Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Haunted Libraries of Pittsburgh

31 October 2012

From BookRiot:

Carnegie Library, Mount Washington Branch

This library opened its doors in the summer of 1900. Physically, little has changed. The circulation desk is the same one that patrons saw when they walked in the doors on opening day. The creaks, groans, and wheezes that are heard are typical for a building that is more than 110 years old, but there is something more. It is not unusual for the librarians to feel a sense of dread when they are the last one out for the night. There are no dark tales in this particular library’s past, though – not that anyone knows of.  In an effort to explain these uneasy feelings, the Haunted Pittsburgh folks asked a local medium to visit and get to know any other-wordly inhabitants. On just the first floor, she identified 7 spirits. All of them are locals who enjoyed the library in life and have found it a pleasant place to pass the time now that they are dead. One spirit is especially active. Her name is Clara, and she likes to help patrons find the titles that they are looking for. Sometimes, she even gently guides patrons to titles that she thinks they will enjoy.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

At What Age Will Your Creativity Peak?

31 October 2012

From The Creativity Post:

Researchers, psychologists, art historians have studied, debated and pondered the correlation between age and artistic creativity throughout history. Pablo Picasso, Mozart, and T.S. Elliot all created some of their most well known art in their twenties, while Cezanne, Hitchcock, and Robert Frost produced some of their most important works in their forties, fifties and later.

. . . .

David Galenson, professor of economics at University of Chicago, studied the careers of forty-seven of painters, writers, directors, and sculptors and published his findings in his book Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity. His research led him to the conclusion that, “There have been two very different types of artist in the modern era. These two types are distinguished not by their importance, for both are promi­nently represented among the greatest artists of the era. They are distin­guished instead by the methods by which they arrive at their major contri­butions… I call one of these methods aesthetically motivated experi­mentation, and the other conceptual execution.”

Artists motivated by experimentation – Paul Cézanne for example – have imprecise goals and are driven by visual perceptions. These experimental artists tend to paint the same thing many times, rarely make preparatory sketches, and “aim to discover the image in the course of making it.” Their work is gradual and they learn as they paint, improving over time as an artist. The experimental artist is often at their creative peak much older. Cézanne did not paint what is considered one of his most important works, Les Grandes Baigneuses until he was well into his sixties and at the end of his days.

Conceptual artists, like Pablo Picasso, are driven to communicate precise concepts, ideas, or emotions. They often make detailed sketches to prepare for the work and their ideas are frequently sudden. Galenson explains further that, “Unlike experimental artists, whose inability to achieve their vague goals can tie them to a single problem for a whole career, the conceptual artist’s ability to consider a problem solved can free him to pursue new goals.” The peak for conceptual artists is much younger. Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon after dozens of preparatory sketches, finally starting to paint when he was merely twenty-five.

Link to the rest at The Creativity Post

Insane people

31 October 2012

Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.

Nora Ephron

Fallen tree on New Haven Green unearths human skeleton

31 October 2012

Nothing to do with books, but it might be a great idea for starting a story:

From The New Haven Register:

Talk about an eerie Halloween story. Hurricane turned Superstorm Sandy toppled a majestic old oak on the Upper Green and intertwined in the dirt and roots was a human skeleton.

Police were called, as was the state medical examiner.

Link to the rest, including a photo, at New Haven Register

For Agents, It’s Business As Usual With Penguin and Random House

31 October 2012

From Publishers Weekly:

With news that Random House and Penguin are merging, agents said that, despite what the move will mean for the industry, business moves ahead as usual. Last week, after the Financial Times broke word that the merger was a possibility, a number of agents told PW that having fewer big houses would be a negative, namely because less competition would result in smaller advances.

. . . .

“Frankly, there are hirings and firings constantly in this business, regardless of these massive forecasted changes,” explained one agent. Although this agent noted that the shifts-to-come at both Random House and Penguin might make her think about taking certain projects elsewhere, publishers are, she said, constantly morphing and cutting back. “In situations where we have other players vying for a project, we will be taking this change into account when making decisions.” Noting that an agent couldn’t take two of the biggest houses off their list when selling projects, this agent added that her assumption is the merger will “more deeply impact Penguin than Random House… so I will probably make decisions based on that hunch.”

Other agents noted that the goal is often to sell a project to an editor, and not a publisher. “Agents always prefer more competition to less. But in this rough market, I and my colleagues, I believe, have been submitting more narrowly anyway, so for us it’s really editor by editor,” explained another agent.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD Is Another Worthy $199 Tablet

31 October 2012

From Time magazine:

Barnes & Noble‘s new Nook HD, which arrives in the retailer’s stores this Thursday, competes with Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD about as directly as it’s possible for one product to rival another.

