Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
by: David Kelly
After being pulled from the shelves for what some saw as racy content, Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary may have the last word in Menifee.
A committee of parents, teachers and administrators decided Tuesday to return the dictionaries to the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms at Oak Meadows Elementary School just days after they were removed over complaints about entries detailing references to various types of oral sex.
"The dictionary will go back to the classroom but the parents will be given the option to determine if they want their kids to have access to that dictionary," said Betti Cadmus, a spokeswoman for the Menifee Union School District in southwest Riverside County. Students will take permission slips home and parents who don't want them to use Webster's 10th Collegiate Edition can opt for alternative dictionaries.
The controversy began last week when a parent complained to the school principal about what she believed was explicit sexual content in the dictionary. The books were ordered off the shelves until a committee could determine if they were "age appropriate" for fourth- and fifth-graders.
The move immediately set off cries of censorship among many, including the president of the local school board, who warned that banning one book would inevitably lead to the banning of more and more.
Cadmus said that despite complaints about the dictionary, no parents showed up at Tuesday's meeting to express any concerns. "The bottom line is the district followed the road map laid out for it in board policy," she said.
from: LA Times
Thursday, January 28, 2010
One of the most admired and influential US writers following the success of his 1951 novel and its laconic anti-hero Holden Caulfield, Salinger published nothing after 1965 and had not been interviewed since 1980.
Salinger died Wednesday at his home in New Hampshire, the Harold Ober Associates agency said Thursday. The cause of death was not announced.
Mystery surrounded much of the last five decades of his life. After being overwhelmed by his new fame, Salinger withdrew from public life retreating to his house perched on a tree-blanketed hill in the small town of Cornish, New Hampshire.
Memoirs written by his daughter and a former lover affirmed that Salinger still wrote, but there has was no sign of any new book despite the entreaties of his legions of fans.
Indeed in a rare 1980 interview with the Boston Sunday Globe in 1980, Salinger said: "I love to write, and I assure you I write regularly. But I write for myself and I want to be left absolutely alone to do it."
News in 1997 that his last published work "Hapworth 16: 1924," which appeared in the New Yorker magazine, was about to be reissued in hard print sparked excitement in the literary world. But the publication date was frequently postponed, with no reason given.
Jerome David Salinger was born on New Year's Day 1919 in Manhattan, New York, the son of an Irish mother and Jewish father with Polish roots.
As a teenager he began writing stories. In 1940, his debut story "The Young Ones" about several aimless youths was published in "Story" magazine.
Then came America's entry into the war, and the young Salinger was drafted in 1942. He took part in the D-Day stormings of the Normandy beaches, and his wartime experiences are said to have marked him for life.
He married a German woman after the war, but the marriage fell apart after just a few months, and Salinger renewed his writings with a passion.
In 1948 he published the short story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" in the New Yorker, bringing him acclaim and introducing the Glass family and its seven rambunctious children Seymour Buddy, Boo Boo, Walt, Waker, Zooey, and Franny, who were to populate several of his short stories.
But it was "The Catcher in the Rye", published three years later, that was to seal his reputation. The book was an instant success, and even today remains recommended reading at many high schools, selling around 250,000 copies a year.
Sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield's adventures and musings as he makes his way home after being kicked out of school touched a raw nerve and have fascinated generations of disaffected youngsters.
Yet the novel was also sharply criticized for its liberal use of swear words and open references to sex, and was banned in some countries.
Always a private person, Salinger found his new fame oppressive, and in 1953 he moved to sleepy Cornish, in the hope of staying out of the limelight.
Other collections of short stories or novellas followed, such as "Franny and Zooey," until his last published work "Hapworth 16: 1924" appeared in the New Yorker magazine in 1965.
"There is a marvelous peace in not publishing. It's peaceful," Salinger said in 1974, when he broke more than 20 years of silence in a phone interview with the New York Times.
"Publishing is a terrible invasion of my privacy. I like to write. I love to write. But I write just for myself and my own pleasure."
In 1955 he married a young student, Claire Douglas, and they had two children, Margaret and Matt. In Margaret's memoirs "The Dream Catcher" she reflects on an often painful childhood, describing her father as an autocratic man who kept her mother as a "virtual prisoner."
They divorced in 1967, and in 1972 Salinger began a year-long relationship with 18-year-old Joyce Maynard, with whom he had been exchanging letters.
In a sign of the lingering interest in Salinger, some letters he wrote to Maynard sold for more than 150,000 dollars at auction in 1999.
Salinger remained to the end of his life in his Cornish home, and had been married to Collen O'Neill since the 1980s. He fiercely guarded his privacy, even turning to the courts to stop publication of his letters. He refused all offers to sell the screen rights to "Catcher."
One of his final moves came in July last year when a US judge suspended the publication of an unauthorized sequel to "Catcher in the Rye" by Swedish author Fredrik Colting.
"There's no more to Holden Caulfield. Read the book again. It's all there. Holden Caulfield is only a frozen moment in time," he told the Boston Globe.
from: The Independent
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Early in the novel “When You Reach Me,” which last week won the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature, the narrator, Miranda, falls into an uncomfortable conversation with a schoolmate about her favorite book, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle.
Miranda, who is 11, doesn’t want to have the discussion. “The truth is that I hate to think about other people reading my book,” she thinks. “It’s like watching someone go through the box of private stuff that I keep under my bed.”
Clearly, “When You Reach Me,” which the author Rebecca Stead set in 1970s New York City, does not take place in the era of Facebook, Goodreads, Shelfari or book clubs.
Reading might well have been among the last remaining private activities, but it is now a relentlessly social pursuit. Gaggles of readers get together monthly to sip chardonnay and discuss the latest Oprah selection. On fan sites for the Harry Potter and “Twilight” series, enthusiastic followers dissect plot lines, argue over their favorite scenes and analyze characters. Publishers, meanwhile, are fashioning social networking sites where they hope to attract readers who want to comment on books and one another.
