Monday, March 31, 2014

A Weird Thing Happened...

Because Adult Swim changed it's programming around, I have taken to watching the programming on WPIX (Seinfeld, Friends. etc) after midnight..

So I was watching Friends and at the bottom of my screen flashed across an add for a book! I thought I was seeing things. It was called Sitcom...something In 24 Hours. I could not see. The television in the bedroom is small.

Now is this because I am watching a sitcom or are we moving as we are with book trailers to book commercials?

I am going to try to pay attention and I hope it pops up again. I will keep you posted. :)


All My Restless Life To Live  by Dee DeTarsio
Publication date: April 29th 2013
Genres: Adult, Romance

Award-winning author Dee DeTarsio combines life’s darker side with humor and tenderness in a wonderfully charming look at love and the afterlife.

Life is a soap opera, especially for Elle Miller, who is a TV producer. (Ellen dropped the “n” in her name in hopes of finding a better ending for herself.) When her laptop crashes, she borrows her dead dad’s computer and gets way more than she bargained for.

As Elle tries to save her career with a storyline featuring a trip through Atlantis, she takes a trip to the Emmys, and finds herself in the middle of a romance between a real doctor and a hunk who just plays one on TV. Friends, family, and clues from “the other side” all help Elle figure out the difference between living the good life . . . and living a good life.

Goodreads: Click here.

Purchase Links:

Amazon: Click here.

Barnes & Noble: Click here.

Dee DeTarsio is a graduate of The Ohio State University and lives in southern California with her family. She did not teach herself to read at an early age or write stories by the time she was in kindergarten. She was still wetting the bed and playing in the can cupboard.

Website: Click here.

Facebook: Click here.

Twitter: Click here.

Goodreads Author Page: Click here.

There is a blitz host giveaway of one ebook copy of All My Restless Life To Live by Dee DeTarsio. Simply look to your right and enter on the rafflecopter form.



From #1 New York Times bestselling author D.J. MacHale comes STORM —the exhilarating, action-packed sequel to SYLO.

“Absolutely un-put-downable, more exciting than an X-box and roller coaster combined.”—Kirkus, starred review.

“With this extremely high-octane story that’s the equivalent to a summer movie blockbuster, MacHale kicks off an apocalyptic trilogy sure to leave readers demanding the next installment.”—Booklist

“An entertaining and creepy tale.”—Publishers Weekly

Purchase Links:

Amazon: Click here.

Barnes & Noble: Click here.

Book Depository: Click here.

Also make sure you get the first book in the series:

Watch the trailer here: Sylo

D.J. MacHale is a writer, director, executive producer and creator of several popular television series and movies. As an author, his ten-volume book series: PENDRAGON – JOURNAL OF AN ADVENTURE THROUGH TIME AND SPACE became a New York Times #1 bestseller.

He was raised in Greenwich, CT and graduated from Greenwich High School. While in school, he had several jobs including collecting eggs at a poultry farm, engraving trophies and washing dishes in a steakhouse…in between playing football and running track. D.J. attended New York University where he received a BFA in film production.
His filmmaking career began in New York where he worked as a freelance writer/director making corporate videos and television commercials. He also taught photography and film production.

D.J. broke into the entertainment business by writing several ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIALS. As co-creator of the popular Nickelodeon series: ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?, he produced all 91 episodes over 8 years. D.J. also wrote and directed the movieTOWER OF TERROR for ABC’s WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY which starred Kirsten Dunst and Steve Guttenberg. The Showtime series CHRIS CROSS was co-created, written and produced by D.J. It received the CableAce award for Best Youth Series.

D.J. co-created and produced the Discovery Kids/NBC television series FLIGHT 29 DOWN. He wrote every episode and directed several. His work on FLIGHT 29 DOWN earned him the Writers Guild of America award for “Outstanding Children’s Script” and a Directors Guild of America award nomination.

Other notable writing credits include the ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIAL titled SEASONAL DIFFERENCES; the pilot for the long-running PBS/CBS series GHOSTWRITER; and the HBO series ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN, BOY DETECTIVE for which he received a CableAce nomination for writing.

In print, D.J. has co-written the book THE TALE OF THE NIGHTLY NEIGHBORS, based on his own teleplay and penned the poetic adaptation of the classic Norwegian folk tale EAST OF THE SUN AND WEST OF THE MOON. His most current work is the spooky MORPHEUS ROAD trilogy; and a whimsical picture book THE MONSTER PRINCESS.

D.J. lives in Southern California with his wife Evangeline and daughter Keaton. They are avid backpackers, scuba divers and skiers. Rounding out the household are two elderly goldfish and a Kitten, Kaboodle.

Twitter: Click here.

Facebook: Click here.

Goodreads Author Page: Click here.

There is a blitz-wide giveaway of a Skype chat with the author D.J. MacHale. Simply click the following link to enter:



Love is in the air . . . love of romance books, that is. This week, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) announced the finalists for the 2014 RITA and Golden Heart Awards. A big congratulations goes to our very own romance columnist, Christie Ridgway, whose Beach House No. 9 is up for a Best Contemporary Romance RITA! Check out our interview with Christie about the book.

