The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: the President’s books, Amazon drones, ‘My Mistake,’ Jonathan Franzen

BookBitsAuthor and humorist Don Marquis once said that “Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.”

Most poets can relate to this. Unfortunately, so can a lot of authors during times when everyone is writing books, uploading them to Kindle and creating so many new titles out there almost everyone is lost in the deluge.

Destiny can, of course, be kind.Christopher Paolini  (“The Inheritance Cycle”) self-published his first book “Eragon” and sold it out of the trunk of his car until a widely known author saw it, got behind it, and suddenly a bestseller was born. Maybe Oprah hears about a book and another bestseller is born. Or, perhaps the President of the United States buys your book (Item 1) and everyone else decides they better buy a copy, too.

Figuratively speaking, most authors are out there waiting tables, hoping to be discovered. But, the writing doesn’t stop: not if one is committed or, perhaps, a little bit crazy.

Here are a few links for the first week of December:

  1. News: Obama buys spy novel, sports and kids’ books on shopping trip, by Kathleen Hennessey – “President Obama stocked up on more than 20 books Saturday in a rare stop at a local bookstore, part of an effort to support small businesses. The president’s visit the day after Black Friday to Politics & Prose, a Washington landmark, was timed to Small Business Saturday, but will likely pique more interest for sparking a regular political ritual — picking apart the President’s book choices.”  The Los Angeles Times
  2. PrimeAirNews: Amazon Unveils Flying Delivery Drones on ’60 Minutes’ – “Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is known for making big bets in the world of innovation, and on Sunday night on 60 Minutes he revealed what might be one of his biggest: product delivery by flying robot drones. The service is called Amazon Prime Air and it’s slated for rollout sometime in 2015, depending on FAA approval.”  Mashable
  3. mymistakeReview: “My Mistake,” by Daniel Menaker, reviewed by Edward Morris – “How’s this for an opener? ‘My godfather investigated my father for the FBI and had a scar on the palm of his left hand from a machine-gun bullet shot by Baby Face Nelson. My uncle had ‘Frederick Engels’ for first and middle names. My father went to Mexico and spied on Trotsky for the Communist Party of the United States.’…Not easy to pigeonhole, this is an amalgam of autobiography and cultural history at its best.”  Book Page
  4. Commentary: Could Digital College Textbooks Become Free in the USA? by Dennis Abrams – “U.S. Senate bill proposes to expand the availability free digital textbooks. Is it the future or merely a populist gesture that undermines education publishing?”  Publishing Perspectives
  5. ladieshomejournalContest: Ladies’ Home Journal 2013 Personal Essay Contest – No entry fee; prize, $3,000 and possible publication; Deadline, December 6, 2013; essays up to 2,000 words on the theme “the Best Decision I Ever Made.”
  6. News: 62% of Young Adults in the UK Prefer Print to eBooks: Voxburner – “The majority (62 percent) of 16-to-24 year-olds in the UK prefer print books to eBooks, according to a new report from Voxburner.”  GalleyCat
  7. Feature: Literary self-loathing: How Jonathan Franzen, Elizabeth Gilbert and more keep it at bay, by Michele Filgate – “Self-loathing is in the writer’s blood. When you’re an artist of any kind, there’s no certainty that what you’re working on won’t be a complete failure. But when writers reach a certain level of fame, when they make Oprah’s Book Club or the cover of Time magazine, surely they don’t struggle with the same massive insecurities we lesser known writers face?”  Salon
  8. BK01AFTERMATHReview: “The Aftermath,” by Rhidian Brook, reviewed by Erika Dreifus – “Today, it’s hard to know how many readers will recall what happened after Germany’s defeat, when the victors divvied up its territory into occupation zones. ‘The Aftermath’ opens in September 1946, three years after the Anglo-American air raids code-named “Operation Gomorrah” — ‘the Hiroshima of Germany’ — set the city of Hamburg afire, killed more than 40,000 inhabitants and displaced 1 million others. A year after the war’s end, Hamburg’s populace remains hungry and homeless, orphaned children forage for food, and an especially cold winter is about to begin.”  The Denver Post
  9. Viewpoint: Indies First Makes ‘Fantastic’ Debut – “Initially proposed by author Sherman Alexie only three months ago, Indies First–which featured authors working in their favorite bookstores this past Saturday, an idea embraced by the American Booksellers Association, indies and authors across the country–was a wild success, judging from what we saw, from reports by booksellers and participating authors and from the many comments and photos on the Indies First Facebook page.”  ShelfAwareness
  10. catchingfireNews: Catching Fire’ Red-Hot On Social Media – “Thanks to the warm critical reception and box-office domination of the film adaptation of Catching Fire, released November 22 and starring Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth, the second book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy was the most-talked-about book  ShelfAwarenes
  11. News: Thomas Lands the Marsh, by J. Kingston Pierce – “Craig Sisterson, author of the Down Under blog Crime Watch, has announced that Paul Thomas’ Death on Demand (Hachette NZ) is the winner of New Zealand’s 2013 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. That 2012 work is the fourth installment in Thomas’ series about unorthodox Maori police detective Tito Ihaka, and the first new entry to appear in a decade and a half.”  The Rap Sheet

“Book Bits” is compiled by Malcolm R. Campbell, author of “Emily’s Stories” and “The Betrayed”


14-year-old Emily talks to spirits, finds ghosts, meets up with grizzly bears, and is more curious than a cat in this three-story set.


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