Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Update: Patrick Wensink's Coloring Content

Patrick Wensink: Help Him Pick a Coloring Contest Winner!

On November 30, I reported on new humor author Patrick Wensink's book, Sex Dungeon for Sale! and the coloring contest he was having as a promotion. Patrick reports on his Twitter page and website that the contest went so well, he can't decide a winner -- and now he wants your help!

Vote for best and you could win something cool -- rules here! Hurry, ends December 17. (Winner Update: Congratulations to Kate from Chicago.)

Nicely played, Patrick.

Disclosures. No remuneration paid for author update. Commissions may be paid on purchase through book link.

Follow me on Twitter: @BizBooksPlus or @AlanEggleston

Monday, December 14, 2009

NPR's Best Young Adult Fiction for 2009

Young Adult Fiction Is Good Reading for All

NPR (National Public Radio) announced its list of 2009's Best Young Adult Fiction. Books always make great holiday gifts, especially for young adults who are frequently into video games, cell phones, or clothes, which can become expensive. A book will allow your young adult to escape from your mundane world without breaking your bank!
The thing about Young Adult Fiction is, although it's written for young adults, it's easy to become enthralled as a fully grown adult yourself. Beware if you give any of these as gifts this holiday season, because you may find yourself holed up in a favorite chair over the winter consumed with a great read!

See the NPR page for brief summaries of each book.

My Own Additional Suggestions
If none of these titles sounds like your young adult reader, let me suggest any of the superb Peter Pan series of books that kept my wife and I occupied for many adventurous hours. I'm reading the fourth one now, and it kept my interest from the first page. Here they are, in order of introduction:

(Book links to Amazon.com through my online book store, through which I may receive commissions for sales. No recompense received for reviewing books or passing on NPR information.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Which Comes First: The Book or the Movie?

Take Our Reader Poll

A movie is made from a book: Do you read the book first or see the movie then read the book? http://twtpoll.com/00o8r5 (ends 12/16/09)

(If you have a Twitter account, Twtpoll is a very easy, free way to publish a poll. You can also build surveys, for a one-time cost. I'll let you know how this one works out.)

Why You Should Protect That Bothersome Book Jacket

Book Jackets: More Than a Marketing Tool

That dust jacket that comes with every new hard cover book: Do you really need it?

The quick answer is, yes, the jacket protects the book cover from wear, tear, and spills.

The longer answer is, yes, the jacket protects the book cover from wear, tear, spills, and over time, fading and weathering.

Believe it or not, a jacket can be more valuable than the book it protects, if the jacket is well taken care of. Thus, removing it while you read the book won't protect the book as well but may help retain the value of the cover, if you're a collector.

To protect both the book and the jacket, consider investing in a plastic sheet that will encase the outside of the jacket. Jackets easily tear or take on spills, smears, and marks the book would have taken on, and you can protect the jacket from those with a plastic covering.

If you decide to remove the jacket while reading the book, store it carefully. Jackets tend to curl and lose their bookly shape. If they end up under other things, you will end up with unintended creases. Instead, fold the jacket along a natural crease or, if you have a long enough drawer, straighten out full length until you need to wrap the jacket around the book again.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Case for Bookends

Bookends: Why Bother?

It's pretty simple: The reason to use bookends is to keep your books upright and together.

For some, that's an answer to anal retentivism. For me, it's an answer to protecting my books both as an investment and for my personal demeanor.

Bookends Help Organize
Books are made to sit upright -- vertically straight on the bottom edge. The optimal way to store them is with even pressure on that bottom edge. The spine holds the rest of the book together, and when the book leans with uneven pressure on the spine because the book isn't sitting evenly on the bottom edge, the pages can pull away from the spine, especially when the glue dries and cracks or the staples or string suffer fatigue. Bookends, used properly, keep all the books straight with even pressure.

Is it proper to store a book vertically on its back edge (opposite the spine), such as when it's too tall to fit on its bottom edge? That would be a second choice, and better than other options. The problem with storing on the back edge is that it may allow the spine to sag or bulge, and if the book is wide it may cause fraying of the spine on the shelf above. Worse options would be laying books across the tops of shorter vertically stored books or leaned at an angle, all which may promote warping or sagging and stress on the spines.

Another good reason to use bookends is to group books by subject or other criteria, or even for aesthetic reasons. You may simply have a few books together in a large area and want to show them off or keep them from scattering.

When You Don't Use Bookends
If you're going to lean or cant a book, such as for display, make sure you use a tilted shelf with a lip that will evenly support the bottom of the book.

Certainly, it doesn't hurt to lay books horizontally on their covers. However, make sure that the pressure on the cover is evenly distributed to prevent warping. Furthermore, you don't want to introduce other objects on or near the book lying on its cover that might scratch or otherwise injure the cover. And, you should minimize the amount of weight you lay on top of books stored horizontally. Tabletop books are designed to lie flat on a table top or shelf, of course -- just make sure you don't stack more than a couple together, and keep the surface clean and free of obscructions.

