Friday, June 23, 2006


Serious disillusion

Have you ever been, like, seriously disillusioned? I mean seriously disillusioned. Like when your Mummy told you there wasn't a Father Christmas/Santa Claus. Or when you discovered that Daddy was really the tooth fairy? Or the first time you read a Booker Prizewinner? Hmm?

Well now here is one that will really stop you dead in your tracks. But the news is -- and she admits this herself, mind you -- the news is that the Joyful Homemaker actually has messy corners in her house.

I tell you, I had to go into another room and snuffle when I found out.

What, I have to ask myself, is the good Lord going to think about that? And she wrote this on the Sabbath, too. Has the woman no shame?

Dove Grey Reader blog

Dove Grey Reader (or dovegreyreader, or ? dove-grey reader) is a 'Devonshire based bookaholic [she ain't kidding] sock knitting quilter, who happens to be a community nurse in her spare time.' She has much to say on the subject of books, and all of it worth hearing about. (Thanks to Susan Hill for the introductions to this lady and the one above.)

The help is out there

Biff Mitchell is giving a workshop on science fiction and cyberpunk at the Maritime Writers' Workshop, July 9-14. Location, if I'm reading it correctly, is in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Other writers are also involved. Details on Biff's web site, and on the workshop's blog.


Andwerve is a Los Angeles-based literary journal, published monthly, which also appears on the web. The editors say: 'We think of ourselves as a conscientious alternative to a media that is generally unaccepting of radical, progressive artwork. andwerve is a publication modeled on the open-source software model, a social philosophy that seeks to push the boundaries of art, culture, and self; to free art from the confines of academia and corporate sponsorship and return it to the people who create it and enjoy it.'

Free art from the confines of academia? I didn't know it was locked up in academia, but there we are. As you can tell from the above, andwerve is fairly modern, cutting-edge stuff (sparing with the capital letters), but they claim to be 'open to anything. if your fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photography, painting, or design challenges existing forms and established lines of communication, then please submit your work.'

Smarter thinking by Random House

Publishers Lunch this week mentioned that the Wall Street Journal had published an article about the 'generally tired topic' of publishers' objections to the Google Library program. The WSJ article is not available online, unfortunately, but apparently Richard Sarnoff, of Random House, is quoted as follows:

We are going to turn on a fire hose of discovery for the works that we control, where they're going to be discoverable beyond snippets in every possible way on the Net....When those things are discoverable and partially readable on the Web, we're also going to turn on different ways you can then consume it and pay for it. And we're going with Google and a whole host of other partners who we're talking to, in getting that done.
Now that sounds a great deal more sensible than some of the stuff that we've been hearing from publishers -- and from authors, for that matter; at least insofar as they are represented by the US Authors Guild.

Words of wisdom

In a short discussion of the value, or otherwise, of blogs written by published authors, Galleycat quotes SF writer Kristine Smith on the usefulness of knowing what is currently fashionable in the publishing world: 'In the 2-3 years it would take for me to research and write a novel that would fit that niche, the needs would change and they'd want something else.'

So... So you don't need me to spell it out.

The Wow! factor

This blog has more than once remarked on the fact that popular music has the capacity to make people (mostly young people) go Wow! And they immediately want to buy a copy of whatever it is that has made them go Wow! And we have also noticed that it is extremely difficult to identify precisely what it is that causes this effect, whether in music or in fiction.

Well, now some weirdo bunch of scientists somewhere is trying. The Telegraph has the story. Or, to be more precise, John Sutherland has the story (Professor Sutherland to you; at least I assume it's the Prof, though that reference to Magneto's helmet in X-Men has got me worried). (Link from

Anyway, it seems that the boffins have analysed thousands of popular-music tracks and have identified hundreds of musical attributes or 'genes'; these they have assembled into a 'music genome' which summarises the 'unique and magical musical identity of any individual song'.

And, if you're muttering So what?, then consider this. Once you have ze formula you can conquer ze vorld. Ve haf vays of making you buy.

If you want to try out this latest miracle of science, hie thee to Pandora and follow the instructions.

Sutherland looks forward to the day when a similar service will be available for books. The technology isn't there yet, he says, because popular music has coughed up the money for the underlying research and the book world hasn't.