Other RITA finalists include veterans Jill Shalvis (nominated twice, for It Had to Be You and Rumor Has It), Nora Roberts (for Whiskey Beach), Elizabeth Hoyt (for Duke of Midnight), along with relative newcomers Sarah MacLean (for No Good Duke Goes Unpunished) and Bella Andre (for The Way You Look Tonight).

The Golden Heart Awards recognize excellence in novels or novellas that have not yet been published, with finalists in eight categories chosen from more than 1,000 manuscript entries each year.

Check out the complete list of finalists here.. Winners will be announced at a black-tie gala at the RWA annual conference in San Antonio on July 26. Which books are you rooting for?

Disney Partners With First Book for New Charity


The Disney Literacy Campaign provides new books to children in need.

Click here to see a short video on this campaign.

Hockey Great Gordie Howe Releasing Book in October


Hockey great Gordie Howe has a book deal.

G.P. Putnam's Sons announced Monday that Howe's memoir, "Mr. Hockey," will come out Oct. 14. The publisher says the book will be "the definitive account" of Howe's life, starting with his birth in a farmhouse in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan and delving into his extraordinary five-decade career.

The 85-year-old Howe was a six-time winner of the Hart Trophy for the league's most valuable player and played on four championship teams with the Detroit Red Wings.

Putnam is an imprint of Penguin Random House. Last year it released Bobby Orr's memoir.

Classic Childhood Books That Grow With You

by Zola Books)

Remember the books your parents/teachers/babysitters read to you when you were a kid? When it came to my parents, they chose the books they had loved as children themselves. When my mother read these to me, she would often end up crying at the end. Just imagine my six-year-old confusion: Why were happy endings sad? I didn’t get it.

Looking back on those books now, and even on what I read in my tweens and early teens, I start to understand. Go reread the ending of The House at Pooh Corner—it’s a weepy one for sure. Reading old favorites as an adult is satisfying, heartbreaking, and often mindblowing.

Chances are you’ve read these classics, but prepare to discover the rollercoaster ride of feels when you reread them.

Dr. Seuss

Kid Read: Bedtime stories like The Sneetches, Yertle the Turtle and The Lorax were all fun. Everything rhymes, half the words are gibberish, and even though you sensed the moral buried in there somewhere, it was all part of the hilarious shenanigans.

Adult Read: Get ready to have your innocence ruined. Dr. Seuss is all politics. The Sneetches is about the futility of the Cold War’s unarmed struggle between the USSR and the USA. Yertle the Turtle—come on, it’s a huge turtle sitting on top of all the little turtles, can you say “monarchy”? As an adult, sure, but you definitely couldn’t as a kid. The Lorax? You guessed it. The saddest of Dr. Seuss’ books—it’s even pretty tough for some kids to get through—is about a conversation that’s especially vital today: preserving the environment, and the cost of not doing so.

Little Women

Kid Read: Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women starts on Christmas Eve, and that is exactly what reading the book feels like: comforting, like hot cocoa on a freezing winter afternoon. The novel’s four sisters, their loving mother, their doting father, and the boy next door have adventures, trials and tribulations, and (almost) all of them live happily ever after. It’s the kind of novel you read after being tucked in and kissed goodnight.

Adult Read: Though people say Alcott was forced to write this book by her publishers, she still took the opportunity to show off her belief in women, long before the word “feminism” was coined. You’ll notice that the sisters and their mother work in Mr. March’s absence during the Civil War, which presents them as equal to him and the other men in their lives.

Alcott handles religion, immigration, and death as well as grownups’ need to get over the castles in the air you built as a child. Not only is the novel rich with meaningful historical context—it will also break your heart to realize you’re old enough to read about children leaving home with a pinch in your heart, because you see yourself (and your own children) in them.

The Little Prince

Kid Read: Despite it being written by some French guy whose name you can’t pronounce, you recognize a cool adventure story when you read one. Besides, The Little Prince proves to you that being an adult sucks, because they ask you stupid questions and never get what you’re trying to draw.

Adult Read: Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, who wrote the book, was one smart cookie. Now that you have some idea of what the world is like, you see what he’s doing here. He’s urging you to never stop asking questions the way kids do. He’s telling you that love is difficult and that hoarding money is like trying to count the stars in the sky. As a philosophical discussion for basically everything, The Little Prince will make you nostalgic for your lost innocence.

Thunder Cake

Kid Read: Were you scared of thunder? Thunder Cake made sure you thought of a delicious chocolate cake instead. The Keeping Quilt inspired you to consider the old objects in your house in a whole new way. Mrs. Katz and Tush had a cat and a sweet old lady and a shy little boy who you liked. You ran your hands all over the pictures because they looked soft.

Adult Read: Patricia Polacco’s books are all about family, cultural traditions, and the warm fuzzy kind of love all people share, no matter where they come from. She tackles big issues like race, differing cultures, and the idea of death in ways that your kids can understand. And you? You will bawl like a baby at the happiest ending now that you’re old enough to understand the painful beauty of life.

Harriet the Spy

Kid Read: A girl who spies on people! She has a really pretty attic room! She writes things down in a notebook! She has a BAMF nanny! She has an imagination like Anne of Green Gables but is way cooler because she gets into trouble and toughs it out!