Bookends Make a Great Gift
If you know a book lover or collector, or anyone else for whom books has a place in their lives, bookends make great gifts. Most book stores offer a variety, from the simple to the stylish.

(Bookends link above to Amazon.com through my online book store, from which I may receive a small commissions for sales.)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

How to "Break in" a New Book

New Books: Easing Them into Use

Ever see someone curve back the cover a brand new paperback novel? That's one way to crack it open for reading. However, that's not the best way, the way to make the book last.

A paperback isn't the most expensive thing in the world, so perhaps this isn't the example to go postal over. Yet, it illustrates the lack of care many people take in treating their new books. That lack of care often extends to all their books, even the expensive hard cover ones.

Fitness Stretches for Your Book
Think of a book as a body. It has a spine and attached to the spine are a tight skin (the cover) and taut muscles (the pages). When something pliable is tight, and you fold it quickly and unnaturally, it may snap or break. That can happen to books just like it can happen to living bodies.

When athletes prepare for a sprint or other athletic activity, what do they do beforehand? They stretch! That's what you should do for any new book, too. Stretch the binding that links the spine with the covers and pages to gently release the tension between them. By stretching it, you prepare it for hours of open and closing at your leisure, which makes for a more pleasurable experience for you.

Follow These Simple Steps
Stretching the binding is really simple and will keep the spine from breaking and the book in much better shape for a much longer time:
  1. Stand the book on a flat surface on its spine.
  2. Holding the book vertical, open the front cover a full 90 degrees and press your fingertips along the crease the length of the page.
  3. Keeping the front cover open, now open the back cover a full 90 degrees and press your fingertips along the crease the length of the page.
  4. Retaining the current sides open, return to the front of the book and fold three or four pages open together 90 degrees, pressing your fingertips along the crease.
  5. Repeat this at the back of the book.
  6. Alternate this for more and more pages between the front and back of the book. Although you could go all the way to the center of the book, I find a quarter of the way sufficient.
Once you break in the ends of the book, the middle will naturally follow as you open the pages.

I challenge you to try this and see if it doesn't make using a new book much easier and make it wear much better. Let me know what you think.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New Author Alert: Patrick Wensink

Patrick Wensink Is a New Author Worth Getting to Know
By Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

There's a new humor author to discover: Patrick Wensink. His new book, his first, titled Sex Dungeon for Sale! is getting many great reviews over at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, which is always a strong endorsement.

Sex Dungeon for Sale! is a short compilation of humorous - one might say whacky - short stories in the New Bizarro Author Series. I haven't had the opportunity yet to read more than a sampling of Mr. Wensink's new work yet (he just wrote me about his book today!), but from what I've seen, there is much to like about this new author's style and to enjoy in his stories. Many have compared his writing to David Sedaris, David Cross, Chuck Palahniuk, or Robert Anton Wilson. Perhaps even Christopher Moore, from the sounds of it. "My Son Thinks He's French" is a fun, quick narrative of child-inspired imagination anyone who knows creative, obsessive children will enjoy.

If you like off-the-track humor, or any of the authors mentioned above, I'd give Mr. Wensink a try. As part of the New Bizarro Author Series, it's great to meet a bright new author at an introductory price, and this is your chance to meet an up-and-coming new writer who's making a name for himself now.

Mr. Wensink e-mailed me to tell me about a little promotional contest he is running through December 14 that he thought you might find fun. From his press release:

Patrick Wensink recently decided there’s only one way to celebrate the release of his book, “Sex Dungeon for Sale!”. And that is by holding a coloring contest.

He had a series of illustrations created based on some of the book’s stories, including a Kindergartener who thinks he’s French, a puddle of ketchup shaped like Elvis and something called, “Chicken Soup for the Kidnapper’s Soul.”

While the coloring contest sounded like fun, Wensink added a little excitement by offering an autographed stack of his favorite books from 2009 to the winner.
  • Fool - By Christopher Moore
  • Tales Designed to Thrizzle – by Michael Kupperman
  • AM/PM – By Amelia Gray
  • Help! A Bear is Eating Me! – By Mykle Hansen
The contest ends December 14.

For all the details visit www.patrickwensink.com/randomness
When Mr. Wensink wrote me, I did a little research to learn more about him and his book. I wasn't going to promote just anyone. I was impressed by the reviews I found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the sample chapter I read (on his website), and the personableness of his e-mail. I'd be interested in your impressions, too.