The collective literary experience certainly has its benefits. Reading with a group can feed your passion for a book, or help you understand it better. Social reading may even persuade you that you liked something you thought you didn’t.
There is a different class of reader, though. They feel that their relationship with a book, its characters and the author is too intimate to share. “The pursuit of reading,” Virginia Woolf wrote, “is carried on by private people.”
Ms. Stead remembers having had especially intense feelings about books when she was young. “For me, as a kid, a book was a very private world,” she said. “I didn’t like talking about books with other people very much because it almost felt like I didn’t want other people to be in that world with me.”
Particularly with the books we adore most, a certain reader wants to preserve the experience for reflection, or even claim the book as hers and hers alone. Lois Lowry, an author of books for children and a two-time winner of the Newbery for “Number the Stars” and “The Giver,” said she recently read that Katherine Paterson, also a two-time Newbery winner and now the national ambassador for young people’s literature, had named “The Yearling,” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, as the most influential book of her childhood. “I felt a twinge of ‘no fair, that’s mine!’ ” Ms. Lowry said. “I hastily backed off from that feeling because I know and love Katherine, and it’s O.K. that we share the same book.”
For sheer commercial purposes, the more people talk about a book, the better. Some of the biggest sellers of recent years — “Eat, Pray, Love,” by Elizabeth Gilbert; “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini; “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett — were propelled by word of mouth. Book clubs, blogs and customer reviews on Amazon.com all helped foment a feeling that if you wanted to be part of the “it” culture, you should be reading these books.
Laura Miller, a staff writer for Salon and the author of “The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia,” speculated that it was the more bookish people who tended to fiercely guard their private reading worlds. Casual readers, by contrast, are drawn by the social aspects.
“If you want to build a culture where people who could just as easily watch a movie are going to instead say, ‘Oh, I’m going to read this Tracy Chevalier book or ‘The Kite Runner,’ ” Ms. Miller said, “then they do need that kind of stuff like the book groups and discussion guides.”
Publishers are trying to use the increasingly social media landscape to stimulate a new reading culture. “I don’t think they are walking into bookstores in droves, so how do you get to teens and how do you get an author in front of a teen?” said Diane Naughton, vice president for marketing for HarperCollins Children’s Books, which has initiated enterprises including the Amanda Project, a Web site affiliated with a young-adult mystery series, and inkpop, where teenagers can upload their writing and receive commentary from peers and HarperCollins editors.
The concern with some of these sites is that users will spend their time talking to one another rather than reading books — just as some book groups spend more time drinking wine and gossiping than discussing the month’s title. Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer at Simon & Schuster, said executives were concernedwhen they started PulseIt!, a Web site where teenagers can read advance galleys and comment on them. “Did they just want to use our bandwidth to hang out and chat with each other?” Ms. Hirschhorn wondered. But by tracking page views on the digital galleys, she said, “what we found is that they are voracious readers.”
Some books particularly lend themselves to collective reading — partly, of course, because everybody is reading them. Emerson Spartz, who founded MuggleNet.com, one of the biggest Harry Potter fan sites, said that J. K. Rowling wrote the books in such a way that readers wanted to pore over them and then share their findings. “Because of the loving and painstaking care that she took to drop hints about what was going to happen in the future and to subtly allude to subplots and character motivation,” Mr. Spartz said, “you couldn’t help but want to share whenever you made an observation.”
Communal reading can also help for books that are challenging to approach on your own. How many people actually got through “Ulysses” outside of a college class? Matthew Bucher, a textbook editor in Austin, Tex., who administers “Wallace-L,” an online discussion group for fans of David Foster Wallace, said that the expertise of mathematicians, linguists and other fans sharing insights with the online group vastly improved his reading of “Infinite Jest.”
That doesn’t stop Mr. Bucher from having a deeply intimate relationship with books. “I still read the book at home at night by myself with one lamp,” he said. “The next day it does enhance my experience to talk about it.”
from: NY Times
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
by: Alison Flood
Dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for "oral sex".
Merriam Webster's 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the "sexually graphic" entry is "just not age appropriate", according to the area's local paper.
The dictionary's online definition of the term is "oral stimulation of the genitals". "It's hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we'll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature," district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper.
While some parents have praised the move – "[it's] a prestigious dictionary that's used in the Riverside County spelling bee, but I also imagine there are words in there of concern," said Randy Freeman – others have raised concerns. "It is not such a bad thing for a kid to have the wherewithal to go and look up a word he may have even heard on the playground," father Jason Rogers told local press. "You have to draw the line somewhere. What are they going to do next, pull encyclopaedias because they list parts of the human anatomy like the penis and vagina?"
A panel is now reviewing whether the Menifee ban will be made permanent. The Merriam Webster dictionary joins an illustrious set of books that have been banned or challenged in the US, including Nobel prize winner Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, which last year was suspended from and then reinstated to the curriculum at a Michigan school after complaints from parents about its coverage of graphic sex and violence, and titles by Khaled Hosseini and Philip Pullman, included in the American Library Association's list of books that inspired most complaints last year.
Monday, January 25, 2010
I'd like to suggest a web site for the kids in your life. It's fun, it's free, and you can find it at www.reading-rewards.com
Welcome to Reading Rewards!
The reading incentive program for kids that actually gets them off their computers, games consoles, etc, and encourages them to read!
How does it work? It's simple. Kids accumulate 'RR' Miles on the site, which they can exchange for fun and sometimes silly things on the site: joke of the day, video of the day (always safe, kid-friendly videos our editors find), mini-games, and more.
How do they accumulate RR Miles? By reading, and telling us what and how much they read!
They'll get bonuses for reviewing their books, and making recommendations to friends.
A fun dashboard gives them a quick view of their friends, their status updates, what they're reading and how much. This actually makes reading really cool!
As an added bonus, parents and/or other sponsors can set up and track their own reading reward programs. For example, 1 outing to the movies for every 600 minutes reading. It's up to you!
