Thursday, November 01, 2007

Catching up?

Crumbs. The free book offer is a bit of a success, to put it mildly, so I will probably have to take the rest of the week off to pack stuff up. If you've asked for something, I should be able to oblige, but stocks may run out, in which case I will let you know. Allow at least a couple of weeks for delivery. Many thanks for your interest.

Speaking of books wot I wrote, Gladys Hobson has reviewed a couple of them on her Wrinkly Writers blog: Passionate Affairs and Beautiful Lady. Gladys, if you haven't discovered her, is one hell of a writer. Not many people write about a granny in search of an orgasm, but Gladys has done it beautifully.

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I am beginning to figure out that I may never catch up from the two-week period when my computer was out of action. However, in a pathetic attempt to give at least some publicity to matters which quite often deserve more detailed consideration, here are a few links and comments:

Levi Asher tries to figure out the book business. (Thanks to Dave Lull for the link.) This is an unusual and very interesting article.

Fifteen top thriller writers got together to write The Chopin Manuscript, and the result is available in audio form.

YoungMinds is a worthy cause and it makes an annual book award.

The American Scholar offers an article about Brooklyn-based big sellers. This is not an essay that I recommend, but it seems entirely typical of what academe offers, should you want to know what that is. Link from Clare Toohey, who didn't like it much either.

Stable-door department, example no. 94: In the US, evangelical leaders have called for a ban on Harry Potter books and films. Apparently, the news that Dumbledore was gay was just too much to bear. (Link from booktrade.info.)

Lots and lots of requests for reviews, of course. With the best will in the world, I couldn't possibly agree to read them all, but I normally mention them if they have an online link:

Michael Elking: Executing Mozart. A freshman arrives from England and sets the great university afire with his bipolar genius and random sexuality. I say. Bit much, surely?

Christopher Bowden: The Blue Book. Bookshop browser finds a mysterious note in the pages of a book.

Mike Dailey: Alarm. This one offers two CDs with the book; the CDs feature words from the novel performed with the author's band, O'Grady.

Joanne Harris: Runemarks. Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins have been at the cellar again. For young readers (of all ages?). Sounds good to me.

William Coles: The Well-Tempered Clavier. A love affair at Eton, which is attracting quite a lot of attention. Compare, if you will, my own Passionate Affairs (see end of this post).

Erik Ringmar: A Blogger's Manifesto. Ringmar is an academic who has been on the sharp end of a freedom-of-speech dispute.

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The Radio Times tells us that we are about to have a TV version of E.M. Forster's A Room with a View. Yet it only seems like yesterday that we had the Merchant Ivory film version.

This new TV adaptation will be written by Andrew Davies, which might lead one to expect a certain, shall we say, thumbprint? But no. Producer Eileen Quinn says that 'there are no lesbians and no full-frontal nudity.'

Well, all I can say is that that is most disappointing.

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This blog does not do poetry, for a variety of reasons, chiefly concerned with lack of sensitivity and patience, but the OUP blog does dabble in same.

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Taylor Mac is back in the UK: Croydon, Liverpool, Lancaster.

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Columbia University Press has linked up with VitalSource in an attempt to help scholars and students to use electronic technology to make faster and more efficient literature searches. A good idea in principle, certainly.

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Edmond Clay thinks that the US has got rich writers, but the UK's writers are richer. Which is interesting.

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The Economist reports that, in Chile, the poorer citizens will be given a literario, or free box of books. On the whole I think they would probably prefer a food parcel, but somebody no doubt means well. Thanks to Jon, the Seoul Man in Tokyo, for the link.

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Paola, wife to Seoul Man in Tokyo, sends me a copy of an email exchange that she had with Foyles. Expat Brits with a keen sense of loyalty sometimes prefer to order books from the likes of Foyles rather than patronise the giant Amazon et cetera. However, it is hard going.