Actually, I take leave to question whether we need technology. What we do have, already, is quite a few web sites which offer a 'Who writes like' service. Just choosing one at random: Reader's Corner. And plenty of public libraries offer suggestions: either online, as in the case of Wellington, New Zealand, or in person, in the shape of your cuddly neighbourhood librarian. All you have to do is ask.

If you prefer your information in book form, you can get it from Loughborough University's Library and Information Statistics Unit. Sample pages available.

Entertainment booms

The global entertainment and media industry will be worth $1.8 trillion (£977 billion) by 2010, says a report from accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. The spread of broadband internet and wireless technology will be the driving forces behind the growth. (Report from the BBC; link from

Apart from noting that the 2010 value figure covers everything from 'books and trips to the cinema, to TV and internet subscriptions in the home' the report says nothing whatever about publishing, let alone fiction as a part of publishing. But my opinion remains unchanged: despite all this excitement and people saying Wow! all the time, fiction is going to have an increasingly hard time maintaining its share of the market.

Coupland is such fun

Private Eye this week provides a clue as to why fiction -- particularly literary fiction -- is going to find it hard to keep up.

Douglas Coupland is evidently a novelist with some literary reputation, and he has a new book out. According to the Eye, this book (iPod) contains, among other wonders, 'the first 100,000 digits of pi, the 8,363 prime numbers between 1,000 and 10,000, all the three-letter words in Scrabble (with one bogus selection), phishing emails, computer error codes and so on. We are asked to presume that there is some meaning to all this drivel...'

Well, thanks, but on the whole I think I'll stick to Enid Blyton, as usual.


Cantara Books (a small publisher) is the brainchild of Cantara Christopher. You can find her latest newsletter on the Cantarabooks blog. This gives details some of the books on her list. And, if you live in New York City, she has details of various events and is looking for beta testers of various devices.

Picolata Review

The Picolata Review has announced its first publication, on 21 June. As the name suggests, this is yet another small literary magazine, to be published monthly online. It describes itself as 'a place to find emerging writers and poets'. Unlike most such magazines, this one will consider genre fiction. See the submissions page.

More on book sales in Europe

That which I referred to last Monday as a 'small, quiet war' has got bigger and noisier. The war is about who gets to sell English-language books on the continent of Europe.

Basically, the Brit publishers are saying that Europe is theirs, and there are laws to prove it. The Americans think it should be open to any publisher. Details in Publishing News; link from

And finally...

Normally I don't take any notice of small-town America deciding to ban this or that. It seems to happen every day. But I did notice somewhere that some braindead moron had decided that kids who lived in shelters for the homeless in Porter County would no longer be eligible to borrow library books. And I wasn't impressed.

Well, Michael Schaub reports on Bookslut that the library directors have changed their minds. Why? Because a bunch of kids shamed them into it, that's why.

Eleven-year-old Taylor Knoblock led the charge, taking his brother, Jacob, 9, and sister, Rachel, 6, and a wagon with him.

'I read in the paper that the public library wouldn’t let kids from the homeless shelter check out books anymore,' Taylor said. 'I didn’t like that idea, so I started to collect books for Spring Valley to have their own library....

'I feel sad for people that don’t have the same stuff as I do,' said Taylor, who by early afternoon had collected about 50 books and 20 videotapes.

Michael Schaub thinks young Taylor is a hero and so by golly do I.


Anonymous said...

Coupland's book is called JPod.

kookie said...

Thank God for young people with Taylor who not only have compassion and love for their fellow man, but also understand the importance of books in the lives of people (especially people who may not have much else to get them through the day). Sometimes I actually have hope for the world of man.

Anonymous said...

Serious Disillusion: Like Dude, I'm disillusioned, like grossed, dude,every time I look at the best seller lists.

But (Smarter Thinking by Random House) someone please identify "snippet" for me so I don't have to fear the pound on the door. I think they also know where your kids go to school...

Elaine said...

ok well I also read dovegreayreader as she happens to be a friend of mine and she is always great to read. She has inspired me to start my blog too as I am a bookaholic but also love opera so there is a bit of a mixture. Love your blog and will hae to add it to my links!

Webgurl said...

"What we do have, already, is quite a few web sites which offer a 'Who writes like' service. Just choosing one at random: Reader's Corner."

Thanks for the random mention Michael.

Cheers from Australia!

vicky razai set said...

What, I have to ask myself, is the good Lord going to think about that? And she wrote this on the Sabbath, too. Has the woman no shame?
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