Best of all, it's free! Just register, sign in, and get started. It's fast, simple and easy to use. We're hoping our community of young readers will grow and grow and get kids talking and sharing about their books. If an occasional bribe from parents is necessary, so be it!
So sign up, and take us for a spin!
via: Boys for Reading
Sunday, January 24, 2010
What strange and splendid alchemy is this, that allows me to coax shapes together—shapes essentially random—and for you to see them not as impenetrable symbols, but ideas and pictures, to hear sounds? It’s reading, and it’s so rote for many adults that we’ve forgotten how miraculous a mental feat it actually is. A new book by Stanislas Dehaene (whom we profiled in 2008), however, called "Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention," restores some sense of awe to the endeavor. In a Barnes & Noble review of Dehaene, Jonah Lehrer dissects the way reading really works:
"Although our eyes are focused on the letters, we quickly learn to ignore them. Instead, we perceive whole words, chunks of meaning. (The irregularities of English require such flexibility. As George Bernard Shaw once pointed out, the word "fish" could also be spelled ghoti, assuming that we used the gh from "enough," the o from "women," and the ti from "lotion.") In fact, once we become proficient at reading, the precise shape of the letters—not to mention the arbitrariness of the spelling—doesn't even matter, which is why we read word, WORD, and WoRd the same way."
This reminds me of a 2005 New Yorker profile on typeface designer Matthew Carter, in which Alec Wilkinson quoted typographer Beatrice Warde saying that type should erect “a window between the reader inside the room and that landscape which is the author's words.” The reader's mental eye should focus “through type and not upon it.” When looked at like that, reading approaches telepathy: it is as if your eyes saw right through these words, through skin and skull, and into the imaginative life of my brain.
from: New Yorker
Saturday, January 23, 2010
The days of reading a daily newspaper appear to be part of the past, and newspapers are trying to come up with solutions to remain viable. With online content available on the internet, less people are reading printed newspapers. Free online content is available, but will charging readers for online content save the newspaper industry? The answer, unfortunately for now, appears to be "no," according to a recent poll.
An Adwork Media/Harris Poll of last month indicates that while 64% of Americans aged 55 and above still read a daily newspaper practically every day, the percentages of readership go down with age. Indeed, 44% of Americans aged 45-54, 36% aged 35-44, and only 23% aged 18-34 read a daily newspaper most days. And 17% of Americans aged 18-34 never read a daily newspaper.
These readership percentages obviously are not good news for the newspaper industry. So, what is to be done to solve the problem and to try to increase revenue?
One option would be for newspapers to charge a monthly fee for readers to gain access to online content. But here again, there is bad news, as revealed by the poll.
In fact, 77% of online adults report that they would not be interested in paying anything to gain newspaper content over the Internet. And even though some may be willing to pay, 19% of online adults only would be willing to pay between $1 and $10 per month, with only 5% saying that they might pay more than $10 per month.
Perhaps because online readers are used to free online content; they have come to expect that, especially while it is currently available. Back in the Napster days, there was a prevailing view among some that online music should be free for download. Now of course, Apple is making a fortune as people purchase songs from iTunes.
So, it is possible that the game later could change in terms of pay-for-play with online newspaper content. But, at least for now, newspapers cannot count on that future revenue stream, and they need to come up with other ways to survive.
Friday, January 22, 2010
by: Norman Oder
- Pledges nearly all of his savings
- Response comes in just three days
- In thanks, a silent video
Cliff Landis, Technology Librarian at Valdosta State University’s (GA) Odum Library, was so upset by the devastation in Haiti that, on January 14, he decided he would raise $20,000 in earthquake relief, contributing $10,000 in matching funds through the end of February.“I spent a hefty chunk of my savings on presents this last Christmas, and I don’t regret a minute of it,” he wrote. “I was planning on building my savings back up this year, but I think the folks in Haiti (and other poverty-stricken areas in the world) can use that money a lot more.”
“I’m not [a] millionaire–in fact, $10,000 is almost all of my savings,” he wrote in response to a comment. “But I figure that it will do Partners in Health a lot more good than it does me sitting in my bank account. I’m a healthy and happy person with a good job as a librarian, and I trust that with hard work, I will always have enough money. This is my way of giving back for all the blessings that I get every day!”
Just Three Days
It took just three days for the total to rise on his Partners in Health donation page, a process he also chronicled on Twitter.
“The generosity that I’ve seen is astounding,” he wrote. “People have donated in lieu of going out for dinner. Folks who have been jobless for months have scraped together a donation.”
As of now, he’s raised $11,075 from 169 people, or an average of nearly $70/person, an effort that gained notice via DailyKos.
A thank-you video
On January 17, Landis posted a silent video with his message on storyboards.
“I can’t really talk right now…because every time I try, I cry,” he stated, citing the devastation in Haiti and the generosity he’d seen, a response that has provided faith and hope and love and inspiration. And yes, he says, there's still an opportunity to give to Partners in Health or other charities.
From: Library Journal
Thursday, January 21, 2010
There’s a great piece by James Turner on O’Reilly Radar, about the multiple challenges of getting e-books into Africa. There are cost concerns (mobile devices are too expensive), and Internet connectivity issues in rural areas, and the non-uniformity of Arabic texts, and, of course, issues of censorship—but the piece is ultimately hopeful and, I think, quite exciting. Two companies, Electric Book Works, which is based in Cape Town, and Kotobarabia (which means Arabic Books), are working on inventive solutions to the problems, like focussing on print-on-demand technology and Internet cafes, and working on new ways of making non-uniform texts searchable. I love the tidbit, too, about how farmers have begun pooling their resources to buy shared satellite Internet connections. And the instinct behind the movement is praiseworthy: to prevent a situation like the fire at the Library of Alexandria, where “huge chunks of cultural wealth” were destroyed.
from: New Yorker
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Ian Brown was named winner of British Columbia's National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction at a ceremony in Vancouver on Friday afternoon.
