Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Two New Indy Bookstores in Astoria, NY Neighborhood

Just about nine months after the news that Astoria's only independent bookstore was closing, there is now word of TWO new bookshops in the hood: one specifically for kid-lit--and already open--and one coming soon for more mainstream adult titles.

According to the Daily News, The Story Nook opened this past February to offer children's literature to local kiddies. While I'm very excited that this occurred, it's surprising that this is the first I've heard of it. Sounds like The Story Nook needs some publicity help---so GO TO THE STORY NOOK.

Now that that's been dealt with, here's more from the Daily News on the upcoming Book Shop:

The borough’s only independent bookstore that sells mainstream titles is slated to open in Astoria early next year, much to the delight of local book lovers.

Despite a tough economy and a bruising market for book sellers, Lexi Beach said she plans to go ahead with plans for the Astoria Bookshop.

Beach, 31, who manages accounts for a website that sells digital audio books, is already arranging author events in the community to build awareness — and anticipation — for the shop.

“I’m confident that a good portion of the community will be very excited about having a place to buy books locally,” said Beach, who is raising funds for the shop.

“Obviously, anyone with a computer or smartphone can buy books online,” said Beach, who plans to host community events in the space. “But there’s something about a bookstore, a physical place to go and browse books, that is special.”

She began mulling the venture after hearing from friends of the need in the neighborhood following the closing of Seaburn Bookstore in December.

The longtime Astoria store hadn’t turned a profit in years, owner Sam Chekwas previously told the Daily News. A much smaller version of the shop was relocated to a Long Island City warehouse where he has a book publishing business.

Tim Fredrick, editor of the Newtown Literary, a journal that will feature the words of borough authors, said Beach’s store will be a boon to local authors.

Beach “is very interested in promoting Queens authors and Queens writing,” he said. “It’s really a shame to have to go to another borough to buy books.”

Mackenzi Farquer, owner of SITE NYC, an Astoria boutique, said most of the 100 participants of a survey she recently conducted said they wanted to see a bookstore in the neighborhood.

“Astoria’s rapidly gentrifying,” she said. “There’s this pocket of Astorians who really want bookstores.”
The community may soon also have a children’s bookstore.

Faye Skandalakis opened The Story Nook in February in a small section of babyNOIR, a kids boutique, on 23rd Ave.

“I’m hoping within a year or so to open a brick and mortar children’s bookstore,” she said.

Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, said he’s starting to see “modest growth” in the number of bookstores nationally “after many years of decline.”

The demand is a product of the closure of the chain book retailer Borders, consumers desire to shop locally and lower technology costs, he said.

But small bookstores still face a host of challenges — including the rise of e-book readers and online retailers, such as, that can offer rock-bottom prices.

“Being able to compete in a market where anyone can sit at their computer screen and have access to any title in print, that certainly represents a challenge,” Teicher said.

See the original post HERE

I'm excited to hear about these new shops and my fingers are crossed that they are able to survive the brutal market that has flooded the publishing world. I too have considered opening my bookstore again--a dream of mine since I was a kid--but the market scares me away. But I guess it's true that it's all about location, location, location. And if Astorians want their bookstores, give 'em some!

I, for one, can't wait. Thanks for being brave Lexi and Faye!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tom and Huck Get a Makeover

At home on my bookshelf sits an old, hardcover-bound copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Its pages are a bit yellowed as I've had the edition since I was a little girl, the margins and leading wide enough for easy reading and the illustrations floating prettily around the pages in blank ink. Soon after acquiring the edition, I became obsessed with the flick "Mark Twain and Me," watching in a loop on rainy days.

Now, that was how I was introduced to Mark Twain. But kids today might soon be experiencing a different kind of meet-cute. A steampunky one, according to GalleyCat:

Mark Twain‘s famous characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn could star in a steampunk sequel to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. ABC has ordered a script for the possible show titled Finn & Sawyer.
The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop: “The drama hails from Detroit 1-8-7 duo Jason Richman and David Zabel and is described as an adventure-themed reinvention that revolves around the two famed literary characters who re-meet as young men in their 20s and form an investigative firm in a bustling and steampunk New Orleans.”

