The book cover is in decline, Tim Kreider writes. “It seems as if sixty-five per cent of all novels’ jackets feature an item of female apparel and/or part of the female anatomy and the name of some foodstuff in the title—the book-cover equivalent of the generic tough-guy-with-gun movie poster with title like ‘2 HARD & 2 FAST.'” We judge books by their covers, too.
Did David Foster Wallace predict our anxiety over selfies? At The Wire, Danielle Wiener-Bronner argues that Wallace was prescient in Infinite Jest. Although videophony, his concept of video-chatting, isn't the same thing as a selfie, the paranoia over looking good is strikingly current. "This sort of appearance check was no more resistible than a mirror. But the experience proved almost universally horrifying. People were horrified at how their own faces appeared on a TP screen."
A couple dozen leading literary magazine editors recently found themselves debating "submission fees" in a long, heated, and candid listserv discussion. The complete transcript - names have been changed to protect the innocent - is alternately depressing and heartening. It's a must-read for anyone who publishes in little magazines, or plans to, or is just curious about how editors see themselves. (Update (11/12): Apparently, the literary magazine that published this content on its website had not been authorized to do so by the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Presses, which administers the listserv. The content has since been taken down; we've de-activated the link to reflect that.)
Starbucks is going to start pushing books one at a time, Oprah style. Their first selection is Mitch Albom's For One More Day. The general reaction seems to be, why couldn't they have chosen a better book?The University of California library system has signed onto the Google Books Library Project. U of C is now involved with both of the two major library scanning projects. (The other one is the Open Content Alliance, which is led by the Internet Archive, Yahoo and Microsoft.) The story at CNet.BookMooch is a new book swapping site that lets people exchange books with other people for free. How it works: "Give & Receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you've read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish. No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others. Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every two you receive. (via)
“Most writers … don’t ask questions of a journalist,” writes How to Read a Novelist author John Freeman. But what of those that do? Over the course of a fifteen year career, Freeman has found that “what the novelists asked of me told me [a great deal] about them,” and that a big problem with the standard format for author interviews, after all, is that “the conventions of the interview deprive us of one thing a novelist does quite a bit, which is ask questions.” (Bonus: Freeman will be in conversation with Jennifer Egan Thursday night at McNally Jackson.)