Monday, October 31, 2011

WSJ Adds E-Books to Bestseller List

If anyone is still arguing that e-books are a passing fad, last Friday's announcement of the Wall Street Journal adding an e-book section to their bestseller list should make them think twice.

According to Publishers Lunch, this past weekend marked the inaugural weekend edition:

Starting [Saturday, October 29, 2001], the WSJ's Weekend edition will feature their own ebook bestseller lists. Like the NYT lists, the Journal will present both ebook-only lists for fiction and nonfiction, as well as combined print and ebook lists in both categories. All titles are eligible--self-published, children's, backlist, etc.--as long as they have a minimum price of 99 cents or higher.

Nielsen BookScan is aggregating the data for the WSJ, drawing on what the release calls "all major retailers," said to include Amazon, Nook, iBookstore, Sony and Google eBooks among others.

Like the other WSJ charts, the new lists will be positional only, and will not reveal actual ebook sales. Nielsen declined to indicate if or when ebook data from major retailers might be incorporate into the BookScan subscription product.

Amazon is in talks with Chinese regulators to sell their Kindle devices in China, according to a report from Soho IT. Amazon senior vp Marc Onetto is quoted as saying that talks are centered around copyright issues, and that there is no timetable for when the devices might launch in China, if at all. Amazon recently dropped the Joyo name (after the company it acquired in 2004 to gain a foothold in China) and rebranded its Chinese website to

Atria will release Gary Schwartz's THE IMPULSE ECONOMY: Understanding Mobile Shoppers and What Makes Them Buy as a "smart book", with 1,000 copies stickered with an RFID chip that allows mobile phones to access special content.

Finally, in the latest e-reader rumors department, a grammatically-challenged source tells the Digital Reader that Barnes & Noble will announce its newest Nook Color on November 7 and is expanding their in-store Nook boutiques in preparation.

Read the original post HERE

Topping these first WSJ e-book lists were Bonnie by Iris Johansen (fiction e-book) and Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly (nonfiction e-book).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

MTV Under the Microscope in New Book

My mom never let me watch MTV when I was a kid. It was crude and too mature for us, she'd say. Which, looking back, was true. (Even now it offends me a large portion of the time.) Not that VH1--which I watched religiously--was all that much better. But at least what VH1 did was truly about the musicians and the music videos and not about the late teen-early 20-something insanely unrealistic lifestyle. It had a different kind of merit, that's for sure. MTV's tactic never made much sense to me, to be honest, especially given it's supposedly music television that is less and less focused on the tunes every day.

I'm not the only one baffled by this change in concept, and I'm certainly not the only one who misses true VH1 and early MTV style video programming ("Pop-up Video" anyone? which apparently has made a recent reprise). Even people in the music biz are curious about this crazy evolution. Take former Blender editors Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, for example. They were so intrigued they've investigated the matter for us viewers in their new book I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution.

The Observer's "Very Short List" tells us a little bit about it:
Can you imagine a world without MTV? If so, the joke’s on you, because MTV hasn’t been itself for something like 20 years now—ever since it strayed from its raison d’ĂȘtre and pretty much stopped airing music videos.

In this fascinating oral history, ex–Blender editors Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum tell the story of Music Television’s incredible first decade. The authors have done their homework, interviewing hundreds of VJs, musicians, and industry insiders—most of whom sound like they’ve been waiting years to get these stories off their chests. It all makes for riveting (if occasionally revolting) reading, and a book we expect to see on the best-seller lists.

See the original review HERE

I'm not typically one to be instantly curious about nonfiction titles, but this one jumped out to me. I may have to check it out.

While I decide though, let's flash back to the "Pop-up Video" phenomenon I mentioned earlier...I cannot stop thinking about it now!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stephanie Plum actually coming to the big screen--for real this time!

After a productive--and exhausting--ComicCon, I was persuaded to take the day off today. Use it as a mental health day and relax, do something fun, and reboot. I did some reading at a cafe, a little writing, and treated myself to a movie.

And what trailer did I see before the show but the ever-so-awaited ONE FOR THE MONEY!

