Sunday, October 30, 2011

MediaWeek (Vol 4, No 44): Books in Browsers, Photography, Drivel + More

I pride myself somewhat on how I organize these posts, only to find that those of you receiving this in the email version will think I am careless and disorganized.  In truth, it is the blogger editor which while never very good has gone from bad to worse.  I spend at least 50% more time putting these things together now versus how long it took prior to the 'upgrade'.  So my apologies to those of you who care about these things but it's just not my fault.

At the Books in Browsers conference hosted by the Internet Archive attendees debate "what is a book" NYTimes
The challenge will be to sort all of that material into ephemeral and semipermanent baskets, some of which might be called, for lack of a better term, books. But at the moment, as Mr. Hellman said, online books are largely stuck in the “pretend it’s print” model. That works for traditional publishers because it offers a model that looks a lot like the past but ultimately depends on a notion of false scarcity.
Mr. Hellman’s own idea, which he is developing as, is to crowd-source the money to digitize individual titles and basically set them free. It sounds like a dreamy but impractical idea, but he added this to ground it in reality: “Have you ever given a book to someone? Have you ever given the same book to multiple people? Would you like to give this book to the entire world?”
From the Observer a look at how British museums are embracing photography all of a sudden (Observer)
The culture around photography – festivals, book publishing and selling, workshops, websites and prizes – has grown exponentially, making London a centre of contemporary photographic practice. Finally… 
Inevitably, if belatedly, the major art institutions have responded in kind. Last week the Victoria & Albert unveiled its new Photographs Gallery, a permanent space to show highlights from its extraordinary collection, chronicling the history of photography from 1839 to the 1960s. Ironically, the exhibition harks back to a time when London embraced what was then a revolutionary new medium that threatened to make painting a thing of the past. The V&A was the first museum to collect photography and, in 1858, to exhibit photographic prints. The oldest photograph on display in the new gallery is a daguerreotype of Parliament Street from Trafalgar Square by an anonymous photographer, and many of the pioneering giants of photography, from Margaret Cameron to Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray to Irving Penn, are represented. What's more, the exhibition will be re-curated every 18 months to show off the scale of the museum's archive of original prints.
"We play to our strengths," says curator Martin Barnes, "which, in photography, is the fine print. We are not showing the history of photography, nor charting a chronological story with examples along a linear trajectory, but nevertheless the collection is deep enough that the historical reach will always be evident in the exhibition."
And again from the Observer a review of a book that looks at the history of some of London's ritzy hotels during the war (Observer)
At the Savoy, journalists filed articles from makeshift offices carved from the carcasses of once-expensive suites. Con artists and swindlers, invigorated by the opportunities brought by war, hunted for victims among the potted palms. Illegal abortionists, profiting from the wartime increase in unwanted pregnancies, conducted their business behind locked hotel-room doors. Spies and spymasters made the grand hotels into thriving centres of espionage, using quiet suites for debriefings and interrogations and picking at the plasterwork for hidden microphones. MI5 booked a suspected Nazi double agent called Stella Lonsdale into a room at the Waldorf, and waited for her to crack. Guy Burgess installed a pair of spies at the Dorchester, one a painfully handsome 19-year-old with 10 targets on his watch list – mainly homosexual Magyars (Hungarians) who were charmed by his unfingermarked good looks. "The whole place," shuddered the head of Special Branch, "is crawling with foreigners." 
The photographer Cecil Beaton made a gleefully snobbish inventory of the Dorchester's inhabitants: "Cabinet ministers and their self-consciously respectable wives; hatchet-jawed, iron-grey brigadiers; calf-like airmen off duty; tarts on duty; actresses (also); déclassé society people; cheap musicians and motor-car agents." At the front of the hotel, General Eisenhower plotted the progress of the war behind a concrete barrier installed for his protection. Beneath the hotel, the foreign secretary Edward Halifax slept beside his wife and his mistress in the Turkish bath – not realising that the chamber projected out from the main body of the hotel and was therefore one of the most vulnerable spots in the building.
Will games replace reading? The Author answers his own question (Observer):
As an author who also plays games, and the father of three boys who read books and play games, I often get asked whether I think games will kill off the novel, and the answer is no, of course they won't. Books have survived the coming of films and TV, rock'n'roll and sudoku, and they will survive the coming of computer games. But they will be influenced by them, just as all those other media had their own impact and influence on books and, let's not forget, were hugely influenced by them. 
The best games have taken stuff from books (where would computer games be without Tolkien, for instance?) and any novelist worth their salt should be taking stuff from games. What you don't want are books that slavishly replicate the experience of playing a game because, well, why not just go and play a game instead? In the same way, you don't want a game that gets bogged down with interminable cut-scenes and has only one, very rigid, way of being played. There are cleverer and more elegant ways of designing them, as demonstrated by the brilliant GTA series.
More mindless drivel (Telegraph)
It is reported Miss Middleton has had two meetings with publishing executives at HarperCollins and has met with several other publishing houses. There are predictions that she could make more than £1m from royalties and the sale of international rights and spin-off projects.
A well-placed publishing source told the Sunday Times (£): “Pippa is very serious about the project and has been going to meet publishers personally. Pippa hasn’t signed a contract yet but I don’t think it will be far off. She is a good writer but I expect she would be offered the services of an experienced ghost writer.” 
Movie and theatrical performance rights may follow if all goes well (This bit is a lie).

