Book reviews, new books, publishing news, book giveaways, and author interviews

Bookish links 16 Oct: Nixon vs Steinbeck, the trial of Kafkas papers, subversive illustrations & more!

book news Bookish links 16 Oct: Nixon vs Steinbeck, the trial of Kafkas papers, subversive illustrations & more!

RIASS stuff:

Ordinary protagonists, ordinary invasions and John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos

Interview:'Peter Tieryas Liu: With so many stories in the world, how are we meant to choose between them?

Book cover trend: smoke spirals'(apparently smoking is cool, after all)

Giveaway: The Complete Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde;'Underdog by Euan Leckie

Recently Ive been including more writing-oriented stuff in my bookish roundups. Do you have a preference for the sort of material (eg, publishing, about authors and books, about writing) that I include in these posts?

Other bookish stuff:

 Bookish links 16 Oct: Nixon vs Steinbeck, the trial of Kafkas papers, subversive illustrations & more!John Steinbeck was once approached to write a novel intended to sabotage Nixon's presidential campaign'Steinbeck was approached by Adlai Stevenson to write a political novel that would bring down then presidential candidate Richard Nixon. The novel was meant to be a sort of creative biography of Nixon that would expose his inner dastardly thoughts. Steinbeck said no, preferring to launch a direct attack rather than an oblique one. Thank goodness we have more sophisticated methods for lambasting politicians now

A woman who has been hiding a whole bunch of Kafkas papers has been ordered to turn over the correspondence to Israels National Library.' The documents comprise some tens of thousands of pages written by both Kafka and his friend Max Brod; the National Library plans to publish the papers online.

Ned Vizzini on how being a geek wasnt always considered cool'It means being a social outcast ' and the people who never confront it, or work through it, often turn into super-villains instead of super-heroes.'That was the kind of geek I wanted to portray in'The Other Normals'' a hopeless one, true-to-life, headed for oblivion.

Author and illustrator Krish Raschka on the importance of picture books'Raschka asks us to try to imagine a world without pictures in books, where all pictures are deemed subversive or not worth consideration. Pictures are such an important part of our lives, he says, that its horrifying to think about. Even letters, he says, have their origins in pictures. (video)

Are small presses and self-publishers becoming harder to tell apart?'The author notes that some small literary presses have been known to ask authors to subsidise production costs, something thats now associated with vanity publishing. He then goes on to argue that by expecting such small presses to fold, were asking that the only books that be published are those from which editors can expect to recoup their production costs. What does this mean for valuable works of literature that arent necessarily going to reach the mass market?

Danny Boyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce on the value of reading''I would encourage the Queen to read. Because if there is anything that could tell her, when she wakes up in that massive house with seven hundred rooms, that she is not alone ' it would be in a book! says Boyle.

Even if its a dark and stormy night, should you begin your story with the weather?'The author points out that weather can be used to begin a story if theres a'purpose to it rather than it merely being setting, or the author fluffing around because they dont know where to begin.

Amazons Jeff Bezos on the future of the book'When we bring new things to the market and consumers like them it does create change. And if youre an incumbent change is scary but you have to lean into the future and embrace change. The article also contains a video featuring Bezos talking about Amazons new products and its shift into other areas. Bezos says that Amazon isnt attempting to make money'from devices such as the Kindle, but rather from the products that customers purchase using these devices. Apparently people read four times as much once they buy a Kindleand also continue to buy paperbacks.

Neil Gaiman, Seth Godin and Stephen King on where they get their ideas'All raise the notion of ideas coming out of two things coming together. Gaiman also says: An idea doesnt have to be a plot notion, just a place to begin creating. Plots often generate themselves when one begins to ask oneself questions about whatever the starting point is.

Part two in Elena Johnsons series on writing a trilogy. This one looks at, well, book two. A danger, she says, is that authors often write another book one. Instead, she says, book two needs to focus on the end of the trilogy, stretch the main character, and get into the heart of the main conflict.

Digital first publishing is creating new opportunities for authors'The potential for interactivity within the pages of books and on social media and reading platforms, for quick corrections and updates to published works and for fast turnaround publication were major attractions of the digital revolution, says Charlotte Harper of Editia. (see also our interview with Momentums Joel Naoum)

Writing tip:'if youre sending manuscripts out, ensure that the metadata options have been filled in. Many people read on e-readers, and books without adequate metadata often show up as Document1 or something similar in the document list. Names and draft numbers dont hurt, either!

The late Alan Watts asks: what would you do with your life if money were no object?

Booktrib is hosting a forthcoming chat with bestselling author Lori Foster:

 Bookish links 16 Oct: Nixon vs Steinbeck, the trial of Kafkas papers, subversive illustrations & more!

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  1. Interesting article on the CEO of Amazon. Its awesome that people are reading more with their e-readers, but there is a part of me which feels that Amazon is taking over the world, Kindles exclusive nature is also frustrating to me.

    • Stephanie /

      Good point about Kindle exclusivity, Jami. Thats something I find very frustrating. I also see what you mean about Amazon taking over the world, although its probably not something we experience quite as much over here in Aus, given the costs of shipping and lack of AmazonPrime etc. I think Amazon has definitely made inroads here (I think theres a warehouse in the works), but definitely not to the extent that it has in the US and other countries.

    • Thats one of the reason I chose NOT Kindle for my e-reader.

      • Stephanie /

        You know, now that I read ebooks mostly on my phone (and now that I have a spiffy new iPhone!), maybe I should look at some non-Kindle options. What an idea!

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