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by Andrew Shaffer

14 May 2010


I was attending the RT Booklovers’ Convention in Columbus, Ohio hoping to report on one of the many e-book seminars for the PopMatters Re:Print blog. Somewhere along the way I ended up competing in a male modeling competition.

The Mr. Romance model contest, put on every year by RT Book Reviews magazine and Dorchester Publishing, is a fan favorite at the annual RT Booklovers’ Convention (one of the largest romance novel conventions in the United States). Every year, up to twelve hunks compete for the chance to be on the cover of a Dorchester romance novel.

Through a bizarre turn of events, I ended up trading in my “author” badge for a “Mr. Romance contestant” badge. It’s a long story that will be told another day, but suffice to say that my doughy writer’s body and pale complexion were definitely out-of-place amongst the musclebound and tanned male models who I was “competing” against for the title of Mr. Romance 2010.

The most surreal moment occurred on the final day of the convention when I found myself sitting at a table next to paranormal author Richelle Mead. We Mr. Romance competitors were signing beefcake pictures of ourselves; Richelle was signing books. She was on the shortlist of authors who I had wanted to meet at the convention. Now that I was seated three feet away from her, I couldn’t bring myself to ask her to sign a book for me—I was too embarrassed by the stack of topless photos that I was signing.

As a soon-to-be-published author (my first non-fiction book, Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, will be released by Harper Perennial next year), I never expected that my first signing would be of half-nude photos of myself!

Richelle Mead signing at the 2010 RT Booklovers\' Convention in Columbus, OH

Richelle Mead signing at the 2010 RT Booklovers\’ Convention in Columbus, OH

by Rodger Jacobs

10 May 2010


Postmodern novelist and essayist Chuck Palahniuk is the literary equivalent of a shock jock (a title once puzzlingly bestowed upon me by Ishmael Reed after I dismissed in a Deconstruction Zone column an anthology he had edited), often proudly boasting to the press about the dozens and dozens of audience members who have fainted at the lurid and grotesque imagery he invokes in public readings from novels like Haunted.

The acclaimed author of Fight Club (1999) does not take criticism gladly; when Laura Miller of Salon.com penned a withering critique of Diary on 20 August 2003, reducing the author’s work to the “half-baked nihilism of a stoned high school student”, a hostile and impetuous Palahniuk wrote a letter to the editors of the online magazine inviting critic Miller to “just shut up” because, you know, he’s just so darn brilliant and until Miller can “create something that captivates people” she has no business expressing her open opinion about the merits of his work.

Well, let’s see Palahniuk bully his way out of this one …

by Andrew Shaffer

22 Apr 2010


Of the top 50 eBooks on Amazon’s current Kindle bestseller list, 32 currently have a list price of $0.00. A few of the free eBooks on the list are pre-1923 public domain works, such as Pride and Prejudice and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Most of the free eBooks, however, are still under copyright protection and have been released by publishers who want to drum up interest in current or future releases from their authors.

Take the current #1 bestseller, Andrew Gross’s The Dark Tide. It’s available “for a limited time” at the low, low price of zero dollars. “This price was set by the publisher,” an Amazon note says. The reason for the discounted price can be found below the cover image, where it’s helpfully suggested that you “pre-order Andrew Gross’s new book, Reckless, available April 27th.”

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

15 Apr 2010


Over the past few months, excited chatter and disgruntled skepticism about the iPad from Apple has dominated the conversation in the newly-plowed terrain of electronic book publishers; before the advent of the iPad, however, there was the Vook (rhymes with book). According to vook.com, a Vook is—

a new innovation in reading that blends a well-written book, high-quality video and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story.

You can read your book, watch videos that enhance the story and connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms.

Not surprisingly, Vook’s titles are already available on the iPad and it is abundantly clear that the company is pushing iPad content, as several titles (including Sherlock Holmes), are available for free on the iPad, but not online or on the iPhone.

What is not clear, however, is who exactly Vooks are intended for.

by Peta Jinnath Andersen

1 Apr 2010


Steve Jobs debuts Apple's new iPad at the Yerba Buena Gardens Theater in San Francisco, California, Wednesday, January 27, 2010. (Karl Mondon/Contra Costa Times/MCT)

Apple’s latest gadget, the iPad, hits shelves this weekend. There’s been a lot of chatter on the interwebs and in the publishing world about how the shiny new tech may change the way we think of books. Earlier this year, Penguin CEO John Makinson debuted a concept video demonstrating some of the ways the house is planning on tapping the potential of Apple’s new iPad. With interfaces less like a book and more like an iPhone app, it’s clear the company is taking this new platform seriously.

John Makinson, from PaidContentUK:

We will be embedding audio, video and streaming in to everything we do. The .epub format, which is the standard for ebooks at the present, is designed to support traditional narrative text, but not this cool stuff that we’re now talking about.

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