Monday, June 26, 2006

Another Monday

Monday morning usually sees us taking note of someone who's gone completely barmy over the weekend, and today is no exception.

Amazon out of control -- says the Book Standard

The Book Standard says that Amazon is out of control -- which I take to mean has gone nuts -- and, on the evidence offered, I agree. Amazon has started a grocery store.

I used to think that it would be catastrophic if Amazon failed to make profits and collapsed. But I no longer feel so worried. I'm not sure, frankly, that Amazon ever has made profits, but if it did go down the tube (and going on diversifying for ever and ever seems a good way to bring it about), then I think others would step into the gap. Very willingly, actually. Tesco, anyone? Or see below re

Music/publishing parallels

From about 1955 to 1970 I was seriously interested in popular music and jazz. In those days I had ears, of course, which helps. And I'm still kind of interested, though I am handicapped by the fact that my audiologist describes me as 'difficult'.

Anway, the Times on Friday had a really interesting piece about modern popular music, and how bands can take off by using My Space and other internet devices.

The general drift of the story (which is far from new) is that, in order to be popular and sell lots of records, you need the right music and the right face(s) and the right story. Putting these factors together is something of an art. Sandi Thom seems to have done it. But there's a 52-year old bloke in Glasgow who can do the music but is probably 30-odd years too old.

What this story says to me (and again this is not new) is that 17th Street and Kaavya had very much the right idea in terms of books, but they done it all wrong. Do it right and publishing could have a very big hit indeed.

Christopher G. Moore

Christopher G. Moore is a very successful novelist (17 novels so far). Unusually, he lives in Thailand and has developed something of a cult status in Eastern markets.

Christopher is also a blogger, recently added to the blogroll here. In his latest post (as I write), he considers the value of originality in fiction. In doing so, he leads us to yet another agent/blogger with some telling things to say, Kristin of Denver, Colorado -- a lady who blogs as Pub Rants.

Yes, much to one's surprise, it seems that the book world does not end at the borders of New York City or Greater London.

Gary Troup unveiled

If you ever wondered (and you may not have) who Gary Troup really was (see my earlier post re Lost), then Dow Jones newswires has news for you (link from Publishing News).

Laurence Shames, a writer known for such crime novels as "The Naked Detective" and "Welcome to Paradise," would not confirm or deny yesterday a report in Daily Variety that he is also the author of "Bad Twin," a novel published under the name of Gary Troup, a character from ABC's hit drama series"Lost."

"Gary Troup wrote the book," Mr. Shames said..."It is interesting how closely his prose style resembles mine. He sets a lot of the story in places I've been..."

Just for the record, Mr. Shames calls "Bad Twin" an "excellent" book that "everyone should read."

Independent booksellers (understandably) don't like it when bloggers mention -- or, worse, link to -- online booksellers, so keep this one quiet. There is now a new player in town. Only three months ago I had never heard of, but now they're ranked fifth among Britain's top internet retailers. To be precise, they come behind Amazon UK, Dell, Argos and Tesco. See what I mean about it not being the end of the world if Amazon were to collapse? The story is at Publishing News.

More ways to sell a book than two

Many and various, as we have often noted, are the ways in which writers seek to achieve publication and, having published, try to achieve sales.

Galleycat reports that Tom Dunkel of the Baltimore Sun found a conspiracy-theory web site called Operation Emu. This tells a fairly familiar story: bunch of guys go out into the Nevada desert and disappear. The place where they disappear is in the heart of Area 51, which is said to be the Times Square of UFO activity.

On investigation, Operation Emu turns out to be a plug for a novel by one R. Brandon Barker. And, so far, it's worked. Barker has attracted enough visitors to his site to persuade agent Byrd Leavell of New York-based Waxman Agency to take him on. The novel is said to be satirical, and derives its fun from 'the cult of alien-life true believers'.

Lost Girls by Alan Moore: a slur on Wendy

Galleycat also has a tale about a comic book or graphic novel (Lost Girls, by Alan Moore) which features Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and Wendy from Peter Pan. And, in said comic book, the three gals have mad passionate sex together.

This is a filthy lie. Wendy ain't no lesbo. I had it from a guy who's bin there.

Alan Moore's Dorothy/Alice/Wendy thingy has attracted a cover story from Publishers Weekly. My prediction: even at $75 dollars a pop, this well sell out overnight. Order your copy now.

For those who care, there are copyright issues here. The Peter Pan copyright is yet another case which keeps lawyers wonderfully well remunerated, as I explained in my post of 20 January 2006. The issues were further illuminated by m'learned friend C.E. Petit, Esq.

PEN friends

Another story on Galleycat features a very bad-tempered representative of PEN. If you've never hear of it, International PEN is a worldwide association of writers, 'founded in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere; to emphasise the role of literature in the development of mutual understanding and world culture'; and all like that. Terrible worthy, earnest, and, as far as I have always been concerned, dull.

I presume, though I don't know, that PEN is a voluntary organisation, staffed by unpaid amateurs; and that one must therefore make allowances in what one expects from them. But I can only say that in my one contact with that operation (over a short-story competition, a couple of years ago), they proved to be so astoundingly incompetent that I immediately made a resolution never to have anything further to do with them.

The PEN spat with Lynne Scanlon, as described by Galleycat, does nothing to change that view.

Famous Five interfered with

The other day, I said that, faced with the choice of reading Douglas Coupland or Enid Blyton, I would settle for Enid any day.

Well, now some son of a bitch has been interfering with the Famous Five. I won't go into the sordid details because it's all too distressing, and not fit for a family blog, but the Sunday Times has the story.

'Blyton’s books would remain true to her intentions, the publisher insisted. “The books have only been very slightly altered with the addition of decimalisation to bring them up to date,” said Margaret Conroy of Hodder.'

Yeah, right. That's what they all say.


Anonymous said...

well said..enid blyton books are a class apart

Anonymous said...

Off Topic: Would you be kind enough to remind everyone again about the "Words Without Borders" website? "Things in the Night" was certainly different (bizarre) but "Voices from Chernobyl" deserves discussion. Both humanity and the animal kingdom suffered tremendously as a result of this accidental disaster and the world should be reminded of its consequences. Thank you. Mayda Bosco, Closter, NJ

Anonymous said...

Others may treat it as a bad joke, but I for one am glad that Enid Blyton's act has been cleaned up. So much of what she wrote is simply unacceptable in our more enlightened age.

Might I suggest that even the Grumpy Old Bookman might be open to a little improvement? Could we not find kinder and gentler terms than "grumpy" and "old"? And "book" suggests to most of us sheer boredom: it must be possible to find something less threatening. As for "man", not only is this a frightening word for many women, but its use demonstrates a regrettably anthropocentric outlook: let's look for something less arrogant.

Michael, would you consider changing the name of this blog to The Temperamentally and Chronologically Challenged Storybear?