Friday, June 09, 2006

Fish on Friday

Some assorted items accumulated over the week. Given the way Blogger has been behaving this week, you are, frankly, lucky to get this at all. When Blogger works, it's just fine. When it doesn't work, it's a royal pain in the arse.

Shamblog

Steve Salerno doesn't like the self-help book business, and he's set up a blog to tell people why, warn 'em off, encourage them to stand on their own two feet, not pay good money to Dr Phil (as if I would), and all like that. (Link from Galleycat.)

In case you missed it (and I for one did), Steve is the author of SHAM, which is, by all accounts, a fairly full-blooded attack on the self-help business. (See, for instance, the Publishers Weekly review.)

Self-help is a big business, too. According to Galleycat, Americans spent $8.5 billion on self-help last year, out of which publishers got $650 million. I don't follow the arithmetic there, but presumably the bigger figure includes lots of things other than books, such as seminars and weekend retreats and the like.

Boring bits from booktrade.info

A French publisher is suing Google. For piracy. 'Over its controversial effort to digitise millions of books for online viewing.'

This is boring.

Someone else has decided that Dan Brown done them wrong. The July issue of the magazine Vanity Fair contains an article by Seth Mnookin revealing 'two new instances of possible plagiarism in Brown's past.' Two textual analysis experts also tell Mnookin that they believe Brown borrowed the plot for his Da Vinci book from Lewis Perdue's Daughter of God.

This is very boring.

Michael Cader, at Publishers Lunch, points out that Perdue has already taken his claim to Federal courts -- twice. And has lost -- twice.

Mnookin has a blog, by the way, should you care, and he is already getting beat up by the fans.

Meanwhile, Galleycat has had an email from Perdue in which... Oh I really can't be bothered.

Straczynski goes POD

Michael Straczynski is the author of one of the very best books on writing for the screen, either TV or movie. Entitled The Complete Book of Scriptwriting, it's available in various formats and editions, and if you're interested in that form of writing I recommend it.

That, however, is not the message for today. Unlike some pontificators, Straczynski is a man who's been there and done it: for example, he wrote 92 of the 110 scripts for the 1990s TV series Babylon 5. And now he's taken to selling copies of the scripts. (Link from Publishers Lunch.)

In an interview with USA Today, Straczynski says that he has sold over 18,000 copies of volumes of his scripts. Each volume contains seven scripts, with additional notes, and runs to about 450 pages. These he sells (on his own behalf) at $40 each through CafePress.

Straczynski projects he will generate $1.5 million in sales from 14 different volumes. This is turnover, of course, not profit. But Straczynski reckons it's a good return on the $500 that he spent to set up the babylon5scripts web site.

Down with Updike

Rebecca Jane, at Flash Fiction, didn't like John Updike's speech to the BEA either.

Abebooks is ten

Abebooks, which is an online conglomerate of secondhand-book dealers, is ten years old and is celebrating in various ways, one of which is to highlight the ten most expensive books sold through the site. Very interesting. As someone said about Moss Hart's garden, it shows what God could have done, if only he'd had the money.

Scott Byrnes: Revelations

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all self-publishers, with a novel to sell, are in need of a web site. Except that Scott Byrnes's Revelations don't got none. Or at least, if it does, it's beyond my finding.

All I can do is point you to Amazon.com.

Scott's publicist tells me that he spent a decade thinking about this book. (First he did a screenplay version. Then he spent five years saving enough money to take a year's sabbatical to write the book.) She doesn't say that it is self-published, but the publisher, Blue Stripe, seems to have done nothing else. And Scott has also invested money in marketing the book.

I wish him well.

Dibs

Dibs -- subtitled Earlybuzz on upcoming books -- does what it says on the label: i.e. tells you about books that will be published shortly. It's written by the literary editor of an American newspaper who gets lots of galley proofs, advance info sheets and the like.

In addition to describing books, Dibs also report book-related news items of a quirky nature -- e.g. that Danielle Steel's art gallery has closed its door after three years.

Maddox arrives

On 3 April this year, Maddox was described here as a name to watch. This did not impress everybody. Well, now he's arrived, and he appears at number four on the New York Times hardcover 'advice' bestseller list.

Whether 'advice' is quite the best word for what Maddox has to offer I'm not sure. I described it as 'robust humour'. Others were less polite. The NYT calls it 'ribald humor'.

