"We used to sell books all day, but since June 1 new city regulations have prevented us from setting up before 3pm," said U Mya Thein, 74, who has been selling old books for more than a decade.
It's interesting to hear what sells well locally:
"In the past, people read treatises and translated novels, and about 10 years ago books on learning foreign languages -- especially Malaysian -- were popular.
Since the election in November, people have been more interested in history and political books," he said.
Presumably because there are opportunities to get work there .....
Another bookseller reports:
"What people read partly depends on business trends and seasonal festivals.
Last year Korean-language books sold well, and last month many girls asked about books on traditional Myanmar hairstyles because July 3 was Myanmar Women's Day.
Now, people are interested in books on economics," he said
In Al-Masry Al-Youm M. Lynx Qualey has a Q & A with the administrator of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Fleur Montanaro.
Among the questions are some that address the foolish submission-system they've adopted (limiting the submissions each publisher can make -- with apparently a bit of confusion about some of the details ...).
Montanaro explains that:
The problem is that a lot of people submit very late.
I have most of my submissions, maybe 80 percent of them, in the last two weeks.
Had they submitted at the beginning of April, when they could have done, judges would've had more time to read, and therefore we could've had a bigger number.
She means, of course: publishers, since they're the only ones allowed to submit books.
And the solution is an obvious one -- as it should be for any prize that styles itself literary: keep the damn publishers as far removed from the process as possible.
Try to get them to submit requested titles (requested by a pre-selection committee of some sort) -- preferably in more timely fashion -- or, better yet, simply have them submit everything that could possibly be eligible and then perform some radical triage to get the number of titles the judges should consider down to a manageable size
Unfortunately, it looks like the IPAF really does want to ape that British prize that it (and journalists ...) constantly compare it to; like that prize they too, outrageously, only announce a long- and shortlist, and don't reveal the titles submitted and actually in the running.
Yes, they still have some work to do if they want to be taken seriously.
Nice website, though.
(Updated - 12 August): See now also the full Q & A at Arabic Literature (in English).
The most disappointing 'explanation':
AL:Why don't you just publish the whole list of everything that comes in ? FM: I think partly it's so that authors, you know, who are not nominated don't lose face, as such.
And I think actually a lot of authors would prefer that, actually, not to be known.
They might be disappointed. That's one reason.
I'd suggest that it's the publishers who don't want word to get out -- including (or especially) to the authors whose books they didn't bother submitting .....
Why the authors should be bothered (much less worry about 'losing face' -- a ridiculous concept in the first place) is beyond me -- after all, since only publishers can submit books the authors can always blame the publisher for forgeting or foolishly overlooking their masterpiece, right ?
The publishers' only defense, after all, is that they didn't think the book was prize-worthy -- and I'm pretty sure their authors would just love to hear their explanations about why that is so .....
Change those rules and become more transparent !
Georgia is one of the markets where Iran is selling a huge number of English language books.
Many of them are written by famous authors.
Okay, 'a huge number' is probably quite an exaggeration, and as to being by 'famous author' ... well, most of these seem to be language-course texts; still, that is big business.
Aside from the oddity of this being a worth-exploiting market niche, the fact that the books are printed in Iran means they aren't quite identical with the original versions.
So, for example:
In most cases the text in pirated handbooks is the same as in the original ones.
But they are adapted to Iranian culture and religion.
In such books illustrations are replaced with Iranian-themed pictures.
Images of woman in such books are shown wearing the "yashmak".
In some cases faces are blurred. Images of women in short dresses are also replaced.
"In pirated books from Iran you can't see pictures of men and women together, they separate them from each other.
As for the women, you can only see the hands or feet of the women, not their faces.
Women's faces are blurred.
Iranians don't care for dogs and always replace photos of them with ones of cats.
Not only the photos, but the actual word "dog" is exchanged in the text for those of other animals.
No dogs ?!??
Iran has a very different system regarding copyright.
Basically the publisher just prints what he likes, but he must send a royalty, a percentage set by the law, to the author.
