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Taking the heat off Margaret Atwood

Thursday, Aug 09, 2007 at 11:54am

Ever since Margaret Atwood's famous attempt to defend Oryx and Crake as Speculative Fiction, not Science Fiction (“Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.”) she has been held as a bit of a whipping-boy by the genre fans. Finally we have been presented with an alternative, in the form of Booker shortlisted Sarah Hall.

Categories: Discussions, Authors, SciFi & Fantasy


The Music Industry Is Dead?

Saturday, Aug 04, 2007 at 1:25pm

Music is alive, healthy and--dare I say--getting even better these days. There are a slew of new releases coming in the next several months that should prove all the sceptics wrong. Check out the following list:

Categories: Discussions, Music


Sitting Around

Friday, Jul 27, 2007 at 9:28am

It seems that the trend among some bookstores these days is to remove their comfortable chairs.

McNally Robinson has a history with comfortable chairs and, yes, from time to time I have to tell people to take their feet off the upholstery. What I love is how they respond (a bit like guilty children), because even the occasional ne'er-do-well hanging out in our stores sort of gets it: there is a certain respect due to a place dedicated to books.

Maybe it's an atavistic cultural memory of librarians hissing for silence. Or maybe an independent store has a pride of ownership that subtly permeates the space and reminds people that they are guests.

Whatever. Sitting and reading go together. I've tried every kind of standing/walking/leaning and reading; and of course we've all stretched out with a book, only to fall asleep. Sitting is best. We'll keep our chairs.

Categories: Discussions

Musicians Get Creative as Music Industry Changes

Monday, Jul 23, 2007 at 9:09pm

Montreal Indie band Stars are releasing their fourth studio album entitled In Our Bedroom after the War in September, but they announced via their website that on July 11th they would be releasing it now through legal downloading sites like iTunes. Because they assume that someone will inevitably leak the album, they wanted to give their fans a clear, legal alternative to downloading the album for free.

Categories: Discussions, Music


Eco-Libris: Voluntary Head-Tax on Books

Thursday, Jul 19, 2007 at 12:20pm

Lots of people have been talking about eco-libris since yesterday. The gist of the project is to counter the effect of book production on deforestation by asking people to donate $1 for every book they buy. The money then goes to tree-planting initiatives.

At first glance, it seems sensible. But there's a serious problem here with the message it sends. The implicit message here is that buying a book is somehow really bad for the environment, but that's not true. A bought book lives a very long life. When people buy books, they usually keep them around for a while. And then they pass them on or sell them. It's not buying books that's the problem, any more than buying a house is a problem; the problem is at the production end.

The problem is the grotesque way in which publishers over-print on a regular basis. The mass-market industry is particularly horrible in this respect. What really needs to happen is for some forward thinking publisher to rethink the way it handles the manufacturing end of their business. It would be fabulous if they reclaimed unsold books, pulp them and reuse the paper.

Categories: Discussions, buzz, websites
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