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by Rodger Jacobs

3 Mar 2010


Editor’s note: Check out Part One of this article.

Canyon Pointe
The Canyon Pointe Summerlin Center is a confluence of NYSE-traded big-name box stores nestled on a modest patch of acreage adjoining the Red Rock Casino and Resort in a quiet corner of the northwest Las Vegas city limits.

Canyon Pointe straddles the invisible border between the rugged mountains and arid desert of Southern Nevada and the brick, mortar, and steel footprints of human civilization; just walk a few blocks west on Charleston Boulevard and you’re at the cusp of the Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area, a favored spot for mountain hiking and bicycling.

Ten years ago, the land that Canyon Pointe occupies was home to scrub brush and sand, ancient rock, coyotes, bobcats, quail, and geese. Today the lot, part of a 25,000 acre parcel of land purchased by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes in the 1950s, boasts a Best Buy consumer electronics store, a Bed, Bath and Beyond for ergonomic pillows and scented soaps, an Office Depot, and a Marshall’s discount department store, offering a vast array of product from Adidas sportswear and men’s button-down dress shirts to imported tins of sardines and rich bratwurst mustard from Munich.

The anchor of the privately-owned Canyon Pointe Center, smack dab in the middle of all of those other branded box stores and within strolling distance of a Burger King and a Chevron gas station and car wash, is store number 0534 in the Borders Books, Music, and Café chain.

by Michael Buening

26 Feb 2010


Over the past few years there has been a growing and vocal enthusiasm for English translations of international fiction. Publishers like New Directions and Dalkey Archives, encouraged by the popularity and success of writers like Robert Bolaño, have grown more active publishing translations. Book stores have started arranging their fiction shelves by country of origin. In 2007 the University of Rochester’s translation program founded the translation-centered web site Three Percent and the affiliated publishing company Open Books. In New York City, where I live, I have observed how the spread of digital information has created a community of readers, myself among them, that wants to explore contemporary currents in foreign literature while rediscovering internationally renowned writers like Clarice Lispector who are little known in the United States.

As a semi-regular feature on Re:Print I will be discussing translations—reviewing new releases, celebrating innovative publishing, and exploring issues and trends in the market. I plan on delving more deeply into these topics, but for this first entry I would like to highlight some recent news of note:

by Rodger Jacobs

23 Feb 2010


Moving into the next decade, we are being endlessly pummeled by journalists and pundits in the media attempting to sum up for us poor saps what the last ten years mean in the larger context – as if the last decade of credit markets gone mad followed by economic collapse needs a better academic summation than: we saw, we spent, we went broke.

A recent visit to a Borders book store in Las Vegas, Nevada, served as a stark reminder to me how much the collective culture has changed over the last ten years, and how the corporate media (and we, as willing consumers) have denigrated the art and craft of writing to the level of respect afforded to a perfume sample at a high-end department store, just another brand of corporate media heroin to be pushed.

Ten years ago it was not impossible or unthinkable to enter a chain bookstore and hunt down the rarest of beasts in the homogenized box store retail jungle: a cheerful and informative clerk who could prove helpful in discriminating between, say, a recognized Hemingway classic and a posthumously published work that contributes nothing significant to the author’s canon, surviving only as an ATM for the Hemingway estate. Such distinctions are important for a literary novice, lest they depart the store with a copy of True at First Light instead of Death in the Afternoon.

by Michael Buening

17 Feb 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)

Prior to the unveiling of the iPad in late January, the New York Times reported that many publishers were hoping that Apple’s device would resolve their industry’s difficulties transitioning to the electronic book market and “undo mistakes of the past” the same way the iPod and iTunes presented a clear and viable mp3-based business model for the troubled music industry “With Apple Tablet, Print Media Hope for a Payday”, New York Times, 25 January 2010).

The nascent iPad’s influence was visible long before Steve Job’s press conference, most noticeably in the behavior surrounding Amazon.com’s Kindle device, the dominant e-reader currently on the market. Publishers have long chafed at the way Amazon has demanded that certain e-books be priced at $9.99, similar to the way Apple prices albums on iTunes at $9.99, in an attempt to define and dominate the market. In December, Amazon offered Kindles to the employees of publishing houses at a sharp discount in an attempt to assuage bruised emotions over their competitive business practices and shore up a crucial amount of market space within the publishing community before Apple can get there.

by Michael Buening

8 Feb 2010


As you have no doubt heard, the Academy Awards nominations were announced on Tuesday. For the benefit of film-loving book geeks I have put down my Walter Mosley to ridiculously overanalyze that most writerly of Oscar categories, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), to try and determine this year’s champion based on the completely unscientific merits of the past winners.

Before we begin, this year’s nominees are as follows:

District 9 - Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
An Education - Screenplay by Nick Hornby
In the Loop - Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire - Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
Up in the Air - Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

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