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Thanks to Twitter for the endlessly engaging string of content and link sharing, I’ve come across what has quickly become my favorite column in Huffington Post.  Not only is the woman funny, humble and smart, but she’s also an author here at Penguin.

Since obviously I’m terrible at posting my own content (writing, for me, is one of those things so easily pushed around or shifted to make time for other endeavors, ugh) I’m going to re-post (call me an aggregator of content) my all time favorite Joanne Rendell column!  Additionally, after you enjoy this witty and insightful column on making reading the “healthy and attractive ” lifestyle choice (come on people, cheaper than the prescription drugs the pharma companies sell us!) and take a gander at Joanne’s latest title, CROSSING WASHINGTON SQUARE. Oh, and don’t forget to enter my first giveaway! It’s for an author and book, both of which I’m very fond…

Time to Sell Reading: What the “Good” Publishing Industry Needs to Learn from the Big “Bad” Drug Industry

Author Joanne Rendell

Author Joanne Rendell

I’m going to preface this post by saying I know absolutely nothing about marketing. I have a PhD in literature, not an MBA. I’m married to an NYU professor, but I’ve never been near the business or marketing schools. Furthermore, even though I’m a published author, I don’t know much about the machinations of the publishing industry either. Yet in spite of my lack of knowledge in these areas, I want to make the bold step of offering the publishing industry some marketing advice.

Here goes: “Publishing industry, listen up, it’s time to sell reading.”

The book industry needs to make the act of reading sexy and hip, enviable and sought-after. Instead of putting all their rapidly declining marketing dollars behind single authors and their new releases (think of those rather dull ads on the subway or in magazines which feature an author’s grinning face, a book cover, and a few generic “thumbs up” quotes), why don’t publishing companies run campaigns which would make reading itself a desirable lifestyle choice? Why not help craft a new, exciting, and sexy “reading” identity for people to aspire to? In short, why not take a leaf out of the drug industry’s marketing book?

Now, I concede, the publishing world is a very gentlemanly place. Even though sales are declining, digital media is encroaching, and bookstores are closing every day, the people in the book industry still pride themselves on being good, moral, and thoughtful people. Rejection letters are kind, verbal contracts are held firm, booksellers aren’t too pushy, and lunch at the Algonquin Hotel between editors is an amiable, bookish, and cerebral affair.

The idea that this “good” publishing world might emulate the big “bad” drug industry would probably send the Algonquin’s fine silverware trembling and independent booksellers weeping onto their carefully selected front tables. But the pharmaceutical companies know what they’re doing and they’re doing it well (along with banks, they are now the most successful businesses in the world). If the publishing industry wants to survive, it might have to suck it up and start studying all the tactics employed by the drug industry which sell us a happier, healthier, smiling, sexier life — all thanks to drugs.

“Educating consumers to the virtues of a product sometimes entails altering the cultural environment surrounding the consumption of that product,” says Kalman Applbaum in his book The Marketing Era: From Professional Practice to Global Provisioning. For a successful example of this, Applbaum shows how drug companies managed to change the “cultural environment” surrounding depression in Japan and thus open up a whole new market for their products: SSRI antidepressants.

In the past, there was “considerable stigma” attached to mental illness in Japan, according to Applbaum. But working “synergistically,” four big drug companies waged a multi-faceted campaign to “increase awareness of depression.” They used ads, newspaper articles, and glossy waiting room brochures. They sponsored the translation of best-selling books from the US which acclaimed SSRIs. Throughout the campaign, the motive was the same: to awaken “public consciousness to the symptoms and treatability” of depression.

Running ads with smiling and sexy people reading books will only be a start. As the Japanese example shows, a campaign to change a “cultural environment” must be advanced on all fronts. It will require competing publishing houses and competing book sellers to work together to shake off old stereotypes about reading and readers (“lonely women with cats,” “geeky professors,” “bespectacled librarians’). It must help forge a new and brighter image of the 21st Century reader — a reader who will not only be hip and sexy, but who will also buy books.

