Is all publicity good publicity? Are all reviews—even bad ones—good for books? The answer, according to a new study [pdf] by the journal Marketing Science, depends on whether the writer is well known or unknown. The study examined the impact of a New York Times review on the sales of more than 200 hardcover titles. For books by established writers, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales. For unknown authors, a negative review increased sales by a healthy 45%.
Is long form nonfiction returning to prominence and popularity? Folks at The LA Times‘ blog think so. Anna Clark has posted a list of recommended reading for aspiring nonfiction writers, too.
The true confessions of Lev Grossman, book reviewer: “There was a time when I actually believed, because I was an ass, that as a critic I was an avenging angel with a flaming sword, and that part of my job was to help rid the culture of books that were sucking up more of the literary oxygen than they deserved.”
Between the 40 Towns project organized by Jeff Sharlet’s Dartmouth students and the newly unveiled Vanishing Point project from Duncan Murrell’s students at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, it seems abundantly clear that college students are better at putting together web publications than 99% of established publishing outfits. Begin your tour with Christine Delp’s look at a blind man who makes his own martinis, and then check out other stories such as Ge Jin’s photographic essay on Chinese university students.
Are books on the way to becoming luxury objects? At Salon, Daniel D’Addario makes a case that they are, explaining how a new aestheticism in book design points to a future in which books function mainly as art objects. (While we’re on the subject of book design, it’s a good time to look back on our U.S.-U.K. book cover battle.)