If you want to read Twain’s most famous novels, visit our Free eBook Flowchart to download free copies of the digital books. What is steampunk, you may ask? Follow this link to find out more about the genre. (E. W. Kemble illustration via the 1884 edition of Huckleberry Finn; link via i09)

See the original post HERE

The Hollywood Reporter goes on to share more details about the modernization:

Richman and Zabel (ER) will write and executive produce the project from ABC Studios and Temple Hill Entertainment.

Finn & Sawyer is the latest adaptation of the famed novel, which was first published in 1884. Coincidentally, ABC adapted the material for a 1975 TV movie that starred Happy Days duo Ron Howard and Donny Most as Huck and Tom, respectively, and again in 1985 with Drew Barrymore as Hucklemary Finn for another movie of the week.

See the original post HERE

I'll admit that this concept could be a very fun one, bringing together two of the most popular young characters in American literature. It reminds me a bit of Jim O'Brien's "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" in a way actually, and those are definitely fun. Yet, the fact that as a result of this new show, many kids will probably meet Tom and Huck in a twisted, steampunked version of the classic Twain novels, is sad to me. They will miss out on so much.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Best Novel of All Time? Cast Your Vote!

While New York Magazine is anticipating the best books come fall, the Huffington Post is exploring the best novel ever.

Using a bracket structure similar to the one popular for March Madness or the Super Bowl--or any other sporting event in the world, really--they have collected a number of novels and are currently voting on the first bracket of works:

The Best Novel of All Time? It's an impossible statement of course, but while we wait for the big titles of the fall to hit, and everyone is talking about voting on a bigger scale, we thought it would be a good opportunity to argue over some truly great books.

We scoured "Best of" lists from the past 10 years, and compiled a top 15 of incredible reads (we chose the ones that appeared the most number of times across the lists), with the final slot filled by our readers. Our only rules were that we were judging books either written in, or widely translated into the English language, and no more than one novel per author. A randomizing magic hat did the rest of the work.
So here is our first round of voting. The below graphic might be a little hard to see - click here for a larger version - but the voting should be pretty straightforward underneath.

Votes close at 9am EST on Wednesday. There are some HORRIBLE choices to make in this first round. "Gatsby" or "Mockingbird"? "Solomon" or "Bovary"? "Emma" or "Solitude"? You have to choose! Why? Because we say so. There can be only one winner, so help decide who makes it through to the next round of entirely spurious Novel Madness.

Arguments and verbal wrestling may commence in the comments... now.

See the original post HERE

It's a fun idea--having a bit of a showdown with some of the "best" novels ever written. But I've gotta say, I wish there would've been a voting system in the first place to collect the novels. (I also would've suggested clarifying that these are the best "classic" novels, not best novels.) Personally, only ONE of the books on this list would've been on my own personal "Best of" list, and that is To Kill a Mockingbird.

Other titles I would have included in a Best of the Classics list?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

What would be on YOUR list?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lauren Conrad FAIL

 If you want a lesson on how to alienate your readership, just ask Lauren Conrad.

A video was posted earlier today that shows her taking apart a book to turn it into a "crafty" fake book. Something that readers, naturally, will not enjoy. It baffles me that anyone thought this was a good idea, let alone a good enough idea to post and publicize.

GalleyCat gives us more:
Reality television star and author Lauren Conrad earned 1,848 dislikes on YouTube for a craft video showing her fans how to chop up books and create a storage space using dissected book spines.

UPDATE: The video has since been removed.

In the video, Conrad calmly dismantled a copy of A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket to create a “Bookshelf Box”–what do you think of her project?

Here’s more from her site: “In this episode of Crafty Creations I’ll be showing you a clever and resourceful way to recycle old, used books into a unique storage space … I love this DIY because it’s a great solution for stowing away unsightly items that may be lurking on your shelves—remotes, chargers, etc.”

Conrad (pictured, via) has published multiple bestsellers with HarperCollins, including:  L.A. Candy, Sweet Little Lies and Sugar and Spice. 

The author also launched her own book club, currently reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn with her fans. (Via Writers Digest & BuzzFeed)

See the original post HERE

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Lehrer Lies Continue

I was hoping to find something humorous to share with you all on this Friday, just two days after National Book Lovers Day. But instead, an article about author Jonah Lehrer--author of How We Decide, which I read and loved earlier this year--caught my eye.