From The New Republic, why authors should embrace Amazon's push into publishing (TNR):

THE TIMES WONDERS if Amazon can “secretly create its own bestsellers.” Actually, it already has, although they aren’t the books in its publishing program. Of the current top ten e-book bestsellers on Amazon, four of them are self-published. These aren’t flukes: They’ve been in the top ten more than 50 days on average. They’re books by authors you probably haven’t heard of—Darcy Chan, Chris Culver, Michael Prescott, Douglas E. Richards—right up there with James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks. At 79 to 99 cents a copy, they’re priced to sell. But considering that sales estimates for some of the top indie e-book sellers start at 2500 copies a month, that’s money most authors would be quite pleased with. Self-published e-books occupy several slots of the top ten on all the genre lists, too—sci-fi, romance, mysteries.

This is staggering, and it’s a part of the story that hasn’t yet been fully explored. When nontraditional e-books are taking such a large cut of the market, why on earth is Amazon building an editorial apparatus? It would seem to be exactly the wrong move—unless there’s some other piece of the puzzle we don’t know about.

Amazon can be faulted for a lot of things, but making bad business decisions isn’t one of them. If the company has calculated that the gain of bringing edited books to market is worth the investment in an in-house editorial staff, that’s not an assault on the publishing industry. To the contrary: It’s a signal that the services the industry has traditionally offered are still of value. What’s under assault, rather, is the bloated, arrogant, and conservative culture of the publishing conglomerates that for so long have enjoyed far too much control over what we read.
Notes on a voice from More Intelligent Life takes on Conan Doyle:
“Dr Watson doesn’t write to you, he talks to you, with Edwardian courtesy, across a glowing fire.” So said John le Carré, one of many writers in thrall to Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930). His most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes, provides the excitement. But his second most famous, John Watson, provides the voice.

The stories (1887-1927) are infinitely re-readable. Fans focus on Holmes himself, that perfect assemblage of cold calculation and eccentric tastes—the violin, the cocaine, the tobacco in the Persian slipper. “Every writer owes something to Holmes,” wrote T.S. Eliot in 1929. But Holmes would be precious without Watson’s direct, manly presence. A late story narrated by Holmes was hopeless. The prose lost most of its energy and all of its suspense, and became smug.

Watson, the medic ever ready with a pistol and a flask of brandy, was a conduit for Doyle himself, who had been a GP. The doctor is decent, and, contrary to popular belief, not stupid. He shares the reader’s breathless bemusement at Holmes’s lightning deductions. “What can it all mean?” Watson gasps in “The Speckled Band”, the most terrifying story of all. “‘It means that it’s all over,’ Holmes answered.”
From Twitter:

Lonely Planet looks to digital publishing

Philip Pullman: Using the internet is like looking at a landscape through a keyhole - Telegraph

Tom Waits: 'I look like hell but I'm going to see where it gets me' – interview

Editing Wikipedia at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Boys on a Log - Bangkok August 1969

Bangkok August 1969
Another weekly image from my archive. Click on it to make it larger.

These boys all look happy and cheerful waving to the silly tourists out sightseeing.  This is old Bangkok where life centered around the rivers and klongs and, while some of this still exists to the north of Bangkok, you don't see scenes like this too much anymore.

In addition to the images I've posted on Flickr and those I've periodically posted on PND, I have now produced a Big Blurb Book: From the Archive 1960 -1980 of some of the images I really thought were special.

I now have an iPad version of this book for sale ($4.99) on the Blurb site which you can find here: STORE

I have to say, even on the iPad the book looks pretty good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

MediaWeek (Vol 4, No 43): Tom Waits, Children's Books, The Booker, "Close the Libraries", Textbooks & Education + More

Interview with Tom Waits in the Observer:
"Music has generally involved a lot of awkward contraptions, a certain amount of heavy lifting," he says. "The idea that it will just be a sort of vapour that you listen to out of speakers the size of a dime alarms me. It's like injecting yourself. Or eating alone."

He is, he says, equally wary of the ease of search and shuffle. "They have removed the struggle to find anything. And therefore there is no genuine sense of discovery. Struggle is the first thing we know getting along the birth canal, out in the world. It's pretty basic. Book store owners and record store owners used to be oracles, in that way; you'd go in this dusty old place and they might point you toward something that would change your life. All that's gone."
Does he ever stray online?

"No," he says. "But then I'm one of those guys that is still a bit afraid of the telephone, its implications for conversation. I still wonder if the jukebox might be the death of live music."
In Observer, there is a section devoted to reading with kids and here an essay on asking why young adults are so interested in dystopian fiction (Observer):
A new wave of dystopian fiction at this particular time shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's the zeitgeist. Adults write books for teenagers. So anxious adults – worried about the planet, the degradation of civil society and the bitter inheritance we're leaving for the young – write dystopian books.