I have no idea exactly how this will be done (I refer you back to my first paragraph). But I have some thoughts for anyone who cares to listen. New spaces need to emerge where people will meet and discuss books and, importantly, be seen and respected for discussing books. TV and movies need to show sexy readers, much like they showed sexy smokers back in the day. Celebrities need to be caught reading books — or Kindles — on the beaches of the Caribbean. Book groups should not be left to form themselves; they need to be propagated and supported by the book industry. Expert voices should be everywhere, in newspapers and on Oprah, talking about the intellectual, personal, health, and even sexual benefits of reading!

Books can offer us so much. They can offer deep insights, escapism, healing, empathy, knowledge, and revival. They can illuminate who we are, our dreams, our deepest fears and our sufferings. Books can change us in profound ways. They can make us laugh and cry, desire and yearn. Surely, there is way to market these incredible offerings and help people want to be readers.
Joanne Rendell is the author of the newly released Crossing Washington Square (Penguin), a novel about two women who are hip and smart and beautiful – and very passionate about books!

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For all of you out there lining up to buy me a Kindle, you can hold off until Christmas (unless you feel really strongly about it; who am I to turn down a gift?!).  Sony has just announced their latest e-reader to the family and this one has access to libraries (via wifi)!!!!  This definitely puts Sony ahead of Amazon at the moment.  So instead of purchasing each E-book for $9.99+, they’ll be rent-able… I wonder if you need an account with each library from which you “borrow”- but the details aren’t important to me yet since it won’t be out until December (hence, Christmas).

The official Sony post here: EXTRA, EXTRA: SONY’S DAILY EDITION ROUNDS OUT NEW LINE OF DIGITAL READERS, no pre-order link but if I stumble across one I’ll definitely let you know, along with my mailing address!

I disagree with sentence one… I think this is sexy (not to mention I already discussed this in a post from March 13- https://novelwhore.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/the-book-business-from-a-veterans-perspective/:

Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London

Launching in London today, the Espresso Book Machine can print any of 500,000 titles while you wait

Allison Flood, Guardian UK (Friday, April 24, 2009)
New visual for a fancy coffee drink!

New visual for a fancy coffee drink!

It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.

Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings, and says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“This could change bookselling fundamentally,” said Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings. “It’s giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon … I like to think of it as the revitalisation of the local bookshop industry. If you could walk into a local bookshop and have access to one million titles, that’s pretty compelling.”

From academics keen to purchase reproductions of rare manuscripts to wannabe novelists after a copy of their self-published novels, Blackwell believes the Espresso – a Time magazine “invention of the year” – can cater to a wide range of needs, and will be monitoring customer usage closely over the next few months as it looks to pin down pricing (likely to be around the level of traditional books) and demand. It then hopes to roll it out across its 60-store network, with its flagship Oxford branch likely to be an early recipient as well as a host of smaller, campus-based shops.

The brainchild of American publisher Jason Epstein, the Espresso was a star attraction at the London Book Fair this week, where it was on display to interested publishers. Hordes were present to watch it click and whirr into action, printing over 100 pages a minute, clamping them into place, then binding, guillotining and spitting out the (warm as toast) finished article. The quality of the paperback was beyond dispute: the text clear, unsmudged and justified, the paper thick, the jacket smart, if initially a little tacky to the touch.

Described as an “ATM for books” by its US proprietor On Demand Books, Espresso machines have already been established in the US, Canada and Australia, and in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, but the Charing Cross Road machine is the first to be set up in a UK bookstore. It cost Blackwell some $175,000, but the bookseller believes it will make this back in a year. “I do think this is going to change the book business,” said Phill Jamieson, Blackwell head of marketing. “It has the potential to be the biggest change since Gutenberg and we certainly hope it will be. And it’s not just for us – it gives the ability to small independent bookshops to compete with anybody.”

Original link to article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/apr/24/espresso-book-machine-launches

It’s Friday, why don’t we all put down our latest novel, link arms and take a little jaunt in this gorgeous Chicago weather and our favorite little BYOB spot and celebrate the weekend and the win by the Cubs.

Our latest BYO Crew!

Our latest BYO Crew!