Just two weeks ago, Lehrer resigned from his position at the New Yorker after being accused of incorrectly quoting Bob Dylan in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works. He was caught red-handed:
In a statement released through his publisher, Mr. Lehrer apologized.

“The lies are over now,” he said. “I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers.”

He added, “I will do my best to correct the record and ensure that my misquotations and mistakes are fixed. I have resigned my position as staff writer at The New Yorker.” (Bosman, Mediadecoder)

Just a month before that incident, Lehrer fessed up to reusing material from his own previously published articles to populate his "new" New Yorker articles.

And now, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the young writer's publisher, is reviewing all of his books for plagiarism and fabricated quotations/interview, according to

All three of Jonah Lehrer’s bestselling books are under review by publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, according to Lori Glazer, the company’s vice president and executive director of publicity. The publisher pulled copies of “Imagine” and halted e-book sales last week, after journalist Michael Moynihan revealed that Lehrer had made up and mangled some Bob Dylan quotations.

Moynihan went on to look at “How We Decide,” published in 2009, to see if there were suspicious passages in it, too. With “no more than a few hours of checking and a few emails [to] people mentioned by Lehrer … I found fake interviews, quotes that can’t be located, and plagiarism,” he wrote Friday. One example: Lehrer claimed to have interviewed the pilot of a commercial airliner that crashed in 1989, but the quotation is remarkably similar to a speech the pilot gave in 1991.

“All of Jonah’s books are under review,” Glazer told me.

The publisher has told booksellers to send copies of “Imagine” back for a refund. Consumers can get refunds, too.

See the original post HERE

I've got to admit, I'm more disappointed about learning of Lehrer's dishonesty than I expected, probably because I was so enthralled with How We Decide. For once I had found a nonfiction book and author who I enjoyed and found intriguing. And it turns out he's a fraud.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

E-Book Jackets that Age Like Print Books

Last weekend, I finally purchased an iPad. While I got it for freelancing purposes and will most definitely be claiming it as a work expense on my taxes, I must admit that I've been having fun playing Fruit Ninja on it. I have yet, however, to read a book on it, though I am sure I will get there. 

Naturally, after my big purchase, I also bought a nice little case for it. Leather and purple with a nice little stand thingy attached, I was quite pleased with my choice. Until I saw this link to an InsideHook article on Ed Burn's Twitter this morning (yes, that's right. Ed Burns):

What eReaders lack in personality, they make up for in convenience — like, isn't it convenient nobody can tell you're tittering over 50 Shades of Grey? Unless you’re in a gimp suit. Can’t help you there.
Stay incognito while staying classy with Out of Print’s newly-launched “E-Book Jackets”, just funded on Kickstarter.
Built by America’s oldest bookbinder and designed by MIT eggheads, Out of Print’s tough-as-nails jackets are gorgeous replicas of the original book covers of last century’s definitive tomes — from the art deco eyes of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, to the titular white whale of Melville’s Moby Dick to the temptress of Nabokov’s Lolita. 
The jackets are designed for the iPad, Kindle Fire, or Nexus 7, and the interior cradle fits the exact contours of the device, allowing you to easily access all important ports and buttons.
And just like a true hardcover, the jackets will artfully weather over time the way a good book should.
Simply pre-order on Kickstarter, and you’ll receive an email requesting your choice of cover. Come September, your eReader’s new outfit will arrive in the mail.
However, you’ll still need a good alibi when asked “so, whatcha readin, gimp?”
See the original post HERE
Then I headed on over to Out of Print Clothing's website (one I wrote a piece on not too far back, in fact) to check out their shop. More awesomeness abounded:
Made by the oldest bookbinder in the U.S., our cases are the first to look, feel and wear like an actual book. Each hardcover case features original book cover art, printed on book fabric that has been treated to withstand daily wear and tear. Because it is made like a book, it will look better the more you use it.

Le sigh. How cool!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A New Website is Bringing People "Togather"

Yesterday, the Reading Between the Lines book club met up to discuss The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. While our meetings are always fun and full of lively book chat, this meeting was particularly awesome.