Brown, a Globe and Mail columnist, was awarded the prize for his book The Boy in the Moon: A Father's Search for His Disabled Son, a memoir about life with his son, Walker, who is afflicted with the extremely rare cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome (CFC). The award is worth $40,000, making it Canada's most lucrative non-fiction prize.
The other finalists were Karen Connelly for Burmese Lessons: A Love Story, Eric Siblin for The Cello Suites: J.S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece, and Kenneth Whyte for The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst. Both Brown and Whyte and also finalists for the Charles Taylor Prize, which will be awarded next month.
The jury, which consisted of Andreas Schroeder, Vicki Gabereau, and National Post book columnist Philip Marchand, described the book as “a journey … into deeply touching and troubling territory.”
“I congratulate Ian Brown and all of the finalists for their exceptional books – and for what it took to write them. These books are excellent indicators of the quality of non-fiction being published in Canada today,” said Bristish Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell in a statement. “It’s an honour to present an award for such an important literary genre in our country.”
The B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, now in its sixth year, is presented annually by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, an independent foundation established by the Province of B.C. in 2003 to celebrate the arts, humanities, community service and enterprise.
From: National Post
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Just as Robert Munsch's work was taking off after battles with his health, an attempted terror attack grounded his latest project.
A tale by the renowned Canadian children's author about a child sneaking dolls on a plane has been put on hold given the heightened security at airports after the attempted Christmas bombing of a plane in the United States.
Since then, airports have implemented a number of measures, from forcing travellers to undergo physical pat-downs or even body scans to a ban on carry-on luggage.
"We were going to do a story on a little girl who smuggles all these dolls onto a plane, but then that thing happened in Detroit," said Munsch. "Scholastic calls me up in a panic saying, 'Hold everything, that kid couldn't smuggle anything onto the plane, she's lucky to get onto the plane herself.' "
Munsch said he had no problem with the change, and even chuckled about the coincidence of a story of his clashing with a real-life situation. He is now in talks with the publisher on his next project.
Diane Kerner, director of publishing for Scholastic Canada, said the book will be postponed for "a bit."
"A lot of kids can't take a bag on an airplane right now," she said. "We have a lot of stories of Bob's in play at any given time ... I've got four complete binders – big binders – in my office full of the stories he's sent me ... so when something seems like it might not be right at this exact moment, we've got a lot of others to choose from."
She said it was still early in the process; they had yet to meet with illustrator Michael Martchenko and the book wasn't slated to be published until the end of the year.
"Always when you are doing books for kids, you have to be sensitive to what their real world is," she said. "Especially because with Robert Munsch's books, what he's doing is taking real situations and making them ridiculous, so it's always a balance between reality and that craziness that Bob is doing. But that's what makes him so great."
Munsch, who has scaled back his public appearances since suffering a stroke in 2008 but has resumed writing two books a year, spoke to the Star in advance of ABC Canada's Jan. 27 family literacy day. The event, which he chairs, is a bid to get parents reading to their children in light of Canada's poor literacy rates.
Munsch, whose newest title, Put Me in a Book! recently hit stores, was out of commission for a year after the stroke, which initially left him unable to speak.
"I just didn't do anything for a year, and that was a good idea because I mostly slept," he said, adding he does very few school visits now. In the past, he did about 40 a year.
The former nursery school teacher, 64, says children inspire all of his stories – he simply listens to the things they tell him about their lives. He's written about smelly socks, overactive bladders and moms who forget to do laundry.
In total, he's published 54 books – including all-time favourites Love You Forever, The Paper Bag Princess and Mortimer – and sells about a million books a year around the world. He even has a spot on Canada's Walk of Fame.
from: The Toronto Star
Monday, January 18, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Librarians are being asked to help police kids' events and other gatherings on their premises to make sure the brands of corporations like Coke and McDonald's get exclusive play during the 2010 Olympics.
An internal memo obtained by The Tyee advises Vancouver Public Library branches to protect Olympic sponsors.
"Do not have Pepsi or Dairy Queen sponsor your event," read guidelines sent to VPL branch heads and supervisory staff last fall. "Coke and McDonald's are the Olympic sponsors. If you are planning a kids' event and approaching sponsors, approach McDonald's and not another well-known fast-food outlet."
'Do's and Don'ts'
With less than a month until Vancouver's Games, local branches may decide to join the excitement. They might plan an event linked to the torch relay. Or organize a community celebration.
Just in case, VPL manager of marketing and communications Jean Kavanagh came up with an extensive list of "Do's and Don'ts." It was sent out sometime last October or November, she said.
"As the Games get close it's kind of a reminder to people as they're doing events of some things to keep in mind," she told The Tyee Monday.
The guidelines apply mainly to highly visible gatherings with 30 or more people. Branches are advised to "ensure all equipment/goods meets VANOC's sponsorship brand requirements for things like food, clothing, merchandise."
The rules are very specific. It's fine if a Telus employee agrees to be a speaker at a library-organized event. But staff can't forget Bell is the official sponsor. They should make sure the guest removes his or her Telus jacket, the memo advises.
Tape over other labels
The same care must be taken for audio-visual equipment. The branch should try to get devices made by official sponsor Panasonic. Should staff only be able to find Sony equipment, the solution is simple.
"I would get some tape and put it over the 'Sony,'" Kavanagh said. "Just a little piece of tape."
Other rules help solve potential sponsor dilemmas. "If you are approaching businesses in your area for support and there is a Rona and Home Depot, go to Rona. If there's only a Home Depot don't approach them as Rona is the official sponsor. Try other small businesses," the memo reads.
As The Tyee reported last week, corporate sponsorship is a fundamental reality of the Olympics. Multinational firms spend tens of millions of dollars to market themselves through the Games. Domestic and international sponsorship revenue pays for more than half of VANOC's $1.75 billion operating budget.
When Vancouver won the Games in 2003, it signed agreements with the International Olympic Committee to bolster sponsor rights.
In 2007, the federal government gave VANOC "considerable powers" to protect the Games brand. Local signage legislation led to legal action against the city of Vancouver last fall.
