Book Reviews

The World's Strongest Librarian Redux

The New Yorker reviews Josh Hanagarne’s new memoir about growing up with Tourette's Syndrome and becoming a librarian at the Salt Lake City Public Library. Worth a read, especially if you didn't catch our earlier review.

LibraryThing Offers Free Accounts through this Sunday, March 31

In reaction to the recent purchase of Goodreads by Amazon.com, LibraryThing announced the following:

In the wake of Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads, we’ve had some blow-back on the fact that LibraryThing charges for a membership to add more than 200 books. In fact, when you go to pay, it’s pay-what-you-want. The money helps pay for the site, and keeps us advertisement-free for members. Also, we believe customers should be customers, with the loyalty and rights of customers, not the thing we sell to our real customers.

However, some people don’t like it. And we want everyone. So, as a test and a welcome, we’re giving out free year’s accounts to everyone who signs up through the end of Sunday. We’ve also upgraded everyone who signed up since 4pm yesterday.

More on their site.

They neglected to mention however that they too are part-owned by Amazon.com (40% due to previous small business purchases by Amazon). This was referenced in the NYTimes article about Amazon's purchase of Goodreads.

"The deal is made more significant because Amazon already owned part or all of Goodreads’ competitors, Shelfari and LibraryThing. It bought Shelfari in 2008. It also owns a portion of LibraryThing as a result of buying companies that already owned a stake in the site. Both are much smaller and have grown much more slowly than Goodreads."

Reading and Reviewing Every Bestseller Since 1913

For this blog ( http://kahnscorner.blogspot.com/2013/02/100-years-94-books.html ) I plan, among other things, to read and review every novel to reach the number one spot on Publishers Weekly annual bestsellers list, starting in 1913. Beyond just a book review, I'm going to provide some information on the authors and the time at which these books were written in an attempt to figure out just what made these particular books popular at that particular time.

I decided to undertake this endeavor as a mission to read books I never would have otherwise read, discover authors who have been lost to obscurity, and to see how what's popular has changed over the last one hundred years. I plan to post a new review every Monday, with links, short essays, and the like between review posts.

Library Wars: Romantic Comedy That Kicks Ass

Library Wars: Romantic Comedy That Kicks Ass
"When I told my two teens that I could get one manga by using my awesome powers at GeekMom, they both said, “Library Wars! Library Wars! Library Wars!” We had been checking them out from the library before, but it’s a popular series and we often had to wait. Viz Media graciously gave me seven volumes, and then I had to wait for my kids to go through them again before me. Library Wars: Love & War, written and drawn by Kiiro Yumi, is based on the original (non-manga) series by Hiro Arikawa. I did short updates on the series through Comic Book Corner awhile back, but decided it deserved a longer review. It’s that good"

Buying Your Way Onto The Best Sellers Lists

Good Ol Slashdot has a neat write up on Best-Seller Lists. How Are Some Authors Landing On Best-Seller Lists? They're Buying Their Way .

The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy

The upswing in self-published books has spawned an industry in which paid reviewers praise them. Todd Rutherford used to make $28,000 a month. Article in the NYT.

Full article

The Epidemic of Niceness in Online Book Culture

Interesting article from Slate Book Review on the fine line between literary criticism and literary boosterism as experienced on social media.

A Little Friday Frivolity

A slide show via Ellen DeGeneres: Looky looky at this booky!.

A number of surprising titles including a book that I was very proud to work on while at Kane/Miller Book Publishers during the '90's; "The Gas We Pass, the Story of Farts" by Shinto Cho (my boss Sandy Miller did the research, I just proofread it).

What Makes a Critic Tick? Connected Authors and the Determinants of Book Reviews

What Makes a Critic Tick? Connected Authors and the Determinants of Book Reviews
Executive Summary:
The professional critic has long been heralded as the gold standard for evaluating products and services such as books, movies, and restaurants. Analyzing hundreds of book reviews from 40 different newspapers and magazines, Professor Michael Luca and coauthors Loretti Dobrescu and Alberto Motta investigate the determinants of professional reviews and then compare these to consumer reviews from Amazon.com. Key concepts include:

•The data suggest that media outlets do not simply seek to isolate high-quality books, but also to find books that are a good fit for their readers. This is a potential advantage for professional critics, one that cannot be easily replicated by consumer reviews.
•Expert ratings are correlated with Amazon ratings, suggesting that experts and consumers tend to agree in aggregate about the quality of a book. However, there are systematic differences between these sets of reviews.
•Relative to consumer reviews, professional critics are less favorable to first-time authors. This suggests that one potential advantage of consumer reviews is that they are quicker to identify new and unknown books.
•Relative to consumer reviews, professional critics are more favorable to authors who have garnered other attention in the press (as measured by number of media mentions outside of the review) and who have won book prizes.
..

'50 Shades' another brick in the wall between fans and critics

'50 Shades' another brick in the wall between fans and critics

While the erudite have derided the best-selling books as poorly written and unimaginative, fans of the soft porn/romance novels don't care about sentence structure, believable dialogue or character development. Not everybody wants a daily dose of Dickens or the latest Robert Caro book on LBJ.

"This stuff we consider 'bad' is considered bad if we look at it in terms of the criteria set for old-fashioned art," says pop culture expert Robert Thompson of Syracuse University. "We also have to recognize that some of this stuff that is 'bad' is really good at being 'bad.' Therefore the word 'bad' kind of ceases to have any kind of meaning."

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