They’re both $199 tablets with 7″ screens. They both use customized versions of Android to provide experiences that emphasize the consumption of content — books, magazines, video, apps and more — that you’ve purchased from the company that sold you the tablet. It’s the same basic idea from two different bookselling behemoths.

. . . .

The Nook HD has a higher-resolution screen. It’s got 1440-by-900 pixels, a meaningful increase over the Kindle Fire HD’s 1280-by-800.

It’s narrower and lighter. The Nook HD’s curvy case (available in white and gray versions) is 5″ wide vs. the Fire HD’s 5.4″, a difference that sounds insignificant but makes for a more single-hand-friendly design. And at 11.1 oz., it’s enough lighter than the 13.9-oz. Fire HD that you notice the difference as you hold it up to read. 

Link to the rest at Time

The Holiday Tablet Wars Begin

31 October 2012

From Reuters:

The biggest names in consumer technology, stung by a string of disappointing quarterly results this month, are suiting up for what’s shaping to be the fiercest holiday battle in years.

Investors and consumers have already largely written off flaccid quarterly numbers from tech behemoths like Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon. What counts is the next 60 days, when the biggest names in technology do battle at a near-unprecedented scale and pace.

. . . .

Apple CEO Tim Cook compared Microsoft’s Surface tablet to an over-engineered car that can fly and float. And Microsoft went for the iPad, saying its Surface boasted twice its storage.

. . . .

“The tablet space is where the growth is. That’s why they are all fighting over it. PC shipments are down and some tablet buyers may never buy another PC,” said Michael Allenson, strategic consulting director in the Technology and Telecom Research Group at Maritz Research.

“Last holiday season, we saw a lot of buying of tablets in the $200 to $300 price range. This year, the iPad mini and Amazon’s Kindle Fires are targeted as large gifts. They are trying to ride that wave and win as much as they can.”

. . . .

Odds-on favorite Apple has lost some of its aura of invincibility, with Google’s Android and Samsung making inroads into its reign in smartphones, Microsoft’s quickening marketing blitz, and Amazon’s Kindle nipping at its heels as the No. 2 tablet in the United States market.

. . . .

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, in a talk this month, took a shot at Apple, which has faced a barrage of complaints about glitches in its mapping software since dumping Google’s service from its iPhone.

“What Apple has learned is that maps are really hard. They really are hard,” he said. “Apple should have kept with our maps.”

Not to be outdone in the sniping, Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos took a subtle swipe at Apple’s high prices in the Internet retailer’s quarterly results statement Thursday, saying “our approach is to work hard to charge less.”

Link to the rest at Reuters

Why agents collect your money for you

31 October 2012

From agent Janet Kobobel Grant at Books & Such:

Literary agencies handle authors’ advance payments and royalty payments one of two ways:

1. The money is split–generally 85% to you, 15% to your agent–at the publishing house.

2. One hundred percent of the money is sent to the agency, where it is split, and the author’s sum is sent to him or her.

From the outset of our agency’s existence, we selected option #2. If your agent isn’t doing this for you, he or she is taking the easy way out of providing you a service.

By having the money sent to the agency, that agency will:

  • Know that the money was sent to you. If the agency receives only its portion, it doesn’t know if you got yours. Since the bulk of the funds are the author’s, a publisher that’s having trouble finding the funds to pay could easily send the 15% to the agent but not the 85% to the  author. That agent would assume the rest had been sent to the author.
  • Check that the  amount sent was correct. Recently a client’s advance payment was sent to our office. But the publisher had failed to send the right amount. Instead, the publisher sent what they initially offered for the book not the increased amount I had negotiated. In all likelihood, someone in accounting looked at paperwork that indicated the initial amount offered but failed to check the contract, which stated the increased amount.  If the author’s money hadn’t been sent to me, it would have taken me some time to figure out why the agency’s portion was incorrect. But with the entire sum presented in one check, the error was obvious and quickly spotted. And the author didn’t happily skip off to the bank to deposit an incorrect check.
  • Double-check that royalty payments are correct. Reporting royalties and paying the correct amount is a complex business because the book is likely to be published in many formats, at varying discounts, with returns, reserves and licensed subsidiary rights added to the equation. I spend hours pouring over royalty statements to determine if the payment for a client is correct.. . . .

    Agencies that set up a system in which they receive payment directly from the publisher don’t have the same incentives to check that all is being handled appropriately for the author. And it’s much harder to spot the problems, even if the agency looks for them.

Link to the rest at Books & Such and thanks to Robert for the tip.

Passive Guy was going to comment, but decided visitors to The Passive Voice could probably do a better job. He will just say he always advises his clients to insist on a split-check provision in their publishing contracts so they receive their royalties and a copy of their royalty statement directly from the publisher

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