No permission is required.
This happens because Iran is one of the few countries not to have signed the Berne Convention.
Anyone know of any American textbook authors who have gotten this sort of payment ?
The only valid thing here is the fact literary Bulgarian language is in bad shape; it is almost extinct to be honest.
On the other hand-side, a language is an always developing system.
However, making someone use proper Bulgarian by sanctions is indeed a uniquely ludicrous idea.
Orders, directives and fines are not the cure.
Amen to that.
(Really, only the French can get away with this kind of "official language" and usage nonsense, having been at it so much longer -- and taking it so much more seriously -- than everyone else.)
Book sales have plunged to a new low this summer where the hot days and the month of Ramadan have been the major reasons.
(I would suggest the more aggressive censorship (and other publication-prevention) policies of recent times might also play a role -- i.e. fewer books that would be attractive to audiences are available.)
Those in the trade obviously aren't happy:
"Awful", exclaimed a Nil Publications salesperson.
"You can't fully appreciate what I am saying since you don't stand here behind this counter.
There is only one month that an individual can get a chance to read and that is during the month of Ramadan, but as you see there are no customers.
Book publication is also getting worse," he complained.
We still allow languages to become a curse and religious or ethnic identities to drift into a dangerous hallucination.
We must somehow try to find a life-affirming, community-making future through languages and identities.
In Next Titilayo Olurin profiles the author of the recent Voice of America, in An afternoon with E.C Osondu.
The most interesting statements Osondu makes:
Osondu lamented the absence of diversity in Nigerian fiction and opined that emerging writers should break free from the past and create a new tradition.
Writers of the old tradition, he noted, include Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, J.P. Clark, Femi Osofisan, Niyi Osundare and Chukwuemeka Ike who were all connected to the academia in one way or another.
"It is fiction that is written for academia," he said of their works.
Indeed, he goes so far as to claim:
Stephenie Meyer, Twilight author, and Stephen King were examples of authors Osondu cited as writers who create diversity in America and U.K.
"But I don't find that here. I find that all we have is literary fiction. There should be room for diversity."
Too much contemporary Nigerian fiction is of the 'literary' sort ?
It's an interesting argument; I don't quite agree -- though admittedly little of the 'popular' stuff makes it out of the country -- but it certainly seems an argument worth making.
(Recall also that Nigeria was once the home of the very 'popular' Onitsha market literature; see, for example, the complete review review of Emmanuel Obiechina's An African Popular Literature: A Study of Onitsha Market Pamphlets.)
Much educated discussion at the moment about the composition of this year's Man Booker longlist.
Not just what's on it and what isn't, but whether what's on it adequately rewards genre fiction
Unfortunately, he doesn't mention that the main reason this is an 'issue' is because of the Man Booker's ridiculous submission rules, which lead publishers -- limited to two submissions apiece (!) -- to only put up books in the Man Booker-mold and certainly not wasting a valuable entry spot on anything that might be considered 'genre' fiction.
(Because the Man Booker Prize folk outrageously don't even reveal what books are in the running for the prize no one makes much of this; transparency -- revealing this, and more -- would likely make this prize look pretty damn hollow).
Unfortunately, too, Jacobson also argues:
The truth is, the best novels will always defy category.
Is Great Expectations a mystery or The Brothers Karamazov a whodunnit or The Scarlet Letter science fiction ?
Does Kafka's Metamorphosis belong to the genre of fantasy ?
This is your argument ?
That's not what the debate is about -- because, outside university seminars and newspaper book (or opinion) pages, no one would ever argue that Great Expectations is a mystery, The Brothers Karamazov a whodunnit, or Metamorphosis is fantasy -- and no bookstore or library would ever shelve them in those sections.
Come on, if you're going to pretend to engage in this debate, you have to do better than this.
In the Daily Star Safak Timur wonders, Are Turkey's literature watchdogs unqualified ?
