Saturday, February 14, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day. Except in India, of course...

Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you get to kiss someone nice. Or not, of course, depending.

Wondering how Valentines Day is celebrated in other countries, I turned to the Times of India, where I learn that they celebrate by calling in private detectives -- "It was not just religious hardliners keeping a watch on couples celebrating Valentine's Day across India on Saturday. A number of Indians were frantically calling private detectives to check on their beloveds."

This has probably been made necessary by an influx of blonde Australians. "At least three men have got e-mails from 'blondes' offering sexual favours , in lieu of money. Their reason? Indian men are the perfect Kamasutra male." An article that gets less delightfully odd when you realise that "in lieu of" is not being used in the standard sense of "instead of" (I somehow assumed from the first paragraphs that normally blonde Australians go to India and just offer men money, but these ladies were offering sex instead) and is being used in the Times of India sense of "in exchange for".


In case you didn't know, and guessing you'd like to plug it, Dave McKean got profiled at Apple's page:

Obviously he does mention you a handful of times.

They also manage to misspell Spanish on the first line.

It also seems you're surrounded by mac users. Resistance is futile. You shall be assimilated.

Which is fair enough. I actually own two iMacs -- one of the old, TV screen ones, and a new, desklamp one. They're mostly Lorraine's and Maddy's, but I'll happily use them too. Then there's the iPod, of course, which I love. iTunes runs the house music, on all the computers, unless I need to sort out ID3 tagging glitches, in which case Windows Media (and even, on occasion Musicmatch) will get pulled out and dusted off.

I tend to keep my own computers on a PC standard for the same reason I still use WordPerfect as a word processing program: I have thousands of files in Word Perfect 4.0 and 4.2 and suchlike ancient formats, and I never know when I'll need to dig out something I wrote in 1987 and be able to read it and possibly even work with it.

I'm not terribly religious, in the computer operating system sense of the word. Many people (including my son, a full-fledged Apple person) seemed to be waiting for me to see the light and become a full-fledged Mac convert, and were shocked that once there were Macs in the house I didn't have a Road to Damascus moment. I like them for some things, prefer PCs for other things, and, except for writing screenplays, prefer fountain pens to both of them (and for screenplays I like Final Draft, and I don't mind which platform it's on).

When I tell Mac people this, they smile their secret smile. They know that after we die, we go to a special place, and that those who used Macs will be raised on high, where they can sip their cappucinos and look down and see the virus-infected writhings and screamings of those who used PCs, as the damned Windows users are forever bombarded with boiling projectile vomit from the thousand-foot high screaming thing that used to be Bill Gates.

But I'm sure even the damned people down in the mud will be laughing up whatever's left of their sleeves at those of us who secretly like fountain pens best.

Dear mr. Gaiman,

I`ve noticed that some of your book covers look kinda tacky and uncalling (sorry!/didn`t mean the kids` books BTW). I know all about the "don`t judge a book by its covers" but don`t you have anything to say on these things? And why do covers varie between countries? It really doesn`t make sence to me.


Because different covers work for different countries. People are used to seeing books that look like some kind of thing on the shelves, and publishers try and provide that.

English publishers like book jackets that look one way, American publishers like them another way. Americans grumble about British book jackets, English people talk about how unimpressive American Book Jackets are. Russian book covers don't like like anyone else's book covers, nor do Japanese or Polish or Croat. The Finns tend to be unimpressed by Norwegian book covers, while the Swedes look down on the Danes. Meanwhile, the French struggle with one of the problems of French Publishing, which means that a book of worth and quality should have no image at all on the cover, merely the author's name and the book title; a picture means that the book is a potboiler, and not fully respectable.

There used to have a page here at that was just book covers from around the world, then we decided to tidy them up a bit, so now you need to click on the book itself to check out some covers. (And we've not updated or added any covers for several years.) The foreign covers are at the bottom of the relevant pages: (Which are similar, as many of them use the original Dave McKean cover art, but even then they have interesting local differences).

It's worth bearing in mind that when publishers around the world use the same image, the typography can make completely different books. Most AMERICAN GODS covers use the original US image, of the road and the lightning. But even in the US there's an enormous difference between the hardback (reasonably subtle, looks a bit ominous) and the paperback (big gold lettering, looks best-selling and thrilling but slightly cheap). And neither of them look like the Italian cover. (or the Hungarian, or the Swedish, but I can't find online pictures of those.)

The US mass-market paperback was designed by Harpers to look sort of like a thriller: it's for people to pick up in supermarkets or airports. Subtlety was not part of the plan. The US larger format trade paperback cover is designed more to appeal to people who might never pick up American Gods in its mass market format, and who wouldn't be scared by the idea that this might be literature, whatever that is.

Hi Neil,

Here's something about a glitch revealing authors reviewing their own work on


That's hilarious. I always tend to assume that Amazon reviews #1 and 2, saying it is the Best Book In The World, are by the author and his or her best friend, and that reviews #3 and 4, saying it's the worst book in the world, are by the author's worst enemy, and by his best friend now a bit more secretly, and after that the readers come out.

Having said that, I think it's an enormous pity that Amazon took down the "I am the author and I want to comment on my book" button. Yes, every now and again you'd find some twit pretending to be Shakespeare or the author of the Bible, or me ("I am gladd you all liked Good Omens it was very funn to write with Terry Pratchett he is so funy I will write another book soon so bibi now Neil Gaeman") but it was, overall, useful. Unfortunately one author got very loudly upset at being impersonated, and the whole thing vanished.

Of course, I also miss all the actual content they used to have on Amazon -- essays by authors, interviews and the like. In theory I suppose it's all still there. There's just no way to find them from within Amazon itself...

For example, a hasty google just turned up this Stardust interview with me by Therese Littleton. In that interview, the Sandman link that now takes you to Game of You once took you to this Amazon Sandman page. Which still exists, but again, I had to Google to find it, because you can't get to it from within Amazon (and it's not as if it has much content on it that you don't get from this page, which is easy to get to, but it was obviously put together by a person).

And finally...

The originator of the lawsuit v. Janet Jackson was a local Knoxville
woman who has since dropped the suit:

Thanks JaNell...

(Reads article). A Knoxville banker says she's made her point and has withdrawn her federal lawsuit over the Super Bowl halftime show. I assume, athough the newspaper doesn't specify, that her point is that she has too much time on her hands, and is an idiot, and she has certainly made it very effectively.