'VANOC did not ask us to do this'
"The Library is a City department and we need to ensure our activities follow the correct protocols as the Host City," Kavanagh wrote in an email Monday morning.
She denied receiving direction from Olympics organizers when she created the VPL guidelines. "This has nothing to do with VANOC," she said later in an interview. "VANOC did not ask us to do this."
Same goes for the city, she added. Kavanagh maintained she relied on her own knowledge and initiative.
"People are just glad to have good information," she said. "You don't want to plan something if there's going to be a major problem."
The Tyee asked if major problems -- for example, a Pepsi-sponsored library event -- would have major consequences.
"You're fishing around for something that's not there," she replied. "We have a very good relationship with VANOC."
City of Vancouver spokesperson Lesli Boldt said she hasn't seen the memo. "I don’t think the city advised the library. They have their own sponsorship policy," she said.
Calls to Olympics organizers were not returned by posting time.
from: The Tyee
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The O'Brien Press, a leading independent publisher in Ireland, publishes books for adults and children, but this program focuses on reading for kids. The books it has selected are for various ages: "Boo and Bear" by Edna Wyley and "Bertie Rooster" by Maddie Stewart are appropriate for children ages 4 and older; "Granny's Teeth" by Brianóg Brady Dawson is for kids 5 and up; "Mad Grandad and the Mutant River" by Oisín McGann, for those 6 and up; and "Hazel Wood Girl" by Judy May and "Epic" by Conor Kostick are for older kids, 10 and older.
The program, which will include author events at Hughes and Hughes stores around the country, will be promoted as "Storytime." It doesn't kick off until February, but cereal boxes with the vouchers are showing up on grocery shelves now.
-- Carolyn Kellogg (no relation)
From: LA Times
Friday, January 15, 2010
From the NFB's website: "This animated short about literacy introduces us to Meena, a young girl who hates book even though her parents love to read. Books are everywhere in Meena's house, in cupboards, drawers and even piled up on the stairs. Still, she refuses to even open one up. But when her cat Max accidentally knocks down a huge stack, pandemonium ensues and nothing is ever the same again..."
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Award-winning poet, novelist and painter P.K. (Patricia Kathleen) Page died today at 3 a.m. in her Oak Bay home in Victoria. She was 93.
The grand dame of Canadian letters — who was born in England but moved to Canada in 1919 —received many honours including the Governor General’s Award, the Order of Canada and the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for her literary efforts.
She was renowned as a poet but also wrote more than a dozen books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, as well as librettos for opera.
from: National Post
When most people think of electronic book readers, Amazon's thin, white Kindle probably springs to mind. But that could be about to change.
A cascade of e-readers will hit the market this year, taking the devices far beyond gray-scale screens with features like touch navigation and video chatting — and probably lowering prices, too.
It's happening as other gadgets, such as mobile phones and tablet computers, give people even more choices for diving into their favorite books. Perhaps the only downside is worrying you might buy an e-reader from a company that won't stick around.
This week, nearly two dozen companies that make the devices or deliver reading material to them are showing products at the International Consumer Electronics Show, the first time it has devoted a section to e-books.
In a good sign for the mainstream status e-book companies hope to achieve, they are clustered at a prime location in the Las Vegas Convention Center often taken over by the likes of Microsoft Corp. And Amazon isn't even at the exhibition.
E-books make up a tiny portion of book sales, but their popularity is growing rapidly. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, which organizes the trade show, 2.2 million e-readers were shipped to stores in 2009, nearly four times as many as the year before. This year, the group expects 5 million will be shipped.
"It's an incredible growth category," said Jason Oxman, senior vice president of industry affairs at the electronics association.
E-readers from Sony and other companies were around before Amazon released the Kindle in 2007, but the Kindle was the first to offer wireless downloading of books, making impulse buys easier.
Since the Kindle debuted at $399, Amazon has lowered the price to $259 and lured buyers with inexpensive material, such as new releases of books for about $10 each. On Christmas Day, Amazon sold more e-books than physical copies for the first time.
To keep up, Barnes & Noble has come out with its $259 Nook, and Sony Corp. has stayed in the game with its Readers, with an entry-level model at $200. Each offers hundreds of thousands of titles, with relatively few exclusives — publishers have shown little interest in favoring one device over another.
Now other companies are getting in the game. Samsung Electronics Co., the leading maker of phones and TVs in the U.S., will launch an e-reader this year, too.
Interead Ltd. already sells a $249 device called the COOL-ER and has two new models at the trade show: a smaller, lighter version called the Compact and a touch-screen model called the Connect that can download books from Interead's online store if the user is in a Wi-Fi hot spot.
Interead plans to launch both in the first quarter. It also plans to roll out a model with access to a "3G" cellular network, for use outside Wi-Fi locations, by summer.
EnTourage Systems Inc. is showing off a $490 e-reader at the trade show that has two screens — a 10.1-inch color touch-screen on the right and a 9.7-inch black-and-white display on the left. That screen is controlled with a stylus.
Like the Nook, enTourage's device, called the eDGe, will run Google Inc.'s Android operating software, so you can use the color screen to browse the Web and watch videos. There will even be a small camera for video chats.
Customers will be able to buy books from enTourage's e-store over Wi-Fi, and the company expects to release a version with service through a wireless carrier. The eDGe is expected to ship to customers in February.
The price is twice what the smaller version of the Kindle costs. But Doug Atkinson, enTourage's vice president of marketing and business development, believes people will gravitate to his company's device because it combines Web browsing and book reading.
Success in this market might require more than selling a specific gadget, though. Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony, for example, also sell electronic books for people to read on other devices, such as the iPhone.
That gives those companies a way to profit if the most popular reading device turns out to be, say, a tablet-style computer like the one Apple is expected to launch this year.
Another company hedging its bets this way is Skiff LLC, an e-reading company developed by media conglomerate Hearst Corp. that hopes to funnel content to devices from various producers.
Skiff is focused on trying to make newspapers and magazines look good on e-readers — which is difficult because they have more complex layouts than the single column of text we're used to seeing on the pages of a book. Skiff also plans to include ads.
