The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore, as well a brick and mortar in small town Washington State. Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.
It's Graduation time in our little town. I don't envy today's graduates. It's a much tougher world out there than when I graduated all those many years ago. I wish them the best, and hope their fortunes improve soon. Very soon.
As I noted, many (attendance is up this year) of our bookselling colleagues are in New York for the BookExpo America conference where they are being entertained by the likes of Stephen Colbert, Neil Young and Patti Smith, all of whom, coincidentally, have books being published this fall. Reports are that the presentations have been terrific. Maybe some year, SeattleTammy and I will attend again.
From the conference comes news that self-published books are at an all-time high. I would suppose that is due to the confluence of E-readers and the fact that the major publishing houses have cut back drastically on taking chances on new (and old, for that matter) writers. Not to mention the success of something like 50 Shades of Gray. Self-publishing is not a course we normally recommend; Booksellers tend to look askance at writers whose books are self-published. There are some good ones out there. Our friend Kathrin King Segal's We Were Stardust is a great read. But if you are an aspiring author, be very careful when you go the self-publishing route.
After a two year hiatus, Oprah is back with her book club. This is great news for booksellers, actually. Oprah sells books. Tons of books. We know. And her first selection looks very interesting.
Of course the sad news this week was the passing of Ray Bradbury at the age of 91. He leaves behind an enduring body of work and he will be missed. I met him once, as a young bookseller while working at a Pickwick Bookshop in Beverly Hills. He was very nice and gracious to me while I waited on him. I hadn't recognized him, and only knew who he was when he handed me his credit card. We ended up talking about celebrity and recognition, and somehow got onto the subject of Julie Christie, I don't know why, but we did.
AbeBooks had a cool article on Ace Books, and how they helped launch the career of many a Sci-fi novelist. Some of the covers were just outstanding and used such artists as Frank Frazetta. Many, though certainly not all, of their titles have become collectible.
From Publishers Weekly we learn that a there is a new biography of James Joyce out by Gordon Bowker. The late Richard Ellman's biography of Joyce, originally published in the 1950's is not only a great book, but the standard by which most modern biographies are judged. Still, being a great fan of Joyce's work, I am looking forward to reading a new take on the man.
In news of Books to Film, there is to be a new adaptation of Anna Karenina by filmmaker Joe Wright due in theaters in Novemeber and to star Keira Knightley and Jude Law. Somehow I don't think the ending will be changed.
And it seems that Guy Ritchie, a director I admire, has signed on to film Treasure Island, a book I adore. The folks at Flavorwire had fun matching up other directors to some literary gems.
Enjoy your weekend! And what book is on your nightstand?
Why any law school-- let alone the Michigan Law School-- would ask Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) to speak at a graduation where the grads understand the Constitution better than he does is beyond me. He is no friend of the gay community, and clearly has no grasp of “the equal protection of the laws.”
Two words, Rob: Civil rights. Welcome to 2011.
Portman came under fire for his voting record. He has opposed gay adoption in Washington, D.C. and opposes gay marriage. A number of students who took part in the protest said that such views are incompatible with basic, human dignity. [...]
Almost immediately after announcing Portman as the Senior Day speaker, Caminker was contacted by students who took objection with the choice. [...]
About 60 percent of the graduates wore rainbow buttons or ribbons on their gowns or rainbow tassels on their caps.
Via Think Progress, here are Michigan Law grads walking out of Portman’s speech:
I recently had an argument (the usual frustrating one) with a YouTube commenter who insisted that being gay is a choice. And yes, I did ask him when he made the choice to be straight. I never did get an answer to that.