Oh, wait, you’re sick of your go-to BYOB restaurant and want something new, that’s also affordable?  I mean who can afford to pay for drinks in this economy! Oh I’m hearing an interest in outdoor seating?  Can do!

Take a gander at the amazing new website http://www.GoByo.com!  Able to sort by such important characteristics as location, meals served and features (40 available! Such as outdoor seating, dancing, or if you’re drinking so many calories you need to compensate with light food, they even have a healthy meal option!).  Much more reliable than Yelp!, this nifty little site was publicized in Thrillist’s Daily Chicago email (sign up here: http://www.thrillist.com/signup) and will definitely be a site I frequent.

Happy Friday & GO CUBS GO!

True Connoisseurs = Classy Wine

True Connoisseurs = Classy Wine

I like to think of myself as a wine connoisseur, though as my OUB & OAD (aunt & uncle, the legitimate connoisseurs) would tell you, I just like all booze!  Though my palette may not be picky, my wallet definitely is (which bodes well for cheap wines sold in bulk).  So even though I can’t afford nice “vintage” wine (not to mention wouldn’t be aware of the difference), I like to know a little bit about what I’m drinking and what I should be cursing the next morning.  That’s where Alpana comes in…

The youngest Master Sommelier (quite the title, and she didn’t even go to a real college per se but a wine school!), Alpana Singh resides in Chicago, has worked at luxurious restaurant Everest and has written the successful book Alpana Pours: About being a woman, loving wine & having great relationships.  Quite the title and I admit I was skeptical, until Alpana pulled me in with her wit, knowledge, and wine jokes even I could appreciate.

Summer Wine!

Summer Wine!

Though I’m not quite finished with the book (I thought I had lost it for awhile and found it on the shelf, right where it belongs… Who would’a thought?!), I did come across an Alpana article in the Tribune’s “RedEye” today I thought I would share, that’s so relevant on this (finally!) sunny day.

To RedEye and Alpana, hope you don’t mind me copying this article, and my deepest thanks go to you for choosing affordable wines to celebrate the season, so go ahead and pour yourself a glass of sunshine! For more Alpana, visit her blog at http://www.whatwouldalpanadrink.blogspot.com.

Wine faves change with the weather

By: Alpana Singh, April 15, 2009
Alpana Singh

Alpana Singh

People often ask me, “What’s your favorite wine?” While I do have certain preferences, I find that my answer varies according to my mood, which often is dictated by the weather.

During the cool winter months, I tend to comfort myself with rich, full-bodied wines such as cabernet sauvignon or malbec. Their velvety textures envelop me like a warm blanket, and they pair well with cool-weather classics such as pot roast and braised short ribs.

Now that we are beginning to see signs of spring and the weather is beginning to warm up, I’m starting to crave lighter dishes and more refreshing wines to go with them. Lighter-bodied wines that are low on oak and big on flavors of green apples, lemons and stone fruits complement the fresh peas, asparagus, morel mushrooms and leeks I enjoy during spring season. As I grow tired of the cold, I become bored with the big, heavy reds, and my favorites become sauvignon blanc, torrontes, chenin blanc and assyrtiko. The aromas of these lighter varietals lighten my mood as they evoke the essence of spring and warmer days–crisp weather, freshly cut flowers, sprouting lawns and farmer’s market produce. I’ll enjoy these wines until the weather truly begins to warm up, and by then I’ll have a new set of favorites.

While we may not have the ability to control the weather, we can certainly turn to these styles of wine to put a little sunshine in our glass.

2007 Alamos torrontes
Argentina, $12
Torrontes is an Argentine specialty. With its exotically perfumed notes of white flowers and peaches, it’s a wonderful match for asparagus or your first outdoor meal of the season.

2008 Graham Beck chenin blanc
South Africa, $15
The French use chenin blanc to make slightly sweet vouvray wine. South Africans, who refer to chenin as steen, prefer a drier version with flavors of yellow apples and honeysuckle. Pair with morel mushrooms and asparagus or a tangy wedge of goat cheese.

2008 Brander sauvignon blanc
Santa Ynez, Calif.; $15
Vibrant and juicy with flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest and freshly cut grass, this selection is more in line with a New Zealand style than a California one. Pair it with a spring pea risotto for the ultimate ode to spring.

