Critical Linking: July 25, 2014 
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

The brick-and-mortar survivors — and brave newcomers — have adapted to the Age of Amazon in their own ways, from opening 24 hours to undergoing spectacular design renovations or stocking books that aren’t sold by the online giant. Old or new, all with fascinating stories, the bookstores below serve as historic sites, sanctuaries, salons of culture and must-visit entries in any travel itinerary.

That is one gorgeous group of bookstores.


Although, to be strictly accurate, crime writer Val McDermid was actually talking to “Robert Galbraith”, Rowling’s pseudonym (broken far more quickly than she had hoped) for two mystery novels about one-legged, ex-army private eye Cormoran Strike. In honour of her male alias, Rowling wore a suit and tie.

Maybe I am just never going to get the point of continuing the Galbraith charade.


The Evanston Public Library’s new Book Bike took its first spin into the community on July 16 to enthusiastic response, checking out books and making new library cards by the City’s lakefront. This librarian-driven initiative will bring books, library card sign-ups, and program registration to parks, neighborhoods, and events around town. 

Good job, Evanston Public Library.


Still prefer real books to e-readers—but hate having to lug them in your suitcase? Shutters on the Beach, the iconic Santa Monica hotel, is introducing a new Beach Book Bag program, allowing guests to order their beach reads before stepping foot on the plane. Just call the front desk up to 24 hours in advance of the scheduled check-in time, and the books will be bought at a local Barnes & Noble and waiting upon arrival.

I heartily approve of this service.


Did you know that Book Riot has a YouTube channel? We do. It’s new and we are having fun with it. Check it out here.

Critical Linking: July 23, 2014 
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

Seth Kaller’s copy of this iconic novel has some classic Twain humor — an inscription from Mark Twain to Samuel Clemens himself, with a signature from the one and only Clemens/Twain. Seth Kaller is one of the most distinguished sellers in the rare book industry and his copy of Huckleberry Finn is a second American edition with 174 illustrations by E.W. Kemble and a photogravure plate of a Clemens portrait bust by Karl Gerhardt. $25,000 for a true piece of American history.

This signed edition of Huck Finn would be my first choice in this list of 11 extremely rare and valuable books.


A questionnaire of over 5,300 people completed just three days ago on 19th July by the Codex Group, found that just over 39% of respondents said they were aware of the stand-off, according to Publishers Lunch. Within that segment, 19% said they were buying fewer books from the online retailer as a consequence of the fracas, although 4.4% said they had increased their spending with Amazon.

This dispute really has penetrated the public consciousness much more than I would have expected.


I am hearing rumours from comic publishing partners of ComiXology that the digital distributor is offering major publishers the opportunity to sell their comics on ComiXology without DRM. And while it is unlikely that the Disney owned Marvel and the Warners owned DC would agree to such a thing, Image Comics would seem like an instant yes and others are likely to follow. This would be a major step for such a distributor to move away from the standard entertainment norm where DRM is increasingly more and more important, to try and control how people enjoy their entertainment, where, when and how.

This would be welcome, indeed.


Now we want to celebrate how just a handful of powerful, poignant words from a book can shape our lives and imprint themselves forever in our minds and hearts, by (temporarily) printing those very words on our bodies.

We need your help to launch a collection of beautifully designed temporary literary tattoos. These iconic quotes come from the works of fifteen classic authors and books like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Ulysses, and Les Misérables.

This did 3x times its funding goal on the first day. Not bad.

Critical Linking: July 22, 2014 
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

If you liked Electric Literature‘s Game of Books infographic that compared the length of A Song of Ice and Fire to classic novels, you might enjoy this infographic that lays out the length of some famous novels, poems, and plays from literary history.

If you are ready to stare at this infographic of the lengths of some notable literary works, I hope you have some spare time on your hands.


Last week, Amazon informed us that for ten dollars per month, Kindle users can have unlimited access to over six hundred thousand books in its library. But it shouldn’t cost a thing to borrow a book, Amazon, you foul, horrible, profiteering enemies of civilization.

Man, Kindle Unlimited has unleashed some of the most narrow-minded, simplistic reactions I’ve seen in awhile.


In a potentially major gain for the ebook-bundling concept, BitLit today is announcing its first deal with a Big Five publisher. HarperCollins (US) has entered what is being described as a pilot programme with the Vancouver-based BitLit to offer discounted ebook editions of print books that readers already own.

BitLit, where you get a discounted ebook with proof of owning the same print title, is an interesting idea, though it seems like an awkward transitional step. One of these days, we’re going to get proper bundling.

Critical Linking: July 21, 2014 
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

Looking for the next great book to sink your teeth into? Look no further. As summer rolls on, you may find yourself with free time to catch up on reading. We have good news for you virtual bookworms — you can get in a good read without spending a dime.

8 good sources for free ebooks, though as usual you have to wade through a lot of filler to find something interesting.


