Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday Whip Round

By way of an update to the story last week about the New Jersey public library which has elected to close after school hours in order to reduce the child minding activities of its librarians, the New York Times had an editorial in Sunday's paper. Here is a sample,

One can certainly understand the librarians’ frustrations; after all, they are trained to assist patrons in locating library material and doing research, not to be disciplinarians. But the idea of closing a library during prime hours was an inappropriately heavy-handed way to react to a problem that many libraries across the country have been dealing with for generations.
As I recall, this was not a unilateral response or action and indeed the library had spent significant time trying to establish a code of conduct that would help manage the situation. The article goes on to suggest that it is always a challenge to get children into libraries (to read) and that denying access to a library especially in the face of (supposed) interest is an especially bad idea. But that it really not what is happening here. The kids - some of whom most likely do value the time and do make use of the access and behave appropriately - are there because they have no where else to go during those hours.

Also in The Times this morning was an article about Ayn Rands' The Fountainhead. It may soon actually make it to the movie screen. One quote from the article suggests it is the finest 20th century novel never to make it into a film. Is that true? I confess to enjoying both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged but in the case of the former, I think I recall skipping ahead through the famous 60page, 10,000 word John Galt speech that caps the book. It is hard to see how they will get this into a two hour movie. Apparently, Rand was never happy with the movie version of The Fountainhead because someone had the gaul to drop one line from the script she had agreed. No pleasing some people.

Apparently both books continue to sell well and Penguin should be happy if it makes it to the silver screen. The novel ends in an apolcalyse which is presumably where Coramc McCarthy's The Road takes over.

As I am sure many of you will know, Borders has forged an agreement with which is a social networking site set up last year targeted at old people like me. Also involved in the partnership is Simon & Schuster. The three will launch a competition to find a new unpublished author based on submissions via the web site. There are other tie-ins with Borders as well including in-store promotion and mailings to the Borders frequent buyers club.

Under that partnership, Borders will promote the online community to its more than 15 million Borders' reward members who receive weekly emails. Visitors to the site will find author-related content and events and have the change to earn Gather Points redeemable for Borders gift cards. Borders also will promote the First Chapters competition via these emails.

Borders will also be the official book store for but here is the fun part, Borders don't have a web site. They gave this over to in what has been a largely unsatisfactory arrangement a number of years ago when they were in dire straights internet wise. I will go out on a short limb here and suggest they are going to have their own web site quite soon

In today's San Francisco Chronicle (via The Washington Post) is an article about publisher Prosper Assouline who not only creates and publishes beautiful books he especially likes to smell them as well. (There must be a name for that).

Assouline focuses on fashion and other subjects that lend themselves to striking pictures and the absence of words. He does not have an aversion to literature. (The last book he read, he says, was Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude.") But his plan since starting the company 11 years ago was to build a global luxury brand whose products can seamlessly cross borders. Having to translate pages of words into French, Italian and other languages only complicates matters. So far, the company has published about 700 titles.

It would take a lot more than 100 Years of Solitude to put me off reading. I assume from this comment that he read it when it came out rather than last week which wouldn't be so bad. While we are on this, apparently Márquez' and Mario Vargas Llosa have patched things up - just in case you were concerned.

Earlier this year there was controversy in Paris regarding book awards. Apparently, money and other things may have been changing hands - everyone was shocked and horrified. At least those that cared. Now comes word from The Sunday Times that good old Boris Pasternak may have had some help from the CIA and James Bond in winning The Nobel prize. Surely more interesting about this is the apparent success of the operation....

Lastly, in my predictions for 2007 I suggested that Skype would be sold by Ebay. Who knows but they haven't done what they said they would do with it which is integrate it into the auction process. Meanwhile Skype has continued to do well as this article details.

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