Adult Read: Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy was way ahead of its time. It deals with difference in class: Harriet is upper-middle-class, whereas her best friend has an absent mother and an absent-minded father, and knows how to pay bills and balance a budget at the age of 11. Fitzhugh has Harriet go to a therapist long before this was the thing to do with “problem children.” The issue of privacy—which is on everyone’s minds recently—comes to the forefront when Harriet’s secret notebook is passed around between all the kids in her class who then stop talking to her because she wrote mean things about everyone. It’s a book to pick apart (a new way to enjoy it) now that the years of wanting-to-be-Harriet have passed.

2014 Children's Choice Book Awards

You all know that I love awards and have a lot of information about awards on my site when I find them. In my header you see the upcoming award I am talking about today. You have to check out the page it is so great. And if you happened to have read any of the books, why not vote?

Go to to vote in all categories which include:

K-2nd Grade

3-4 Grade

5-6 Grade


Group Ballot

And under each category is say Illustrator of the Year and Author of the Year.

You can also see previous winners like the 2013 Teen Book of the Year The Fault In Our Stars. 

I figured a lot of you that like YA would like to see the teen books. I have not read any of them but two are on my tbr list. The website is really cute also. It is worth it for a look. I tried to post the opening page here but the sizing was off and you could not read it. So see for yourself. I did decide to post it but the view is better on the site. I cannot wait to see who wins!

Here is some more information:

Join us for the Academy Awards of children’s literature!
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 6pm

The Gala is a charity event to benefit Every Child A Reader, a 501(c)3 literacy organization committed to instilling a lifelong love of reading in children. Please see below for ticket purchase and sponsorship information.

2014 Event Details

The Children’s Choice Book Awards is the only national book awards program where winning titles are selected by young readers of all ages.

2014 winners will be announced live at the 7th Annual Children’s Choice Book Awards Gala on May 14 at Capitale in New York City! The Gala is open to the public. Ticket purchase information is below.

The awards ceremony will be live-streamed so that young voters may watch the results in real time from home. The video will also be available on-demand after the ceremony — host a viewing party with your young readers to celebrate their favorite books!


Kate DiCamillo: National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and this year’s Newbery Medal winner for Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures!

Impact Award

The Impact award pays tribute to an individual whose actions or programs have creatively and significantly moved forward our collective mission of instilling a lifelong love of reading in children.

We are honored to present this year’s award to LeVar Burton in recognition of his longstanding commitment to connecting children and books and for promoting the joy of reading through the Reading Rainbow television series and the Reading Rainbow app.


This year’s Gala presenters are kid lit luminaries Holly Black, Nick Bruel, Brian Floca, Robin Preiss Glasser, Jarrett J. Krosoczka and Lauren Myracle.

Gala Ticket Purchase & Sponsorship Opportunities

There is a limited amount of seating for the Awards Ceremony. Tickets and sponsorships are available on a first come, first served basis. Check or credit card payments accepted.

To purchase tickets, e-mail


- Adult Ticket: $300

- Child Ticket: $50 (18 and under)

Sponsorship Packages:

Masterpiece ($25,000)

• Twenty-five event tickets • Admission to pre-show VIP reception with presenters • Full-page journal ad • VIP seating for the Awards Ceremony • Prime placement of logo projected on screen • Prime placement of logo on all event signage and in video

Best-Seller ($10,000)

• Ten event tickets • Full-page journal ad • Preferred seating for the Awards Ceremony • Logo projected on screen • Logo on all event signage and video

Classic ($5,000)

• Five event tickets • Half-page journal ad • Promi nent seating for the Awards Ceremony • Logo projected on screen • Company listing on all event signage and video

Check out Gala pictures on Facebook and watch the 2013 Awards.

Book Bits

by Annalisa Quinn)

A new book by Michael Lewis, the bestselling author of Liar's Poker and Moneyball, says the stock market is "rigged" in favor of high-frequency traders. In Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, which came out Monday after being kept under wraps for months, Lewis says that computer-based high speed trading is set up to benefit these traders at the expense of investors by anticipating orders by a fraction of a millisecond. The new book follows Brad Katsuyama, former head trader at the Royal Bank of Canada, who says he realized that when he sent an order to exchanges, it would reach the closest exchange fractions of a second earlier than the others, and that high-frequency traders would be able to use the infinitesimal time difference to buy the stock at the other exchanges and sell it back to him at a higher price. In an excerpt featured Monday in the New York Times Magazine, Lewis writes, "Technology had collided with Wall Street in a peculiar way. It had been used to increase efficiency. But it had also been used to introduce a peculiar sort of market inefficiency. Taking advantage of loopholes in some well-meaning regulation introduced in the mid-2000s, some large amount of what Wall Street had been doing with technology was simply so someone inside the financial markets would know something that the outside world did not." In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes, Lewis said, "Complexity disguises what is happening. If it's so complicated you can't understand it, then you can't question it."

In an essay in The New Yorker, HarperCollins editor Barry Harbaugh addresses the pervasive truism that editors don't really edit anymore: "Editors edit. A lot ... I probably mark up fifty to a hundred pages a week, most of it on the weekend. I ask questions and cut sentences and write chapter titles and all that stuff."