Novelist J K Rowling has confirmed she plans “not seven, more” Robert Galbraith novels. Speaking at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate on Friday night (18th July), in conversation with Val McDermid, the author drew applause from the audience when she confirmed there was an “open-ended” series planned. “I love writing these books. One of the things I love about this genre is that – unlike Harry [the Harry Potter series] where there is an overarching story, here you are talking about discrete stories. So as long as your detective lives you can give him cases.”

I hope you like the Galbraith novels, because you are going to get a bunch more of them.


That’s why I don’t think the big revolution for writers and other content producers will come from Amazon, but rather from startups like Patreon, which allow producers to build audiences directly and develop their own direct subscription model with their most fervent fans. That would be a surprise dénouement in this final episode of the Content Wars, but a welcome one for creators around the world.

Direct sales to readers is the Holy Grail of publishing disruption: powerful, possibly transformative, and probably a myth.


UNLV undergraduate engineering students Jack Cheney, Nicole Ramos and Vachara Maneeraj created a solar-powered book drop that roasts bed bugs to death. The project was part of UNLV’s engineering senior design competition in May. All engineering students must collaborate for a year to produce a product using their engineering skills.

Does a solar-powered book drop bed bug roaster make up for the bed bugs? Close call.
Critical Linking: July 20, 2014
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

Singapore on Friday stopped its national library from destroying two children’s books with gay themes following an outcry over literary censorship in the tightly regulated city-state.

Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim ordered the books moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children, after another title had already been “pulped” by the National Library Board (NLB).

So it’s good they’re not pulping the books anymore, but it’s still sad to see this kind of censorship on a national level.


“Looking for Alaska” is so popular right now, that there’s not one available at a public library throughout all of Waukesha County.

Cox said despite the book’s popularity, she’s standing behind her decision to get the book out of the school.

“As a parent, it’s my duty to teach, to protect, to watch over her and each parent has their own opinion on that,” Cox said.

Another day, another parent hoping to ban a book for all kids. It’s this parent’s job to watch over her kid — and the kids of every other parent. No word yet on how the school’s handling this, which most likely means they’re following policy.


I’ve had ups and downs with this notion, in my own feelings of insecurity, and in studying the words of Steinbeck; not just the play itself, but in a letter that was passed on to me by our director at the beginning of our run, written by Steinbeck to Claire Luce, the actress who originated the role on stage. In the letter, Steinbeck sheds light on what is behind this character without a name, writing that, “She was told over and over that she must remain a virgin because that was the only way she could get a husband … She only had that one thing to sell and she knew it.” He goes on, “She is a nice, kind girl and not a floozy. No man has ever considered her as anything except a girl to try to make … As to her actual sex life — she has had none except with Curley and there has probably been no consummation there since Curley would not consider her gratification and would probably be suspicious if she had any.” I can barely read the letter now without tearing up at the thought of this imaginary woman, what she stands for, and what she loses. It’s only become clear to me during my time with Curley’s wife exactly how subversive Steinbeck’s work is, and how he must have intended it.

It’s been years since I read Of Mice and Men, but this makes me want to reread it. I don’t remember Curley’s wife at all, let alone the way people reacted to her. Steinbeck, I had no idea.


beach library

The only thing better than a day at the beach is a day at the beach where there’s also a library.

Critical Linking: July 19, 2014 
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

Lee is right that in another era, Mockingbird could’ve been relegated to the YA corner. There, it would surely have found an audience of children, learning its difficult lessons at a young age. That’s a good thing, but I’m not sure whether the story would’ve had the same impact on the country’s psyche and evolution. The gives and takes of genre classification mean something when it comes to which audience you’ll reach, and what that audience thinks about your work. America got a gift with Mockingbird, and we were equally lucky that it was sold to us as not only a book for kids, but as a book every American must read.

An interesting piece on whether it even matters how To Kill A Mockingbird would be marketed and sold were it a book published today.


The reclusive author announced on her 88th birthday that she would allow the release of the e-book version of her beloved Southern novel, read by generations of schoolchildren.

“I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries,” Lee said in a statement released in April. “This is Mockingbird for a new generation.”

Speaking of To Kill A Mockingbird, it’s selling very well as an ebook this week.


When I looked into the possible reasons for the error, I came to understand that the person who wrote the bio wasn’t misinformed or making stuff up, but rather took “novelist” to mean the same as “author,” or, more specifically, “writer of books.” A light bulb went off. I teach mostly writing and journalism workshops, but every once in a while, in class discussions or writing assignments, students will have reason to refer to particular nonfiction books, and on numerous occasions they have referred to them as “novels.”

How often do people use the word “novel” to mean any book?


The Internet is off limits to prisoners, and the books were sometimes difficult to get. Genis’s father brought armfuls when he visited; some were ordered from print catalogues or interlibrary loan; others came from prison libraries, which Genis describes as typically “about fifteen thousand titles, heavy on James Patterson.” Scouring their superannuated collections allowed Genis to cultivate a penchant for authors rarely read today, and he whiled away weeks on Casanova, Jeremy Bentham, “The Prisoner of Zenda,” and the entire oeuvre of Richard Francis Burton, who translated “A Thousand and One Nights” and snuck into Mecca in disguise. “Prison allowed me to do that,” Genis said, sounding almost nostalgic.