The first Skiff product, the Skiff Reader, will have an 11.5-inch, gray-scale touch screen that can download material from Skiff's online store. The company is partnering with Spring Nextel Corp. for wireless delivery. It's expected to be available this year, though Skiff has not announced a price or named the device's manufacturer.
The Kindle can already deliver publications like Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal. Yet Skiff's president, Gil Fuchsberg, thinks people will be drawn to his company's service because it's dedicated to newspaper and magazine content.
Indeed, NPD Group technology analyst Ross Rubin says his firm's research has found people are more interested reading magazines on e-readers than books.
While the choices are overwhelming, shoppers stand to benefit.
"The great thing about competition," Oxman said, "is it inspires innovation among the manufacturers."
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Supermarket giant Tesco has been persuaded by a Wirral bookshop to promote its business.
Independent bookstore Lingham's, in Heswall, is located just across the road from the supermarket and has faced stiff competition from the corporate giant, particularly over best-selling titles.
Partly out of frustration, Lingham's manager Eleanor Davies wrote to the chief executive of Tesco, Sir Terry Leahy, suggesting the store could allow them to advertise their products.
Mrs Davies said the idea came after seeing an interview with Sir Terry in which he admitted a certain amount of guilt over the threat his supermarket chain posed to smaller shops.
Mrs Davies said: "I just sent and email and said to him 'put your money where your mouth is.'
"We are constantly having problems being undercut by Tesco. They sell some mainstream books for far cheaper than we ever could.
"But we're not just a shop - we have poetry evenings, book clubs and readings from authors."
In her email to Sir Terry, she said: "In Tesco over the road, a lot of the books we sell are going for substantially less than half the RRP. We cannot begin to compete with this.
"The books in stock at Tesco are always on the best-seller list and I realise you have to make a profit just as we do. However - and here is my suggestion - there are plenty of books we stock which you would never have on your shelves. So I would like to suggest that, in order to show that you don't want to decimate local businesses, why don't you allow us to advertise above the books you are selling?"
Mrs Davies said: "Tesco emailed back almost immediately saying they agreed with us, and that they would talk to the local manager about putting up a sign."
The Tesco email, from Regional Corporate Affairs Manager Deborah Hayeems, said: "It is always encouraging to hear from independent retailers like yourself with practical suggestions for how we can work together. I have spoken to our store manager, who would be happy to install some signage to direct people to your for less-popular titles."
The sign says: "For a wider selection of titles and book-buying advice, why not cross the road to Lingham's, where the specialist staff would love to help you."
Mrs Davies said she could not be sure how many people had come as a result of the sign, but that since the sign was put up several weeks ago the shop's sales had been up over the Christmas period.
A spokesman for Tesco said the decision to agree to put up the sign was a local one made at store level.
He said: "It shows that local traders can survive side-by-side with Tesco, and that we take responsibility to the local community seriously."
from: Liverpool Daily Post
Monday, January 11, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
Only one bestselling fiction author - Stephenie Meyer, for the Twilight Series - made the top ten, suggesting that those able to spend the money for an e-reader or wishing to read a book on their PC are downloading illicit e-books not just because they're free, but also for the convenience and relative anonymity.
All e-books in the top ten list were reportedly downloaded between 100,000 and 250,000 times.
10 most pirated books of 2009:
1. Kama Sutra
2. Photoshop Secrets
3. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Amazing Sex
4. The Lost Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
5. Solar House: A Guide for the Solar Designer
6. Before Pornography: Erotic Writing In Early Modern England
7. Twilight: Complete Series
8. How To Get Anyone To Say YES: The Science Of Influence
9. Nude Photography: The Art And The Craft
10. Fix It: How To Do All Those Little Repair Jobs Around The Home
According to FreakBits, other bestselling authors to make the top 25 were Dan Brown, Stephen King, and JK Rowling, partially due to authors' and publishers' approaches to the e-book market. For example, the publishers of Stephen King's Under the Dome delayed the novel's e-book release by several weeks in an attempt to bolster hardcover sales, leading those with e-readers to download the novel illegally. And JK Rowling has refused to make her Harry Potter series available electronically, meaning many readers revert to piracy to obtain the books in digital form.
from: The Independent
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Katherine Paterson, author of the children's classic "Bridge to Terabithia," has been named the 2010-2011 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
John Cole, director of the Center of the Book that helps sponsor the ambassador program, described the naming ceremony as "only slightly mysterious." The Library of Congress was keeping officially mum until her announcement Tuesday morning, but the appointment was not exactly a state secret.
If you had not heard who it was going to be from someone in the know, the cookies sitting on a tray at the entrance to the room surely gave it away. They were shaped like books and bore Paterson's name in blue frosting.
Paterson is the program's second ambassador. In addition to "Bridge to Terabithia," she is also known for her books "The Master Puppeteer," "The Great Gilly Hopkins" and "Jacob Have I Loved."
James Billington, head of the Library of Congress, noted that she has tackled subjects ranging from sibling rivalry to the death of loved ones. Paterson's latest, "The Day of the Pelican" is about refugees from Kosovo moving to America.
She succeeds Jon Scieszka (author of "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs" and "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales"), who was named in 2008 as the program's first ambassador. Ambassadors travel the country working to raise awareness that children's books are important to literacy and education.
The ceremony came with a medal presentation. When Scieszka's medal was put around his neck two years ago he flexed his muscles like an Olympic weight lifter. He then facetiously asked for his own helicopter and armored car. After the medal was placed on Paterson today she had only one request, and she aimed it at the two dozen elementary school students in the room: "Read for your life!"
Then, when Paterson asked if there were any questions from students in the audience, hands shot up like reporters at a White House press conference..
Q: "What is you personal favorite book?"
A: "The Yearling," when she was the questioner's age
Q: "What was it like to have a book like 'Bridge to Tarabithia' made into a movie?"
A: Paterson replied she is one of the few authors she knows that actually liked the movie version of their story. Plus, "I saw it five times and cried every time."