Finally being released in January 2012, it actually looks pretty fun!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

ComicCon Stirs Up Thoughts About DC--B&N Showdown

ComicCon officially starts today with press night tonight from 4-7, so I'm ready with my Book Country t-shirt to head over this afternoon and start boothing it up. It's my first time at ComicCon and it's sure to be insanity but what I'm most curious about actually has nothing to do with the Con itself.

Last week, Barnes & Noble confirmed that they will be removing a number of DC Comics products from their stores due to DC's recent deal with Amazon, according to
Cv2 has confirmed that Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest bookseller, is removing 100 of DC’s bestselling backlist titles from its 705 retail stores in the U.S. The action is being taken as a result of DC’s exclusive deal with Amazon on those titles for the Kindle Fire (see “Watchmen on Kindle”), making them unavailable for Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader. Amazon priced at least some of those titles at $9.99, or roughly half the price of the print editions (see “Kindle Launches Graphic Novel Price War”). It appears that the action, at least for now, applies only to the brick and mortar stores; is still offering Watchmen (at $10.87) as of this writing.

Barnes & Noble appears to be making an example of DC for other publishers thinking of giving Amazon exclusive content for the Kindle, and is willing to lose some sales to make its point clear.

We haven’t heard what the term of the DC exclusive with the Kindle is, but there will be a window of at least some months, including the all-important holiday season, with vastly reduced availability of those titles in chain bookstores. This will offer an opportunity for all of B&N’s competitors, and will undoubtedly hurt DC’s graphic novel sales through the end of the year.

As we wrote when this started, “DC’s deal with Amazon for the Kindle Fire is a potentially disruptive game-changer that could have far-reaching impacts on the market for physical and digital graphic novels in the future.”

Read the original article HERE

The piece goes on to provide a list of the graphic novels in question, including beloved titles like THE SANDMAN, THE GREEN LANTERN and FABLES.

With this big development, you can bet my ears will be open for commentary at the Con the next few days. I'm sure exhibitors and wanderers alike will have much to say...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hump Day Humor: "Go the F*ck to Sleep"

I'm a bit behind on this one (it happened in June....errrr), but I just about died laughing when I finally saw it.

On June 14th, Werner Herzog, documentary filmmaker and narrator, reads aloud the hilarious childrens' book for adults Go the F*ck to Sleep by Adam Mansbach at the New York Public Library.

The Outlet tells us more:
The evening at the New York Public Library began with a recording of Werner Herzog reading a dirty book. Well, it isn’t a dirty book per se. What we have is a children’s book for adults that utilizes a double narrative from a frustrated parent. One is the straightforward lullaby that the child is meant to hear. The other is the internal monologue of a parent whose rage crescendos when the unaware child just won’t “go the fuck to sleep.” Said dual nature came across seamlessly when treated with Herzog’s narration last night, and with what one can hope will be multiple audio versions coming out in the future, I can see Go the Fuck to Sleep becoming a conduit for some pretty damn amazing performance art.

Read the full article HERE
And now....the video:

P.S. Can I just add how amazing it is that Samuel L. Jackson narrates the audio version?!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review: "Our Time" by Josh Seefried

This month marks an important time in American history. Not only was it the 10-year anniversary of 9-11, a time we each remember all too vividly, but it is also a time of a great equalizer for the United States military. What am I talking about, you wonder: the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

A legislation passed in 1993, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" gave homosexuals the right to serve in the military--if they keep mum about it. A bogus law if I ever heard one. Sexual preference has no bearing on one's ability to protect and defend. Pure and simple.

Soldiers have suffered in silence for years, though, treated as if the disparate nature of sexuality and dedication isn't so disparate at all. Our Time: Breaking the Silence of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (Penguin Press, October 2011), a new book of essays edited by Josh Seefried, finally gives those soldiers a voice. More than 45 active-duty LGBT soldiers share their first hand accounts in this powerful and gracious collection. Seefried explains why in his Introduction:
These soldiers are an example for service in the post-"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military. They are a reminder that respect and professionalism is already a part of our culture. What we need now is leadership. Gay service members must lead from the front openly and straight colleagues must help create an atmosphere of acceptance and respect. This is the message that the men and women who contributed to t his book are sending with their stories. It's now our time. (Our Time, 5)
It was enlightening as I began to read Our Time. I personally have a great deal of respect and am in full support of the LGBT community at large. But even so, I guess I never really understood exactly what people go through when they're unable to publicly recognize who they truly are. It's something that the hetero population can't grasp--who we feel attracted/connected to, who we love, who we want to spend our lives with is just allowed to be. It's unquestioned and natural, making it difficult to imagine what it'd be like if we couldn't just be. Reading these soldiers' stories gave me a perspective I otherwise wouldn't have really seen. I could spout my thoughts about equality and same-sex marriage and all the things, but until now, I hadn't sincerely understood the disgrace, the fear, the loneliness that so many people are forced to deal with every day, in and out of the military.

