One in ten residents of Iceland will publish something in their lifetime. (Compare that to the United States.) And all residents receive the bókatíðindi – a volume listing approximately 90% of all books being published in Iceland – free of charge. Indeed, as Mark Medley notes, when it comes to literary ambitions, the Land of Fire and Ice is “punching above its weight class.”
Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries (recently reincarnated as HBO’s True Blood), talks with Barbara Peters of the Poisoned Pen Press and Bookstore for her interview series “The Criminal Calendar.” See the first of six YouTube installments here. Harris, like her most famous heroine, offers a mix of canny intuition and folksy charm. Asked about the bisexuality of one very old vampire in “the Sookie-verse” she answers Peters, “I figure if you live that long, you might as well diversify. Wouldn’t you get bored, you would think–you’d be willing to try anything if you live that long.”
As e-books gain market share, publishers are gussying up book designs. Free Press vice president and publisher Martha K. Levin says, “the message [is] that even if you’re buying 90 percent of your books on your e-reader, this is the one that you want to have on your bookshelf.” The article highlights 1Q84 as an example of a successfully well-designed physical object, but if you haven’t seen a copy, check out Chip Kidd’s discussion of his work on the book.
There’s a lot of (justified) talk about the power of reading, but simply owning a book can be meaningful. Mabel Rosenheck considers Walter Benjamin‘s perspective on book ownership – “[it] is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them.” – and her own experiences with book collecting in San Francisco in an essay for The Toast. Pair with Anne Fadiman‘s essay on relationships, books, and relationships with books, “Marrying Libraries.”