Q: "Do you have a favorite author?"
A: "If I said I had a favorite author I'd lose 99 percent of my friends."
The ambassadorship is a two-year term. Her first assignment came after the ceremony ended: She signed books for the children.
From: The Washington Post
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
by: Susie Mesure
Angels, it seems, are not just for Christmas. Authors and film-makers are rushing to bring out books and movies starring celestial beings to cash in on the latest publishing craze.
Not that readers should expect redemption from the slew of new stories hitting the shelves. Many of the winged protagonists have a darker side that publishers hope will tap into the booming supernatural genre, which Stephenie Meyer set alight with her Twilight vampire series.
Booksellers are already reporting strong interest in many of the new fallen angels titles, including Lauren Kate's Fallen and Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush, which hit the bestselling lists on its debut. WH Smith has tipped angels to be a "strong trend" for it next year, while Waterstone's said that fallen angels - so called because they have had their wings clipped for being bad and then they fall to earth - had "struck a chord" with its children's buying team.
"These angels appear as normal angels but they are very dark. A bit like vampires. But instead of sucking blood they suck human energy and life force, which they need to survive," said Megan Larkin, Usborne's fiction editor. She has commissioned the children's author L A Weatherly to write a trilogy about renegade angels, due out next autumn.
As with vampires such as Twilight's Edward Cullen, the new angels are igniting strong feelings from their opposite sexes in the human world. Cindy Hwang, executive editor at Berkley Books, a Penguin imprint that publishes J R Ward's "Covet" series, said: "Angels appeal because they are larger than life, more beautiful, sexier and more sensual creations. Fallen angels have the same flaws that ordinary people have, which is attractive. If someone can tame such a powerful being and get them to fall in love with them, then that's very seductive."
Analysts expect the new paranormal love interest further to buoy the young adult publishing category, which has seen sales rocket this year on the back of demand for vampire titles.
Fallen angels are also emerging as a major theme in Hollywood, with next month's Legion, starring Paul Bettany as an errant messenger, the first of several similar movies in the pipeline. Earlier this month, Disney picked up the rights to Fallen, which is handily the first in a four-part series, and Will Smith is working on an adaptation of Danielle Trussoni's Angelology for Sony Pictures Entertainment.
Ms Hwang said interest in angels, which last surfaced in the early 1990s, had been rekindled by the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world in 2012. "People are thinking about the apocalypse. That's why the angel craze this time is darker. The ambiguity reflects how we feel about the world," she added.
Rose Fox, fantasy reviews editor at the trade magazine Publishers Weekly, said: "If these stories are particularly compelling at the moment, perhaps it's because the world is full of questions and fears right now. Readers who blame themselves for their misfortune may find comfort in stories of angels who broke rules or failed at tasks and are given second chances. Readers struggling with uncertainty may enjoy the idea of a cosmic plan."
That uncertainty has also rekindled interest in more traditional angel books, featuring guardian angels rather than fallen ones. The most popular is Lorna Byrne's Angels in My Hair, which has sold about 60,000 copies, according to Nielsen BookScan. Judith Kendra, publishing director at Rider, said: "These are usually stories of great comfort that touch on all of our feelings of vulnerability now that we all live very individual lives away from our family. People like to feel there is somebody or something watching out for them and trying to help."
God is angry with humankind and is taking his revenge via an army of angels sent to wipe the world clean of humanity. Can Paul Bettany, who plays a fallen angel, right, stop them? In cinemas from 5 March.
An Angel Healed My Heart
Glennyce Eckersley believes that angels are all around us. An Angel Healed my Heart, released earlier this month, is her collection of "true" stories about encounters with angels.
In J R Ward's bestseller, good and evil are fighting for supremacy in the ultimate endgame. Only Jim Heron, a carpenter turned fallen angel, can save the day. Or can he?
Here, the classic love triangle features Luce Price, an alienated girl at a reform school, who is torn between two young men, unaware that they are fallen angels.
The vampire hunter Elena Deveraux has been hired by the dangerously beautiful Archangel Raphael. But this time she has to track an archangel gone bad rather than a wayward vamp.
The Unfinished Angel
A flawed angel befriends a young girl in a Swiss Alpine village, inhabited by an elderly population. Cue much joy and happiness all round.
Nora Grey unwittingly gives her heart to a fallen angel, Patch, who is also her classmate. Watch out, though: Patch has a dark agenda to get his wings back. Sequel to follow.
Angels in my Hair
An autobiography by Lorna Byrne, a modern-day mystic who grew up "seeing angels" such as the Archangel Michael and the prophet Elijah.
From: The Independent
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Marguerite Abouet's hugely popular series of books, centred on the life of a young woman in a cheerful Ivory Coast suburb, show an Africa far from stereotypes of war and disease.
The characters in "Aya of Yopougon" grapple with everyday issues like love, family, growing up, pregnancy, marriage - set mostly in a Abidjan suburb that is colourfully illustrated by Abouet's partner, Frenchman Clement Oubrerie.
"We call it 'Yop City', like in an American film," says young Aya in one of the five comic-book novels.
"With 'Aya' the aim is that after four pages you no longer think you're in Africa but in a story which could be anywhere in the world," says 38-year-old Abouet, who lives in Paris but often returns to the Ivory Coast.
With more than 300,000 copies sold, translations into 12 languages including English, an array of prizes and a film on the way, the adventures of young Aya and her friends and family have been a hit.
Elegant and talkative, Abouet was born in Abidjan's Yopougon neighbourhood, where she has set the books that feature brightly dressed characters, dusty roads and community living.
When she was 12, she was sent to live in France with an uncle who was worried she would end up "hanging out in the street barefoot and playing football," she says.
The colder climes of Paris were a wrench for a young girl from her part of sunny Africa.
"At 12 years old, you're already grown up, you know plenty of things. I just needed to close my eyes and I'd be back in Yopougon," she says.
In Europe she discovered, through television, an Africa different to the one of peaceful 1970s childhood.