I'd think it's the existence of 'literary watchdogs' that's the problem, but if you are going to go this route you might want to do better than the Turks currently seem to be doing:
A 10-member board headed by an agricultural economist and including a doctor, an imam and a psychologist is the only legal body in Turkey authorized to send a piece of literature to court for obscenity.
The Board to Protect Minors from Harmful Publications is assigned to read books at the request of prosecutors and follow periodicals in Turkey to evaluate them for possible obscenity.
Hey, it sounds like a more fun board to be on than most government boards, right ?
In Today’s Zaman Musa İğrek considers the End of the road for professional publishing ?
They "asked authors and book editors what they thought about self-publishing", and while the answers aren't too different from the familiar ones in the US, UK, and elsewhere, it's still interesting to hear it all from a slightly different perspective.
Yesterday I noted (and ridiculed) a quaint idea for trying to 'save' the printed book, but maybe that ship has already sailed and we're already so deep in a digitized world that there's no point in thinking the printed book will survive as anything more than relic.
Shane Richmond certainly seems to think so, as he explains in The printed book is doomed: here's why in The Telegraph.
Among his arguments:
There are other advantages to ebooks too, such as being able to carry lots of them on a small device and the ability to download a new book in seconds, but it's searching and annotating that I think are the killer functions.
(I note that the search function would seem to be a killer app for e-texts -- but that the other inconveniences of relying on an e-reading device have so far easily trumped that for me (admittedly, if I am really looking for a needle in a haystack, I might turn to electronic versions for help -- though good old fashioned indexes often prove more useful (which is why I curse poor indexes !)).
As to annotation, I still find penciling them in the margins/making notes in the back (or on my bookmark) far superior to anything I can do (as conveniently) on any e-reader -- that's simply a technological flaw, and they'll figure it out over time, but for now .....)
Nevertheless, the worries about e-book dominance are spreading -- even to publisher- and bookseller-protecting France, where Alexandre Debouté warns that Les petites librairies sont à la peine in Le Figaro.
Meanwhile, publishers continue to experiment with enhancing texts through digital media (which is certainly something to be applauded -- might as well take advantage of the possibilities, right ? -- but shouldn't be confused with the value of the text per se).
In The New York Observer Emily Witt reports, for example, that Melville House Goes Hybrid with Novellas by Chekov, Conrad, as they've enhanced their digital versions -- and now made those digital enhancements easily accessible even to those who only purchase the print edition.
Sounds like a great idea -- see also the Melville House page on their Hybrid Books -- though for now I think I'm more impressed by the theory than the practice; still, I can imagine that a few decades from now (okay, maybe a few months from now, given the speed of technological 'progress') publishers will be offering a value-added digital component to their book-products that will be of actual interest to readers (though maybe by that time the books themselves won't be ...).
(The Melville House stuff all sounds 'interesting' enough, but still doesn't seem to amount more than school-project annotation; real book-enhancement will/should be much more closely tied to the book itself, I imagine.
Still, I'm glad they've started the experiment, and am curious where it will lead.)
In The New York Times Magazine Charles McGrath profiles The Mad Scientist of Smut, Nicholson Baker.
Surprisingly, there are three Baker titles under review at the complete review -- though none of the smutty stuff.
The Everlasting Story of Nory is even officially review number one at the site (though that's only because in that first batch of some forty reviews I went alphabetically by author, and 'Baker' came out tops).
(The other reviewed titles: Checkpoint and The Anthologist.)
His new novel is apparently definitely in the smutty category: House of Holes, subtitled 'A Book of Raunch'.
I'm pretty sure I'll pass, but get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; see also, for example, David L. Ulin's review in The Los Angeles Times.
Along with the Harvard University Press, which publishes Loeb's compact, colorful print volumes, the Loeb trustees recently announced that they are preparing to convert the Loeb series to a digital format that would allow any authorized user to search the English translations of the Loeb works for specific words, ideas, and phrases.
Libraries would buy licenses to provide students and other authorized users access to the digital Loeb, which is expected to go live in 2013.
(The Harvard press will continue selling the print versions.)
