I’m still working on the next bulk book review (already on the last book!), and I just know it’ll take a while. Hopefully I’ll post something new by the end of the month!

To “tide you over”, here are some of the latest (and… well, not-so-latest) developments, news items and discoveries in the world of words.

Hodgepodge

  • I’ve always wondered why I (and countless bibliophiles) love the smell of old books. I finally got my answer last month. Thanks, DNews/The Huffington Post!
  • People in the Philippines read their books for an average of 7:36 hours a week. Good, but I think we can do better! Check out the infographic on Publishing Perspectives.
  • Note to self: when I do publish my first book, I’ll need to make a press release that doesn’t resemble every book press release ever.
  • Out of all the news articles I’ve read this month, I probably love this one the most. Ever wondered what type of books get the attention of Turkish military men (well, aside from Harlequin titles)? Novelist Kaya Genç talks about his time in charge of that little library in Anatolia.
  • Good question! “Who edited Shakespeare?
  • I really do appreciate the lower prices of local komiks. But this also means they aren’t getting what they’re due. “Labor of love” can only get them so far. And related to his question, I’m willing to pay more for local komiks.
  • It’s never too late to return overdue library books! This dude returned one after 41 years.
  • More of them handy writing tips from famous writers!

Legalese

  • Gotta admit, the recent slew of book-related headlines are giving me a lot of mixed feelings. Here’s one example. Gist: the authors who sued Google for its Google Books Library Project lost the case. (Things are getting real ugly, too.) I approve of making out-of-print/hard-to-find titles available online, but only if it’s done with the clear, written permission of book authors and/or their estates. If those books’ copyright has already expired, well then, go ahead and do your thing. Respeto naman dyan, pare.
  • They’re not the only ones who lost in the courts. Apple did, too. TIME Business & Money talks about Apple’s involvement in raising the prices of e-books, and what its defeat means for publishing as a whole.

Education and advocacy*

Turns out textbooks and SIM cards work well together! Local (PH) telco Smart Communications and ad agency DM9JaymeSyfu collaborated for a project named Smart Txtbks, which — you guessed it — loaded vital school material into SIM cards. Results: the conversion of analog phones into a crucial educational tool, much lighter schoolbags for public school kids, better attendance and performance rates, and international recognition for Smart and DM9JaymeSyfu. Watch the video to learn more:

(via Pinoy Tech Blog)

Also, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Inter-Country Adoption Board (ICAB) have held several events since last year for I Love You Anak, a collaborative campaign aiming to improve the way Filipinos look at adoption and adopted children, as well as educate the public on the adoption process and adoption’s various challenges.

The latest event was for the launch of the I Love You Anak illustrated e-books made by McCann World Group and published by Flipside Publishing. The venue was Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig. Find out more at The City Roamer, and check out/download the free e-books at the advocacy’s website.

Book Pr0n

Book Hoarding

The second Humble E-Book Bundle has come and gone. Thanks, Engadget, for giving me the heads up!

The original bundle had six e-books in the lineup, all available if you pay above the average amount. (I paid above the average, because WIL WHEATON.)

And those who did shell out a bit more than usual also got a really pleasant surprise after a week: we got four extra e-books!

The numbers are in: 60,043 bundles sold; US$654,902.84 earned for authors and charity. Nice. Can’t wait for the next one!

Events and Interviews

Rappler published a good interview with Jessica Hagedorn, a well-known Filipino author — and editor of Manila Noir, launched this month. Haven’t bought a copy yet (I should explore different genres!), but for those who are interested, it’s now available in National Book Store branches, and Amazon.

Reimagination

Damn. (Source: GRRM/LiveJournal)

Two specific news items gave book lovers a major dose of new imagery. First came the new covers for two of the books in the Harry Potter series. Then came the news that Google has mapped “Diagon Alley”. (Have a look-see here.) And that bit of news was quickly followed by that haunting image of the Iron Throne, a.k.a. the vision of A Song of Ice and Fire creator George R.R. Martin (seen at left).