We create harsh, violent worlds. These are dark, sometimes bleak stories, but that doesn't mean they are hopeless. Those of us who write for young people are reluctant to leave our readers without hope. It wouldn't be right. We always leave a candle burning in the darkness.

And we write good stories. That's why teenagers read them.
Gaby Wood reflecting on the Booker prize (Telegraph):
But when our shortlist became the fastest-selling since records began, all hell broke loose. Clearly, our choices must be too “commercial” and not “literary” enough. Significantly, none of this discussion was a response to the actual books on the list.

Of the people who have scoffed, asked me if I’m embarrassed, or who pronounced the prize to be on its last legs, not a single one has read The Sisters Brothers or Half-Blood Blues or Pigeon English, all shortlisted and all quite sophisticated exercises in voice-throwing or genre-bending. There is something magnificent about this: that books which in another year would be classed as too odd or offbeat or even experimental have been derided as too commercial. Readers, we have slipped you some truly wonderful, surprising stuff in the inadvertent guise of the mass market.

Of course, The Sense of an Ending in any case makes these arguments instantly out of date, since its author is not a controversial or “unliterary” choice, and the book is a masterpiece by any measure. Most of the judges loved it as soon as we read it, all of us have read it several times, and no one doubts that it improves with every reading.
We should close the libraries says John McTernan who has an MA in librarianship and has 280 comments - so far. (Telegraph):
The final defence of the public library is that it is a place for the pupil who has nowhere else to study and revise. Once again, this is the 21st century. Virtually every kid has a desk at home – even if it often has a games console on it. And libraries at secondary schools are, in my experience, uniformly good and open places for young people.

Few institutions are timeless. Most reflect the period when they were created, and have to change as society changes if they are to survive. The crisis in our libraries is not because of the “cuts” – it’s because they are needed less.
And there are currently 280 comments including this one from "billfanshel"
"Google a subject and you can become ridiculously well-informed ridiculously quickly."
No, Google a subject and you can become ridiculously misinformed ridiculously quickly, with the result being an increasing susceptibility to demagoguery. A

major job of a librarian is to help patrons distinguish good information from bad. Having apparently been out of the profession for 17 years, the author has become out of touch with the modern library and the evolving role of librarians. That is, of course, assuming that he ever was in touch with those things.

As a librarian in the U.S., my philosophy regarding online resources is "supplement not supplant." In other words, the Internet should add to what is available in print and not replace it. It is sad to see that public officials in Britain are as ill-informed and anti-intellectual as those in the United States. However, based on this comment thread, it is encouraging to see that the British populace is as supportive of its public libraries as the U.S. populace and will fight attempts to eliminate them.

A few years ago, as part of austerity measures, the mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wanted to close down 11 of the city's 54 public library branches. The people balked at that prospect, and the library branches remain open. Do the same in Great Britain!
Is this war? In wake of Pearson's unveiling of a free LMS, Blackboard announces moves to promote sharing of open course content. (InsideHigherEd):
The company plans to unveil both of these moves at its corporate session here today. Ray Henderson, the president of Blackboard’s LMS product line and chief technology officer at the company, discussed them with Inside Higher Ed here at Educause on Tuesday.

“We look at the market and we see there’s a real curiosity in trying to extend the mission that the institutions have and who they serve,” Henderson said. “And there are a lot that take inspiration from, say, the MIT OpenCourseWare project, where they would really like to have their catalog of courses, and the course materials that they’re creating -- they’d like to contribute those more openly.”

Under the partnership with Creative Commons, Blackboard instructors will be invited to tag their course content with different licenses that indicate exactly how others can use it. Instructors will then have the option of sharing the course on Twitter or Facebook.

The company is also working to make the licensed course content more visible to public search engines, so that it can be discovered more easily by instructors searching the Web for free course content.
Under proposed legislation government grant money will be denied to developers of open access educational content (Inside HigherEd)
The move is a boon to publishers, who have feared that government support for the freely available, modifiable course materials, known as “open educational resources,” or OERs, would eat into their profits and give the free programs an unfair advantage. If effective programs are already for sale, they argue, the federal government shouldn’t spend extra money to reinvent the wheel.

Advocates for community colleges and online education argued that the provision, if enacted, would stifle innovation and restrict colleges to the publishers’ more expensive programs.

“We hear any concerns that the subcommittee might have about duplications of efforts and resources,” said James Hermes, director of government relations for the American Association of Community Colleges. “If there really is truly an alternative already in existence, you don’t want to duplicate that and create something from scratch that’s already there.”
From the twitter:
Philip Pullman: Using the internet is like looking at a landscape through a keyhole - Telegraph

Editing Wikipedia at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts:

An Indiana School System Goes Digital:

Cengage will partner with Moodlerooms:

Monday, October 17, 2011

MediaWeek (Vol 4, No 42): Frankfurt, CS Forester, Martin Amis + More

Exclaiming this is the time for start-ups the Frankfurt Book Fair concluded on Sunday with traffic slightly up and a continued expansion to more diverse attendees and exhibitors:
With many exhibitors and visitors, not only from the book industry, but also other related industries such as film, games, and information and communications technology, the Frankfurt Book Fair demonstrated that the sphere of interaction for members of the publishing industry has become significantly larger. Many new areas of specialisation – from digital publishing services and computer games production, to legal and financial consultants for crossmedial products – could be found at the Book Fair, spread between the different halls, professional areas and regional sections. In all, 7,384 exhibitors from 106 countries were present, and the more than 3,200 events attracted 280,194 visitors.