(Book links to Amazon.com through my online book store, through which I may receive commissions for sales. No recompense received for reviewing this author or passing on author information.)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Invasion Loses Me as Naval History Instead of Sea Adventure

Book Review: Invasion by Julian Stockwin

By Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

In October, Julian Stockwin released the 10th in his Thomas Kydd sea adventure series: Invasion. Stockwin is a fine writer of sea adventures, but in this story, he loses his way as a writer of naval history.

In Invasion, Britain worries over its imminent invasion by France's madman Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and an American inventor, Robert Fulton, seems to be England's greatest hope. He's known to be in France trying to sell Napoleon on the new war concept of submarine and torpedo warfare, and it becomes the mission of Commander Thomas Kydd and his best friend, Renzi, to entice Fulton to come to Britain and bring his technology to England's aid.

I'm not big on stories the central theme of which is built around the idea of a past famous person interacting with the book's main fictional character, and I wasn't keen on it here. The Thomas Kydd series of sea adventures are full of the excitement of sea battles and the dangerous life on tall ships at sea. Miring these rich, deep characters in the false sense of meeting up with real people with whom they likely would not have met get in the way for me. In the case of Renzi, it works all right, and Stockwin moves Kydd's interaction into sea action, so it's not too distasteful. However, I read the Thomas Kydd sea adventures for sea adventure, not not naval engineering.

One thing I'll say about Stockwin is that I respect his research and his use of the details he uncovers and uses in his works of fiction. I trust him to make good and accurate use of facts. At the end of the book, he tells us that Fulton was indeed in France at the time and did work on submarine and torpedo warfare, then went on to England, where he continued his work. For that reason, I am able to slightly suspend my disbelief.

If you read Stockwin because you appreciate his fine use of detail and like his excellent narrative in sea battles, you'll enjoy some of that here, but a good part of the book is taken up in meeting up with Fulton in France and with developing weapons in Britain. It made me miss his earlier works on Kydd in the Caribbean and the journey around the world, and it reminded me somewhat of his work on Kydd in North America while stationed in the United States.

I haven't given up on Stockwin's earlier storytelling of adventure. I'm sure he will bring it back in books to come. He's a fine author.

(Book links through my online book store, through which I may receive commissions for sales. No recompense received for passing on author information.)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Author Christoper Moore News

Christoper Moore, Humor Author, Posts First Two Chapters of Next Book

Christopher Moore yesterday sent out an e-mail to fans announcing some exciting news:

First, he's posted the first two chapters of his new book Bite Me (due in stores April 1) for fan previews.

Second, for those of you in the East, he's doing an “evening with” event with the New Jersey Shakespeare Company on November 19th. He will talk, they will do dramatic readings from Fool with "real Shakespearian actors," and he will sign books. Moore says there will be "swag, t-shirts and hats, maybe even some early copies of Bite Me, if they’re ready by then. This is a one-time event, with no rehearsal, so it should be strange and fun."

Moore is a humor writer of such popular titles as Fool: A Novel; Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal; Bloodsucking Friends: A Love Story; A Dirty Job: A Novel; You Suck: A Love Story; The Stupedist Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror; and Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Wale Sings, among others. My personal favorites are Lamb and Fluke. Moore has a great rapport with his fans, and if you write to him he's been known to write back!

(Book links through my online book store, through which I may receive commissions for sales. No recompense received for passing on author information.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Lost Symbol Is Typical Dan Brown Suspense

Review: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I am a big Dan Brown fan. No one paces a suspense story like Dan Brown, keeping you surprised right up to the end. He has kept up that pace in all his past books. Just when you thought you knew who done it, it wasn't until the last chapter that you found out who had really done it. However, he breaks that well developed writing style in The Lost Symbol, and I have to say, I was disappointed.

Don't misunderstand me; The Lost Symbol is full of surprises and suspenseful moments. The writing is still excellent and the pace is still brisk. My attention was rivetted after about the 15th short chapter. And to be fair, there are twists and turns in the plot right up to the end as Dan Brown leads you to the whereabouts of the lost symbol. Yet, I felt let down after the conflict between the protagonist and antagonist was resolved and chapters still remained. Oh, yes, we still have to point out the whereabouts of that pesky "lost" symbol.

If you like mystery, if you adore thriller or suspense, if you aborb conspiracies and like to untangle knotty plot twists, The Lost Symbol will be a good read for you. You may even find some of the plot holes don't matter so much -- like the tiny matter of the head of CIA security taking the lead in investigating internal U.S. security issues: Isn't that the perview of Heartland Security or the FBI? There were a few more little iniquities that bothered me, but I allowed to go unresolved because the story was too good to spoil with mere nits.

However, if you aren't a fan of Dan Brown's other works, you aren't likely to like this one, either.

