The Hunger Games + Beanie Babies

Epic video of the Hunger Games portrayed by beanie babies. This is almost as good as the movie and book–but I might be biased because I used to own all of the beanie babies in the video. Find out more about the group who made the video on their Facebook page.

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Ann Patchett on The Colbert Report

This is probably one of my favorite interviews on The Colbert Report. Author and bookstore owner (Parnassus Books) Ann Patchett holds her own against Stephen Colbert and in the fight between independent bookstores and Amazon, wins him over to the side of the indies.

The Joy of Books

Amazing video! Here’s what the creators said about it:

After organizing our bookshelf almost a year ago (http://youtu.be/zhRT-PM7vpA), my wife and I (Sean Ohlenkamp) decided to take it to the next level. We spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking, and animating books at Type bookstore in Toronto (883 Queen Street West, (416) 366-8973).

Everything you see here can be purchased at Type Books.

Grayson Matthews (http://www.graysonmatthews.com/) generously composed the beautiful, custom music. You can download it here:http://itunes.apple.com/album/awakenings-single/id496796623

But none of it could have been done without all the volunteer hands who shelved and reshelved books all night, every night. A special thanks goes out to:

Lisa Blonder Ohlenkamp
Mike Takasaki
Hannah Charlick
Liz Walker
Andrew Carty
Filipe Da Luz
Ruth Ann Cachero
Justin Turco
Adam Tuck
Michael Groppo
Curtis Denomme
Shannon Farrell
Steffi Raike
Jean Marc Douville
Mikhail Ferrara
Clayton Vrenjak
Rob Sturch
Marie Rupolo
Nery Orellana
Mike Greco
William Chong
Terri Vegso
Michael Leishman
Emma Leishman
Mike Kolberg
Ryan Speziale
Natalie Mathers

So who wants to help us do the Library of Congress next? 🙂

Making Money with Mobile

Between the iPhone, the iPad, and the Android platform, mobile and tablets are on their way to becoming hugely profitable. But it’s not just the apps that are making them popular. Mobile web is still an important component of mobile as a whole, and McDonald’s certainly knows that. Advertising and monetizing mobile is still being experimented with, and McDonald’s has come up with a new campaign that involves both mobile and billboards. Recently launched in Sweden, McDonald’s allows people to play a pong game on a giant billboard. Users simply type in a web url on their smartphone and play the game in real-time. Those who can last longer than 30 seconds win a coupon for a free item at the nearest McDonalds. In my opinion, that’s pretty innovative, and a great way to entice customers physically into an establishment.

Now, the question is, how can publishers learn from this? Would an interactive billboard in Times Square paid for by say, Simon & Schuster, have as much impact? It’s hard to say. Simon & Schuster is not as well known worldwide as McDonalds, but they could easily apply the same concepts. People could play a game, and if they win, they could receive a free ebook, a discount on a book, or even an advanced copy of a highly anticipated book. Simon & Schuster, like most publishers, don’t have their own stores, but they could partner with bookstores to allow people to redeem their prizes. Or they could send winners to their websites to directly download their ebooks or directly give the publishers their information so publishers can send them their books. Either way, this would allow publishers to collect more information about their consumers, which, nowadays, is something they all need to work on anyway.

The Future of Publishing…We’re In It

Three interesting articles about the publishing industry caught my eye today. But first, I’ve found that reading and thinking critically about articles goes more smoothly with music, so I invite you to play the video below and enjoy the sweet sounds of “Stereo Love” while reading the rest of my post. (And yes, I may be a little obsessed with this song right now).

First, the Kindle 3 is coming out with two versions–one for $139 and one for $114. The $114 Kindle, however, will be ad-supported, or to quote Amazon, it will be the “Kindle With Special Offers.” $25 doesn’t seem like enough of a difference to opt for the ad-supported device, though I’m sure once it becomes a viable model we’ll see larger price cuts, but the ads will only appear when you’re not reading your Kindle (so instead of seeing intricate photos of famous writers on the screen, you’ll see deals for LivingSocial). But, this is only a first step. Amazon also launched an app, AdMash, that will allow users to vote for which ads they want to see on their Kindles. For now, there are no ads in the books themselves, but I think someday soon we may see that as well.