“This is now the time for start-ups, and the book industry is in a positive mood for renewal,” says Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Besides the electronic reading gadgets, visitors to the Book Fair witnessed a lively experimentation with new ideas, with new forms of storytelling and with multimedia formats. “An enormous diversity of ideas arises from the combination of enterprising spirit and technological opportunity. The international book and publishing industry has become a lot more multi-facetted.”

This year, the Frankfurt Book Fair also recorded a slight increase in the number of visitors, with about one per cent more people coming to Frankfurt in 2011 than in 2010. The interest in international training and networking events grew perceptibly, such as those offered in collaboration with the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers, under the umbrella of the new conference brand, the Frankfurt Academy. Here, the emphasis was on event-formats such as the all-media StoryDrive Conference and the Tools of Change Conference.

“The more globalised the books business becomes, the greater is everyone’s need to meet in person at least once a year – and that, of course, in Frankfurt. Conversations about people and books are indispensable,” says Professor Gottfried Honnefelder, President of the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers, and he adds: “Those involved in the market are optimistic. We’re not only talking about the e-book business, we’re already taking action. The face of the Frankfurt Book Fair is one of self-assurance. The framework exists; now each publisher and each bookseller needs to find the right path for itself.”

CS Forester has a new novel coming out (Observer):
The novel, which is complete and polished from start to finish, was accepted for publication in 1935 by his publisher, Michael Joseph, now part of Penguin. However, Forester and his publisher delayed its release, deciding that it would not be sensible to publish it between two Hornblower books. Forester then moved house and when his publisher was sold, The Pursued somehow disappeared.

Forester clearly felt its loss. Decades later in his autobiography he wrote: "The lost novel was really lost. It is just possible that a typescript still exists, forgotten and gathering dust in a rarely used storeroom in Boston or Bloomsbury."

He was right. It surfaced at Christie's in 2002, when Lawrence Brewer, a lifelong Forester aficionado, was astonished to find that the auctioneer was selling it as a "job lot" of 11 Forester-related items. "It was a pathetic little auction," said Brewer. "There was no … great publicity. Something should have been made of it."

Excited by the chance to own words by Forester that no one had read, Brewer bought the typescript with Colin Blogg, a fellow founder-member of the CS Forester Society, for just £1,500. "Goodness me!" Brewer exclaimed in pure Foresterese. "I found it. I was sky-high."
Martin Amis was interviewed at the Hay Festival in Mexico and didn't hold back on a variety of subjects. Here beginning is comments on empire's decline (Telegraph):
MA Yes, it’s satirical, but it is about what happens to countries when they’re in decline. We’re now seeing America beginning to cope with decline, and I don’t think they’re going to be anything like as reasonable about that decline as England was.

England went from being ruler of a quarter of the globe to a second-rate country in the course of the Second World War. They talk about the Second World War. They say “the big three”: Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill. Churchill wasn’t one of the big three. Stalin and Roosevelt could hardly bring themselves to stop giggling when Churchill said, “I think we should do this”, because we’d ceased to matter by then.

And somehow we got through it.

JG Ballard, the writer who was interned in China by the Japanese, returned to England at the age of 12, 13, and he said it looked as though England had lost the war. It was blackouts, rationing, everything sordid and dirty and depressed, and what we were doing was coping with this tremendous demotion from being a great power to being a minor power.

But we somehow got through, and I think we were very greatly helped by the ideology known as political correctness, relativism, levelism, because that was fiercely anti-imperialist. So as we were coping with decline – and it takes decades to do it – we had the ideology that was telling us that empires are s---, you don’t want an empire, you should be ashamed for having had one.
In the NY Times a review of some of the past movie adaptations of LeCarre's novels (NYTimes):
In retrospect it seems miraculous that the movies did so well by Mr. le Carré on that first go. The next couple of attempts, Sidney Lumet’s 1966 “Deadly Affair” (based on the novel “Call for the Dead”) and Frank R. Pierson’s “Looking Glass War” (1969), were largely bungled operations, though “Deadly Affair” benefits from the casting of James Mason as a version of Mr. le Carré’s most famous character, the mild-mannered and deceptively wily spymaster George Smiley. After “The Looking Glass War,” an adaptation roughly as successful as the invasion of the Bay of Pigs, Mr. le Carré withdrew from the field for better than a decade. He knew when it was time to come in from the cold.