Here’s a (partial) look at what one prisoner read while he was behind bars.

Critical Linking: July 18, 2014 
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

The company is apparently preparing a new offering called Kindle Unlimited, which will provide “unlimited access to over 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks” for $9.99 each month. Amazon has yet to unveil Kindle Unlimited in any official capacity, but users spotted promotional banners for the unannounced service on the retailer’s website.

Well well well. Look who is getting into the book subscription game.


The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye. But these days, it is best known for its place in the literary tradition as the first book ever printed in English, and it just sold for over one million dollars.

A million bucks is a lot for sure, but I would sort of think that the first book printed in English would go for more.


Darwin’s complete Galapagos library posted online: 404 volumes kept on board the Beagle join the giant Darwin Online repository.

I love the internet.

Critical Linking: July 16, 2014

Critical Linking: July 16th, 2014

Jul 16, 2014
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

Face facts, writing a runaway literary hit is incredibly hard, and doing it with aching volumes of cool (which is how we’d all want to do it, given the chance) is nigh on impossible. These 50 managed it. Talented swines…

Shameless clickbait and they got me.


I don’t feel much pride when, on the way to somebody’s house for dinner, I stuff several books into my handbag for…well, for what? Can I really not manage a brief subway ride without textual support? Is that normal? Are there other people who, when watching a documentary set in a prison, secretly think, as I have, Wish I had all that time to read?

Zadie Smith on being addicted to reading.


The country’s largest bookseller is also in talks with Simon & Schuster, said Leslie Moonves, CEO of the publisher’s parent CBS Corp. at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo.

See now this is getting interesting.


I list ten projects below, which I think hint at a more accurate picture, but there are others, and I’d be delighted to hear from anyone else working across the business who wants to tell their innovations story on The best thing about the list below is how many of these idea don’t come from a top-down or big-bang approach, but from people within publishing innovating and iterating.

Yikes, this list of ten innovations publishing should be proud of is….underwhelming.

Critical Linking: July 15, 2014 
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

Some are young authors, others are firmly established. Some of them are publishing industry veterans or new media superstars who want to use their clout (or Klout) to talk up writers they love, while others command small armies via their Tumblrs. Some start hashtag trends, while others have scored book deals with their clever tweets. Whatever it is they do on the Internet, these 35 people do it better than anybody else in the book world, and that’s why they help steer literary conversations and tastes.

You could do a lot worse than to follow these folks if you are a book nerd. (Two of them especially. Wink).


Although one would hope the appearance of an author is irrelevant to enjoying their work, Jane Austen fans who’ve been curious about her appearance now have a life-size wax sculpture courtesy of the Jane Austen Centre. The sculpture is based on work done by FBI-trained forensic artist’ Melissa Dring.

OK, so who had “terrifying” in the “adjective that best describes life-like wax recreations of 19th century authors” pool? Come collect your money.


One side defends the ideals that this nation was founded on: Independence and freedom from tyranny. The other side is made up of elites who keep the little people down and take the money that is rightfully theirs in an attempt to control the message and maintain the status quo. I’m talking not about the Tea Party and big government, but the worlds of self-publishing and traditional publishing.

It’s getting to the point where self-publishing is like the Paleo diet: I’m so happy that it’s working out for you and I wish you all the best but seriously shut up about it.


An out-of-print collection of essays about corporate America first published in 1969 has shot to the top of bestseller lists after Bill Gates revealed it was his favourite business book. John Brooks’s Business Adventures is a collection of the late journalist’s New Yorker articles from the 1960s, covering topics from the rise of Xerox and the $350m Edsel disaster to scandals at GE and Texas Gulf Sulphur. Gates wrote in the Wall Street Journal this weekend that the long out-of-print title “remains the best business book I’ve ever read.”

Out of print, but you can get it as an ebook.

Critical Linking: July 14, 2014 
Our daily round-up of bookish links. Tastes great with coffee.

Stick your nose deep into an old book and inhale deeply. It contains, librarians say, “hints of grass and vanilla,” among other smells. The distinctive “old book smell” is so beloved among some readers that there’s a parody company out there pretending to sell an artificial spray that makes e-readers smell like books. What accounts for it? As it turns out, dozens of different chemicals that are emitted by paper, binding, ink, and glue as they break down over time.

The science behind that old book smell is interesting, but pretty unromantic.


The 2014 Emmy nominations were announced this week, and judging by the list of nominees, this is going to be a great year for television series based on, or inspired, by books.

Holy moly, the book-to-TV pipeline rivals the book-to-movie pipeline.


YouTube Preview Image

This the downside of getting a shoutout from Stephen Colbert.


Mexico’s government has donated more than 1,600 Spanish-language textbooks to the Arizona Department of Corrections. The textbooks will be distributed to ADC prisons statewide to assist inmates who are receiving educational instruction. “A significant portion of our inmates speak Spanish as their primary or only language, and it’s important that they have the resources they need in order to fulfill their responsibility to get an education,” Corrections Director Charles Ryan said.

Well, thanks Mexico (?).