Fifteen years ago, Elizabeth Taylor and Adam Cohen collaborated to bring us “American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation.” The duo, each widely accomplished in their own right have reunited with the creation of the website, The National Book Review. Read the rest of this entry »
To avoid any possible confusion, “in all fairness” (see chapter 13), “Write More Good” is NOT a sequel to David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” Instead it is intended by the Twitter coterie at @FakeAPStylebook as a tongue-in-cheek antidote to the transgressive practices of our 24/7 media that is so galling to both the public and to those journalists who are in fact part of the problem but would like us to think that they can’t really do anything about it.
Their effort gets a mixed review but passing grade. (Who am I but a solo byline, against a committee of more than a dozen wiseasses ready and willing to use their bullying Twitter pulpit?)
As a print journalist with the usual prejudices against both broadcast reporters and the whippersnappers unable to diagram sentences or consult dictionaries, I was perhaps lulled into false expectations by Roger Ebert’s collegial foreword that the authors might join me in Strunking-and-Whiting such miscreants. Read the rest of this entry »
By Casey Brazeal
Australian author Max Barry recently published the science fiction thriller/dark comedy “Machine Man.” The novel is the second incarnation of a story he originally published online as a serial, one page at a time. Rather than a reprint of the online content, the novel “Machine Man,” is a distillation of Barry’s original idea: a future in which corporations turn people’s bodies into a product, a weapon or worse. The movie rights for the book have already been purchased, with Darren Aronofsky signed on to direct it. Max Barry recently talked to us about writing a serial, his Skype tour and the changing landscape of publishing. Read the rest of this entry »
By Alex Baumgardner
Amazon has become a four-letter word in independent bookstores around Chicago. Linda Bubon, co-owner of Women & Children First in Andersonville, can barely bring herself to speak the name of the e-commerce company aloud in her store. She only mouths it when talking about lost sales to the online giant.
This is the perceived relationship between local bookstores and big business and modern technology: resilient holdovers from an era long past, community nooks that serve only a niche market of collectors and literary snobs, fighting to even tread water as corporate stores flood the market around them. “We’ve never been like that,” says Bubon, whose store was one of the first in Chicago to go online over twenty years ago. “We’ve always tried to be very relevant. But God forbid we don’t sell eBooks. That would just reinforce that stereotype.” Those like Bubon readily admit Amazon has taken a good chunk of their business. And its proprietary device, the Kindle, threatened to slice even deeper into profits and essentially cut them off from the eBook market. So it would make sense for independents to be a bit wary of the eBook trend. But since Google settled a class-action lawsuit filed against Google Books, which paved the way for it to enter the online distribution scene in December of 2010, more than 250 independent stores across the country, including ten in and around Chicago, have begun selling eBooks. Many, like Women & Children First, have made them available directly from their websites, offering them the ability to sell them competitively across platforms.
Unlike the Kindle, which only supports Amazon’s extensive library, Google eBooks allow independent stores to make their curated selections available on numerous devices, like the iPad, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and the Sony Reader. Still, independent bookstores thrive on their community of customers and theoretically would be hurt by the disintegration of that culture. Read the rest of this entry »
“The bottom line is print is expensive, ” says Mike Norton of the Chicago-based comics company Four Star Studios. The pressure of funding a printed comic book “can really affect the type of story you decide to tell, ” adds co-founder Josh Emmons, “you’re going to tell a different, safer, more broad story” that will appeal to the masses. Through digital distribution, however, Four Star Studios has the financial ability to offer new comics to the public monthly for just ninety-nine cents.
Their iPad App, DoubleFeature, offers a new issue with two stories from a single genre each month. “We’ve started with two action stories,” says Emmons. “Next month will be horror, then sci-fi, then fantasy… eventually looping back around to action stories again.” Four Star Studios is also able to offer in-depth special features with DoubleFeature. The Four Star crew, made up of Norton, Emmons, Tim Seeley and Sean Dove, “really thought about what the iPad can offer and what are the things comic readers and art enthusiasts would like to see,” says Dove. “A lot of people don’t really understand all the stages that go in to making a comic and the DoubleFeature app really shows you layer by layer all the things that went in to drawing and creating the comic, from pencils, inks to final colored artwork.” (Tiana Olewnick)