Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

"...books were sold, not bought."

Every so often one encounters an insightful journalist who actually sees through all the crap and understands what exactly ails the book/publishing/writing industry. Dana Blankenhorn, on smartplanet.com, has almost got it right...almost. He argues that back in the 1990s publishing simply became a marketing exercise — commissioning books and pushing them at people, rather than letting books emerge out of the world of writers. This is true. But what Blankenhorn misses (that is, what is really wrong with the book industry) is the fact that people don't read any more. (Present company excluded, of course.) You may scoff at this. I mean, look at the sales of Dan Brown's new book. But reading Down Brown and calling yourself a reader is like eating Kraft Dinner and calling yourself an epicure. Try this: at your next dinner party, casually throw out this bomb: "Anyone reading anything good?" Listen to the sound of silence. Or for a week ask every adult you meet what they are reading. Subtract those reading Dan Brown, and if you find 5 who are currently reading a book, you'll be doing well. Marketing is a symptom, not an illness, Mr Blankenhorn.

Too many boogies

According to that paragon of journalism, Fox, the Bush administration decided not to award scribe extraordinaire JK Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because her books (get this) encourage witchcraft. The ironies tear me in so many directions that I lose my ability to type.

Hey nerds, get busy!!!

Today is 24-hr comic book day.

I'll take a pound of helvetica, please

Think you know your cheeses? Think you know your fonts? Test your skills at Cheese or Font.

Bond, James Bond

Think you have what it takes to be the next 007? Test your mettle at the MI6 website to see if you might qualify.

I always thought Hundred Acre Wood was too macho.

The Toronto Star reports that some folks (surely with too much time on their hands) are up in arms over the fact that, in its newest Pooh book, Dutton Children's Books has added a new character to the ensemble of critters that hang out in Hundred Acre Wood. "Lottie the otter will be only the second female character to populate the world of Winnie-the-Pooh (after Kanga the kangaroo)," they report — and we all know Kanga didn't really count. Well I say, if they can remake Sherlock Holmes as an Americanized superhero, then nothing is sacred. But that's just me. The Telegraph has a Lottie-less excerpt of the new Pooh.

10 of England's best secondhand bookshops

This superb Guardian gallery is like looking at exotic and rare butterflies pinned into window boxes. Extinction beckons.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Shaun Smith

Shaun Smith is a novelist and journalist living in Toronto. His young adult novel Snakes & Ladders was published in January 2009 by the Dundurn Group.

Go to Shaun Smith ’s Author Page