What the failed adaptations of his books had made clear was that even in his relatively straightforward early novels his narrative techniques were a little too tricky for the movies to handle. Mr. le Carré is maybe the most eccentric constructor of fiction in English literature since Joseph Conrad. His stories are full of digressions and long flashbacks; he circles around his plots for the longest time, as if he were doing reconnaissance on them before deciding to go in for the kill. And the verbal textures of the books can be challenging too, because his spies tend to speak in their own special jargon, which seems like normal speech, but isn’t quite. It’s like one of those maddeningly elusive regional English dialects: you need to get the hang of it, and it always takes longer than you would have thought possible.
Stieg Larsson books are being adapted for the comics (Telegraph):
In a statement ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, the publisher behind Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman said its Vertigo imprint would work with Larsson's estate and Hedlund Literary Agency to adapt the books.
"Each book by Larsson will be presented in two graphic novel volumes that will be available in both print and digital formats," it said, starting withThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in 2012.

DC Entertainment co-publisher Dan DiDio said "the intricate characters and stories Larsson created in the Millennium Trilogy are a perfect match for the graphic novel format."
The diaries of a Holocaust survivor generated some interest this week and will be published in 2012 (Observer):
The story is one of many recorded in a concentration camp diary that was sold to publishers around the world at the Frankfurt book fair. The private journals of Helga Weiss are to be published in the UK for the first time next year by Viking Press, while foreign rights have been snapped up by publishing houses across the world.
Weiss, an artist in her early 80s who lives in Prague and is also known by her married name of Weissova-Hoskova, mentioned her journal during occasional public appearances, but until now public interest in her written story has always been overshadowed by her success as a postwar painter. The British publisher Venetia Butterfield heard of the diary's existence last summer when Weiss visited London for a concert at the Wigmore Hall commemorating fellow inmates at the Terezín camp in former Czechoslovakia. 
"I heard about the event and called someone in north London who knew Helga. They told me she was just about to get on a plane back to Prague, but that she was coming round for a coffee first," said Butterfield. "I raced up to see her and we talked for no more than 10 or 15 minutes. She is an amazing woman with a great, feisty attitude."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Frankfurt Mondrian

Sun rises on Deutsche Mark city
Another weekly image from my archive. Click on it to make it larger.

Less of an archive photo since I took this from my hotel bedroom this morning.  Still, quite pretty.

In addition to the images I've posted on Flickr and those I've periodically posted on PND, I have now produced a Big Blurb Book: From the Archive 1960 -1980 of some of the images I really thought were special.

I now have an iPad version of this book for sale ($4.99) on the Blurb site which you can find here: STORE

I have to say, even on the iPad the book looks pretty good.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Frankfurt Book Fair Round Up Day Two.

Author Roger Rapoport writing for the McClatchy-Tribune News Service takes us on a best picks tour of the fair (Link)
Two years ago my pick for the most overlooked title at Frankfurt was "Nobody Owns the Moon," a Viking/Penguin Australia picture book by Tohby Riddle. This year I have a new nominee, a title that should be required reading in every school in the land. Can we have a round of applause for Larry Gerber's "CITED! Identifying Credible Information" (Rosen Publishing Group)? This brief title makes it clear that "much of the information on the Internet is someone's opinion" that can't be tested or proved. It shows young people how to do accurate and trustworthy research and avoid being suckered by "phony facts." Parents, go get this book for your kids.
And bizzarely:
Certainly one the most ambitious travel guides of the year is "The Holocaust Sites of Europe: An Historical Guide" by Martin Winstone (I.B. Taurus/Palgrave Macmillan). Even if you have no plans to visit any of these destinations, this is a superb armchair travel book for students of the Third Reich. An exhaustive look at the Holocaust camp by camp, this work documents little-known Nazi killing groups like Maly Trostenets in Belarus. At this former Karl Marx Collective, Hitler's troops executed at least 200,000 prisoners.
Euronews Video:  Pressing issues at the Frankfurt Book Fair (YouTube)

Deutsche Welle reminds us how the Frankfurt Book fair evolved (DW)
Frankfurt's fair is the largest in the world, but it also looks back on a proud tradition: Manuscripts have been traded at fairs in Frankfurt since the late Middle Ages. After Johannes Gutenberg invented the letterpress in the neighboring town of Mainz in the 15th century, he came to Frankfurt to sell his products. Even then, printers and book traders made their way from across Europe to Frankfurt, and a special "Book Barge" from Cologne helped ferry visitors from Flanders to the event.

This pan-European book trade, the center of which was Frankfurt, was possible due to Latin's role as the lingua franca of the time. But the Reformation changed that, heralding a new era of book publishing in national languages. The Reformation also brought the Kaiser as an advocate of Catholic interests into play, and as a free imperial city, Frankfurt quickly became a focal point of attention. Whoever wanted to trade in books was forced to comply with draconian censorship regulations. This pushed Frankfurt aside, making way for a new center of European book trading to flourish in Protestant Leipzig. Frankfurt's book fairs closed in the 18th century.
Rachel Deahl in PW looks at the deal action (PW):
Amid a frenzied round of deal-making before the fair, Leyla Belle Drake, at Salomonsson, is selling a debut trilogy by Alexander Soderberg called The Andalucian Friend. The agency was going to hold off on selling the series until London, but, after the scouts picked up on it, rushed a translation—in a week they got the first 100 pages of the book translated into English to have at Frankfurt. The trilogy was pre-empted in Sweden in what Drake called a “huge” deal, and a significant auction has also closed in Italy and Germany. A number of offers are in from other countries, but the agency is planning to hold off on a U.S. sale at the fair and, instead, to shop the rights in the States in November. A U.K. auction, the agency said, may or may not close in Germany. The trilogy is set in Sweden and the author used to be a screenwriter. The central character in the trilogy is a female nurse and Drake said the first book, which is written, is “very cinematic”and features “explosive action.”Book one in the trilogy will be published in Sweden in May.
Sound familiar?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

MediaWeek (V4, No41): Frankfurt 2011, Indian Authors, Digital Rights,

Frankfurt has always been my favorite of the trade shows I've visited.  There's such a variety of people, customers and potential business partners that its unlike any other book show.

