Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday whatnots

Paul Johnson: The Marble Orchard

In a comment on the John Kennedy Toole business, Sandra Sanchez of the Wessex Collective (which is based in the Netherlands, despite its name) points out that, although suffering from cancer, Paul Johnson managed to write a very funny novel: The Marble Orchard. What's more, the business of writing kept him alive, by his widow's estimate, for a year longer than he might have survived otherwise. He died one week after completing another novel, City of Kings.

Novel of the Year

Daniel Scott Buck's The Greatest Show on Earth was recognised here as a formidable piece of work, and now it's been named by 3 AM magazine as the novel of the year.

The bit I like best on the 3 AM pages, poking around a bit, as you do, is the following:
Given that the literary status of the Tintin books is uncertain/debatable, isn't it a little perverse to analyse them in order to uncover the "secret of literature"?
You know what? That's what I always thought too.

Magpies Nest

Gladys Hobson wrote, and published, a small book about the days when phones were immobile and lived in little red boxes. She sold the print run of 750 and raised some useful sums for charity.

Then she had a nasty experience with the Christopher Hill Literary Agency (so called), so she went back to doing her own thing again. Now she has a small press, Magpies Nest Publishing, and a couple of novels which look like a lot of fun.

When Angels Lie deals with gay priests, and Blazing Embers is about sex and the over-sixties. (Apparently some of them do it. Good grief; can this be true? I had heard rumours.)

The future cometh

The Guardian reports (link from booktrade.info) that:
A machine that electronically stores 2.5 million books that can then be printed and bound in less than seven minutes is to be launched early next year. It prints in any language and has an upper limit of 550 pages. The "Espresso" will be launched first in several US libraries. The company behind the project - On Demand Books - predicts that, within five years, it will be able to reproduce every book ever published.
This is not the first such machine, of course. But it is yet another sign that my prediction (not an original one) for the future is steadily advancing.

The quoted cost, £25,000 is, I strongly suspect, modest when compared with the cost of a photo processor such as the Noritsu QSS which is used by a one-hour photo shop near me.

Further future

Lawrence Lessig, on the Creative Commons blog:
The hardest thing about pushing the work of Creative Commons is the thought that in 15 years, it will be impossible to explain just why this work was important — either because the worst would have happened, and the technologies that have encouraged the explosion of creativity we see just now will have been re-controlled, or because the best would have happened, and the balance that we’re pushing for will have been achieved, in both practice and law.
Interesting that the Professor allows the possibility that the forces of darkness might rise up and seize control of what we think and say. But not, of course, surprising. The Chinese are at it with knobs on, and no doubt there are loads of neocons, born-agains, and Muslim mullahs who would love to do the same.

The odd thing is, though, that even those who once favoured freedom and experiment and doing your own thing can, all of a sudden, come over all conservative. Duncan Fallowell quotes an example in his High Culture column.

One-liners

Fancy a new-year hug? Get one here. Courtesy of Andy O'Hara.

If you're into cozy mystery stories, Kate Collins has some for you. And recipes too.

Richard Charkin, head man of the massive Macmillan publishing empire, is absolutely no sort of fool, and he has cast a jaundiced eye over other CEOs' end-of-year messages to the troops.

Billy Guffy, an independent bookstore owner himself, has created The Independent Bookstore Photo Gallery, which is in blog form and aims to give free publicity to indie bookstores worldwide. Can't be bad. You have to include the store cat (or parrot, et cetera), but how you photo the store ghost I'm not quite sure.

Radenko Fanuka wants you to think about how to bring about change in your life and the world.

The Universal Church of the Apathetic Agnostic (motto: We don't know and we don't care) will even publish fiction. There are 666 pages of content. Actually, there are many more pages than 666, but that particular number has been chosen because it's sure to annoy someone.

John Morrison is not impressed with UK Government policy on public libraries, and neither am I. Only 9% of funding is now spent on books, and boy does it show.

Martin Rundkvist, hitherto of Salto Sobrius, has moved to Scienceblogs.com, where he labours under the name Aadvarchaeology.

Bat Segundo has interviewed (via podcast) Nina Hartley, author of Nina Hartley's Guide to Total Sex. No, of course you're not interested. Neither am I. Hartley is reportedly a feminist, registered nurse, sex educator and star of more than 400 adult films. Don't watch the trailer for that film without asking your Mum first.

Time magazine has a rather feeble update on the O.J. story. Mostly speculation and few facts. Thanks to Marti Lawrence for the link.

Clive Keeble tells me that, on Monday 1 January, BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme did a survey of the problems that can arise when real lives are used as the basis for fiction or film. This included a lengthy interview with Kathy O'Beirne. You can use the BBC's Listen Again facility to catch this programme if you wish, but you will need Real Player.

Clive, by the way, tells me that he opened his bookshop, successfully, every day except Christmas Day. Such is the easy life of the modern independent bookseller.

If you haven't yet noticed that Madame Arcati is worth reading regularly, you should.

6 comments:

Andrew O'Hara said...

I'm holding my breath in fear that someone in my county library system will hear about the "Kaleidoscope" idea. Not that they haven't gotten a good start on it--my nearby library dedicates about one-fourth of its space to computers so the teens can play computer games.

I asked once why they didn't just put the pc's in the Parks Department rec room. Silly me. The answer, of course, was that the computers might entice people in to look at books. Of course. When Johnny tires of "Big Kahuna" he'll go browse a bit of Aristophanes.

Marti said...

You are too good! LOL

I have been here half a dozen times today, but you have such interesting links, I keep clicking away!

Thank you for providing such great information!

Word Imp said...

I agree with the previous comment. You are a mine of information. I had no idea about the Christopher Hill saga but, thanks to your links, I'm well informed. It won't happen to me, however, as I already have a wonderful agent - the best in New Zealand! Thanks again for your interesting site. I shall return.

Kent Larsen said...

You wrote:
The Guardian reports (link from booktrade.info) that:

A machine that electronically stores 2.5 million books that can then be printed and bound in less than seven minutes is to be launched early next year. It prints in any language and has an upper limit of 550 pages. The "Espresso" will be launched first in several US libraries. The company behind the project - On Demand Books - predicts that, within five years, it will be able to reproduce every book ever published.

This is not the first such machine, of course. But it is yet another sign that my prediction (not an original one) for the future is steadily advancing.

The quoted cost, £25,000 is, I strongly suspect, modest when compared with the cost of a photo processor such as the Noritsu QSS which is used by a one-hour photo shop near me.


What I haven't yet seen addressed with this plan is how publishers will make their titles available to those who own these machines. If there are 10,000 such machines spread around the world at various bookstores and libraries, how do publishers provide them the files? One by one? Will owners license the Lightning Source catalog and catalogs of other Print-on-Demand printers?

And just as important, how will publishers, authors and others get paid royalties on the sales of books produced this way?

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Cordelia said...

> If you haven't yet noticed that Madame Arcati is worth reading regularly, you should.

Is this a joke? Madame Arcati's blog is one of the nastiest places I have ever seen on the net. Superficial, narrow-minded, spiteful, often slanderous... and utterly unreliable, because the blogger (and most of her/his so-called 'unimpeachable' sources) remain utterly anonymous.
Such sites are a public nuisance. You should be ashamed to have any link to that kind of rumor monger and poison pen letter writer!