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You can write but you can’t edit Edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit… October 31, 2009

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Regina Spektor’s refrain to her song “Edit” (title of this post) keeps playing through my mind as I helplessly stab at my inchoate “novel” in celebration of National Novel Writing Month which begins in a few short hours. Writers worldwide are challenged to write a 175 page novel in the next month and the majority of the money raised goes to the Young Writers Program, while the rest goes to supporting writers. Check out the site and see if you want to donate or become a participator yourself!

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Another Halloween Treat – Vampire Style October 31, 2009

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Although I’ve heard the book is even better, if anyone out there is looking for a good scare tonight’s a good night to watch “Let the Right One In”, a Swedish vampire movie that will keep you awake all night.

The Future of Reading AND Publishing; and music? October 30, 2009

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LibraryJournal.com, the online companion to the eponymous periodical read by all types of librarians nationwide, has just posted an article entitled “The Future of Reading”. This article is important for anyone interested in emerging technologies, business, and information. This article is great because it points to a number of new (or increasingly popular) trends in reading: e-books, graphic novels, kindles, audiobooks, even cellphone novels. While many believe that librarians are luddites, clinging to their dusty out-of-print books and handwritten card catalogs (we are not), this article shows that libraries and librarians are willing (and enthusiastically willing!) to change and meet the needs of today’s “reader”, whatever that may mean.

While this is a comprehensive article from the librarians’ point of view, it doesn’t take into account what publishers and authors might be concerned with and that’s the illegal proliferation of their work online. One author has circumvented this process and made much of his work available for free online: the award-winning Cory Doctorow. His site, craphound.com, provides free downloadable versions of many of his works including the well-reviewed Little Brother, “a daring gesture,” which the New York Times book review notes, “hasn’t hurt its print sales in the least”.

Doctorow’s move reminds me of Radiohead’s unprecedented release of their most recent album, In Rainbows (2007), in digital format for whatever price the consumer was willing to pay. When the actual album was finally released in “hard copy” (aka CD), it topped both the UK Album Chart and the US Billboard 200.

What do these counter-intuitive occurrences mean? I think it means people will still pay for things worth paying for. What do you think?

 

Happy (early) Halloween! October 30, 2009

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For a little humor from topcultured.com, here’s a list of “11 ‘Treats’ You Pray You Don’t Get on Halloween”. It’s right on the money!

headless

Little Women October 30, 2009

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Please participate in my poll:

With which character from Little Women (books or movies)did you most identify?
(polls)

After you answer that question, check out this book review that was in the Wall Street Journal this week about a new biography of Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. Then, come back and let me know if you agree!

Ubiquitous web=ubiquitous music October 29, 2009

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A new service is attempting to change the nature of online music, again. Playdar is an organization that is trying to take all the music (not downloadable, but stream-able) on the web, on personal hard drives, and from anywhere else you might digitally store music and make it immediately available. What does this mean? It means that a song you write about, suggest, or mention in your blog, Facebook page, tweet, etc. will be immediately available for play. An article by New Scientist explains this service with better clarity.

This is all hypothetical speak, of course. While Playdar is up and running, the instant gratification promised above will only be available should social networking sites choose to opt into this service.

Like many of the web’s musical services designed to let netizens listen but not download (Last.fm, Pandora, etc.) this concept raises a whole host of copyright issues. While both New Scientist and the Playdar page explain that this service does no more than the aforementioned seasoned music-playing sites do, Playdar, if widely adopted, has the ability to make any song playable, on demand, which is not something other sites offer. And while the songs may not be downloadable, who needs to download anymore as the web continues to grow ever more portable in the form of smartphones and netbooks? While musicians and streaming sites are silent on the nascent service as of yet, this infomaven predicts a violent backlash.

Can’t wait to see that movie, or, er…I meant, read that book! October 28, 2009

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In the past few months I have come across a phenomenon seemingly new to the world (although YouTube searches date some from years ago): trailers for books. Speaking obviously to savvy web denizens (as these are never aired on TV), this media-hybrid provokes some interesting questions. First to my mind is how publicists reconcile the trailer version of the book with the trailer version of the movie as so many books are now made into screenplays (or whether this concern even enters their mind).

In my experience, book trailers tend to avoid direct screen shots of characters, perhaps to let the imagination do its job, or perhaps this as a product of cinematic foresight. Such is the case with the trailer for Pynchon’s Inherent Vice (below) which, like the book, rambles on in a stoner’s foggy voice, and numerous others I have seen, such as Meyer’s The Host (which is slated to be turned into a movie), Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes (also below), and the award-winning The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak which has been turned into a movie already.

My second question is: why? Thomas Pynchon has a cult following and his books are highly anticipated by his followers. (And the same could be said for Meyer.) Why then does he, or his publishers, feel the need to create a trailer? Wouldn’t his devoted readers feel more comfortable with the traditional back-of-the-book summary, or New York Times book review?

What do you think?

(nota bene: The web is flooded with “fan-made” trailers as well and this is not to which I refer.)

Yankees in 6? October 28, 2009

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We’re in the home stretch here of baseball season with Game One of the World Series later tonight, if it ever stops raining in the Northeast. Baseball is a great sport for fans of physics, data and statistics. WhatIfSports is a site affiliated with Fox Sports on MSN that runs simulations of every and any game you can think of, in all different sports, past and present. They ran a simulation of this World Series, between the Yankees and Phillies, 10,000 times – and Yankees won 72.3% of the time. Those are some good odds.

So scary it’s humorous October 27, 2009

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In the spirit of celebrating interesting visual displays of information, I bring you the US Debt Clock, a feat so dazzlingly dizzying that you’ll want to write Congress. When you mouse over different numbers, the source of the information shows up in the title bubble up top.

The State of Print October 27, 2009

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Here’s an interesting graph (best to zoom in) showing the subscription rates for newspapers from 1990 to the present. What’s most interesting to me is that the only paper to achieve a noticeable amount of growth (in purely print sales, WSJ included online) is essentially a sensationalist tabloid!

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