2008 Sigalas assyrtiko
Santorini, Greece; $18
Fans of crisp Italian whites will enjoy the refreshing zing of assyrtiko, an ancient Greek varietal indigenous to the island of Santorini. Winemaker Paris Sigalas produces a style bursting with citrus fruit. Pair with shellfish, grilled fish and Greek-inspired dishes.

Full article here: http://redeye.chicagotribune.com/red-041509-alpana,0,5798755.column

BetterWorldBooks.com is a company dedicated to”making the world a better place, one book at a time.”

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, this is a company from which you can buy used books for as low as 5/$15, with free shipping! As a warning, many of the books are in rather rough condition and contain library markings, but still be proud to display them on your bookshelf since as much as 5-10% of proceeds go directly back to non-profit literacy foundations!

College students, they began as a textbook reseller, so check here for those expensive books as you may find them for $10!

CNN even did a video segment on the company, available here: http://tinyurl.com/dxmrkv

Though I abhor Facebook status updates, gchat away messages and the like, I’ve recently embraced Twitter.  Hypocritical? Narcissistic? Pathetic? Maybe all of the above?  So yes, my title “tweeting” is a verb.

twitter-pageDon’t judge, you can choose to opt in to my random thoughts, current activities, literary commentary and things for which I am thankful  at your will – no obligation here.  Twitter is a surprisingly simple social media network in which I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the content and users.

Give it a try – find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/novelwhore.

Obviously I love Chicago.  And while I can tout the benefits of this city I call Home all I want, it’s nice to have an objective source of authority on which to stand.

Although I rarely consider a group of men to be a source of authority beyond the stereotypical sports stats, Playboy models and occasionally mechanical parts, the AskMen.com Editorial Team really pulled through, ranking Chicago as the #1 City to Live in. This ranking is based on applying a statistical formula to eight lifestyle categories (listed in the picture below), then taking into account the intangible benefits offered.  Visit http://www.askmen.com/specials/2009_top_29/ for the complete listing of 29 great cities, or just read the Chicago article below:

Notice how we rank low on the $$ of beer - surprised?

Notice how we rank low on the $$ of beer - surprised?

Why you should live in Chicago

Fine culture and greasy food

As the largest city in the Midwest, Chicago strikes the perfect balance between cosmopolitan and comfortable, combining all of the culture, entertainment and sophistication of an internationally renowned destination with an affordable lifestyle and down-to-earth work hard/play hard character.

World-class cultural fixtures like the Art Institute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago International Film Festival and a vibrant theater scene are complemented by popular festivals like Jazz Fest, Blues Fest and the recently revitalized Lollapalooza, Outdoor Film Festival, and Second City, which happens to be the source of 39% of the U.S.’s greatest comedians (a scientifically calculated fact!). Chicago possesses one of the world’s most vibrant, diverse and innovative restaurant scenes, from culinary luminaries like Charlie Trotter, Grant Achatz and Rick Bayless to an astounding variety of hole-in-the-wall neighborhood joints to Chicago’s signature greasy trinity of deep dish pizza, Italian beef and Chicago-style hot dogs.

A hardcore sports town, Chicago covers all of the professional leagues (some twice) with teams that actually have history, both famous and infamous. And while the winters are rough, Chicagoans make the most of the warmer months, taking their love of sports to the beaches, courts, paths, and parks of Chicago’s beautiful lakefront, set aside as public land for the entire city’s enjoyment.

Why you should live in Chicago in 2009

Lollapalooza, the Hawks and the Cubs

This year, Chicago is a city abuzz. The International Olympic Committee announces the 2016 host city this October, and Chicago’s glitterati and power brokers are schmoozing it up as they create numerous support committees in the hopes that Chicago is selected. Lollapalooza is already a music fan’s Mecca, and with Jane’s Addiction now back together, where better to catch Perry Farrell this year than headlining his own festival?