Susan Hill blogs

Susan Hill is a distinguished and successful English novelist and dramatist, and has been mentioned here several times before. Now she has a blog, which has already attracted a considerable number of readers.

In yesterday's post, Susan describes a book about books by Gabriel Said. It contains the following thought, which Susan has understandably highlighted:

Time is by far the most expensive aspect of reading, excepting time spent in certain circumstances; in transit, ill-health, prison or retirement. In a wealthy economy time is worth more than things and it is easier to buy things than to find the time to enjoy them.

Warning. Well, not a warning, but a note. Susan's post of 7 June refers to the death of her baby, twenty-two years ago, which is very upsetting. But it contains a poem by Ben Jonson which may help those in a similar position.

The Book Depository

There is a new online book retailer in the UK: the Book Depository.

I must say that, when I first clicked on to the BD site, it was not immediately apparent to me what it was all about. But when you poke around a bit it gradually grows on you.

Mark Thwaite, of Ready Steady Blog (one of the Guardian's top ten literary blogs) is delighted to have been appointed as the BD's web-editor, and has an introductory piece about it.

Mark points out that the BD is good news for book lovers (both in the US and in the UK), as the site is making a lot of difficult-to-get-hold-of books available 'at great prices'. He is also pleased that the enterprise appointed a blogger as their managing editor. This, he modestly says, 'is -- in a very small way -- a success story about the blogosphere: they took on someone from the blogosphere because they think that the blogs are so important.'

Romance readers never had it so good

Romantic fiction is not what it was. It's better.

There are now (I am told -- not my field) all sorts of new sub-genres in romance: erotic, paranormal, Christian, Wayne Rooney, David Beckham.... Actually I made those last two up, but the others are real.

Jessica Inclan does the paranormal ones, and When You Believe (Kensington, 6 June) is the first of a trilogy. Jessica describes her books as 'Harry Potter for adults - with sex.' And they're inspired by the theory of quantum physics. So you don't need to take any shit from anyone. The next time someone curls their lip at you while you're reading one you can say, 'Hey, listen, smart-arse -- this is inspired by the theory of quantum physics. So shut it.'

Wodehouse Prize

Last year's winner of the Wodehouse Prize was A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, which was the start of its well deserved rise to fame. This year's winner is Christopher Brookmyre with his tenth book, All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye.

The book is published by Abacus, which is part of Little, Brown, and I eventually managed to find an entry for the book on the Little, Brown web site. That web site, in my opinion, really sucks. The opening page was a complete blank, at least on my screen, and once I got in I had a hell of a time convincing the firm that it actually did publish Brookmyre. Looking at the URL for the book, which I have used for the hyperlink in this paragraph, I seriously doubt whether it will work. And no one saw fit to mention the Wodehouse Prize on the Titles in the News page.

Who was it said that the big publishers are not entirely at ease in the digital world?

9 comments:

Merisi's Vienna For Beginners said...

The link to the Little, Brown web site works, at least at my Vienna outpost! :-)
Reading your blog daily (one of my favorite addictions *g*) and enjoying it every time. Thank you,
M.

Lewis Perdue said...

You know, it's really easy to lose in court when the judge refuses to allow the strongest evidence to be presented. This is precisely what happened when the judge in my case disallowed the sworn statements of the expert witnesses.

There was never a trial, never a hearing on the evidence. The Random House "victory" in court is a sham: all about manipulating the system and nothing about justice.

And don't forget, please, that Random House sued me...not the other way around.

Daniel Lacey said...

I watched the film of the Da Vinci code before actually reading the book. However, my copy of the book presented a very curious mystery...thirty-one pages were completely missing, and the final four chapters were repeated. Oh, well, speak of mysteries!

Nic Clarke said...

Pleased to hear the news about the Book Depository. I've bought books from them (assuming 'tis the same company) via Amazon marketplace on many occasions, and have found their customer service etc. excellent. (Plus, excellent cheap way to get US imports).

Half Wit Theocrat said...

Having read SHAM, and being a psychologist, I will have to check out Salerno's blog. I think its great work he is doing - the SHAM industry has consequences not just for the people who are duped by the charlatans but society as a whole. The notion of "everyone needs therapy" that comes out of the Freudian mindset has been taken to extremes and made worse when coupled with the quick fix mentality of our fast food culture.

Ron said...

Thanks for the heads-up on The Book Depository.

The cost of buying from overseas via the Internet has become prohibitive with postage costs often exceeding the price of the books.

I just hope TBD can continue offering free delivery.

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