Ruby-Strauss learned his craft working for the notorious Judith Regan, in whose shadow all lowbrow publishing still operates. In college at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he had been a comp-lit major who scoffed when friends talked up popular sci-fi books. “I was too pretentious,” he says. “I was reading Camus.” (A far way from that to Tucker Max, I noted. “Is it?” he replied.) Under Regan, he came to appreciate the simpler beauty of “books that sell.” He acquired a book by shock-rock star Marilyn Manson and then a series of pro-wrestling books, still his highest-selling titles ever. He once took Regan to a match, where he remembers her looking around the arena and declaring happily of the crowd, “You could sell them blank pages!”
(SLNewRepublic) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan
on Oct 23, 2013 -
"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son
loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf
, which would later be called The Harvard Classics
." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 11, 2013 -
What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Apr 27, 2013 -
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these.
The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth
-- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect,"
a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger
. More: Table of Contents
- Publishing history
- Technical discussion
- Buy a paperback copy
- Podcast interview
- Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace"
- possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi
on Dec 27, 2011 -
All told, Updike has published more than a million words on books. ... In Picked-up Pieces (1975), Updike’s second collection of essays, he lists his rules for reviewing... Without coyness, Updike renders a stern judgment based on telling quotation. He builds toward his findings in plain sight, earning him an authority that is based on his presentation of a plausible case. [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Dec 11, 2011 -
Penguin announces a cover contest for John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. John Green
, one half of the VlogBrothers
(previously on metafilter
), is also a Young Adult novelist
. His upcoming book, The Fault in Our Stars
, has topped pre-order lists since its title was announced in June of 2011, thanks in no small part to Green's promise to sign all pre-ordered copies
of the book (150,000 total, as determined by his publisher).
Since the upcoming novel's title release, fan-made covers
have made the rounds on Tumblr, some for which Green has expressed admiration
himself. As it turns out, Penguin went with a professionally-designed cover
for TFiOS, but has also announced a contest to determine which fan-made cover it'll use for the next printing of Green's second novel, An Abundance of Katherines
posted by litnerd
on Oct 19, 2011 -
"A difficult situation or problem whose seemingly alternative solutions are logically invalid." The tragicomic 1961 novel that sprang from Joseph Heller’s experience as a W.W. II bombardier mystified and offended many of the publishing professionals who saw it first. But thanks to a fledgling agent, Candida Donadio, and a young editor, Robert Gottlieb, it would eventually be recognized as one of the greatest anti-war books ever written. In an adaptation from his Heller biography, Tracy Daugherty recalls the tortured eight-year genesis of Catch-22 and its ultimate triumph. [more inside]
posted by WalterMitty
on Jul 25, 2011 -
‘We feel that the stories in this book are such that if your nerves are not of the strongest, then it is wise to read them in daylight.'
For a certain time, in every second-hand bookshop in the UK you would always be able to find a musty and dog-eared copy of one or more of the Pan Books Of Horror Stories
edited by the splendidly named Herbert Van Thal. Now the first is being re-printed
. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry
on Sep 8, 2010 -
"It seems like a really original and interesting read."
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the first line of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is one of literature's most famous, wittily kicking off one of the most beloved of all classics. And yet, 17 British publishers failed to recognize it and rejected the manuscript when Jane's name and the title were changed. What happens when the gatekeepers of literature are illiterate?
posted by CunningLinguist
on Jul 19, 2007 -
As he read, Mr Sterling became convinced he had to publish the book. Jed Rubenfeld's "The Interpretation of Murder" had an intriguing cast of characters, an engaging plot and a dash of kinky sex. It was a historical thriller, one of publishing's hottest recent categories. It had the potential, he thought, to be the next "Da Vinci Code."
The Wall Street Journal details the fascinating mechanics of modern-day book marketing
as Henry Holt & Co labors to birth this year's must-buy publishing phenomenon.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese
on Oct 16, 2006 -
In the newest issue of Bookforum
, critic Sven Birkerts ruminates on what he considers to be the regrettable rise of the snarky book review, taking as his starting example Dale Peck's hatchet job on Rick Moody, written in 2002. "Psychologically [the literary] landscape [is one that is] subtly demoralized by the slash-and-burn of bottom-line economics; the modernist/humanist assumption of art and social criticism marching forward, leading the way, has not recovered from the wholesale flight of academia into theory; the publishing world remains tyrannized in acquisition, marketing, and sales by the mentality of the blockbuster; the confident authority of print journalism has been challenged by the proliferation of online alternatives. [...] All of this leads, and not all that circuitously, to the question of snark, the spirit of negativity, the personal animus pushing ahead of the intellectual or critical agenda. Snark is, I believe, prompted by the terrible vacuum feeling of not mattering, not connecting, not being heard; it is fueled by rage at the same."
posted by Prospero
on Apr 4, 2004 -