The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams contains universes. Her series of linked essays about empathy are a medley of journalism, memoir, and criticism. Really, though, they're a series of interrogations — of you, me, her, long-distance runners, poverty tourism, people who watch the reality show Intervention, people with Morgellons disease, whatever. Throughout the essays, Jamison keeps popping up from behind the curtain, as if to say, "Hello, I'll be the orchestrator of your emotional and intellectual journey today. Here are my limitations." At one point in her essay on people with Morgellons disease — a controversial condition that sufferers say can cause a crawling sensation, and fibers and crystals to grow out of the skin — she begins to make the disease into a metaphor. Then she stops herself: "It would be too easy to let all these faces dissolve into correlative possibility: Morgies as walking emblems for how hard it is to live in our own skin. I feel how conveniently these lives could be sculpted to fit the metaphoric structure — or strictures — of the essay itself." It is this self-interrogation, this doubt, this resistance to easy narratives that makes The Empathy Exams so memorable.

Based on the real murder of 19th century frog-catcher Jenny Bonnet, Frog Music by Emma Donoghue is a pleasantly intricate crime novel. Narrated by Jenny's friend Blanche Beunon, a "soiled dove" (burlesque dancer, prostitute), the novel describes Blanche's search for the killer amidst San Francisco's small-pox epidemic in the 1870s. The writing sometimes approaches camp: Her characters say things such as "A diamond in the rough, that's me!" or, about a gun, "Won that off a California Infantryman in a poker game." Come to think of it, her characters don't say things when they can "wail," "quip," "croon," "howl" or "bark" them, which can get grating. But overall, Frog Music is a rich and rewarding crime novel.

Paper vs Digital Reading is an Exhausted Debate

Book Blog)

Time to turn the page … an ebook reader in Waterstones. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

The digital revolution is going into a decline, Tim Waterstone told the Oxford literary festival. Well, it's an attention-grabbing statement, ideally suited to our culture of assertive headlines, but it's probably not true. That's not to say that the rapid growth of digital will necessarily continue, either, certainly not in markets that are already saturated with handheld devices.

Why? Because the future is – as William Gibson told us quite a long time ago now – not evenly distributed. In fact, if one thing is ubiquitous these days it would seem to be liminality. Everywhere is an in-between place. For example, even in fairly remote bits of Kenya an SMS-based information service called iCow provides farmers with veterinary advice tailored to each of their animals, including reproductive calendar reminders, feeding schedules and market information. There are fewer and fewer venues where digital technology has made no impact – and where there's a digital device, there are ebooks, at least in potential. They need not be anyone's primary method of consuming literature, but in some situations they will be the best one. Rather than circling the wagons as other media industries did (to no good outcome, it has to be acknowleged) publishers need to learn the more recent lessons from music and film and consider, for example, providing digital copies as standard with hardback editions.

Digital will continue to grow for a while at least, and continue to exist, because it is becoming part of the world we inhabit at a level below our notice, no more remarkable than roads or supermarkets. Ebooks are here to stay because digital is, and quite shortly we'll stop having this debate about paper vs ebooks because it will no longer make a lot of sense.

By the same token, paper has a place in our hybrid future. Digital books are still painfully ugly and weirdly irritating to interact with. They look like copies of paper, but they can't be designed or typeset in the same way as paper, and however splendid the cover images may look on a hi-res screen, they're still images rather than physical things. To my irritation, you still can't flick through an ebook properly; you can't riffle the pages, you can't look at more than one page at once. And the advantages of having a book in digital form (easy scrolling text, proper shareability, a global text search of your library, synchronisation with audiobooks, links to television adaptations, person-to-person sales) have been ignored in favour of a weak simulacrum of paper. Better, a lot of the time, to shove a paperback in your pocket. And for when you forget, well, there's still your phone.

Until a digital book is a magical object which physically transforms from 50 Shades into the new James Smythe novel according to your whim; until you can walk through a digital library and open books at random; until the technology becomes as satisfying to the physical senses as the text is to the cognitive self, there's still a need for shiny, gorgeous, satisfying books. And when those things happen, if they do, we will have lost nothing in the transition.

A rather more important discussion than whether one half of this indivisible whole will somehow shed the other would be about this government's seeming determination to destroy our system of public libraries and dispense with Britain's access to knowledge (especially, it seems, in prisons). It strikes me that an infantilised public is far easier to control than one that reads, that prisoners are far easier to demonise when they are cut out of national cultural conversation, and that books – consistently found to increase empathy in those who read them – play against the mean-spirited assault on welfare and disability benefits presently under way. If the book trade has drawn one obvious flaw from the corporate culture that took it over in the 80s, it's that it tends to be a bit inward-looking, and to imagine that decisions made in and about the industry affect only the industry – hence the endless hue and cry for more aggressive copyright enforcement, and never mind that such enforcement would require a level of intrusion into the private spaces of our customers presently available only to GCHQ and the NSA.

It's time to look beyond our borders rather more, and see that we are part of the world. Paper vs digital will take care of itself. That being the case, we have bigger fish to fry, a sentiment with which I suspect Tim Waterstone, formerly chair of Shelter's 25th Anniversary Appeal and a Labour Party donor, would surely agree.

• Nick Harkaway's novel Tigerman is published by William Heinemann on May 22


by Trisha)

Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro will appear on a Canadian $5 coin. She joins Jane Austen in the UK and Astrid Lindgren in Sweden* as one of the only female writers to be featured on official currency—although in Munro's case, the coin is a collector's edition that costs $69.95 (CAN) and is therefore unlikely to be redeemed for its face value.

