Book Reviews

New Owner For Kirkus Reviews/now Kirkus Media

Looks like Kirkus Reviews will live another day to praise — and skewer — authors, but with some rather unorthodox owners for a publication with a long literary pedigree.

Herb Simon, the owner of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA team, and chairman emeritus of Simon Property Group, a shopping mall developer, has bought the venerable journal of prepublication book reviews from the Nielsen Company, which announced in December it was closing the magazine. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Mr. Simon, who is co-owner of an independent bookstore in Montecito, CA, Telecote Books, has appointed Marc Winkelman, chief executive of Calendar Holdings, owner of several chains of seasonal retailers, to be chief executive of what will be re-named Kirkus Media. Mr. Winkelman is also taking a small stake in the company.

NYTimes Media Blog.

Warren Beatty Biography, "Star"

Sounds like a good beach/vacation read.

Vanessa Grigoriadis reviews Peter Biskind's biography of Warren Beatty-- "Star; How Warren Beatty Seduced America" in Sunday's New York Times. Presumably Beatty first agreed to cooperate in the creation of the book but later renegged on his offer.

From the review:

For a relative unknown, dating an actress like [Joan] Collins was a coup, but Beatty was more interested in platonic seduction of those higher on the food chain: writers and directors. His first scalp was the (gay) playwright William Inge, author of “Come Back, Little Sheba” and “Picnic,” who hoped to cast him in the part of a man so sexually confident that “he feels a wreath has been hung on his penis.” Soon, he secured an audience with Clifford Odets at Romanoff’s restaurant on Rodeo Drive, and bonded with Elia Kazan, who gave him his first big break, “Splendor in the Grass.” He impressed them with his intelligence, but he liked playing the pretty boy too. From a young age, he maintained a diet of soy burgers and carrot juice, washed his hair with a six-pack of beer, and even separated his eyelashes with a pin before shooting a scene (for sex, he pumped up his thyroid with vitamins) — and he didn’t care who knew it. Carly Simon has never explicitly admitted that Beatty was the inspiration for “You’re So Vain,” but he likes to think so.

Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day

Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day

Details here


What's the Point of Book Blurbs?

If you believed them then you'd think every book published is, like, really amazing. From The Guardian:

There's a lot of received wisdom in the publishing world – for instance, if you write non-fiction, your book needs a subtitle. Never mind that fiction doesn't require that extra bit of explication (Crime & Punishment: Murder and Redemption in the Empire of the Tsars anyone?) if you write non-fiction you simply must spell out what you're up to for prospective readers! This may be a wise policy or it may be nonsense, nobody knows.

Then there are blurbs, the more of which you can plaster on your paperback the better. Do these blurbs – many of which could be transferred from book to book without great difficulty – actually sway readers? Usually these are from newspaper reviews reduced by your sales people to a string of superlatives here, a comparison to somebody more famous than you are there. If the blurb comes from a review by a famous person, then they may just run with the name of the celebrity alone ("The Da Vinci Code is f*cking awesome!" – Salman Rushdie).

Booklist senior editor Keir Graff on the future of book review publications.

Interview with Keir Graff
Written by Edward Champion

Posted on December 11, 2009
Filed Under Book Reviewing, Publishing

In the wake of Kirkus Reviews’s folding, I asked Booklist senior editor Keir Graff a few questions on the future of book review publications. He was very gracious and offered considerable answers.


The End of Kirkus and What Will Happen to Advance Reviews

Analysis of yesterday's news story by Jerome Kramer, an independent publishing consultant in his blog, Publishing Perspectives.

Nancy Pearl's Under-The-Radar Holiday Books

From NPR. I'm a great supporter of Pearl's idea about reading the books before you wrap them up...maybe in a 'read irresponsibly' bookbag or with a 'you're top shelf' bookmark/greeting card?

Pearl reads us the beginning of the delightful children's book 'Bubble Trouble', by Margaret Mahy, but also talks about her favorite 'under-the-radar' choices for adults (a refreshing change from the bestseller lists):

  • Spooner, by Pete Dexter, hardcover, 480 pages, Grand Central Publishing, list price: $26.99
  • When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put, by Vivian Swift, hardcover, 208 pages, Bloomsbury USA, list price: $20
  • The Good Soldiers, by David Finkel, hardcover, 304 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, list price: $26
  • THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All

    Librarians don’t often receive the kind of ‘pat on the back’ that other professionals get from recipients of their services; here in book form is the appreciation that information professionals have long needed and long deserved, Marilyn Johnson’s THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, (ISBN: 9780061431609; Harper; On Sale: 2/2/2010).

    While researching her 2006 title “The Dead Beat” (a fascinating and often hilarious study of the art of the obituary writer), Johnson came to the conclusion that librarians and archivists were nothing less than some of the finest professionals—not to mention the most interesting people–that she would ever come to know. They were knowledgeable, sure, but more than that, they were always looking to be of assistance. Name another profession where people actively and regularly want to volunteer their might be hard-pressed to find the equivalent level of service in other fields.

    Her book credits librarians of the past who have changed the way people use libraries (Frederick Kilgour, founder of OCLC) and Henriette Avram (mother of MARC), and older librarians at the forefront of changes in the library profession, such as Sanford Berman who fomented the cataloging revolution. But mostly she tells us about the librarians of today...those whose continuing fascination with knowledge and its organization extend beyond the boundaries of their workplaces.


    How our brains learned to read

    How our brains learned to read
    The brain in its modern form is about 200,000 years old, yet brain imaging shows reading taking place in the same way and in the same place in all brains. To within a few millimetres, human brains share a reading hotspot - what Stanislas Dehaene calls the "letterbox" - on the bottom of the left hemisphere.
    (From a review of Reading in the Brain: The science and evolution of a human invention by Stanislas Dehaene)
    Thanks Ender!


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