As noted here in the past, Cody's (independent) bookshop in Berkeley, California, has closed. Last Sunday was the official closing ceremony, and it reportedly took place almost fifty years to the day after the shop opened. All very emotional, and Dibs was there, taking pictures and noting it all down.
My favourite quote from the owner: 'Nothing sells better than a good banned book.'
Betrayal, knives in the back, magazines, movies...
Lynne W. Scanlon, PEA (publisher/editor/author) is a truly decadent woman. She actually admits (post of 10 July) going to the movies for the 11.30 a.m. show. Yes, folks, that is a.m. and not p.m. I don't know about you but I am pretty sure that this is a 100% indicator that civilisation is about to collapse.
Anyway, having emerged from her air-conditioned womb, Lynne has some amusing things to say about the new movie based on Lauren Weisberger's novel The Devil Wears Prada. This 'novel' is said to be pure autobiography, and apparently not even thinly disguised. Will Wintour sue? Will it boost sales? What do Baigent and Leigh think about it? Will Wintour use Giovanni di Stefano as her lawyer?
Watch this space.
Bulwer-Lytton prizes 2006
Each year the Department of English at San Jose State University runs a competition for bad writing. It is named after Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote a novel in 1830 which has what is widely regarded as the world's worst opening sentence. (After 176 years you'd think the poor chap would be allowed a little leeway. But no; every year he gets dragged out of the coffin and mocked all over again.)
This year's results have been widely reported in the press, but you can read the whole lot of them on the competition web site -- a place where www means 'wretched writers welcome'.
Best of British magazine
Of UK interest only, this one. There exists, I find, a monthly magazine called Best of British, subtitled Past and Present, though it mainly deals with the past.
Nostalgia, they say, is not what it was, but nostalgia seems to be fighting fit in these pages. Anyone over 60 will find something here which jogs their memories, and is more than likely to get them thinking that nothing much has improved over the past fifty years or so.
The story I liked best in the latest issue concerns the Coventry Hippodrome theatre. One correspondent says that 'the biggest laugh I ever heard at the Hippodrome was during an ice extravaganza, when the gentleman playing the demon king entered dramatically, overshot the stage, and ended up in the orchestra pit with a broken leg.'
On second thoughts, it's not fair to laugh really is it?
A year's subscription to this magazine would make an excellent present for Grandma. Details on the company web site.
We discovered, immediately above, that it really isn't nice to laugh at other people's misfortune -- it's immature and silly, so stop it at once. However, I would be the first to agree that you can't help having a quiet snigger from time to time.
Galleycat has a lovely story about another set of memoirs (Miami Psychic) which turns out to be... um, not quite 100% accurate. Regina Milbourne offers spiritual counselling which will put you in touch with your God/Source/Spirit (for a modest fee, no doubt), but Bob Norman, of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, has been checking her out and finds that nothing about her is genuine.
'According to her driver's license,' says Norman, 'the author's true identity is Gina Marie Marks. She's part of a notorious Gypsy criminal family that has personally been involved in well-documented fortune-telling scams. But you wouldn't know that if you read the book, which was released by Regan Books, a HarperCollins' subsidiary.'
Oops. I doubt if the boss lady of Regan Books, Judith Regan, is going to be too pleased about that. According to Wikipedia, 'Regan is a taskmaster who throws vindictive tantrums. She is said to be very abusive to her employees.' Vanity Fair magazine called her a 'foul-mouthed tyrant'. A former friend described her as 'the highest functioning deranged person I've ever known.'
So stand well back.
Maud Newton recovers
Maud Newton has had treatment for skin cancer, and I would like to leave a comment on her blog to wish her well. But damned if I can figure out how to do it. It's that techie stuff again. I have enough trouble posting to my own blog. Anyway, Maud darling, just stop doing the morbid stuff about where we scatter your ashes and get well soon.
New bookshop in Bath
Nic Bottomley, plus wife and brother-in-law, has opened a new bookshop in Bath (a city not entirely without such already, I have to say), and you are going to be able to read all about his trials and travails in a Guardian blog (link from booktrade.info). If, that is, you are emotionally strong enough. I doubt whether I am.
Hmm. Perhaps you don't know that books have hinges. I'm not sure that I did. Anyway, they do, and they can come loose, and you can tighten 'em up. Joyce Godsey, on the Bibliophile Bullpen, has made a video that shows you how. There are also other videos in the series, elsewhere on the blog.
The key to success
You can never tell what will interest people in a blog, or in a newspaper. Mary Ann Sieghart had some thoughts in yesterday's Times.
My friend and colleague Danny Finkelstein once devoted several weeks of his end column to the subject of the worst food to drop on the kitchen floor. His least favourite was couscous. Mine was a jar of runny honey (the subsequent mixture of sticky broken glass is impossible to clean up).
Anyway, Danny was standing outside the Grand Hotel in Brighton at a Labour Party conference, deep in conversation with a pollster friend. “How can you sink to writing about something so inconsequential?” complained the pollster. “No one could be interested in that.”
At that precise moment, a very senior adviser to Tony Blair came past. “Yoghurt!” he exclaimed to Danny, and walked on.
Self-publishers, small publishers, and even big publishers with an obscure book to sell should take a look at Bookhitch. This is a site on which writers and publishers can post details of their books. Readers in search of something a little different can then type in some keywords, find details of your book plus a link to a supplier (yourself, or your publisher, or an online dealer). And bingo. Everybody happy. For book authors and publishers, a basic service is free, but for fancy stuff you need to pay.
Scott Stein's book notes
Scott Stein teaches writing at Drexel University in Philadelphia. So, not surprisingly, he has written a couple of novels of his own. His first novel, Lost (probably not the one that TV show was based on), was described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as 'wonderfully comic', and his second is due out next year.
Scott is a man who's read a lot of books, and his blog has notes about some of them, plus a lot more.
Wottakars and the long tail
In this morning's Independent (link from booktrade.info), Boyd Tonkin makes some points about the Waterstone's/Ottakar's merger and the arguments advanced in Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. The blockbuster, Tonkin suggests, is far from dead, and the long tail is not yet the force that Anderson would have us believe.
Meanwhile, earlier in the week, Galleycat noted the nice irony in the fact that The Long Tail seems likely to become the kind of large-scale success that its author says is history.