Designed by Laurie McGaw, the coin does not feature a portrait of Munro, but rather an "ethereal female figure" meant to symbolize the characters she has created. Munro's hand DOES make an appearance, holding a pen over a book that displays an excerpt from "The View from Castle Rock."

Memo to the US Mint: It's about time we had another woman join Susan B. Anthony and Pocahontas on our currency. What about our own female Nobel Prize for Literature winners, Toni Morrison and Pearl S. Buck? Or, off the top of my head, how about Emily Dickinson, Flannery O'Connor, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Zora Neal Huston, Willa Cather, Louisa May Alcott, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton .

Do you have a female author you'd like to see on American currency?

*The Lindgren 20 SEK note is expected to enter circulation in 2015.

10 Must-Read Books for April

by Jason Diamond)

Winter is (supposedly) over, and April’s showers means you can spend a few more weeks indoors reading your heart out until the nice weather starts. That’s why we like to think of the fourth month as one of the best for readers. April gives us plenty of time to get caught up on our TBR pile, and also the opportunity to check out new stuff, like any of these ten books.

The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison (April 1)

Everybody is talking about this brilliant new collection of essays, from Dwight Garner to this great site called Flavorwire. The Empathy Exams is Leslie Jamison’s coming-out party as one of the most important young voices in literature.

A Farm Dies Every Year, Arlo Crawford (April 1)

Locally sourced, organic, farm-to-table foods might be popular now, but Arlo Crawford returns to the Pennsylvania farm he grew up on to tell a story that will give you a whole different point of view about life on the farm.

Viviane, Julia Deck (April 1)

Betrayal, murder, and more: this novel by Julia Deck is already a hit in its native France, and now thanks to The New Press and translator Linda Coverdale, it’s available in English for you to devour.

Can’t and Won’t, Lydia Davis (April 8)

If Lydia Davis ruled the world, the world would be a strange and beautiful place. This is why her writing (not to mention her translations of writers like Proust and Flaubert) has earned her a small army of readers who believe that she might actually be a mystic or a deity of some sort. Carve out an afternoon to read and then reread this latest collection, and join Team Davis if you haven’t already.

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, Matt Taibbi (April 8)

Growth inequity and the intrusion of the government and big business into our everyday lives are the focus of this latest book by one of our finest writers. Taibbi brilliantly dissects what’s wrong with our country, focusing on what he sees as “the Divide,” and gives us one of the most important books of 2014.

The Other Language, Francesca Marciano (April 8)

From Rome with love, this elegant and colorful collection by Francesca Marciano will get you seriously thinking about giving up life in the States and going to Venice, a small Greek village, or any of the other places she uses as a setting in her stories.

Echo of the Boom, Maxwell Neely-Cohen (April 15)

If you bill your first novel as a mix of Gossip Girl and Gravity’s Rainbow, you have our attention based on your bravery alone. But Neely-Cohen’s first novel isn’t all talk; this book, which kicks off with epigraphs quoting both the Book of Revelation and Spoon, is definitely the real thing.

Songs Only You Know, Sean Madigan Hoen (April 15)

You didn’t have to grow up in Detroit’s hardcore scene to get taken in and chewed up by this absolutely brilliant book, which might end up being one of the only punk memoirs you’ll ever have to read.

Casebook, Mona Simpson (April 15)

Wait a minute. There’s a new Lydia Davis collection out this month and Mona Simpson has a novel out full of unforgettable characters the likes of which only one of our best writers can create? April sure is shaping up to be one of 2014′s most important months for literature.

The Expedition to the Baobab Tree, Wilma Stockenström (April 15)

This J.M. Coetzee-translated novel of a young African girl’s life, memory, and survival by one of the most important writers on the continent is one of the year’s most important books in translation.

How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read

by Andrew Shaffer / Illustration by Thomas Allen)

Half a century before e-books turned publishing upside down, a different format threatened to destroy the industry.

Here’s a little perspective: In 1939, gas cost 10 cents a gallon at the pump. A movie ticket set you back 20 cents. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, the year’s bestselling hardcover book, was $2.75. For a nation suffering 20 percent unemployment, books were an impossible expense.

But in just one day, Robert de Graff changed that. On June 19, 1939, the tall, dynamic entrepreneur took out a bold, full-page ad in The New York Times: OUT TODAY—THE NEW POCKET BOOKS THAT MAY TRANSFORM NEW YORK’S READING HABITS.

The ad was timed to coincide with the debut of his newest endeavor, an imprint called Pocket Books. Starting with a test run of 10 titles, which included classics as well as modern hits, de Graff planned to unleash tote-able paperbacks on the American market. But it wasn’t just the softcover format that was revolutionary: De Graff was pricing his Pocket Books at a mere 25 cents.

Despite its audacity, de Graff’s ad wasn’t brazen enough for his taste. A former publishing exec who’d cut his teeth running imprints for Doubleday, de Graff wanted the ad to read THE NEW POCKET BOOKS THAT WILL TRANSFORM NEW YORK’S READING HABITS. His business partners at Simon & Schuster were less confident and forced the edit. Even though some European publishers were making waves with paperbacks—Penguin in England and Albatross in Germany—New York publishers didn’t think the cheap, flimsy books would translate to the American market.