Paola sent Foyles a substantial list of suggested improvements to their web site, and received a courteous and prompt reply, with some detailed comments on the comments. However, the reply does make slightly depressing reading.

In most of the responses, Foyles pleads that it can't afford to compete with the big boys. And on the question of why Foyles does not encourage bloggers and others to set up links to Foyles, rather than Amazon, the word is this:
Many of the links to Amazon do come from small self-published and independent works, and as a small business we often do not have the capacity to process orders for such titles. Many small publishers or self-published authors require payment for multiple copies of books or payment by cheque before they release orders. Amazon can afford to keep reserves of these small titles in their large warehouse if ordering multiples, whereas we do not have this capacity. These are authors who need us, rather than vice versa, and thus offer these links free.
Well, the lady tried.

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Sarah Schulman, in Slate, doesn't believe in a merit-based publishing environment. She points out some differences between UK and US approaches to sexual matters. Indeed, my own Passionate Affairs was rejected by one US editor because of its 'difficult' subject matter, whereas in England not a hair has turned. So far, anyway. Perhaps that's just because no one's ever read it.

20 comments:

Andy O'Hara said...

My compliments to Gladys Hobson as well. Her book, "When Angels Lie," is as deserving of publication as any. Excellent reading indeed. Rattles a few timbers, as well.

Gladys Hobson said...

Oo Michael, Passionate Affairs is quite delightful. Silly old prude of an editor to turn down such a well-written book. It contains down to earth material that is essential to the story, and the fact that it may be regarded as 'forbidden love' either in a legal or moral sense does not detract from the beauty of the way the characters are portrayed — poignantly 'human'. I found the end incredible moving.
Those that asked for this (free) book have yet to realise what a gem they are getting.

Gonzalo B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gonzalo B said...

Re: Chile

It’s actually a “maletín literario” or literary briefcase, not a “literario” and in my humble view it’s a pretty demagogic measure designed to make it seem as if the government is actually encouraging literacy. You do that by improving the education and not by handing out books chosen by a group of mandarins to families that have no reading habits to begin with (and which won’t acquire them just because books are handed out to them). The initiative has been widely criticized in Chile. As for the food parcels, the country doesn’t have a hunger problem so I don’t think that would be necessary.

Maxine said...

I never recover from 2-week holidays. I can just about recover if away for a week, but as one who barely keeps it all together anyway, 2 weeks is just too much. I think all one can do is to have a "lost two weeks" and consign it all, a la Ray Milland's lost weekend, and start again.

Erik said...

Hi, thanks for mentioning my book. I naturally hope a lot of people will read it. It's about blogs, freedom of speech, and how to piss of an entire world famous educational establishment. You could have added that it's possible to download the book at http://ringmar.net/imbloggingthis/sources/imbloggingthis.pdf -- but of course I prefer if people buy it. It's only 5.26 pounds at Amazon.

Edmond Clay said...

Yeah OK, I'm given to glittering generalities, horrid homily and truculent truisms based upon no more than the verisimilitude, wikiality and truthiness involved. Not being born to the manor I like popcorn truth and logic. It's light on its feet, fast in the street and the lingua franca of creativity. Nothing less than Mr. Punch's rancorous retorts for me, no sirree Bub! But shooting one's mouth off might not play well in Wiltshire....

June said...

They need us more than we need them - what a bunch of ignorant twats ! Where do Folyes think they would be without people like us prepared to write books - nowhere fast ! As for demanding payment before an order will be released - why the hell shoudld't we - you couldn't go into Foyles and walk out without paying for a book after all and we wrote the things not them !

Paul Perry said...

When a bookseller cannot be bothered dealing wiht a publisher - even if the publisher has only one book - it is usually an indication that the bookseller is simply inefficient.
A simple way around would be for Foyles to take orders, send the wholesale price to the publisher, and let the publisher do the mailing.
Foyles need never touch the book, which would doubtless suit them well.

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