Full articles: Amazon to Offer $114 Kindle 3 Supported by Ads; Will the Ad-Supported Kindle Sell?

The second article I found questions the role of publishers in a world where self-publishing is so easy. At The London Book Fair this week, one side argued that publishers are becoming irrelevant, because self-publishers now have the tools to edit, market, and distribute, while the other side claimed that publishers “are the best, and perhaps only, way for good books to make it into the world.” But maybe publishers shouldn’t be ignoring self-publishing. If they could somehow combine the tools of self-publishing with the edge they still have as actual publishers, they could still remain relevant. Bobbie Johnson sums up the end of his article nicely: “In the end, though, that moment didn’t seem to make much difference to the audience. Doctorow and Bridle were defeated, with around 80 percent of the audience voting for the idea publishers will remain relevant. It wasn’t a surprise; had it gone the other way, it would have been as if the audience — which was, of course, largely made of publishers — were a barn full of turkeys eagerly voting for Thanksgiving.”

Full article: Will Book Publishers Ever Be Irrelevant?

But, if publishers can’t think of how to incorporate self-publishing tools right away, there’s always the Hulu method. Michael Wolf of Gigaom suggests that publishers who can find multiple outlets, other than merely selling their books, will continue to be successful. A new Spanish company, called 24Symbols, uses a freemium model which allows users to read free books with ads or pay subscriptions for unlimited access to books. Wolf thinks that publishers should get together and offer their content in a platform similar to Hulu, because they have the rights to the most number of books. It’s an interesting thought, and probably could make a lot of money, but will publishers then lose potential sales? Thoughts, anyone?

Full article: Forget Netflix. E-Book Publishers Need a Hulu

So You Want to Write a Novel


After taking a ton of creative writing classes and working in the publishing industry a little bit, I can say that this video is hilarious and touches upon all the issues/ideas new writers may have. I remember once I saw Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, speak, and he addressed the condension most writers face.

“Writing is the only profession that everyone thinks they can do,” he said. “I meet a lot of people who say, ‘oh, you’re a writer? I’ve always meant to write a novel, but I just haven’t found the time.’ But no one says to a cardiologist, ‘oh, you’re a heart surgeon? I’ve always wanted to perform heart surgery, I just haven’t found the time.'”

Thanks to my Book Acquisitions & Editing teacher for sending me the link to this video! Enjoy.

Will California’s Prop 8 Finally Be Overturned?

Arguments for Proposition 8 began at the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today at 10 a.m., PST. The ruling will come later, but in the meantime, you can watch live coverage at SF Appeal and read live updates at California Beat.

12/06/10: This Week in Publishing

It has finally happened! Google launched the Google eBookstore on Monday. The bookstore is an extension of Google’s book project, “an effort that began in 2004 to scan all 130 million books in the world, by Google’s estimate.” Because it is cloud-based, it is an “open-ecosystem,” which means consumers can buy their books once through the eBookstore, store them in a “central, online password-protected library and read them on personal computers, tablets, smartphones and e-readers” (except on Amazon’s Kindle, at least not yet).

Google Opens Doors to E-Bookstore

The Google eBookstore is great for independent bookstores and publishers. It’s opening is seen as a way to level the playing field for them, since it will now be easier for people to find books on the Internet (all they have to do is use Google’s search engine and relevant books will appear). So a lot of indie bookstores are on board and selling their books wholesale on Google’s eBookstore.

Independent Bookstores Selling Google eBooks

But will Google’s cloud-based bookstore completely change publishing? James McQuivey thinks so. On his blog, he argues that “the ultimate effect of Google eBooks, if Google knows what’s good for it, will be the creation of an ad-supported publishing model.” He thinks eventually there will be ads in all the free sample chapters people can read, which will help writers and publishers make more money. But he also thinks they will be angry and reluctant to agree to ad-supported publishing. He’s probably right.

Google eBooks Paves the Way for Ad-Supported Publishing

In other Google news, Google kick-started its week by introducing the Nexus S with Gingerbread (Do you think they named it Gingerbread because we’re in the holiday season?) Gingerbread is the latest, and fastest, version of the Android platform, and the Nexus S is the newest Android device, and will be available starting Dec. 16.