With the help of some agent friends of mine, I was able to get in touch with Emily and invite her to join us via Skype for an author Q&A. To our excitement, she accepted, and we talked with her for about an hour, discussing her inspiration, research, characters, etc . One thing that also came up was Emily's experience as a debut author, her interaction with the publishing world and readers, and the shocking amount of marketing that authors must do for themselves.

This last point is one that is becoming more and more well-known as the publishing industry evolves. Marketing department budgets are being cut, making it impossible to dole out much money for books that are not bestsellers, thus leaving it to the authors to help get themselves seen, reviewed, and sold. While I am a firm believe in word of mouth as the strongest form of marketing, there is so much more authors can do to get in touch with their readers. And those readers are the ones who can make or break an author (or a book, of course).

All that said, I was stoked to get a message from my friend Rebecca today, pointing me in the direction of an article on Media Bistro about Togather, an online resource--aka "fansourcing" site--for authors and readers alike,  helping to bring us all together in a new and fun way:

The book world seems dreary sometimes. Smart authors read to empty rooms on their book tours while Fifty Shades of Grey is present in every New York subway car. Pop-lit is consumed en masse, while talented authors have a hard time connecting with their audiences across the country, sometimes just because they’re not able to visit the places with the most enthusiastic readers.

Now, Togather, a new “fansourcing” platform, aims to put everyone on the same page. Incubated by Brooklyn’s own HUGE, Togather is an elegantly designed, intuitive site. Through it, authors post their availability for readings. Then fans can invite that author to their hometown. If enough other readers reserve books, tickets, or RSVPs for the event, the author will come and speak. The author is guaranteed a room filled with excited readers, and fans are granted access to their favorite writers.

Togather brings new optimism to the book world by giving authors more control over their marketing, and readers the power to contact previously inaccessible people. We look forward to seeing if and how the model takes hold.

See the original post HERE

Sounds pretty amazing to me. I'll have to keep an eye on this one for sure! And hey, maybe I'll even find us another author to join us for book club while I'm at it. ;)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mash-Ups Take a Turn For the Worse...I mean, for the Sexier

Once upon a time, not too long ago, writers began to fiddle with classic novels. They'd add vampires, sea monsters, and zombies galore to create the now commonly coined "literary mash-up." While this new genre didn't spark my personal attention, I wasn't wholly against them as they sky-rocketed to popularity just a few years ago.

In my mind, it was a fun and unique way to re-conceptualize classics and even encourage readers to explore classics that they may not have read. It moved the focus a bit from "Look at this brand new shiny story!" to "Look at the awesomeness that was our predecessors' writings!" Plus, I am always a sucker for seeing how people can reinterpret a story. Just as is done on a regular basis with film adaptations, these mash-ups were taking a piece of work and re-envisioning it.

But the newest subgenre to the "Mash-up" family has my feathers puffing out all in a million different directions (aka angrily). Now, writers are simply sexing-up the classic literature, adding erotic scenes to the sometimes sensual yet innocent classic stories so many of us adore. They aren't creating anything new, they aren't adding anything different and clever to the story; they are simply taking what was once innocent and making it foxy.

The Wall Street Journal tells us more:
Jane Austen would be turning Fifty Shades of Red.

As if being mashed up with zombies and transported to American high schools weren't enough, Ms. Austen and several of her fiction-writing peers are seeing their novels morphed into erotica.

As the steamy "Fifty Shades of Grey" and both of its sequels dominate best-seller lists, an enterprising electronic publishing house will publish on Monday a sadomasochistic version of Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre," as well as sexed-up renderings of tales by Ms. Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne.

In "Pride and Prejudice" Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy start groping any time they can slip away from their stuffy friends.

Sir Arthur's "A Study in Scarlet," Mr. Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" (both with gay themes) and Ms. Austen's "Northanger Abbey" inaugurate the series, titled "Clandestine Classics."

Claire Siemaszkiewicz, chief executive of Total E-Bound, has been publishing erotic e-books for the last five years. She says the new series was planned before the "Shades of Grey" franchise exploded. But she's not denying it's likely to help.

Ms. Siemaszkiewicz hired five erotica writers from her stable of 250 authors to add racy sex scenes to the original texts, which are in the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright laws. The essential prose remains mostly unchanged, supplemented by 10,000 words or more which promise to take readers "behind the closed bedroom doors of our favourite, most-beloved British characters," the website states.