They were wrong. It took just a week for Pocket Books to sell out its initial 100,000 copy run. Despite industry skepticism, paperbacks were about to transform America’s relationship with reading forever.


If paperbacks were going to succeed in America, they would need a new model. De Graff, for his part, was well acquainted with the economics of books. He knew that printing costs were high because volumes were low—an average hardcover print run of 10,000 might cost 40 cents per copy. With only 500 bookstores in the U.S., most located in major cities, low demand was baked into the equation.

In the U.K., things were different. There, four years prior, Penguin Books founder Allen Lane had started publishing popular titles with paper bindings and distributed them in train stations and department stores. In his first year of operation, Lane sold more than three million “mass-market” paperbacks.

Quantity was key. De Graff knew that if he could print 100,000 paperbound books, production costs would plummet to 10 cents per copy. But it would be impossible for Pocket Books to turn a profit if it couldn’t reach hundreds of thousands of readers. And that would never happen as long as de Graff relied solely on bookstores for distribution. So de Graff devised a plan to get his books into places where books weren’t traditionally sold. His twist? Using magazine distributors to place Pocket Books in newsstands, subway stations, drugstores, and other outlets to reach the underserved suburban and rural populace. But if Pocket Books were going to sell, they couldn’t just stick to the highbrow. De Graff avoided the stately, color-coded covers of European paperbacks, which lacked graphics other than the publishers’ logos, and splashed colorful, eye-catching drawings on his books.

Even with the success of Pocket Books’ test run, hardcover publishers scoffed at the idea of paperbacks for the masses. Still, they were more than willing to sell Pocket Books the reprint rights to their hardcover titles, if only to humor de Graff. “We feel we ought to give it a chance—to show that it won’t work here,” an anonymous publisher told Time shortly after Pocket Books’ launch. For every paperback sold, the hardcover publisher would receive a penny royalty per copy—which it split fifty-fifty with the author. Pocket Books would also make about a penny in profit for each copy sold.

Since de Graff offered refunds for unsold copies, carrying the books was a no-brainer. In 1939, de Graff told Publishers Weekly that he’d been deluged with requests from “out-of-town dealers.” And from the get-go Americans devoured every 25-cent paperback de Graff could feed them. By the time Pocket Books sold its 100 millionth copy in September 1944, its books could be found in more than 70,000 outlets across the U.S. They might not have had the glamour and sophistication of hardcovers, but paperbacks were making serious money. It wasn’t long before other publishers decided to jump into the game.


In the late 1930s, Penguin’s Allen Lane met Ian Ballantine, a young American graduate student at the London School of Economics whose thesis examined the paperback business. Impressed by his research, Lane hired Ballantine to launch a U.S. branch of Penguin in 1939, the same year Pocket Books got its start.

At first, Penguin wasn’t much of a threat to de Graff, since Ballantine, with the help of his 19-year-old bride, Betty, mainly imported the parent company’s books from the U.K. The covers featured little besides the title, the author’s name, and the Penguin logo, giving them a generic, minimalist look that failed to excite the American market. But as World War II escalated, Lane’s control over U.S. operations became tenuous. Imports from the U.K. were scarce, and the Ballantines took the opportunity to print their own selections under the Penguin banner, adding illustrated covers to compete with Pocket Books.

After the war, Lane was horrified to see his prestigious Penguin logo stamped on such tawdry covers. In 1945, he forced the Ballantines out. Lane expected his new hires, German publisher Kurt Enoch and American Victor Weybright, to fall in line with his refined sensibilities, but they too failed him. Graphic (and sometimes lurid) illustrations were necessary for the American market, Weybright argued. “The general intention of our covers is to attract Americans, who, more elementary than the Britishers, are schooled from infancy to disdain even the best product unless it is smoothly packaged and merchandised,” Weybright wrote to Lane.


With Pocket Books and Penguin paving the way, the paperback gold rush had begun. Other paperback houses soon followed, including Popular Library, Dell, Fawcett Publications, and Avon Pocket Size Books. In 1948, Lane washed his hands of Penguin U.S., selling the operation to Weybright and Enoch, who renamed it New American Library of World Literature (NAL). Hardcover publishers watched nervously as these new players chipped away at their market share. For the most part, their only stake in the new paperback houses lay in the reprint royalties they split with authors. “If other publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them,” George Orwell once said of paperbacks, which he considered a “splendid” value.

Months after his removal from Penguin, Ian Ballantine pitched hardcover reprinter Grosset & Dunlap the idea of starting a new paperback business. Grosset & Dunlap was a joint venture of the day’s biggest hardcover players: Random House, Harper’s, Charles Scribner’s Sons, Book-of-the-Month Club, and Little, Brown. Each of these companies was looking for a way to dip its toes into the exploding market, and Ballantine had come to them at the right time.

De Graff himself unwittingly helped seal the deal by advising the publishers that the paperback industry wasn’t worth exploring. Random House president Bennett Cerf said, “When Bob came as a ‘friend’ to give us a talk about why we shouldn’t go into the business, we figured it must be a damned good idea.” Grosset & Dunlap, along with distributor Curtis, became shareholders in Ballantine’s new paperback house, Bantam Books.

