Saturday, February 7, 2009

If a tree falls in the forest and it’s turned into paper and someone writes a book on that paper and no one publicizes the book or stumbles on it...

...browsing in a bricks and mortar store was it worth writing the book to begin with?

The other day I was talking to a friend about a new book by an author we both know and I said that I was looking forward to reading it but the bookstore I go to hadn’t gotten any copies yet.

Knowing full well my addiction to books he asked, “Why don’t you just get it on Amazon?” (This immediately reminded me of an exchange with another friend who asked if a movie was on my Netflix list. “I don’t use Netflix.” “Oh,” she replied, “I thought you were cool.” Yeah. I’m not.)

Here’s the thing about Amazon. I’m a happy browser. I judge books by their covers. I once purchased a book because the cover blurb suggested the author was a female David Sedaris (which she really wasn’t…I think of her as a more gentile Laurie Nataro…another chance discovery).

So, here’s the thing that I’ve been thinking about since that Amazon conversation. If folks aren’t going to so-called bricks & mortar stores to buy their books and are therefore not only not browsing but not seeing the recommendations made by all those unpublished writers working as clerks and managers in those bricks & mortar stores (way to kick ‘em while they’re down John and Jane Q. Public) and if newspapers like the Washington Post kick their book sections to the online curb, what’s left?

Oh. Right. Oprah.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

No. Really. It’s a real book.

It’s “The Classic Regency Romance—Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem.” Think Austen meets Buffy.

And then mourn just a bit...

…before buying it online under an assumed name so no one knows you did because, c’mon…zombies.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

On Muttonchops

Unless there is an impetuous and strong headed girl out there who affectionately refers to you as “Mr. Darcy,” please. Don’t.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

By Its Cover

“Human Skull in Space,” a work by Damien Hirst, leader of the (Brit) Pack and patron saint of taxidermists, now graces the cover of the 150th anniversary edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species. This is a trend I would (literally) pay to see continue.

You see, I will not buy a book if the cover design is a movie still or glamour shot of the actress soon to star in the “Major Motion Picture” the novel or memoir will soon become. It’s just one of the many reasons why, ideally decades from now, I may well be discovered hiding out in a fort built from years worth of periodicals, singing to myself and carefully sorting bits of colored string into neatly labeled Ziploc bags.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I could have sworn that was me...

The irony of the “faux” memoir is perhaps best summed up by a friend of mine who once turned to me and said, “You say that you’re writing fiction because you’re afraid to admit that you’re writing about yourself.”

My mother (who once e-mailed me after reading a story to make absolutely certain the woman wasn’t her) had her own opinion on the matter saying, “The thing is that there’s just enough truth in what you write that it makes me nervous what you might say next.”

In other words, the greatest fiction of my fiction was that it was fiction.

The upside: I will never be bitch slapped by Oprah on national television.

The downside: I will never be on Oprah.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It’s the pictures that got small.

Laura Bush has a book deal. Joe the plumber has a book deal. The guy that ran Obama’s campaign has a book deal (Quick, name him. Go ahead. I’ll wait…). The woman that sold her virginity on eBay has a book deal.

Maybe publishing isn’t in a crisis mode because people don’t want to read or they’re all anxiously standing by the front door waiting for their Kindle to arrive. Maybe we don’t need a new Federal Writers’ Project (though it’s an idea I’m actually behind), maybe we need someone to remind publishers that there are folks out there who are honest to goodness writers.