"It's always the same subjects - AIDS, immigration, war," she says.
"If there's a reason why 'Aya' is popular, it's probably because her story is universal, dealing with everyday life in modern Africa, that's all."
She does not idealise the continent, though. "In parts of Africa things are all right and in others, they're not," she says.
War came to Ivory Coast with a coup in 1999, an armed rebellion splitting the country in two in 2002, and a deadly civil war.
But Abouet has based her stories, which she began writing when she was 17, on a time before the fighting.
Born from these adolescent memories, Aya and her friends Bintou, Adjoua and Moussa tell stories of Ivorian families and culture.
While the heroine aims to become a doctor, Bintou and Adjoua want to be hairdressers, seamstresses or "husband hunters" and daddy's boy Moussa only want to have fun.
"The bit that's real is Yopougon, the joie de vivre that is everywhere," the writer says. "Me, I'm Akissi, Aya's little sister."
The first book was published in 2005 to acclaim. The following year it took the prize for best first book at the International Comics Festival in Angouleme in western France.
"My life has changed, I stopped my job as a legal assistant. I'm lucky enough to be chased after by publishers," Abouet says.
She admits that in her country most children could not afford to buy the novels she has set in their midst.
This led her to create a "Books for All" foundation tasked with opening libraries in Africa and encouraging reading: the first has opened in Adjame, a poor district of Abidjan, and she hopes to open one in her native Yopougon.
"A house, a bar and a church, that's how things are right now. So adding a library to the mix will make the kids realise there's more to life than the church or the bar," Abouet says.
An animated film based on Aya's adventures is due for release in 2011 and the writer is working on a book called "Welcome" that will star a Parisian girl. "I can also write stories with white characters," she smiles.
From: The Independent
Monday, January 4, 2010
CHICAGO — In the Illinois towns of Joliet and Palos Park, the economic downturn has pushed the public libraries into the grocery business, of sorts. Patrons with overdue books and hefty outstanding fines were recently given a way to clear their records: Donate canned goods or other groceries through the library to local shelters and food pantries.
Dozens of library patrons in both towns jumped at the opportunity.
In Colorado, despite a multimillion-dollar deficit, the Denver Public Library has practically done away with fixed-rate fines. Now librarians there are free to negotiate a fee structure that feels fair to them based on individual cases, or to charge nothing at all.
Since the beginning of the economic downturn, librarians across the country have speculated that fines for overdue items are keeping people from using the library — particularly large families whose children take out (and forget to return) many books at a time. Some libraries learned that the fines, which are often as low as 25 cents an item per day, quickly multiplied for many people and were becoming an added hardship.
“We can’t push the cost to consumers because they’re also struggling,” said Richard Sosa, the finance director of the Denver system, which has $9 million worth of books in circulation through 23 libraries and two bookmobiles. “The library philosophy is: We do not want to restrict access to information. The use of fines or harsh collection tactics — and we could potentially do that — could essentially restrict people’s access to the library.”
And another thing: They need their books back.
As a result, libraries have been instituting amnesty days and weeks with increasing frequency this year, and offering programs such as “food for fines.” In Joliet, about 60 miles southwest of here, the program went well beyond groceries, and benefited a local social service agency that serves the needy.
“Toiletries, clothing — people could bring in just about anything,” said John Spears, the director of the Joliet library. “It went very well. I think these kinds of things are a win-win for everyone.”
The Conneaut Public Library in Conneaut, Ohio, has a list of more than 1,000 people who cannot use the system because of fines, and the staff has been contacting the long lost patrons to ask them to come back.
The food for fines program there, which started around Thanksgiving and runs through New Year’s Day, offers this deal: Take the amount owed, divide it in half, and give that number of items to the Conneaut Food Pantry. For instance, if a family owes $50, it can donate 25 canned goods to the pantry, and the fines will disappear.
“Behind my circulation desk, I have boxes and boxes of food that people are stumbling over,”
said Kathy Pape, the library’s executive director. “The response has been overwhelming.”
Other libraries are accepting any amount of food in exchange for returned materials. And the ones that are offering amnesty require nothing at all.
“We service an area that’s extremely depressed, in the foothills of East Tennessee in the Smoky Mountains,” said Aliceann McCabe, the director of the Audrey Pack Memorial Library in Spring City, Tenn., where an amnesty week ended Dec. 18. “Our computer use has tripled thanks to unemployment claims and things. This is our Christmas present to the people who use our library. We don’t want to ding them with fines.”
Ms. McCabe recounted the story of one woman who had $196 in outstanding fines forgiven. The library, for its part, got her 10 books back in circulation. For a country library that only has 27,000 books in its collection, “that’s a lot,” Ms. McCabe said.
The Monterey County Free Library system in Monterey, Calif., has reclaimed more than 1,000 books since offering end-of-the-year amnesty to patrons in November and December.
“We thought, People are suffering, having a hard time, so let’s give them a break and get our books back,” said Jayanti Addleman, the county librarian.
But Ms. Addleman and others said they often faced a common-sense question from users and management: Why not raise fines to make money and serve more people?
The librarians say the new leniency makes sense. “What’s going to keep my library doors open is the bigger picture,” Ms. Pape said. “It isn’t going to be a hundred-odd dollars here and there.”
Mr. Sosa, in Denver, added: “A certain level of fines and fee structure is important to have people realize that these are important public materials, and that’s how libraries work in a democracy. But at the same time, we’re trying to figure out, when does a fee prohibit someone who’s on the brink economically from using our service? We’re cognizant of what we’re doing.”
In Pelham, N.H., the public library director, Robert Rice, offered a food-for-fines program during November.
“We will probably continue that policy once the new year starts,” Mr. Rice said. “The loss in terms of money was maybe $20 a day. We well made up for it with the amount of food that came in.”
He continued: “We got our materials back and did something positive for the community. Use is up greatly, and budgets are being cut. But we’re not going anywhere. We’re keeping the doors open.”
from: NY Times