On the cultural front, the new modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago will be opening in May, and history buffs living in the Land of Lincoln will be busy checking out the numerous exhibitions celebrating his bicentennial. Chicago is always fertile ground for political junkies, but Obama’s election paired with the Blagojevich and Burris fiascoes have turned an always entertaining political scene into a full-blown three ring circus that even those who aren’t armchair pundits will find fascinating.

After years in the standing’s wilderness, the Blackhawks — one of the original six teams in the NHL — are once again a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, the Cubs are projected by most to be tops in the National League, and a World Series victory would set off a citywide party of the century — literally.

Read more about Chicago

By Dominic Armato

Sometimes the life of a drug lord seems a little like the mob – dangerous and violent, but sexy in that easy-money sort of way.  I don’t have the heart for it – I can’t take the pictures of the starving children in Africa that come up on those religious commercials, much less personally contributing to addicts (is that a logical chain of thought?).  Not to mention drugs, weapons and police scare me… But they do make for a good story, as long as the violence and danger stay on the page, unlike the Mexican Cartels currently doing their best to wreak havoc in the States…

Elizabeth Lowell had no idea how current her fictional novel, The Wrong Hostage, would seem right now, with news outlets daily covering the influx of drugs and violence from Mexico and the issues going on within the drug world down there.

Published as the second book within her “St. Kilda” series (of which I’ve

How I like to picture MX

How I like to picture MX

never read the first), The Wrong Hostage takes place during a harrowing weekend in which California Judge Grace Silva is forced to go toe-to-toe with the feared Mexican drug lord, Hector Rivas Osuna, in order to rescue her 15-year-old son.  Held hostage against money Silva’s ex-husband owes, she takes action.  Instead of wasting time in tracking down her lousy ex, missing for weeks, she calls the super-secret St. Kilda firm, known only to her due to a brief, passionate love affair with an operative… If you’re a fan of the “Romantic Suspense” genre, I bet you can guess this operative is also, ta-da, the son’s real father.

Through scary roads in Mexico, being witness to cold-hearted murder within the drug community (reminiscent of the Chicago Mob: https://novelwhore.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/operation-gambat-when-corruption-was-king-of-chicago/) and all the while reigniting  long-lost passion, this is a fast-paced novel that leaves your heart in your throat as you just wish the family to be reunited, frolicking on a white-sand beach and off the drug-ridden streets of Tijuana.

Crazily enough, I read this novel last year and as quickly as I finished the last page it left my thoughts, just to spring to mind as I was reading The New York Times two days ago:  “More than 7,000 people [in Mexico], most of them connected to the drug trade or law enforcement, have died since January 2008. Many of the victims were tortured. Beheadings have become common.” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/23/us/23border.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2&em.

There are numerous additional articles covering home invasions and kidnappings in the United States, all related to the Mexican drug trade, making me wonder if a situation like Lowell portrayed in The Wrong Hostage happened to an ordinary family unconnected with underground, all-powerful rescue rings (do these even exist in real life?), what would happen?  Would the news even be publicized, or would one family be in unbearable private pain?

It’s scary when what I would consider to be outlandish fiction comes alive in the newspaper.  While I enjoyed reading this book throughout its 406 pages, I don’t like the reading of individual newspaper articles that don’t always have the same caliber of ending (trying not to give anything aware, being sly).

Give this book a try if you like action, suspense, guns and violence with an undercurrent of sexual tension, but skip it if you would rather not take a behind-the-scenes peek at what may be happening as we speak.

And I even love Mexico – Cancun vacation, anyone!?

  • NovelWhore’s Grade: B
  • Title: The Wrong Hostage
  • Author: Elizabeth Lowell
  • Publisher: Avon

Now for all of you experienced bloggers out there, this milestone is hardly something of which to be proud. But, hell, I celebrate my half birthday (July

Visual Depiction of my milestone excitment

Visual Depiction of my excitement

28, mark that down) so have no shame in taking note (and being excited) of my one-month status!

As of March 10 (I missed the actual date by two days, oops), 21 posts, 14 comments, 24 spam messages and 670 views, I like to think I have come a long way since my first post that seriously took me two weeks to publish.

Thank you all for the comments and support, and please continue to come back and give me further feedback and even criticism, if you feel so inclined. Happy Reading!

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