The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: John Green, Elizabeth Kelly, Sci-Fi can be beautiful, Gatsby’s Daisy, Melanie Thorne



In the 1960s, it was a badge of honor, almost, to proclaim that nobody over thirty could be trusted and that the “establishment” had not only failed the country, it was most likely corrupt as well. Today, we’re seeing a similar nasty focus on the supposed pond-scum of old-line publishing. Today’s badge of honor comes from proudly proclaiming that one can write a book, put it on Amazon, and suddenly have literature.

During the flower children generation, most people over thirty weren’t corrupt or greedy or unfeeling, so they simply waited for the younger generation to grow up and figure out they didn’t know everything. Perhaps those who say that editors, book designers, cover artists, book store owners and agents don’t add value to an author’s work will learn one day that most people who upload manuscripts straight to Amazon aren’t making a lot of money, and that publishing professionals do actually know what they’re talking about when they help an author perfect and sell his/her work.

To this end, John Green, winner of the ABA’s Indie Champion Award, said in his acceptance speech, “We must strike down the insidious lie that a book is the creation of an individual soul laboring in isolation. We must strike it down because it threatens the overall quality and breadth of American literature.” You can read more about that he said in We Built This Together.

  1. News: Online demand boosts market for rarest books, expert says, by Nigel Stephenson – “Prices of the rarest books are rising as the Internet drives the trade off dusty shelves and into the digital age, a leading expert said this weekend. Matthew Haley, head of the books, manuscripts and photographs department at auction house Bonhams in London, said the rise of online catalogues and aggregators of booksellers’ stock meant more collectors were aware when a rare find came on the market.” Reuters
  2. News: I’ll drink to that: Baileys announced as new sponsor of (formerly Orange) Women’s Prize for Fiction, by Nick Clark – “The winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction next year will be able to raise a glass of cream liqueur in celebration after Baileys stepped in to sponsor the award.” The Independent
  3. lastsummerReview: “The Last Summer of the Camperdowns,” by Elizabeth Kelly – “A 13-year-old girl finds that keeping secrets can have mortal consequences in this scarifying follow-up to ‘Apologize! Apologize!’ (2009)…More fine work from a writer with a rare gift for blending wit and rue.” Kirkus Reviews
  4. Feature: Inside the Wonderfully Weird Ways of the Book Industry at BEA 2013, by Jen Doll – “One of the book industry’s big annual events is happening now [when this article was posted]. That’s BEA, or Book Expo America, which brings together a range of book industry folks — from publishers to book bloggers to authors, librarians, bookstore employees, and others — to talk about, admire, and promote their beloved products for several days at the Javits Center in New York City. ” Atlantic Wire
  5. News: Amazon is ‘destroyer of bookshops’, says French culture minister, by Henry Samuel – ““Today, everyone has had enough of Amazon which, through dumping practices, smashes prices to penetrate markets only to then raise prices again once they are in a situation of quasi-monopoly,” said Aurélie Filippetti, the culture minister. ” The Telegraph
  6. melancholyLists: 30 of the Most Beautiful Sci-Fi Book Covers Ever Made, by Emily Temple – “Science fiction cover art has a bad reputation. Not without reason: much of it is pulpy, overly brash, or just plain scary — it’s kind of the name of the game. Yet there are also plenty of science fiction novels and collections that buck the trend and manage to be not only palatable to those that (for instance) love the insides but hate that naked green woman on the cover, but downright gorgeous.” FlavorwireFeature:
  7. The Problem With The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan, by Katie Baker – “Is there any female character in American literature more coquettish and coveted than Daisy Fay Buchanan? She’s the most desirable debutante, the ever-evading maid. She’s warm, feverish, thrilling, intoxicating—a siren, an enchantress, a blossoming flower. She’s Galahad’s chalice; she’s Guinevere and the Grail. ” Women in the World
  8. mickeyReview: “Mickey and Willie: Mantle and Mays, the Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age,” by Allen Barra, reviewed by Kevin Duchsere – “Allen Barra’s engaging biography tracks the parallel careers of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.” The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
  9. Commentary: Amazon hasn’t killed us yet! by Laura Miller “After years of bad news and dire predictions, traditional publishers and booksellers sound surprisingly cheerful.” Salon
  10. News: BEA 2013: Kobo’s Bullish Report, by Calvin Reid – “E-book retailer Kobo reports impressive growth for Writing Life, its nine-month-old self-publishing platform, as well as surprisingly robust sales of the Kobo Aura HD, its newly released dedicated e-reader.” Publishers Weekly
  11. thorneInterview: Melanie Thorne (“Hand Me Down”), with Brad Listi – According to the Associate Press, “Melanie Thorne’s debut novel is raw with emotion as she describes Liz’s often futile efforts to protect her sister and herself from the predator their mother has invited into their lives.”  “Monologue topics: cynicism, Ancient Greece, guerilla theater, graffiti art, public sex.” Other People
  12. Essay: E-books Still Lack a Category Defining Storytelling Experience, by Kathleen Sweeney – “Ebook growth has not plateaued, as previously inferred from sales data in the US and UK, but is expanding, provided you include self-published authors in your official data. Ebook sales have hit the one billion mark and an entire category of self-published authors have been redefining e-entrepreneurialism, with how-to webinars, webchats, tools and industry meetups — a butterfly effect of the emerging publishing eco-systems.”  Publishing Perspectives
  13. Feature: Notifications, by Seth Fried – If you’re a writer on Facebook, or even if you’re not, everything in this article will look familiar. Just change the names to those you know. New Yorker
  14. GlacierParkLodgeReview: ‘Glacier Park Lodge: Celebrating 100 Years,’ by Christine Barnes, reviewed by Malolm R. Campbell – “Christine Barnes has captured the spirit of the historic hotel with an accurate overview of “Big Tree Lodge” accompanied by an extravagant collection of archival and color photographs.”  Malcolm’s Round Table
  15. News: Penguin and Random House Merger to Complete in July, by Michael Kozlowski – “Penguin and Random House have cleared the last hurdle with their proposed merger; China gave the final blessing today. These two companies will officially join forces in July and will account for 1/4 of all books to be published globally.” Good E Reader
  16. News: Black characters put parents off books, new Children’s Laureate says, by Victoria Ward – Malorie Blackman, “the 51-year-old author of the Noughts & Crosses teenage book series, vowed to use her two-year tenure to ‘bang the drum’ for diversity, saying it was vital for young people to learn about different cultures. “ The Telegraph

“Book Bits” is compiled several times a week by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of the contemporary fantasy novels “The Seeker,” “Sarabande,” and “The Sun Singer.”

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