Bantam’s impact was immediate—its initial printings were usually 200,000 copies or more. Crazier still, almost every title sold out. Each month, Bantam published four new books from the large backlist available via Grosset & Dunlap, and it had no shortage of quality titles, including The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath (now just 25 cents). How would other publishers keep up?


Toward the end of the 1940s, with so many new entrants in the booming paperback business, magazine and comic book publisher Fawcett Publications gave the industry a new idea to mock: paperback originals. Up to that point, paperback publishers had limited themselves to reprinting hardcover titles or publishing quick, timely original nonfiction such as the wartime bestseller What’s That Plane, a guide to identifying American and Japanese aircraft.

Fawcett was saddled with a distribution agreement that prevented it from publishing and distributing its own reprints of hardcover titles. Seeking to exploit a loophole, editor in chief Ralph Daigh announced that Fawcett would begin publishing original fiction in paperback form beginning in February 1950.

“Successful authors are not interested in original publishing at 25 cents,” Freeman Lewis, executive vice-president of Pocket Books said. Hardcover publisher Doubleday’s LeBaron R. Barker claimed that the concept could “undermine the whole structure of publishing.” Hardcover publishers, of course, had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. They were still receiving 50 percent of the royalties by selling reprint rights.

Fawcett silenced the skeptics by selling more than nine million copies within six months. Authors did the math, and writers of genre fiction—thrillers, Westerns, and romance especially—jumped at the opportunity to write paperback originals. Still, “serious” literary writers insisted on staying in the hardcover market for the prestige, and critics in turn declined to review paperback originals. Clearly, the stigma was still there.


Literary authors and critics weren’t the only ones turning up their noses at paperbacks. Bookstore owners, for the most part, refused to stock them, and students at most schools and universities still used hardcover texts.

Enter the “trade paperback.” Publishers had been unsuccessfully experimenting with larger-sized paperbacks since the 1940s, but it wasn’t until Doubleday’s Jason Epstein introduced Anchor Books trade paperbacks in 1953 that the idea caught fire. The idea arose from Epstein’s own college experience. “The writers we had discovered in college were either out of print or available only in expensive hardcover editions,” he wrote in Book Business. Instead of reprinting last year’s hardcover bestsellers and classics, Epstein envisioned a line of “upscale paperbacks” handpicked for their literary merit from publishers’ deep backlists.

Anchor’s trade paperbacks were larger and more durable than mass-market paperbacks and were an instant hit with high schools and colleges. Their attractive covers, illustrated by fine artists such as Edward Gorey, immediately distinguished them from the grittier pulp paperbacks, and they appealed to a more “intellectual” market. As a result, they found a nice middle ground in price. Epstein’s paperbacks had small print runs of about 20,000 and sold for 65 cents to $1.25 when mass-market paperbacks were still going for 25 to 50 cents. Trade paperbacks also opened doors to bookstores. Within 10 years, 85 percent of bookstores carried the handsome volumes.

In 1960, revenues from paperbacks of all shapes and sizes finally surpassed those from hardcover sales. The same year, Pocket Books became the first publisher to be publicly traded on a stock exchange, essentially marking paperbacks' ascent to the mainstream. Hardcovers never died out in the United States, though paperbacks continued to outsell them as recently as 2010, thanks in no small part to the continuing price difference—for example, George R.R. Martin’s bestselling novel A Game of Thrones retails for $32 in hardcover and just $8.99 in mass-market paperback.

Today, it’s de rigueur for major publishers to print both hardcover and paperback books. And of course, there’s a new “pocket book” transforming reading habits, the e-book. Now that Amazon—and the other online booksellers who followed—have untethered e-books from computers by offering inexpensive e-readers, the e-book revolution has done de Graff’s brilliant distribution scheme one better: These days, anyone with a smartphone has an entire bookstore in his or her pocket.

This article originally appeared in mental_floss magazine, available wherever brilliant/lots of magazines are sold. Get a free issue here.

Harvard Discovers Old Library Books Bound in Human Skin

By Dianna Dilworth)

Harvard University has discovered three books in its collection are bound in human hide.

The details make it sound more like the elements of a novel than of real life. One book was found in the Langdell Law Library, another in the Countway Library of Medicine, and yet another in the Houghton Collection. One book deals with medieval law, another Roman poetry and the other French philosophy. The book Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias… doesn’t jump out as bound in human flesh, as The Harvard Crimson reports. Check it out:

The book’s 794th and final page includes an inscription in purple cursive: ‘the bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.’

(Via Reddit)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Woman Who Couldn’t Stop Buying Self-Help Books

by Jean Fain)

(Great Beyond/Flickr via Compfight)

Jean Fain is a Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychotherapist and the author of “The Self-Compassion Diet.” So why is the author of a self-help book criticizing self-help books? Read on…

By Jean Fain
Guest contributor

At first, I couldn’t understand why this new psychotherapy client had settled on my couch. Sure, Kaye (not her real name) was unhappy with her weight, and yet, she enjoyed an enviably healthy diet. With the aid of self-help books, she had not only taught herself to cook delicious, nutritious dishes, she’d also learned to meditate and eat mindfully. This unusually self-motivated working mother of two not only read each book from cover to cover, she practiced what the most helpful authors preached.