It is a gloomy day today and rain is forecast for tomorrow but the threat of industrial action may be less imminent since the government has become directly involved in getting the parties to negotiate. 

A delegation from India is presenting a collection of indigenous Indian works for translation as reported by India's Daily News and Analysis:
In a first showcase of Indian indigenous writing, a literary panorama featuring works by over 30 language writers will be on display at the Frankfurt Book Fair in a pilot exhibition for readers and publishers from Europe, the US and other countries.

The literary panorama, initiated by the union culture ministry under the 'ILA: Indian Literature Abroad' project, will be held Oct 12-16.

The project aims to carry the diversity of contemporary regional Indian literature from the grassroots to the world through source translation, which involves creation of original work directly to foreign languages in an attempt to remove dependence on English translation, a top ILA official said.

Initially, the focus of translation is on six UNESCO languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

“The project requires patience and nurturing. It is (in the) long term. We want to understand the kind of Indian language books the international market likes and the market dynamics. We are looking at source language translations - like from Tamil to French," writer Namita Gokhale, the member secretary of Indian Literature Abroad project, told IANS.

"Translating a regional literary work first into English and then into a foreign language results in loss of textual matter,” she said.

“Different cultures appreciate different kind of literature,” she added.

Gokhale heads the delegation carrying the Indian literary showcase to Frankfurt Tuesday.
A discussion, 'Romancing the Languages: Indian Literature's Journeys' will debate on the future of Indian regional language writing and its global positioning Oct 13.
The Bookseller doesn't expect the slow global economy to impact the US business at Frankfurt (Bookseller):
Meanwhile, organisers are expecting 7,500 exhibitors at the fair, as the halls reach capacity. FBF spokesperson Katja Boehne said there will be 761 exhibitors from the UK and 604 from the US, with between 280,000 to 290,000 visitors set to come through the doors—of which around 150,000 will be trade visitors. She said: "We will see at this book fair what publishers have made of the digital options. There will be lots of enhanced e-books and multimedia projects, some of which we don't have a name for. There will be a large dollop of creativity and new ideas."
Boehne added that the numbers of exhibitors and visitors was "more or less" the same as last year, as the fair has "come to the end of capacity; there is no space left for extra exhibitors".
In Publishers' Weekly Rachel Deahl suggests this years Frankfurt will be about digital rights just like last year and the year before and she concludes, (PW):
And then there’s the growing concern and confusion over e-books and the open market. Under the reigning territorial model, the open market right allows publishers to sell English-language books in European countries outside the U.K. Whether the open market can, or should, be preserved in the digital world is a recurring question. A recent court ruling, outside the book world, may also be a topic of conversation in Frankfurt. In Football Association Premier League Ltd. et al. v. QC Leisure et al., an E.U. court just ruled that a British pub owner was not legally allowed to use a decoder to air Greek soccer games in her bar; without the decoder she would have had to pay a licensing fee to Sky Sport. The ruling had to do with the fact that Sky Sport had negotiated an exclusive licensing fee with the Premier League to air its games in the U.K., and, although the decoders are legal, they cannot be used to show the games to a group. Attorney C.E. Petit, who blogs about publishing and the law at Scrivener’s Error, picked up on the case and noted that the judgment might have implications in the book world. Since Europe is now under a more unified copyright law, with the establishment of the E.U., there could be a case about multiple English-language editions being sold in Europe. In other words, there could now be legal ground for stamping out the open market in publishing.
A not well known Irish author Flann O'Brien gets and appreciation from More Intelligent Life:
Despite the pseudonym, everyone in Dublin’s incestuous literary circles knew him. When he started openly mocking the civil service and expressing political opinions—a serious transgression for an employee of the state—he was invited to retire at age 42, in 1953. His pension, together with the slender income from his writing, might have let him succeed as a novelist. But O’Nolan was better at self-sabotage than self-promotion, and he died at 54 of cancer and alcoholism. He still left behind five novels, three of uneven quality and two, “At Swim-Two-Birds” and “The Third Policeman”, that are among the greatest accomplishments in English-language fiction.

