by Louisa Thomas Hargrave
Wine & War
by Don & Petie Kladstrup
The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher
Comfort Me With Apples
by Ruth Riechl
The Man Who Ate Everythin
g by Jeffrey Steingarten
The Tummy Trilogy
by Calvin Trillin

Check out more fun pairings, as well as podcasts, videos, tips, restaurant recs (A shout out to Nat for some great Ottawa suggestions for my upcoming trip!) on her website HERE
I can't wait I've ever thought about pairing wine with my reading material any more specifically than deciding to drink some while reading. But I'm loving this idea! There are number of books on these lists too that I've been wanting to read--among them War and Peace, Kitchen Confidential, The Tipping Point, and A Year of Magical Thinking. It also makes me want to re-read those which I've already experienced, if for no other reason but to figure out why Natalie chose to pair each book with the corresponding wine.

I can guarantee you one thing though--I'll certainly be giving Natalie's suggestions a whirl one of these days!

But before I do, I wonder what wine I should drink while reading her book...

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Cranky Critic, Gloria Loman: Dorchester's Foot is Bleeding

Hey there, Booklanders! So, word on the street is that Dorchester Publishing is reorganizing their entire publishing program. rounds-up the publisher's main changes--and they're big ones:

A source from Dorchester informed me that Dorchester will be revamping its publishing house to focus on trade paperback originals and digital publishing. Digital releases will be forthcoming as scheduled but the print publications will be delayed 6 to 8 months.

In 6 to 8 months, Dorchester will begin releasing the print editions in trade paperback form.
Now, let me just say, this is a terrible idea.

The romance genre, for one thing, is such a huge chunk of Dorchester's business and romances just don't work in trade. The market doesn't want them! Big accounts won't take them! Airports, supermarkets, Walmart, Target, etc. etc. want mass market. Common sense, people.

And these trade paperbacks will hit shelves 6-8 months after an e-book edition is released? Does Dorchester even want to make a profit? Romance readers are avid. They want their books the second they can get their hands on them. No way are they going to wait 6-8 months for a printed edition when they can buy an ebook sooner and for less...

I'm not sure what what you're thinking, dear Dorchester big wigs...

Oh and by the way, your foot is bleeding. You might want to remove that bullet. And maybe while you're at it you can disinfect the gaping wound with that everclear you're drinking.

Because, clearly, you are drunk off your ass.

How Many Licks Does It...I Mean....

There are so many books out there in the world that they're more of less countless. Or so one would think.

Google, however, would not settle for such a generalization and has taken matters into their own hands, determined to figure out just how many books actually exist.

Yesterday, the Huffington Post linked to Inside Google Books, where they thoroughly explained how Google calculated this factoid and their results. It's a veryinteresting post, though be forewarned, it's not exactly simplified and it is book history :-p (Hey! Dorks like me enjoy this stuff!):

When you are part of a company that is trying to digitize all the books in the world, the first question you often get is: “Just how many books are out there?”

Well, it all depends on what exactly you mean by a “book.” We’re not going to count what library scientists call “works,” those elusive "distinct intellectual or artistic creations.” It makes sense to consider all editions of “Hamlet” separately, as we would like to distinguish between -- and scan -- books containing, for example, different forewords and commentaries.

One definition of a book we find helpful inside Google when handling book metadata is a “tome,” an idealized bound volume. A tome can have millions of copies (e.g. a particular edition of “Angels and Demons” by Dan Brown) or can exist in just one or two copies (such as an obscure master’s thesis languishing in a university library). This is a convenient definition to work with, but it has drawbacks. For example, we count hardcover and paperback books produced from the same text twice, but treat several pamphlets bound together by a library as a single book.

Our definition is very close to what ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers) are supposed to represent, so why can’t we just count those? First, ISBNs (and their SBN precursors) have been around only since the mid 1960s, and were not widely adopted until the early-to-mid seventies. They also remain a mostly western phenomenon. So most books printed earlier, and those not intended for commercial distribution or printed in other regions of the world, have never been assigned an ISBN.


What about other well-known identifiers, for example those assigned by Library of Congress (Library of Congress Control Numbers) or OCLC (WorldCat accession numbers)? Rather than identifying books, these identify records that describe bibliographic entities.


So what does Google do? We collect metadata from many providers (more than 150 and counting) that include libraries, WorldCat, national union catalogs and commercial providers. At the moment we have close to a billion unique raw records. We then further analyze these records to reduce the level of duplication within each provider, bringing us down to close to 600 million records.