As time went on, I came to understand that as much as self-help books helped Kaye eat more healthfully, they were effectively hindering her happiness. You see, she used self-help books the same way she used food – to stuff her feelings. For good reason. Binge eating and reading brought her enormous comfort, which she desperately needed to deal with a high-stress job and a low-achieving child. Only problem: as Kaye’s self-help library expanded, so did her waistline.

As we delved into the problem of turning to the dinner plate and the printed page for comfort, the solution became abundantly clear. If she was serious about finding true happiness, she’d have to stop buying self-help books and start asking for a little help from her friends and family.

Yes, I’m a self-help author myself, but since writing “The Self-Compassion Diet,” I’ve learned the limitations of the genre. Self-help outsells every other category because it gives people what they desperately need: hope. Which, on a good day, is enough to jumpstart change. But it’s rarely enough to sustain it. (Mostly, it sustains the publishing industry to the tune of $549 million per year, according to the market research firm Marketdata Enterprises.) So if you’ve been blaming yourself for failing to stick to the latest plan, you can stop. It’s not you, it’s the genre.

I can’t tell you how many clients gained belly fat and weight trying to stick to the “Wheat Belly” diet.
Which isn’t to say self-help books have no benefit. In fact, self-help has become the world’s best-selling genre because most readers start reaping the benefits even before they crack the books. Of the many benefits, consider the top three:

Quick: The simple act of buying self-help books makes people feel better. Whatever you’re struggling with – losing weight, gaining employment, finding true love, getting a divorce, aging gracefully, dying with dignity – just knowing that simple answers to life’s complex problems are within reach gives book buyers an immediate sense of relief.

Cheap: Time- and money-wise, self-help costs a fraction of the cost of individual counseling. Virtually nothing, if you have access to free downloads or a public library.

Easy: Self-improvement, at least according to the dust jacket, is as easy as making Jell-O. Just follow the step-by-step directions and chill. Before you know it, you’re completely transformed.

So if self-help is all that, why do book buyers keep buying the next new book? That’s right, according to publishing statistics, 80% of self-help buyers are repeat customers, which suggests these books aren’t especially helpful. Most recent case in point: I can’t tell you how many clients gained belly fat and weight trying to stick to the “Wheat Belly” diet.

That self-help doesn’t really help is just one of a litany of complaints that critics have lodged against the genre, which, by the way, was launched in 1859 by one Samuel Smiles, a Scottish author, and his aptly titled self-published book: “Self-Help.” Interestingly, self-help criticism has become a genre in its own right. In fact, it was Jessica Lamb-Shapiro’s riveting, in-depth analysis of America’s self-help culture in her new-ish book, “Promise Land,” that inspired me to reflect on the genre’s inherent problems.

“It becomes almost this kind of addicting, self-perpetuating cycle where you never stop buying self-help books,” Lamb-Shapiro said. “You never stop trying to improve.”

Even if you’re no self-help addict, the genre can be detrimental to your health. To my mind, the top three detriments are as follows:

Failure to tell the whole truth: Because the whole truth doesn’t sell half as well as half-truths, self-help authors traditionally promise readers more than they can deliver. Given that many authors are self-proclaimed experts who don’t have a clue how to help themselves, let alone their readers, it should come as no surprise that some books are full of misleading, incorrect, if not counterproductive advice.

Inability to solve the problem: There are happy exceptions, of course, but, as a rule, the quick-fix solutions synonymous with self-help more often than not perpetuate the very problem they aim to fix. What’s worse, in case quick fix fans don’t feel bad enough already, when they inevitably fail to stick to the presto-change-o plan, they feel even worse.

Over-reliance on the self: Last but not least, self-help books perpetuate the myth that changing yourself, all by yourself, is an effective way to go. A can-do attitude may be the American way, but this do-it-yourself approach inadvertently discourages independent-minded readers from getting much-needed support.

Which is what Kaye, my client who couldn’t stop buying self-help books, finally realized. Slowly, but surely, she unloaded a good number of self-help books and started asking for help from her husband, a neighbor, a women’s support group.

At our last session, a more self-accepting Kaye revealed the secret to her new-found happiness, and it wasn’t what she’d thought. “Don’t believe everything you think,” she said with a knowing grin. More than weight loss, she said in so many words, her happiness depended on losing a little self-reliance and gaining a lot more support.

To be clear, the secret to Kaye’s success as well as yours isn’t as simple as replacing bibliotherapy with group therapy. No? Then what’s the secret to successfully sticking to your best laid self-improvements plans? If you’re the rare reader who made it through the final chapters of “The Self-Compassion Diet,” you already know the answer: If self-help books help you, well, keep reading them. But, as independent as you like to be, you gotta have support, from someone who cares. Not from your undermining husband or that drill sergeant of a personal trainer you love to hate, but from one or more compassionate people ready, willing and able to see you through. That’s my conclusion.

I was curious if, after analyzing 100 or so self-help books, “Promise Land” author Lamb-Shapiro reached the same conclusion. So I emailed her.

Here’s her response: “I do believe that care and concern for and from other people is ultimately more valuable than a self-help book,” she wrote. “Which is not to say that social support and self-help are mutually exclusive. Often people use self-help books in conjunction with therapy or a support group. In an ideal world, everyone would have access to and avail themselves of both.”

Hear, hear.

Jean Fain, LICSW, MSW, is a Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychotherapist and the author of “The Self-Compassion Diet.”

Therapist and author Jean Fain (Courtesy)