Sounds like it has some potential -- though as pointed out in the piece, freely accessible sites such as the excellent Perseus have the advantage of being ... freely accessible.
In the Chicago Tribune Aaron Gilbreath argues that, given the competition from e-books, it's Time for book publishers to fight dirty -- and what could be filthier than advertising ?
Yes, he thinks that publishers have to be pushing that good old printed and bound format -- and:
Because they're up against such tech-savvy, deep-pockets competitors as Apple and Amazon, publishers should run funny, visually stimulating ads in less insular venues.
Publishers' marketing budgets have grown tight; staffs cut and commercials aren't cheap.
But e-books account for as much as 5 percent of total American book sales, and counting, so if publishers don't find a way to get consumer attention, then their fate is that of a lazy dog sunbathing in the street.
Of course, Gilbreath confuses apple(s) and ... print books: the vast majority of publishers, after all, are perfectly happy to sell their product (content) in any form(at) that will earn them a buck -- even skywriting, if the margins are good enough-- and couldn't give a shit about the survival or demise of any particular platform (the print-book, for example) as long as they get to cash in on whatever the new fad (e-books !) is; as long as they get their cut, they're perfectly happy distributing (electronic editions) via Amazon and Apple, just as they're happy enough to distribute (print editions) via your local supermarket (or even bookstores, even though it can sometime seem they don't really care all that much about their future ...).
Hey, I agree that printed books have a lot going for them, and are worth defending and keeping -- I have to deal with 'e-books' (and manuscripts) far more than I like, and it's a rare moment when I am that I'm not cursing that I don't have the printed-and-bound version to work with -- but just as publishers are not the ones to rely on when hoping that standards of quality will be maintained, so too we can't expect them to defend this particular form of publishing: with few exceptions, they'll go wherever they think the money is to be made (and, sure, insofar as they pretend to be serious businesses (and they really do pretend hard ...), why shouldn't they ?).
No, the defenders of -- and advertisers for -- the book will have to be found elsewhere.
The Dayton Literary Peace Prize has announced that Barbara Kingsolver will receive the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award -- formerly (and more sensibly) known as their Lifetime Achievement Award.
Yes, Murakami Haruki's 1Q84 is one of the most anticipated titles of the fall, and UK publisher Harvill Secker have started a countdown clock (but check out the whole Murakami site there -- not bad).
French publisher Belfond also have a countdown clock on the main page of their site -- and with it coming out in French two months before the US and UK editions they're counting down by the hour.
No separate publicity page yet, oddly enough, but the French cover is now up at Amazon.fr.
But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Crossword shortlists was the wide gulf between the literary fiction shortlist and the popular fiction shortlist.
In previous years, the literary and the popular have often overlapped, as when Namita Devidayal's acclaimed memoir The Music Room won the popular award.
This year, the books that featured on the popular award shortlist included works by Ashwin Sanghi, Amish Tripathi and Karan Bajaj -- there was absolutely no overlap with the literary fiction list, which included novels by Upamanyu Chatterjee, Omair Ahmad and others.
(Note, however, that the 'popular' award is not solely a fiction award.)
It took the hlo mention for me to notice that the July issue of Asymptote is now online (not that it's been up since the beginning of the month, but still ...), and the content is very impressive indeed -- lots of fiction (and non) in translation, a few reviews -- including Sven Birkerts reviewing Roberto Bolaño's Between Parentheses -- and an interview with leading translator-from the-Korean, Brother Anthony of Taizé, by Sun Kyoung Yoon.
Brother Anthony of Taizé is interesting on translation (including about the translation of Kyung-sook Shin's Please Look After Mom ("almost certainly it is radically domesticating, as it would have to be to be published by Knopf")), but note also his comments about:
Margaret Drabble's rather odd The Red Queen, and the very much more appealing "Inspector Oh" detective series; only those last are set, alas, in North Korea and they are really great.
(See also the complete review review of James Church's A Corpse in the Koryo, the first in the O series.)