While some of the accounts may feel repetitive at times, I think that's part of the point. This is not discrimination that only rare cases deal with--it's a common occurrence that needs to stop. One particular essay, though, by Tania Dunbar, touched me very deeply, sending literal chills through me as I read:

Tania Dunbar is a warrant officer in the U.S. Army. She was deployed in Iraq at the time of writing this, and is currently stationed in Georgia.

I have been in the Army for almost twelve years. My very first day in basic training, I knew I had found my calling. I also knew that I was gay, and I wasn't supposed to be there. My recruiter had made me sign a piece of paper saying I was not gay, have never had sex with anyone of the same sex, and had never attempted to marry anyone of the same sex. I signed it because I did not understand the extent to which the Army was going to make me hide a part of myself.

For the past eleven years I have had to conceal my family from my friends. Soldiers, with whom I sweat, bleed, and cry, can't ever meet the woman I love. Soldiers who depend on me for sound judgment and advice can never know who I myself go to when I need advice or solace. Friends who would die for me can't ever meet the person who makes me want to live. Don't get me wrong--there are a few soldiers who know I am gay, but it takes a long time to learn if you can trust someone with a secret that can ruin your career. So I don't make friends easily, I never have get-togethers at my home, and I don't go to military functions very often. For me, home life cannot mix with work life.

I am in Iraq now, separated from the love of my life, and I can't share that pain with anyone. If I am hurt or I die while in combat here, my girlfriend will not be notified. She wouldn't even be able to visit me in the hospital. We have to depend on an intricate web of lies and code words to get us through a year of separation. I find it strange to think that I am in a foreign country, making sure that other people are able to exercise their democratic rights, ensuring that they get their basic civil rights--to life, liberty, and happiness--while I don't get those same basic rights. And yet our allies allow homosexuals to serve openly in their militaries; they are deployed with us, and enjoy full rights.

Department of Defense Directive 5120.36, issued in July 1963 by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, clearly states: "Every military commander has the responsibility to oppose discriminatory practices affecting his men and their dependents and to foster equal opportunity for them, not only in areas under his immediate control, but also in nearby communities where they may live or gather in off-duty hours."

That directive was issued to deal directly with racism in areas surrounding military communities fifteen years after Executive Order 9981, in which President Truman ordered the military to integrate. It was an obvious example of the military righting a wrong, just as the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will be. The message--that military leaders have a responsibility to create an environment of tolerance and equality---is the same.

I love the Army and I love my girlfriend, and I should not have to choose between them. I volunteered to sacrifice my life for this country, but I can't even hug my girlfriend good-bye before I deploy. You have asked me to deploy twice to protect other people in other countries. You have asked me to stand vigil against terrorists in our country. I am asking the same from you now: I am asking you to treat me equally, protect me from injustice, and help me when other try to hurt me.

(Excerpted from Our Time: Breaking the Silence of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" by Josh Seefried. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) Joshua David Seefried, 2011.)

When I finished this essay, I spoke aloud in my empty apartment, "Wow. I get it now." Obviously, without experiencing it myself, I'll never fully "get it," but if each and every one of us can get just a tiny bit closer to really understanding, imagine what the world could be like.

While the repeal is certainly a step in the right direction, we all know old stigmas and biases still remain. We can only hope that the discrimination and harassment that so many soldiers have dealt with prior to and under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" decreases as homosexuality begins to be acknowledged--and hopefully embraced--by all.

The Last Word: An inspiring collection shot through with a chilling hopefulness about the things we're all capable of if we truly open up to one another.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Visit me at ComicCon this week!

If you're heading to ComicCon, be sure to come by the Book Country booth, #2028, and say hi to me! We also have some great swag to give away!

Check it out -->