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Showing posts from January, 2010

The Cover Story: Paperback vs. Hardback

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I love a hardback book, the heft and integrity.  They last longer, sort of.  They're also more expensive, as much as $30 retail.  (Talk about heft!)  If it's purchased early enough, it's a first edition that, if signed by the author, has some value beyond warm fuzzies to the owner.  I feel like I should respect the hardback.

Paperbacks, on the other hand, are books I carelessly toss in my purse or backpack.  I like the trade paperback, with its larger size and often artistic covers.  Usually, the trade paperback doesn't sport a movie tie-in or a Fabio-like hunk with a non-existent shirt, which also lends a sense of gravitas.

However, smart book marketers are playing for a new life in paperbacks.  The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee received a decent response when released as a hardback last year.  However, when Penguin Books (USA) re-released it as a paperback, the publisher sold 151,000 copies in two months — more than three times as many as were sold in hardback (&q…

Top Five Lists: The Top 5 Signs You're Taking a Work of Fiction WAY Too Seriously

Top Five List for Bookies:

                         NOTE FROM CHRIS:

        Fans of the movie "Avatar" are looking for ways to
        cope with depression caused by the planet Pandora
        being fictional. One such fan wrote on the fansite
       "Naviblue" that he contemplated suicide after seeing
     the movie because he would never actually see the beauty
    and perfection that are Pandora and its Na'vi population.

             "Gee, Chris, that guy was totally nuts.
           How can I tell if I'm similarly afflicted?"

                        Glad you asked...


The Top 5 Signs You're Taking
         a Work of Fiction WAY Too Seriously



 5> Your bookie calls to tell that, once again, Ravenclaw didn't
    cover the Quidditch point spread.

 4> Yes, you adored the scene in "Gone With the Wind" where
    Scarlett O'Hara made a dress out of her home's window curtains.
    But YOU did it at the of…

Looking Ahead to Books in 2010: An Update

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Those in the DC area are invited to a Smithsonian panel March 6: Jane Austen: The Author, Her Legacy, And... Sea Monsters?  According to the Smithsonian:



In this evening’s moderated panel discussion, Austen scholar Tara Wallace joins authors Seth Grahame-Smith, New York Times best-selling author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Ben H. Winters, New York Times best selling author of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters; and Regina Jeffers, author of Vampire Darcy’s Desire and Darcy’s Passions as they talk about Austen the author and why her works have endured and inspired through the years.  


The event will be moderated by Bethanne Patrick (@bookmaven on Twitter and The Book Maven on the Web).

Frankly, it sounds like a lot a fun — and a good way to find out more about upcoming releases I mentioned earlier this month.

Hope to see you there!



Update: Filling in the Gaps, and Using Excel

I took my computer upstairs with me Monday night to see how many of the books on my Fill in the Gaps list I own, and how many books I own I want on the list.

Well, I had just upgraded to the new Microsoft Excel, and I'm not a terribly fluent user as it is.  I confused it with Access, which creates records from every line.  (At least, I think it does: Joe set up the only Access file I have ever used, so maybe he did something special.)

Do you see where this is going?

So, I chose a column — author's last names — so I could sort my records by that category.  I figured that would take every line and put it in order based on the "values" in that column.

Well, what it did was rearrange the last names in alphabetical order — and left every other column in its original location.  Needless to say, that made the author names a little different than they should have been.  "Bram Achebe," anyone?

Oh, I fixed it.  I knew 92 of the 100 authors right off the top of my hea…

The Challenge: Filling in the Gaps

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Everyone has books they have meant to read and never have gotten around to read. Everyone has books they managed to avoid reading in school, the classics we were supposed to read because they were good for us in some way. (We didn't buy that logic on every single so-called "classic," did we?)

How about the books everyone else has seemed to read, or the books you have eyed on the shelves, wishing you could find the time to read?

How would you like to get them read?


Take the Fill in the Gaps Challenge: make a list of 100 books you want to read, for whatever reasons (and you don't even have to tell anyone why).  Now, make a promise to yourself that you will read them during the course of the next five years.

Don't laugh.  Better, don't hyperventilate.  In your heart of hearts, you know you can accomplish reading 20 books a year, if you really set your mind to it.  On average, you could spend two and a half weeks to finish each one.  That's an average, of cour…

Review: Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

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What would you do if you watched someone gasp their last breath in what you were certain was a heinous murder?  In The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Flavia de Luce watched in fascination and took exceptional mental notes.

Flavia is not your ordinary 10-year-old, and the de Luce family is not a typical British family, even in 1950.  Flavia has a hint that something odd is occurring in her home that hot, lazy summer, and it has nothing to do with the torture she and her sisters Daphne and Ophelia execute against each other.  It goes beyond Mrs. Mullet's inedible custard pies and Father's obsession with stamps.  It even goes beyond the absent Harriet.

Flavia's summer occupation involves nothing less than King George VI and a 30-year-old murder.

The family discovers a dead jack snape with a postage stamp on its beak left at their door.  After overhearing a conversation she doesn't understand, Flavia wakes after a fitful night and, sensing a disruption in the cucumber…

Looking Ahead to Books in 2010

I'm pretty excited about what lies ahead for us bookies in 2010.  A few of my favorite authors are publishing this year.  Rarely are there that many pre-published books on my wish list, but this year appears to be the start of interesting times.

My friend (and fellow book lover) Carole and I started out the year with one of our favorite authors in hand: Jasper Fforde published his latest novel, Shades of Grey, in late December 2009.  I'm taking my time reading this one, and not just because it's complex and intricate.  It's also original and humorous.  I can't wait to visit the author as he reads/signs at Politics and Prose January 16.  (Carole's schedule may necessitate an emergency trip to the UK for a signing, or at least New York.)  Fforde's Web site is a marvelous thing to behold and visit repeatedly, not only because he's as clever on the Web as he is on the page, but because there always is something different to experience.

Elizabeth Kostova'…