Does this mean that there are 600 million unique books in the world? Hardly. There is still a lot of duplication within a single provider (e.g. libraries holding multiple distinct copies of a book) and among providers -- for example, we have 96 records from 46 providers for “Programming Perl, 3rd Edition”. Twice every week we group all those records into “tome” clusters, taking into account nearly all attributes of each record.


So after all is said and done, how many clusters does our algorithm come up with? The answer changes every time the computation is performed, as we accumulate more data and fine-tune the algorithm. The current number is around 210 million.

Is that a final number of books in the world? Not quite. We still have to exclude non-books such as microforms (8 million), audio recordings (4.5 million), videos (2 million), maps (another 2 million), t-shirts with ISBNs (about one thousand), turkey probes (1, added to a library catalog as an April Fools joke), and other items for which we receive catalog entries.

Counting only things that are printed and bound, we arrive at about 146 million. This is our best answer today. It will change as we get more data and become more adept at interpreting what we already have.

Our handling of serials is still imperfect. Serials cataloging practices vary widely across institutions. The volume descriptions are free-form and are often entered as an afterthought. For example, “volume 325, number 6”, “no. 325 sec. 6”, and “V325NO6” all describe the same bound volume. The same can be said for the vast holdings of the government documents in US libraries. At the moment we estimate that we know of 16 million bound serial and government document volumes. This number is likely to rise as our disambiguating algorithms become smarter.

After we exclude serials, we can finally count all the books in the world. There are 129,864,880 of them. At least until Sunday.

Read the entire post HERE

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Classic Characters and Their Literary Style

I'm sorry for being a bit MIA this week, my fellow book lovers. I've been up to my ears in work, including moderating and troubleshooting the new Pocket After Dark website. It may be Wednesday, but it sure feels like, you know, September.

Anyway, in an attempt to make it up to you, allow me to share today's Boldtype post on literary fashion, featuring "Literature's Top-10 Best-Dressed Characters" EVER:

If you’re the kind of person who’s into transformational mid-life journeys told with self-deprecating charisma, the you’re probably pretty psyched about the forthcoming film version of Eat Pray Love. And you may also have some of the film’s myriad product tie-ins on your shopping list: The adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s wildly popular memoir has been franchised into everything from candles to tea to perfume. Designer Sue Wong has even launched a line of Eat Pray Love-branded clothing. But since her costume-y designs are leaving us a bit cold, we couldn’t help but thinking about which of our favorite literary characters might provide better sartorial inspiration. After the jump, peruse our list of literature’s best-dressed figures and leave your own suggestions in the comments.

Lily Bart, The House of Mirth
This aging society girl was always a vision in beautiful dresses and jewels. But because she wasn’t as wealthy as her friends, she was always running up dress-maker debt.

Edith Wharton writes: “The remaining dresses, though they had lost their freshness, still kept the long unerring lines, the sweep and amplitude of the great artist’s stroke, and as she spread them out on the bed the scenes in which they had been worn rose vividly before her. An association lurked in every fold: each fall of lace and gleam of embroidery was like a letter in the record of her past.”

Dorian Gray, The Picture of Dorian Gray
This fin-de-siècle dandy hides a dark secret: While his face stays young and beautiful, a hidden portrait shows his true, festering and debauched, soul.

Oscar Wilde writes: “That evening, at eight-thirty, exquisitely dressed, and wearing a large button-hole of Parma violets, Dorian Gray was ushered into Lady Narborough’s drawing-room by bowing servants.”

Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Like Lily Bart decades earlier, Holly Golightly is a New York socialite who seemed to appear out of nowhere, shrouded in glamorous mythology.

Truman Capote writes: “She was still on the stairs, now she reached the landing, and the ragbag colors of her boy’s hair, tawny streaks, strands of albino blond and yellowcaught the hall light. It was a warm evening, nearly summer, and she wore a slim, cool black dress, black sandals, a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening in the cheeks. Her mouth was large, her nose upturned. A pair of dark glasses blotted out her eyes. It was a face beyond childhood, yet this side of belonging to a woman. I thought her anywhere between sixteen and thirty; as it turned out, she was shy two months of her nineteenth birthday.”

See the remaining seven of Boldtype's top-10 HERE
including Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind, Lady Bret Ashley from The Sun Also Rises, and many

I'm torn between Emma Bovary and Holly Golightly as my fave...

Who do YOU think is the best dressed of the bunch??

P.S. I promise to write a more legitimate post very soon! I have a review of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank to write! Keep a lookout!