I liked the two new Potter covers, and had fun with Diagon Alley’s Street View. But I absolutely loved the Martin/Simonetti version of the Throne. It would be pretty difficult to get comfortable in there.

All About Amazon

Back to Amazon.com. The giant online retailer was a fixture on my social media feeds for the past few weeks. I didn’t know that Chuck Palahniuk put out a brand-new short story through Amazon Kindle Singles — or had a Q&A session with fans back in March! That last link will also point you to the story behind the short story, so read up.

Amazon itself is also venturing into comics and graphic novels publishing through its Jet City Comics imprint. Just starting to get really into graphic novels — and go way beyond Gaiman/Miller/Moore titles — so I’m happy that I have another source for it.

And for those who love doing reviews on Amazon, how about doing it the “Edgar Allan Poe” way? Going all nerdy on a book review‘s another awesome idea. Thanks for the LOLs! (H/T Brain Pickings)

Reading is Good for You!

I never doubted that reading comes with multiple benefits, particularly related to personal development and mental growth. Two recent headlines made me say “Ha! Told you so!”:

  • A blog entry from Melville House Books gives us the lowdown on the “Reach Out and Read” initiative, which also involves pediatricians who — get this — actually give out prescriptions for books.
  • Dyslexia = 0, Princess Beatrice = 1. The princess’ weapon? The Harry Potter book series. Congratulations! I wonder what’s on her reading list now, and which authors/books she likes. (I didn’t know Jamie Oliver’s dyslexic, too.)

Farewells

Readers, say goodbye to two institutions in the print industry:

  • In Australia, DA Information Services (a major supplier of academic books) has “collapsed”, according to Yahoo! AU. The culprit? Online publishing.
  • Over in the US of A, PCWorld releases its last print issue, and sticking with digital issues and website updates from now on. It truly is the end of an era.

And this one isn’t a final goodbye, but it sure is a sign of tough times. Lonely Planet has downsized its operations in three cities/continents, with content jobs being the most affected. WTH, LP/NC2!

…and Comebacks!

The Galbraith Saga

Harry Potter earns its fourth mention on this blog entry! Here’s a summary: J.K. Rowling was outed as the real author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. This book from a “first-time author” follows last year’s post-Potter work, The Casual Vacancy.

The unveiling of Rowling as Galbraith definitely sent everyone into a tizzy. Personally, I don’t get all the fuss. If she wants to experiment and write different kinds of stories (and use different pen names), then let her do so. Girlfriend wants a semblance of (relative) normalcy, and she should get it.

Then again, having first-edition, “autographed” copies of your latest book sell at absurdly high prices may be something only Rowling can do.

But here’s the part I don’t like: turns out Rowling’s unveiling wasn’t planned at all. It was supposed to be kept hush-hush, but a partner at UK law firm Russells spilled the beans to someone he trusted, who then told someone else about it. Wow.

Oh, and it does pay (literally and figuratively) for publishers to take risks on “new” authors. Case in point: the German publisher Blanvalet Verlag.

The Dark Side

I’ve always supported self-publishing, but I have also emphasized the need for aspiring writers to do more in-depth research and know exactly what they want before signing up with any company.

There have been many articles espousing self-publishing in recent years, but there are also others that issue chilling warnings and share the stories of gypped writers. And sometimes, hard research may not be enough. I think this particular blog entry is downright terrifying. Read it, and be aware!


And that’s it! Until the next news recap!


*Notes

I have worked with Smart Communications’ Public Affairs department on a couple of press releases/event coverage assignments, but I am not involved in any way with the Txtbks project.

I also (regularly, and then occasionally) write PR material and consult for the PR/marketing agency working on the I Love You Anak campaign.

I was not asked or commissioned by anyone or any entity to include these news items on this blog. These were included because I personally like and support these programs.