The books are priced based on how many new words have been added. "Jane Eyre" is $5.23; "Pride and Prejudice" is $4.36.

Attempts are made, with mixed success, to conform to the argot of the time. An excerpt from the updated "Pride and Prejudice" has Elizabeth referring to Darcy as "hot, spicy, and all man" as he "lifted her skirts quickly and removed her undergarments, then fumbled to free himself from the confines of his own clothing."
Desiree Holt, who penned the racy scenes to "Northanger Abbey" and shares a credit with Ms. Austen on the book's cover, says she worked hard to preserve Ms. Austen's sensibilities.

"I was careful to make sure that I kept to the same language and the same tone so that it didn't sound anachronistic or jarring to the rest of the book," says Ms. Holt, a retired music publicist who is 76 years old.
Austen scholar Devoney Looser, a University of Missouri professor, read website excerpts of Clandestine's hot new "Pride and Prejudice" and quickly found one improbability: Ms. Bennet and Mr. Darcy slip in and out of their clothes a bit too efficiently, which would have been virtually impossible given the extensive undergarments worn in the early 1800s.

The Clandestine line is Ms. Siemaszkiewicz's first foray into the literary canon. More typical are subgenres like "angels and demons", "paranormal" and "Rubenesque." About 95% of Total E-Bound's readership is female, and many readers buy a new e-book each week, she says. She publishes about six titles a week to keep up with demand.

"I like to think if the Brontë sisters were writing today, their books would be a lot racier," said Ms. Siemaszkiewicz. "But they were stifled by convention at the time."

See the original post HERE

With the recent explosion of the erotic romance genre with the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, writers and publishers seem to be grasping at straws here, in my opinion. Not only has the erotic romance genre been around for years and YEARS before this new "fad" hit (I will not rant about 50 Shades of Grey. I will not rant about 50 Shades of Grey.), but if a classic wasn't sex-ified by the author in the first place, it wasn't meant to be, it wasn't the heart of the story, at least not on paper. Classics encourage imagination in that regard. Yes, maybe these author's would write something racier if they were in modern times, but there is no way to know that.  The fade-to-black mentality is even one still used in many novels today, and taking an author's choice in that respect and changing it because "being horny is in" and "modern" is disturbing to me on so many levels.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bathing Suits That Match Book Covers? Yes, Please!

This summer I have only gone to the beach once. It's sad, really, as going to the beach is glorious, especially when it's as hot out as it's been here in New York. The cold Atlantic can be shockingly refreshing.

I do have one more day trip planned this summer, thank goodness, but I wish I had more. And if I owned an amazing bathing suit that matches a book cover like these folks (courtesy of , I would MAKE IT HAPPEN:

The book: I Was Told There’d be Cake by Sloane Crosley
The first sentence: “As most New Yorkers have done, I have given serious and generous thought to the state of my apartment should I be killed during the day.”
The cover designer: Ben Gibson

The book: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The first sentence: “All this happened, more or less.”
The cover designer: Carin Goldberg
The bikini: Kudeta Bikini. $45.

The book: The Life of Pi by Yann Martel 
The first sentence: “My suffering left me sad and gloomy.” 
The bathing suit: Men’s Swimming Trunks by EUROPANN. $49.

The book: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
The first sentence: “In the corner of the first class smoking carriage, Mr. Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interested eye through the political news in The Times.” 
The bikini: Colorblock Zipper Bandeau by Tavik at Free People. Top for $39.95.

The book: The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness 
The first sentence: “In 1980s Romania, boredom was a state of extremity.” 
The bathing suit: Tea Rose One Piece Bandeau by Juicy Couture. $173.

The book: Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris. 
The first sentence: “Andy Bellefleur was drunk as a skunk.” 
The bathing suit: Space Print Swimshorts by River Island from ASOS. $41.43.

The book: The Pesthouse by Jim Crace 
The first sentence: “Everybody died at night.” 
The cover designer: Helen Yentus 
The bathing suit: Swimsuit with Bird Print by Salinas available at ASOS. $130.07

See more bathing suits matching book covers HERE