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Grant Snider’s guide to the perfect writer’s paradise
September 1, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Grant Snider is a comic genius with an insight into the writerly life and the writer's process that would put many practising writers to shame. And this is his all-in-one guide to the ... um ... architecture of how it should be done. I have no idea how inspiring Inspiration Overlook may be, or how useful the Emergency Idea Generator could be, but I suspect they will be for some. And as awful warnings if nothing else, you do not want to spend too much time on Procrastination Patio, let alone Desperation Drop. You can find this work, along with all Grant...

HarperCollins UK goes direct-to-consumer: Is Amazon worried yet?
September 1, 2014 | 2:25 pm

News that might just have Jeff Bezos quaking in his boots - though don't bank on it - is that HarperCollins in the UK has introduced across-the-board direct sales for its books, including hard copy as well as ebooks. The ebooks have to be downloaded and read on HarperCollins's dedicated HC Reader app (also available for Kindle Fire, cheekily enough), in conjunction with a HarperCollins account. The ecommerce and payment platform for HarperCollins is provided by Digital River, which was behind the recent dedicated websites for its C.S. Lewis and Narnia properties. (Oops, wasn't C.S. Lewis once an author rather than...

No fault in Penguin Random House stars as Bertelsmann books a big win
September 1, 2014 | 12:25 pm

BertelsmannPenguin Random House demonstrated once again what a cozy, fusty, highbrow, unworldly world modern publishing is by bringing home the fat juicy bacon for parent Bertelsmann. And it was all in our stars. As The Hollywood Reporter ... um ... reported, "John Green’s unstoppable young adult melodrama The Fault in Our Stars lifted the fortunes of German media giant Bertelsmann, which controls the book’s publisher Penguin Random House. Sales of the The Fault in Our Stars novel spiked ahead of the release of Josh Boone’s feature film adaptation ... The book sold more than four million copies in print and...

What future for writers in Scotland after the independence referendum?
September 1, 2014 | 10:25 am

BveOVUxCEAAT4NDOne of the highlight debates of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, "Writing the Future: Being a Writer After the Referendum," hinged on the question of what the actual results of the independence referendum vote - whether Yes or No - might be for writers in Scotland. The panel brought together writers, publishers, and cultural policy professionals, from both sides of the Yes/No divide. "The Society of Authors only sponsors one event in a book festival in the UK [annually], and this is that one event," as Lin Anderson, author and chair of the Society of Authors in Scotland, said in her...

Morning Links: Roundup of new Nook reviews. Apple working on payment system
September 1, 2014 | 9:00 am

nookRoundup: Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Reviews (The Digital Reader) Unfortunately for both B&N and for potential buyers, there weren’t very many blogs interested in writing a review for this tablet. I only found 5 actual reviews (not counting the fake review posted by Publishers Weekly), which is far fewer than the dozen reviews I found for the Fire Phone. *** Apple Partnering With American Express On New iPhone Payments System (re/code) Apple has reached an agreement with American Express to work together on its new iPhone payments system, according to sources familiar with the talks. American Express is one of several partners Apple will need...

Interview with Claire Askew, runner-up in the first Edwin Morgan Award
August 31, 2014 | 3:30 pm

At this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, I spoke to Claire Askew, runner-up for the inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for her unpublished collection ‘This changes things". She received the £1000 ($1660) awarded to all shortlisted poets, "and a further amount to support her work towards publication." Judge Stewart Conn praised her "voice that is arrestingly and distinctively her own… words and imagery constantly seeming fresh-minted." I spoke to her about the Award, her work, and modern Scottish poetry. TeleRead: To what extent do you find yourself working within a specifically Scottish tradition? Claire Askew: I definitely do. I'm an interesting person to...

The Gothic blue book: Time for a revival?
August 31, 2014 | 12:04 pm

An enterprising independent publisher, Burial Day Books, recently launched a submissions drive for the fourth in an anthology series that draws on the tradition of the Gothic blue book, a form of short-to-medium Gothic and horror story imprint that flourished briefly at the end of the 18th century and into the 19th. According to Burial Day, Gothic blue books were: ... abridgements of full-length Gothic novels. The subjects of these books fell into one of two categories; the first being set in a monastery or convent and the second being set in a castle. In terms of the physicality of the...

Review: French Readers at the Kindle Store
August 31, 2014 | 10:25 am

french readersI wrote last year about a series of 'French reader' storybooks I found at the Kindle store. I had downloaded several of them as freebies and found them decent, but over-priced. I would rather pay $10 for a full-length book than $4 each for a whole bunch of mini ones! So I was delighted to find that my favourite paper-only 'French reader' book has finally hit the Kindle store---and in my travels, I picked up another beginning reader which has its plusses too! Here are my reviews of these two reader books. I welcome any recommendations on where to go next! 1)...

John Ruskin: Pedant or pioneer?
August 30, 2014 | 12:32 pm

John Ruskin (1890-1900), art critic, amateur artist, social thinker, and brilliant literary stylist, was one of those titans of Victorian industry that make modern creative figures seem feeble dilettantes in comparison, dominating aesthetic, social, and political commentary in the English-speaking world and beyond for most of his life, not least through his enduring and superb writing. He also has a less appealing reputation as an elephantine pedant, the man sued by James McNeill Whistler for libel after accusing him of "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face," the man castigated by Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) for his "obscure,...

Weekend Links: Question of Clickbait. The opposite of legacy
August 30, 2014 | 11:27 am

clickbait-memeInternet Archive Uploads More than 14 Million Public Domain Images to Flickr (Boing Boing) Kalev Leetaru programatically recovered all the images that were discarded by the OCR program that digitizes the millions of public domain books scanned by the Archive... *** The Opposite of Legacy (Joe Konrath) I've found--and I'm sure I'm not alone--that when something newsworthy is happening, I first hear about it via Twitter or Facebook. Often, from people reporting what's occurring in real time. *** Bookless Library Opened by New U.S. University (The Guardian) Florida Polytechnic University's enormous facility promises to make 'many more books available for the students' in digital form. *** When Does Giving...

France’s anti-Amazon minister goes
August 30, 2014 | 10:32 am

the FrenchIn the latest of a series of ministerial exits from the deeply unpopular government of French President François Hollande, minister for culture Aurélie Filippetti has quit during a ministerial reshuffle, ostensibly over Hollande's new austerity policies. She joins former education minister Benoît Hamon and Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, himself already cited as a left-leaning chauvinist in other high-profile negotiations and spats with France's international investors and business partners. In an open letter, Filippetti has warned of political disarray that is throwing the electorate into disillusionment with politics, "or worse, into the arms of the Front National." The letter also refers to...

E-Book Review: Rand Unwrapped: Confessions of a Robotech Warrior
August 30, 2014 | 5:55 am

coverIt’s no secret that the animated TV show Robotech had a big formative influence on me when I was growing up. I still use the handle “Robotech_Master” for my Twitter, Facebook, and other personal Internet accounts, and I still love the show. And my main foray into podcasting, Space Station Liberty, is about Robotech. On Space Station Liberty, I’ve interviewed a number of the actors and writers associated with the show, including the late Carl Macek himself. Today at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, I’m going to be interviewing another: Frank Catalano, voice actor for the characters Rand,...