At 9 p.m. EST on Nov. 9, Oprah.com, CNN.com and Facebook join forces for a live, 90-minute Oprah's Book Club webcast to discuss the club's latest selection, the story collection Say You're One of Them, by Nigerian-born writer Uwem Akpan.
And you thought YOUR life was tough. Author Rhoda Janzen suffered what can only be called a trifecta of trauma: A botched hysterectomy, a husband who left her for a guy he met online and (in the same week) a teenager smashed into her Volkswagen Beetle.
Me? I would've crawled under the covers and stayed there for a good long time, only rising to watch the latest episode of Glee (which probably would only cheer me up temporarily, even if Mr. Shue was doing Bust a Move again). But Janzen is made of sterner stuff. She did what any battered soul would do. She went home - to her Mennonite family.
Janzen chronicles her experience in the warm and funny Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, which Herald staff writer Hannah Sampson reviewed. Click here to read the review. I haven't read the book yet, but I can't wait to check it out.
Also in the Herald Sunday: Ellen Kanner's review of Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Wolf Hall, about the rise of Thomas Cromwell. Yet another book I'm dying to get to, but it will have to wait for now.
If you're not completely exhausted from running around Miami Book Fair International (or if you ARE whipped but love tennis so much you don't care), you may appreciate this early warning: Tennis star Andre Agassi will appear at 6:30 Nov. 16 at Temple Judea, 5500 Granada Ave. in Coral Gables for Books & Books.
You'll need tickets to the event, and they're available at all Books & Books locations. Just buy a copy of Agassi's book Open: An Autobiography, and you'll get one ticket.
The American Booksellers Association has sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking that it investigate the practices of Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart that it believes are illegal predatory pricing. (Translation: Don't let them sell our big bestsellers for nine bucks!)
The ABA writes that the pricing is harmful to the book industry (for sure) and "harmful to customers," though I suspect most customers would rather pay 9 bucks for Stephen King's new novel than $25.
Read the whole letter here.
And the publishing price wars continue. The latest weapon: Stephen King.
After Amazon and Walmart.com both announced they'd be selling several presumably popular fall books (by the likes of Sarah Palin, Stephen King and John Grisham), Target.com also jumped on the bandwagon. All three are offering books by Palin, Grisham and King offer Palin's Going Rogue, Grisham's Ford County and King's Under the Dome for $9 or under, which has publishers fretting.
Now Scribner, reports the Associated Press, has announced that the digital version of King's 1,000-page-plus novel won't be released until Dec. 24 (the hardback comes out Nov. 10), in what appears to be an effort to keep digital sales from topping hardcover sales. (Going Rogue's digital release has also been delayed.) Not sure if this helps much; in the first week after the release of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, the AP reported that only 5 percent of sales, or 100,000 copies, were purchased digitally. So I guess Scribner is hedging its bets.
AP writes: "King, ironically, is a pioneer and champion of e-books. In 2000, his e-novella Riding
the Bullet' was initially offered for free and became an online sensation, downloaded so
many times that Internet sites offering the book were overwhelmed. In February 2009, when Amazon.com announced a new edition of its Kindle e-reader, King's novella Ur was offered exclusively through the device and incorporated the
Kindle into the narrative.
Barnes & Noble enters the e-reader fray with the Nook, described by PW Daily as "an unusual dual screen digital reader—it has a six-inch grayscale E-Ink display with a full-color backlit touch-control screen situated just below—that raises the ante on E-Ink devices. The Nook offers a virtual keyboard, two GB of internal memory with expandable (16 gig) SD card and five different fonts."
The Nook goes on sale at B&N stores and the website sometime at the end of November, just in time for the holidays. PW reports that the price will be $259, the same cost as Amazon's Kindle 2.
Read more here.
Here's something that will take the sting out of having to buy a ticket for this year's "Evening With..." presentations at Miami Book Fair International: The fair will offer tastings before the evening events with hors d'oeuvres and a complimentary cocktail, with a cash bar available. The tastings will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. Nov. 8-13 on the fifth floor terrace of Building 3.
Nov. 8: Casablanca Seafood
Nov. 9: MamaJuana Cafe
Nov. 10: Miami's Finest Caribbean Restaurant
Nov. 11: Hard Rock Cafe
Nov. 12: Xixn
Nov. 13: Francophone night (France, Haiti and Canada host an evening of culinary samplings and presentations from Francophone authors.
Tickets for "Evening With..." events are $10 and can be ordered at the book fair website at noon Nov. 2.
"'I just came across a nonfiction book he published in 1983 called Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book. I don't hear many people talk about reading Walker Percy these days, which I think is a pity. He was not afraid to be an amateur philosopher and linguist and semiotician as well as a professional novelist. . . . It's structured as a series of multiple choice questions and thought experiments with two of my favorite being: 'Why is Carl Sagan so lonely?' and 'Why was there no such word [as boredom] before the 18th century?' "
-- CERIDWEN DOVEY, author of Blood Kin
No, really. Stop laughing, everyone who knows me. It's an interesting concept. Does positive thinking truly help any given situation? Ehrenreich writes that it doesn't, that, say, there's no correlation between surviving cancer and "thinking positive" about battling the disease. On The Daily Show last week, she told Jon Stewart when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was told to "embrace" her disease, that she'd be a better person for having it.
It's entirely possible I might slug someone who said that to me, had I been in her position.
In any case, check out the Miami Herald's review of the book by former staffer Lisa Arthur, who writes:
"The myth-busting Barbara Ehrenreich takes on the ``cult of cheerfulness'' in her latest book and shortly after diving into the icy plunge pool of Chapter One readers will find themselves asking: Can I really make it all the way through a screed that starts off with a roundhouse punch at the positive thinking of cancer patients?
You can. And you should."
Ehrenreich appears at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Books & Books in Coral Gables.
Good news for Sarah Palin and John Grisham fans. Bad news for independent bookstores? Wal-Mart has joined the book discount fray.
From the Associated Press:
"NEW YORK — A price war has broken out in the book world.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Thursday that its online site, walmart.com, would charge just $10, with free shipping, for such upcoming hardcover releases as Sarah Palin's Going Rogue and John Grisham's Ford County, a cut of 60 percent or more from the regular cost.
Amazon.com, the leading online book seller, has responded, also slashing its price to $10 for Going Rogue, Ford County, Michael Crichton's Pirate Latitudes and other leading pre-orders."
And there's more:
"In a new program called "America's Reading List," Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart also will offer 50 percent off or more on 200 current best-sellers, including Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and Kathryn Stockett's The Help.
Thursday's price cuts come at a time when Seattle-based Amazon and other sellers have been charging just $9.99 for ebooks, a price that publishers worry is unrealistically low. The reductions also make it increasingly hard for independent sellers, who can't afford such large discounts, to compete for the most popular books."