Friday, June 13, 2008


By a stroke of good fortune, I am the temporary caretaker of TWO KINDLES! Over the weekend, I will load them up with ebooks, test them under various reading conditions, and then send them on to their rightful owners. Here is the situation as it stands:

Unpacking the Kindles with eager delight, I must dutifully note the very nice albeit wasteful packaging. Inside the Amazon cardboard box you find another cardboard box. Inside that you find a white faux book that houses the actual device. It reminds me of the Lifesavers boxes that people give kids at Christmas. Unhooking the elastic band holding it closed, you then find a handy definition of the word Kindle: v.t. 1. set on fire. 2. inspire, stir up. -v.i. 1. catch fire. 2. become animated. That accurately describes my emotional state at the moment.

After taking the plastic wrap off the Kindles and their leather holders, which look like faux dust jackets, I plugged them into the wall. I hope to return from lunch to find them ready to connect to the Amazon Whispernet wireless service!

Check back for further coverage of the Amazon Kindle experience.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Let the Buzz Begin!

I would like to draw your attention to Charlotte Roche's book that has all of Germany atwitter and will come out with Grove Press in the US sometime next year. According to Buchreport, Grove has already found a translator. The New York Times ran an article on the book today. I expect this book to be everywhere before the translation is even finished. Is it porn or the liberation of female sexuality? You be the judge.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Reader's Dream Come True

How often have you wished you could read a book again for the first time, to experience all over the rushing impact of emotion that really good writing elicits? Well, I have discovered the secret, and I will share it with you now.

I recently reread Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote, which is an absolutely stunning book. Considering my fondness for Southern literature, crazy old people, and outsiders, it’s no wonder this book amazed the heck out of me. I first read this book in high school and afterwards told people that Capote was my favorite author, probably because it sounded literary and intelligent. So imagine how dumb I now feel considering that I remember little to nothing of this book and had no idea until recently that this was the case!

Were the profound parts (and even main plot points) simply lost on my 15-year-old self? Probably. The characters in Other Voices, Other Rooms are all searching for love. And they believe they cannot find themselves until they find love. The problem is that you cannot love someone until you know yourself, and Capote’s characters have thereby doomed themselves to aimless lives of waiting, dreaming, and wandering. Only the main character, Joel, emerges from this haze of melancholy, finding not one person to love, but love in general, a love of life or something like that. I probably read this book while going through a similar haze and did not recognize Capote’s critique of the situation. It’s hard to see the haze when you are in it.

In any case, the way to read a book again for the first time is to wait long enough until you have forgotten what the book is about. You will find the text is studded with gems that you didn’t see before.

In light of this discovery, I plan to reread The Grass Harp, another one of my alleged favorite books by Capote that I may or may not accurately remember.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

BEA Day 3

The day began with the usual mass migration from the hotels to the convention center, but on the last day, half the people were dragging suitcases behind them…an ominous sign that the halls would be nearly empty by noon. However, I found a great way to combat the waning energy of day three: a video camera. Ed Nowatka, a journalist for Bloomberg News and PW, was kind enough to offer his superior networking skills to my video project. Because of him, I got quite a few people to give quick statements and impressions about BEA and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Look out for links to these videos in the future! I was also able to observe Ed’s fabulous fact- and quote-gathering skills, which came together in his article for Bloomberg News.

As predicted, the halls were emptying out by noon. I wandered over to the Abu Dhabi Book Fair booth, and had a great chat with Tamer Said, a marketing executive for the Fair. He explained to me why you don’t have to pay income tax in Abu Dhabi, where to travel in the Middle East, and that my name is actually a boy’s name in Egypt. We then had a good conversation about children’s books in translation (he used to work for a children’s book publisher) and the greatness of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

After packing up the booth, I met up with Chad Post at the Standard for one more BEA drink. He has some great coverage of BEA on his blog Three Percent. I also enjoyed Richard Nash’s sentiments (and his use of very fancy words) about BEA that combated the generally lackluster mood going around. Of course, Richard is always a good antidote to lackluster moods. Both Chad and Richard express here what we are all thinking, that BEA will continue to be a place where new ideas about publishing are generated and where business relationships are nurtured.

Monday, June 2, 2008

One of Sixty

Find out what I ate for breakfast one random day last month. Some of the people in here must have lied about what they ate because some of this stuff sounds extremely elaborate for a weekday breakfast.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

BEA Day 2

Celebrity sightings: Alec Baldwin and Dr. Ruth. What is frustrating is that there are billions more at BEA, and I only saw two. However, these two were quality sightings, so I'm not too upset that I missed Prince, Magic Johnson, Barbara Walters, William Shatner, or Leonard Nemoy.

I lingered with my Frankfurt Book Fair colleagues at the booth until 5:30 because we just love book fairs so much that we don't want to go home. After that, I went to the Consortium party at the Hotel Figueroa (which was mercifully close to the convention center). They served some very delicious artichoke tartlets and tiny beef burritos, which complimented the good conversation. I met the owner and son from BookCourt, a bookstore in Cobble Hill. I will go and spend my money there sometime soon.

I had planned to go to the PGW party (and even begged an invitation from Soft Skull), but ended up going to dinner downtown. It was quite a nice evening, but the ultimate fighting on the TVs in the bar was distracting. Talking about books and ebooks becomes difficult when close-up shots of swollen faces and bleeding ears constantly pop up in your peripheral vision. After that, I went to the hotel, watched some Hogan's Heroes on TV, and went to bed.