Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal reported that the time was almost at hand for the launch of the long-awaited Google Editions, the e-book adventure that's been on hold for months now. It was originally supposed to launch last summer; now we're hearing by the end of the year.
The idea is that users will be able to buy books directly from Google or online retailers (including independent bookstores), download them to a library with a Google account and read them on pretty much any web browser. It's an ideal plan for readers who don't want to be locked into using one specific device to read.
But will independent bookstores also be winners here? Depends on who you ask.
Michael Tucker, president of the independent American Bookseller's Association, says the launch will be a great thing: "It puts us on a level playing field with Amazon and Apple," he told The San Francisco Chronicle.
But Lydia Dishman of Bnet (the CBS interactive business network) is skeptical, citing questions about pricing and Google's terms with publishers. Her plan? To take a wait and see approach. Click here to read her column.
Are you a Janeite longing to bask in the joyous fellowship of others who share your passion but unable to because sadly there is no Miami-Dade or Broward chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America?
Books & Books is here to help. At 4 p.m. Sunday the Coral Gables store will host its first ever meeting of Janeites, who until this time had to drive all the way to West Palm Beach to celebrate the fabulousness of the beloved British writer. That's enough to ruffle anyone's petticoats.
If you're not sure whether you're a Janeite or not, here's an easy test to determine your Janeite status: Have you watched the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth more than twice? And did you rewind the scene where Mr. Darcy jumps in the pond in the flowing white shirt? If so, there's a good chance you will be among friends Sunday.
Books & Books is located at 265 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables.
If you're doing any holiday shopping Saturday or Sunday (that's Dec. 4 and 5), you can help out public schools by shopping at Borders - or even just ordering a latte there.
Thanks to the documentary Waiting for Superman (which analyzes the U.S. public school system) and a promotional collaboration between Borders and PublicAffairs, the publisher of the movie's companion book, anyone who makes an in-store purchase Saturday and Sunday gets a $15 gift card to donate to a public school of his or her choice through donorschoose.org. Doesn't matter if you buy a book or an espresso.
Buy a copy of Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools, and you get a second $15 card to give to the school.
Looking for gifts for those people on your list who still don't have an e-reader? Here are some suggestions:
Mad Men: The Illustrated World, by Dyna Moe (Perigree/Penguin, $15): Fans pining over the end of the AMC series' spectacular fourth season can be consoled with this funny, spot-on cartoon guide to Don Draper's world.
Millennium Trilogy Deluxe Box Set, by Stieg Larsson (Knopf, $99): This gorgeous set includes hardback editions of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest and On Stieg Larsson, a collection of essays about and correspondence with the late Swedish crime writer.
Earth the Book: A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race, by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Grand Central, $27.99): This humorous guide explains such essential human concepts as infrastructure, democracy, birth, death, Peeps and those disturbing "Love is . . . '' cartoons.
The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos, by Eva Talmadge & Justin Taylor (HarperPerennial,
$14.99): A recent Pew Research Center study estimates 40 percentof people between 26 and 40 have at least one tattoo, so don't be surprised to learn book lovers are choosing to adorn themselves with such literary heroes as Mark Twain, Harriet the Spy and a variety of Wild Things.
Best American Nonrequired Reading, edited by Dave Eggers (Mariner, $14.95): McSweeney's editor Eggers and his merry band of high school students showcase some of the country's best short fiction, nonfiction, graphic novels, letters to the editor, tweets and all sorts of literary ephemera.
Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, by Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello (Grand Central, $27.99): Want to horrify the crafters at your church bazaar? Follow the hilarious instructions from the co-creators of Strangers With Candy, who offer tips on creating such unusual gifts as tin can stilts, wishbone sling shots and mouse ghettos.
Shelter Cats, by Michael Kloth (Merrell, $22.95): You'd have to have a heart of stone to not ooh over these more than 80 photosof cats and kittens from shelters.
40: A Doonesbury Retrospective, by Garry B. Trudeau (Andrews McMeel, $100): Celebrate 40 years of Trudeau's long-running comic strip with a look back at all your favorite characters.
Dogs, by Tim Flach (Abrams, $50): Even dedicated mutt lovers (me) can enjoy the diversity of Tim Flach's delightful photographs of dogs.
The Best American Noir of the Century, edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30): Readers with an interest in seeking out the heart of human darkness will love this collection, which includes works from Jim Thompson, Patricia Highsmith, James Ellroy and Joyce Carol Oates, among others.
Vacation is over, and I've recovered from the Miami Book Fair - which may well be one of the best I've ever attended. I tend to say that every year, of course. But really, this year's edition was great, if draining in terms of trying to see everybody I wanted to see.
Caught up with some reading while I was off, too. Inspired by her terrific "Evenings with..." performance, I first tackled Patti Smith's National Book Award-winning Just Kids, which I enjoyed (and which drove me back to digging out my old CDs of Horses and Wave). The book was good, but seeing Smith read from and talk about it made it all the more entertaining. Also read Tom Franklin's Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, a decent thriller about two high school friends whose lives intersect again in the wake of a girl's disappearance. Loved the moody Mississippi atmosphere.
But the book I was most happy to get my hands on - FINALLY! - was Dennis Lehane's Moonlight Mile. What with all the book fair craziness I didn't have time to review it, but I'll say if you're a fan, it's essential (while still not being in the same class as Gone Baby Gone or Darkness Take My Hand). Love the grownup, more thoughtful but still impulsive Patrick and Angie. And for the record, I think Patrick was wrong to return Amanda to her crackhead mother in GBG, so him getting a second chance to help her was sweet indeed. More, please, Mr. Lehane.