He finished “At Swim-Two-Birds” when he was 28 and sent it off to Longmans, a London publisher, where by a rare stroke of good luck Graham Greene was reader. “I read it with continual excitement, amusement and the kind of glee one experiences when people smash china on the stage,” recalled Greene, who urged publication. From Paris, James Joyce, in a blurb written to help promote the book, pronounced its author “a real writer, with the true comic spirit.” O’Nolan was cautiously optimistic. But the cosmic balance was soon restored. War broke out and in 1940 the Luftwaffe destroyed the London warehouse in which the entire print run of the novel was stored; fewer than 250 had been sold. Then in 1941 Joyce, who had promised to help with publicity, suddenly died, along with O’Nolan’s hopes for the book. “[I]t must be a flop,” he wrote, wallowing in gloom. “I guess it is a bum book anyhow.”
From the twitter this week:

The adventures of Tintin – and CGI

Armour to stand down as Reed finance chief - - Media

Stars Will Read Amazon Unit's New Audio Book Series:

Friday, October 07, 2011

Pam Am Real and Imagined

Out the window of a 707
Pam Am the TV show may fail just like the airline but for nostalgia fiends the show has been widely anticipated and, in the first viewing it didn't disappoint for anyone who flew with Pan Am in the 1960s.  Which of course is the point: To capture the spirit and glamour of the Mad Men phenomenon when flying really was glamorous.  The dress code for example was decidedly business suits and ties and smart clothes for the kids just as the TV passengers dressed.

Whether the writers of Pan Am have pulled it off as well as Mad Men is debatable but, at least from my memory, they did get a lot of the ambiance right.  My first flight would have been on one of the 707s that this first batch of TV passengers flew on.  London to Beirut in August 1968.  My father was about to take up his first position with Intercontinental Hotels which, at the time, was a subsidiary of Pan Am.  From this point on we flew Pan Am almost exclusively until the early 1990s and, while we didn't fly first class on that first flight, we were lucky enough as 'employees' to get upgraded almost always thereafter.

PAA first class grapes.
One thing I remember of the first class cabin on the 707s was the little seating area where you (not the kids) could sit casually with other passengers and have a cocktail.  Later, on the 747, Pan Am tried to create a dinning room in the air in the upstairs cabin.  I am fairly certain this failed since I always remember the upstairs being completely empty.

Of course this being TV, the writers had to add the requisite sex and intrigue story lines.  One of the characters - a stewardess - is recruited as a pseudo-spy for what we expect will be future adventures. As ridiculous as this story line seems, it was widely assumed in the 1960-70s that American multinational companies had CIA or intelligence officers on their pay rolls.  Whether they were hired at the direction of the intelligence services or subsequently recruited isn't clear to me although a combination may be likely.  The improbable story line in Pan Am reminded me of a story my father had told a few times about a colleague at Intercontinental (IHC).

On board with Ms. PanAm Sydney
This fellow was a VP of Business Development at IHC and thus traveled all over the world looking for hotel sites.  He happened to be in Melbourne where we were living at the time and received a phone call from someone asking that he go over to the Hilton hotel and spend some time eating in their coffee shop.  Apparently the coffee shop was frequented by staff from the Russian embassy.  As a fluent Russian speaker, our hero sat in the booth next to some Russians and spent afternoons listening in to their conversations.  Who knows whether he reported back any more than news one guy had a pastrami and the other a hot dog but my father was convinced our hero was a spy.

The first Pan Am episode reminded me of this very tenuous evidence of collaboration between the intelligence community and big business, and I looked up our hero. (He has a distinctive name which I remembered after all these years).  Sure enough, he has contributed to an oral history of the intelligence services and he served in military intelligence in the 1950s and his service record was the CIA.  There was no mention of IHC.  So perhaps truth is stranger than fiction.

PND on the tarmac in Tehran
In our family the Pan Am years were glamorous and exciting for all kinds of reasons.  Not least because Pan Am carried us around the world from one adventure to another as the photos from the archive prove.  I'm also hoping that Pan Am the TV show becomes popular since we have a fair amount of Pan Am branded items in the attic that we could sell on EBAY and after all these years it's about time we got rid of them.

In addition to the images I've posted on Flickr and those I've periodically posted on PND, I have now produced a Big Blurb Book: From the Archive 1960 -1980 of some of the images I really thought were special.

I now have an iPad version of this book for sale ($4.99) on the Blurb site which you can find here: STORE

I have to say, even on the iPad the book looks pretty good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Judge Dismisses UCLA Copyright Case: Could Impact Authors Guild/HathiTrust Case

The Chronicle reports on a case brought against UCLA for breaching copyright in using streaming video.  James Grimmelmann, an NY Law School professor believes the dismissal of the case could have repercussions for the recently filed Authors Guild/HathiTrust case.  Gimmelman is quoted as saying "If the HathiTrust suit were to be decided tomorrow by the same court, it would be dismissed.”  (Grimmelmann has been a close follower of the Google books digitization program from it's inception on his blog).

From the article: 
But U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall found multiple problems with their arguments. Among the most important: He didn’t buy the plaintiffs’ claim that UCLA had waived its constitutional “sovereign immunity,” a principle that shields states—and state universities—from being sued without their consent in federal court. The judge also held that the association, which doesn’t own the copyrights at issue in the dispute, failed to establish its standing to bring the case.
The decision means “universities will have a little more breathing room for using media,” says James Grimmelmann, an associate professor at New York Law School.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

MediaWeek (V4, N40): Scholarly Models, Literary Translations, Library usage Data, Fading Creative Class +More.