Review Disclosures
(Book links above through my book store, for which I may receive commissions for sales.)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Schuler Books Stays Ahead of the Curve

Schuler Books Announces Vook and Espresso Publishing
Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

Schuler Books, independent bookseller in West and Mid Michigan, showed its moxy as a leading Michigan bookstore this week when it announced the Vook and the Espresso Book Machine.

Vooks are traditional books enhanced with video from Simon & Schuster, available for download to your computer, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Titles that Schuler Books mentions include Promises by Jude Deveraux, 90 Second Fitness Solution by Pete Cerqua, and Return to Beauty: Old World Recipes For Great Radian Skin by Narine Nikogosian. Links mentioned on their Facebook page look like downloads originate through Booksense, an association of independent booksellers.

Espresso Book Machine is on-demand publishing featuring the Google library and other possible sources. You will be able to order and walk out the door with a freshly printed book in around 10 minutes. No more concerns over being out of stock or out of print -- find the title and print it off! Schuler Books will have the only Espresso Book Machine in Michigan besides the University of Michigan. Cost is expected to be comparable to a mass-produced version, but there's no shipping!

Schuler Books Facebook page or their Book Weblog for more information.

I once worked at Schuler Books, but I received no compensation for this article.

Twitter me:
@AlanEggleston or @a-copywriter

Review Disclosures

Booksville Disclosure Policies for Book and Product Reviews and Articles
By Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now requires that I (and any other blogger and reviewer) disclose any relationship that I have with an author, book publisher, or product manufacturer when I write about their book or product.

Here are the practices by which I write reviews and articles for Booksville and BizBooksPlus:
  • I never accept money or incentives to do a review on a book or product. I read the books, use the products, and write the reviews or articles on my own.
  • I usually pay for the books and products about which I write or review; however, occasionally an author, publisher, or manufacturer may send or offer to send me a book or product to review. I will state that in the article or review; otherwise, you may assume I purchased the book or product with my own money.
  • When I create a link to a book or product in an article or review, I will get paid a commission if you purchase the book or product via my link, which goes through my online bookstore and Amazon or other affiliate store. If the link does not materially benefit me, I will state so. (I also use links for SEO ranking purposes.)
  • When I write a review or mention a book or product in an article, I will give you my unvarnished opinion, regardless of how I got the book or product. I don't write reviews professionally, so it's very likely that I purchased the book or product because I found it interesting, and I am writing about it because I wanted you to know about it. However, it's likely I will tell you what I like about it, and if there are things about it I find strongly disagreeable, I will tell you those, too. No author should assume that if they send me a book that they will receive a winning endorsement -- I won't feel obligated to provide one.
Note that while the FTC now requires these disclosures, I am fully supportive of them. You, as a reader, should know whether a reviewer or writer is being influenced by financial or material interests. The biggest problem for bloggers and other reviewers is knowing how to explain their practices and where to position them. Feel free to give me your feedback on this disclosure either in the comments section or by e-mail.

Thank you!

Alan Eggleston, president
e-Messenger Consulting Corp.
Writer, Editor, SEO, and Bookseller

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Have You Moved from Print to Electronic?

e-Books: Prices Too High?
by Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, bookseller

There's an interesting discussion about the price (not to be confused with the cost) of e-books on two blogs:
The essence of the debate is: Is the price is too high when the cost is so low? In this case, price is what the consumer pays to buy the e-book, cost is the financial burden of bringing the e-book to the consumer.

As an avid reader but not a fan of reading on a screen, high cost would be a barrier to my purchasing e-books on a regular basis. I prefer paper. What do you think?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What's in a Title?

Book Titles, the Author's Biggest Struggle?
by Alan Eggleston, writer, editor, and bookseller

If you're an author struggling with the title to your new bestseller-to-be, take a few lessons from the masters.

A book by British newspaper columnist and author Gary Dexter tells the story behind the titles of 50 landmark books. In Why Not Catch-21?, Dexter details the struggle to choose just the right number of catches to arrive at 22. Interesting story! First readers of Utopia by Thomas More thought it was a story of a real place, but there were clues in the title and the storytelling that discerning readers came to understand and that you can learn from. Why did Melville call his groundbreaking work "Moby Dick" instead of just "The Whale"? This and more is spelled out.

The full title of the book is Why Not Catch-21? The Stories Behind the Titles and it fully explains the work. As the preface explains, the book is based on a weekly column Dexter wrote for The Sunday Telegraph called "Title Deed." I want to do some research and see if it's still running, because it provides fascinating insight into how authors think and work, and how books are created.

  • Update: I Googled "Title Deed Sunday Telegraph" and although I received several links, all showed truncated results hidden behind "High Beam Research" which requires membership for full review. You will, however, see examples from the column on the Title Deed link above.
First published in 2007, I found it as a paperback this weekend at Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan. ISBN: 9780711229259. It's a good read and offers an interesting view of the thought process behind authors and their books.

Review Disclosure

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