In an editorial supporting the Canadian government's decision this week permitting Amazon to build a warehouse in the country (Shelf Awareness, April 13, 2010), the Globe & Mail observed that there "is little that is culturally distinctive about a warehouse; consequently, James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, was right to permit Amazon.ca, an American-owned online bookseller, to establish a distribution centre in Canada.
"The bookstores that contribute most to Canadian literary culture are those that bear the marks of the sensibility of the proprietor in the selection of books on the shelves, and in face-to-face events such as book launches and authors' readings. In contrast, the strength of a large online bookseller such as Amazon is the ability to distribute as many titles as possible; in other words, to be non-selective."
But the CBC reported that Tory McNally of McNally Robinson Booksellers had expressed suspicion about the agreement through which Amazon "will invest more than $20 million, including $1.5 million for cultural events and awards and to promote Canadian-written books abroad."
"I wonder what that actually means in practice," she said. "I could say that all of the money I put into our personal website is doing the exact same thing because people in Sri Lanka can also buy books from us--but is that helping the Canadian cultural community?"
Obituary note: Nina Bourne, who worked as a publishing executive for Simon & Schuster and for Knopf, died last Friday. She was 93. The New York Times praised Bourne's talent for crafting "unfussy advertisements, peppered with understated but punchy copy, [which] helped propel Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Kay Thompson’s Eloise books and Robert Caro’s Robert Moses biography The Power Broker to the top of the bestseller lists."
"She was the genius of book-publishing ads and acknowledged as such," said editor Robert Gottlieb, a longtime colleague and friend. "She was also a great publisher who read manuscripts, made editorial notes and devoted all her energy to telling the world how much we loved the book."
KALW News interviewed Beau Beausoleil, owner of the Great Overland Book Company, San Francisco, Calif., about his efforts to help Baghdad's book community through the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition, "a growing group of local writers, artists, poets, and printers, who create awareness about the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street through print." Three years ago, the legendary street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls experienced massive damage and loss of life as a result of a car bomb.
The Book Nook, Wilton Manors, Fla., celebrates its grand opening this Friday. South Florida Gay News reported that owner Alan Fisher's inspiration for the bookshop came while he was working at Gay Mart: "Shoppers frequently asked me, 'Where is the local bookstore?' It was hard to tell them there was nothing local, and independently owned, where they could both learn information about the community and pick up a national best seller."
U.K. online retailer the Book Depository has launched an e-book store with "more than 340,000 e-books available for download," the Bookseller.com reported.
Tor/Forge's blog showcased the Sacred Rock of Tor, which was used during the late 1980s to help reboot the publisher's single computer, an IBM PC AT with an amber monitor: "Towards the end of its life... it could only be rebooted by smartly hitting its CPU on the side with a particular rock. Several people shared the computer and each person had his or her own style of rock banging, and over time, the side of the CPU gradually bowed in due to repeated impacts. Claire Eddy still has the rock, kept in a high place of honor in her office."
Hyperion will publish a book of interviews historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. conducted with Jacqueline Kennedy that were recorded "just months after the death of President John F. Kennedy and intended for deposit in a future presidential library," the New York Times reported. Her daughter, Caroline, is editing the book. A September 2011 release is planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy presidency.
The Twilight effect. Sales of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights have quadrupled during the past year due to the popularity of Stephenie Meyer's books and their film adaptations. The Telegraph reported that prior to the 2005 release of the first book in the series, the classic novel "sold 8,551 a year in Britain. However, the publishers HarperCollins reissued Wuthering Heights last year, with a cover inspired by the Twilight artwork and including the tag-line: 'Bella and Edward's favourite book.' Following this reissue, sales peaked at 2,634 in one week and totaled 34,023 during the year."
Book reviews are so old school. "Neuro lit crit" could become "the cutting edge of literary studies, a rapidly expanding field that is blending scientific processes with the study of literature and other forms of fiction," the Guardian reported.
Sometime later this year, a dozen students in New England "will be given a series of specially designed texts to read. Then they will be loaded into a hospital MRI machine and their brains scanned to map their neurological responses," the Guardian wrote.
NPR's What We're Reading list this week includes Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick and Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott
Book trailer of the day: Broke
Is Beautiful by Laura Lee (Running Press).
Effective January 1, 2011, all worldwide English-language and e-book
distribution for Soho Press will be handled by Random House Publisher
Services. Soho has been distributed by Consortium since 2003 and earlier
was distributed by FSG.
In a statement, Soho publisher Bronwen
Hruska said, "Consortium has been an excellent distributor. During our
time with Consortium, we grew significantly, thanks to Julie Schaper and
the savvy Consortium staff. But looking to the future, I believe Random
House Publisher Services is the right distributor to take us into the
next phase of Soho's life. I was convinced by the excellent reputation
of Random House and their aggressive approach towards getting books out
there--a feat that's getting harder and harder in this economic