Introducing Nexus S with Gingerbread

Big day for publishing today. Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodman unveiled Figment today, which is “an experiment in online literature, a free platform for young people to read and write fiction, both on their computers and on their cellphones. Users are invited to write novels, short stories and poems, collaborate with other writers and give and receive feedback on the work posted on the site.” The idea sprung from the invention of the cellphone novel, which originated in Japan but came to the US in 2008. (For more on the cell phone novel, read “Thumbs Race as Japan’s Best Sellers Go Cellular“)

Web Site for Teenagers with Literary Leanings

Callaway Digital Arts recently opened its office on Fulton Street in New York. The company plans on creating apps and morphing from a book publisher to an apps publisher. Next year they will also open an office in San Francisco. Smart, since that’s the current center of all things digital. One of their apps will be “The Monster at the End of this Book,” which will be interactive. Since that was one of my favorite books as a child, I can’t wait to see what they do with it!

An App Studio On Fulton Street

WikiLeaks Updates: In addition to hackers and the US government’s attempts to shut down the site, PayPal, which WikiLeaks used to get funding and donations, froze their account. And of course Amazon withdrew from hosting WikiLeaks, so it is now hosted outside the US. Meanwhile, there are lots of mixed opinions about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Is there a conspiracy? At the very least, there’s speculation that Assange will be Time Magazine‘s 2010 Person of the Year.

PayPal freezes WikiLeaks account

Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; “To destroy this invisible government”

Who Will Be TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year?

Barnes & Noble has put itself up for auction, and there’s a chance that Borders will acquire it. William A. Ackman, the man who is the biggest shareholder of Border’s, “has offered to finance a $960 million takeover bid for its larger rival, Barnes & Noble.” He would pay $16 per share, which is “a 20 percent premium to Barnes & Noble’s closing stock price on Friday.” Borders is only one of eight to ten companies bidding for Barnes & Noble, but some people are wondering if this buyout would be a good idea. (As a side note, earlier this year, Barnes & Noble successfully kept billionaire Ronald W. Burkle from owning the majority of shares in the company and changing the way the business is run).

Ackman Offers to Finance a Borders Bid for Barnes & Noble

Borders could acquire Barnes & Noble under shareholders proposal

Borders’ Buyout Bid for Barnes & Noble Will Awaken Sleeping Giant Riggio

This is a mix of publishing and social science, but there is a new study, conducted by Dan Cohen and Fred Gibbs of George Mason University, that will search through literature published during the Victorian era for key words that will provide more insight into the mindset of people during that time.

Analyzing Literature by Words and Numbers

Again, this isn’t directly related to publishing, but Facebook and social networking plays a large role in publishing, particularly in marketing. Last night, Leslie Stahl interviewed Mark Zuckerberg on 60 Minutes, and Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s profile design.

Mark Zuckerberg on 60 Minutes

And lastly, because who wouldn’t want to end on an Oprah note, Oprah “went ‘old school'” for next week’s Oprah Book Club pick. She chose Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities (one of my favorite books). Apparently, she has never read Dickens before. Wtf Oprah?

Oprah Picks ‘Great Expectations,’ ‘Tale of Two Cities’

Date with Charles Dickens

Douglas Adams: Parrots, the Universe and Everything

Don’t panic. It’s just a video.

I love everything Douglas Adams, so I was thrilled when my friend sent me the link to TED of Adams giving a talk at UC Santa Barbara (my alma mater!) And then, as I do with everything I’m interested in, I did some research. I knew that Adams had died somewhere in the early 2000s, before the newest Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie came out (oh, Marvin!) and I wanted to know where his trip to Santa Barbara fit into that time frame.

So, like any good researcher, I went straight to Wikipedia, and I found out that he had died in May of 2001, the same month he had given that talk at UCSB! And then I read a little further, and it turns out he had died in Santa Barbara, shortly after giving that talk. He’d had a heart attack while working out at the gym; he was only 49 years old.

Nooooo! Douglas Adams, why? If only I were a few years older, maybe I could have seen you…

Anyway, if you get a chance, you should check out my friend’s blog, “Pizza Please.” She’s currently living in Bologna, Italy, and who wouldn’t want to know more about that country?