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Saturday, November 01, 2003

An excuse to close some windows....

Today's most exciting moments were trick or treating with Maddy. I don't trick or treat. I traipse along behind. But it was fun.

So.... I'm going to post a bunch of links, mostly so that I can close lots of open windows.

A few things from the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/page/
0,10607,1068609,00.html
lists the 40 most important US bands or artists (according to the Guardian) and I was absolutely delighted to see Stephin Merritt on the list.

Several of you wrote to ask whether the Google-powered-by-pigeons piece was meant to be funny. Yes, it was -- it was an old April Fool's page they'd left up. Anyway, interesting article on the possible future of Google at http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/
0,3605,1073564,00.html
although it lost me when it said that Teoma produces better results than Google. I went and spent ten minutes playing with Teoma and was very unimpressed.

The Guardian also reviewed the new edition of "Don't Panic!" -- http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/fridayreview/story/
0,12102,1074148,00.html
and give it a kinder, if shorter, review than they gave either of the biographies. (MJ Simpson, who wrote one of the biographies, did the updates and revisions on Don't Panic!) I suspect that's because it makes no attempt to explain Douglas, and thus doesn't fail to explain him. Or to put it another way, it aims lower.

(Here's their review of the Nick Webb biography, Wish You Were Here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/biography/
0,6121,1071093,00.html
, and of MJ Simpson's Hitchhiker: http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/biography/
0,6121,914942,00.html
-- I've not read the Nick Webb one, and I think that the review of the MJ Simpson book is unfair, in a number of ways.)

And there's an iPod article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/comment/story/
0,12449,1075300,00.html
which concludes that no-one's about to take down the iPod just yet.

When I got tired of my 20G iPod only working if a plastic fork was attached by a rubber band I sent it back to them, and they concluded it wasn't fixable, so sent me a new one, which I put in a nice black iSkin, and which I strongly suspect is going to be replaced by a 40G iPod next week. (And then Lorraine will get my iPod, and Maddy will get Lorraine's. And there will be peace and prosperity on the face of the deep).

(I don't know that many people reading this will care that the BBC has just brought out the entire third season of Round the Horne on CD, but they have, which means that all 43 of the Marty Feldman-Barry Took episodes are now out in beautifully restored versions, but I was thrilled. The iPod should be fairly happy too. Here's a link to info on the first of the boxed sets.)

Good review of Gilbert Hernandez's Palomar in the City Pages: http://www.citypages.com/databank/24/1195/article11619.asp


There's a funny and interesting review of Dave McKean's cover of Wolves in the Walls at http://www.cheshiredave.com/mastication/2003/10/0059-covers0310.html. I don't think it's giving too much away to say that it is compared favorably with the cover of the new Madonna book.

And talking about Madonna, I took some weird delight in this BBC article, mostly from the paragraph that said Vargas said ABC had not found any proof as to whether Jesus had a wife, but could not completely discount the theory either. I keep substituting other phrases for "whether Jesus had a wife", like "whether Jesus invented football" or "whether Jesus played the bagpipes" or "whether Jesus expressed a serious fondness for cheese and onion crisps and line dancing that the gospels unaccountably omitted" and suspect that while ABC might not find any proof of these things, it would not completely discount the theory either.

This blog would like to congratulate Daniel Handler and Lisa Brown for having given birth to... actually, the first round of photos they sent out were of a rubber chicken, but the second round were pretty much definitely a human baby.

Peter Sanderson writes the longest article about Sandman: Endless Nights so far at http://filmforce.ign.com/articles/457/457459p1.html. He's also given it a close read.

You can adopt a book at the British Library: http://www.bl.uk/about/cooperation/adoptnumbered.html

Phillip Pullman writes a lovely Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, ostensibly about believing in ghosts, but mostly about the imagination: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/31/opinion/31PULL.html (I find myself remembering an old Stephen King interview answer, when people would ask why he wrote such scary, disturbing stuff. "What makes you think I have a choice?" he'd say.)

The reaction to the Amazon.com "search the book" feature isn't entirely positive, and there are people -- especially those who've written encyclopedias, cook-books, and books of poems and short-short stories -- who might well want their books to not be searchable. http://www.authorslawyer.com/c-amazon.shtml gives you a sample letter, and a way to get your book taken down. Probably.

The London Tube Map is a very useful thing, but it doesn't really relate to the real world above. As I mention in Neverwhere, the weirdest thing about travelling by tube is you'll have been doing it for several years before you realise that two stations you spent half an hour travelling between are actually practically (or, in a couple of cases, literally) across the street from each other. At http://rodcorp.typepad.com/photos/art_2003/
tube_walklines_final_lmfaint.html
is a tube map with lines on it between stations that are merely a short and easy walk from each other...

...

Neil,

To inquire a bit further on your "fiddly bits of the publishing industry" answer, how do you feel about a perfectly good mass market book (not to pick on American Gods but ;) that's selling well being reprinted as a more expensive trade paperback. I'll admit I love the trade paperback format, but it used to represent a certain type of literature (trying hard not to sound snobby but there's a reason it's called "mass market") that is no longer a necessary qualification for the treatment. Do you really think there's true cause for these reprints (which by the way often initiate the slow phase-out of the mass market edition), or is it primarily a money-making scheme?

Sorry to be long-winded, I'm a poor self-editor. Thanks for all your good work and your candor with us fans (and thanks Dave McKean, too (and congrats on the award!)).

Craig Kolman


Well, most of publishing is a money-making scheme. Not always an amazingly successful one, but that's generally the plan.

I'm not sure I have much of an opinion, to be honest. Stardust, which has been out for a few years in trade paperback, has just come out in mass-market paperback. The idea is, they're two different looking books, with two different prices, aimed at two different kinds of book buyers (those who buy trade paperbacks and those who buy mass market paperbacks). So bringing it out in mass-market won't hurt the sales of the trade paperback, any more than the existence of the trade paperback hurts the existence of the illustrated edition. American Gods will stay in print as a mass-market paperback, but it came out in print as a trade paperback mostly because the readership for, range and respect for mass-market paperbacks has been shrinking over the last few years, and a trade paperback with a respectable-looking cover will reach an audience of people who would like the book, but who, we can assume, wouldn't pick it up in mass-market.

Good Omens was a trade paperback for years, then it came out as a mass-market paperback (and the trade paperback was allowed to go out of print), and now it's out in both trade paperback and mass-market and sells just as well in both formats, but, I suspect, to different people.

I'd love to get Smoke and Mirrors in the US out as a mass-market book as well, because it would be racked in supermarkets and in airports, and people who might never pick up a book of short stories could pick it up accidentally...
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