Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not judging the books, but their covers...

I've always found book jackets terribly interesting (especially after hearing from Chip Kidd at the CPC). So much work goes into choosing the perfect photos or graphics, the right feeling of font, colors that mesh well. So many people have a say in whether they think a certain cover will make a book sell. Publishers also face the challenge of rebranding popular books when people take a new interest in them, whether a new volume comes out in a series, or a book is turned into a movie.
I love the first two versions of Gregory Maguire's Wicked. The first (with a cool circular cut-out) gives a great feeling of the magical elements of the series. The second features the poster art of the Broadway musical inspired by the book. I'm not often a fan of media tie-in covers, but this one is just graphically awesome. It also features bright green page edges, which makes it really eye-catching on bookstore displays.

One would think two was enough, but the other day I came across the third round of Wicked covers... and it seems the publisher wants to recall "Little Witch on the Prairie." Why why why??

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Scones and Sensibility (aka Pie and Prejudice)

Back at the CPC, during the book workshop, one of our tasks was to participate in a faux agent bid for a middle-grade novel called Pie and Prejudice by the fake author Lea K. Ecauldron*. We had a lot of fun with it, staging a sub rights auction and creating marketing and publicity campaigns. One of our designers came up with this awesome cover:

As it turned out, we were working on a real book, actually titled Scones and Sensibility, by debut author Lindsay Eland. We never saw the real cover, so it was really odd that both designers chose to use a silhouette image.

Scones was released today by Egmont USA. Congrats to Egmont and Lindsay!

* Get it? Harry Potter nerd alert.

Twilight insanity at Borders

What with the opening of New Moon (in the movie theater next to my store, no less), Twilight insanity has been renewed at Borders. The books have been HUGE sellers, of course, but the promotional items have gone a little too far...

The stuff comes in three varieties:

1.) This has nothing to do with New Moon, but let's slap on the movie title!

2.) Who wouldn't want to walk around/sleep in something with a creepily huge oily Robert Pattinson face on it?

3.) Well... actually I find these kind of amusing, vampire bloodsucking and all.

Blah... at least it's all good for sales, right?

Sunday, November 29, 2009


I once again sucked at updating. Going to go flesh out some ideas I didn't get to earlier...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Banning and Boat Burning

I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted! I wanted to address the topic of book banning, but for now, here is an awesome video from adorable and dorky YA author John Green:

In other literary news, somebody decided to write a book about one of my all-time favorite topics, the 2008-2009 Super Awesome NCAA-winning Season of BU Ice Hockey! (Hockey is to BU as football is to, say, Penn State.)

Burn the Boats

On the off chance anyone else who reads this blog is a fan of BU hockey, the blog in this link is the go-to source for info, especially for those of us who now live a number of miles away from Boston.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Entertainment Weekly: Double Oops

A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Entertainment Weekly regarding its misguided review of Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games YA trilogy. I certainly respect reviewers' opinions, but in this case it was clear she didn't give the book a fair look.

While not perfect, The Hunger Games is one of my favorite young adult novels. I find the plot very creative, and the characters' obstacles and thought processes well-explained. I was excited for Catching Fire, and found it exceeded my expectations. Collins took what could have been a very repetitive storyline - another go at the Games - and twisted it in a way that made it gripping all over again.

Then came Entertainment, with a book review that made me question whether the writer read more than the back cover. Among other things, the writer bemoaned the book's lack of "erotic energy," and questioned why it couldn't be more like Twilight.

My issues with this:

1.) If Twilight is the new literary standard, we should all stop reading.*

2.) There is so much more to YA than Twilight. Authors like Collins, Steve Kluger, and John Green (just to name a few of my favorites) offer quirky, lovable books that make you feel and think, empathize and cringe!

3.) Catching Fire isn't even in the same plot category as Twilight. While it does contain a love triangle, it's about so much more. This is a story about bravery, problem solving, loyalty, adventure... I could go on.

*Yes, I read them. Yes, they were entertaining. Yes, I will probably see the movies. No, the writing isn't good.

In addition to all of this, the reviewer mixed up several plot points. See these two great blogs for more details:

My CPC friend Carlie at
Liz at

So back to the review....

I was very excited when I received an email from EW, confirming my name and hometown so they could print my letter. While they did get the spelling right in the actual issue, they plopped my info under a review I didn't write. The text in print belongs to Liz Burns (of the above blog), who happens to be a friend of a friend. Weird! Anyway, I emailed the magazine and hopefully they'll print a correction.

My letter:

I never thought I’d find one of the more negative hallmarks of back-to-school season – students hastily skimming through summer reading selections at the last minute – right in the pages of EW. In her review of Catching Fire, Jennifer Reese not only mistakes plot points – Katniss’ costumes play a brief role at the beginning of the competition, but certainly not while she fights her competitors – but also spreads the unfortunate view that Twilight is the only piece of YA literature worth noting. Catching Fire does not, nor should it, seek for “erotic energy.” An antidote to all the Twilight wannabes lining bookstore shelves, it is less a love story than a tale of survival, trust and loyalty.

Liz's letter:

To read Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire as if it were a romance (particularly a romance like Twilight, which further narrows expectations) is to do the book a disservice (Books section). It means Jennifer Reese did not read the dystopian novel before her but rather read the book she wanted (or assumed) it to be: a Twilight-style romance. No wonder she thought the book failed.

Oops, EW.


Amusing Twilight review
Discuss Catching Fire

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Looking back, I was a little harsh on Twilight. The writing isn't horrible, it just isn't as wonderful as that of some of my other favorite authors, whose work sometimes falls to the wayside. Though I think the Twilight craze is a
little silly, I did enjoy the books - and so did my mom, my aunt, my sister, and a few of my college-educated female friends. Also, I have respect for any book that gets more book-wary kids to think, "Hey, I just read hundreds of pages - maybe I can do it again."

Monday, September 7, 2009

A library without books

This Boston-area school library has taken away all its books. They claim too few students check them out, but I still think this is extreme... I'm all for updating technology in schools, but why throw out all your books??

A library without the books (