Inside Higher Ed interviews author Kathleen Fitzpatrick about her views on scholarly publishing (IHEd):
Although peer review is often portrayed as an institution that arose with the scientific method, Fitzpatrick suggests the roots of peer review were “more related to censorship than to quality control,” serving mainly to concentrate academic authority in the hands of journal editors and, later, their expert reviewers.

While this system created an effective supply-side filter, it was also susceptible to bias, as Douglas Peters and Stephen Ceci demonstrated in a 1982 experiment. Peters, of the University of North Dakota, and Ceci, of Cornell University, took already-published articles in 12 esteemed psychology journals and resubmitted them, changing only the authors’ names and affiliations and the phrasing of the opening paragraphs. Three of the 12 articles were caught by journal editors as duplicates. Of the nine that were not, one was published. The other eight were rejected, most on methodological grounds.

In the days when ink was permanent, printing was expensive, and redressing the flaws of a shoddy published article was tedious, prepublication vetting by a cloister of gatekeepers made more sense, Fitzpatrick argues. These days, technology makes it possible to tap a larger crowd of academics to assess the merits of individual articles. Instead of assigning a few cops to guard the door, Fitzpatrick argues that journals should throw the door open to all comers, then deputize their readers to usher sound articles to a pedestal and banish bad ones to the margins. Scholarly journals would serve their constituencies better “by allowing everything through the gate, and by designing a post-publication peer review process that focuses on how a scholarly text should be received,” she writes, “rather than whether it should be out there in the first place.”
For those interested in literary translations, The Spectator reviews a new book on the world of intepreting and translating (Spectator):
This book fulfils a real need; there is nothing quite like it. Why Translation Matters, by Edith Grossman, is equally well written, but it is limited to the field of literary translation. Steven Pinker’s books about language have been highly praised, but they leave me wondering how closely the author has ever wrestled with any language other than English. And ‘Translation Studies’ as taught in universities is a highly theoretical discipline that is beyond the understanding of most practising translators — let alone of the general public.

Bellos spends a lot of time demolishing misconceptions. Speakers of English tend to think that being monolingual is the norm, and that being bi- or tri-lingual is something rather remarkable. In reality, there are vast areas of the world, e.g. most of India, where it is normal to speak several languages. There has always been surprisingly little translation between the country’s many languages; most people simply learned the languages spoken by their neighbours.
OCLC and OhioLink are doing some interesting things with usage data and also letting interested parties get their gear-head out by playing with the data (PR):
The data used in the report was from a collaborative OCLC-OhioLINK Collection and Circulation Analysis project that joined OhioLINK circulation data with WorldCat bibliographic records to produce a base file of circulation records for nearly 30 million different books. Ninety institutions participated in the study, including 16 universities, 23 community/technical colleges, 50 private colleges and the State Library of Ohio. The size of the combined collection and the number and diversity of participating institutions make this by far the largest and most comprehensive study of academic library circulation ever undertaken.

Perhaps the most fascinating result of the study was a test of the “80/20” rule. Librarians have long espoused the belief that 80 percent of a library’s circulation is driven by approximately 20 percent of the collection. The analysis of a year’s circulation statistics from this study indicates that 80 percent of the circulation is driven by just 6 percent of the collection.

The dataset generated by the project has also been made publicly available under the Open Data Commons Attribution license (an open license) to download for study and research. It is the largest and most diverse set of academic usage data for books ever collected. Because the data analysis described in the report represents only a fraction of what might be done with the data, OhioLINK and OCLC Research made the data publicly available so it could be studied to its full potential and other libraries could correlate it against their own data to determine how it compares with their individual use patterns.
Are we living a fading of the creative class?  Or is this a catalog of woes?  Scott Timberg in Salon takes a look:
A fading creative class — experiencing real pain but less likely to end up in homeless shelters, at least so far, than the very poor — may not offer sufficient drama for novelists, songwriters or photographers.

But journalists themselves have also ignored the human story all around them. In fact, the media — businesses that have been decimated by the Internet and corporate consolidation — have been reticent at telling the tale of this erosion. Good newspapers offer responsible coverage of the mortgage meltdown and the political wars over taxes and the deficit. But it’s easier to find a story about a plucky worker who’s risen from layoff to an inspiring Plan B than it is the more typical stories: People who lose their livelihood, their homes, their marriages, their children’s schooling because of the hollowing-out of the creative class and the shredded social safety net. Meanwhile, luxury coverage of homes, fashions, watches and wine continue to be a big part of magazines and newspapers.

MoneyBall is getting some good press and the people at Slate dig up some of Michael Lewis' articles for the magazine. (Slate)

From the twitter:

Our Ebook Future: The Digital Shift:  PW interviews Random House, Harpercollins and Melville House (PW)

How the Kindle Moved From BlackBerry to iPad: NYT

And in Sport, Lancashire County Cricket club win their first league trophy in 77 years.  Note the one with the big smile holding the cup.  (MEN)  Nice one!