Friday, October 2, 2009

The Next Wave in Books, The Vook

In an effort to stumble over the next best thing publisher Simon and Schuster has partnered with a multi media company and will start promoting the vook. As reported in the New York Times and seen in their promo the book has been revolutionized beyond the trappings of just reading.

Interspersed within the text of books offered on iPhones, kindles, and youtube, will be short videos pertaining to the book. Not only that, readers will be able to blog about the text and even direct how the author will continue writing the storyline:

“Everybody is trying to think about how books and information will best be put together in the 21st century,” said Judith Curr, publisher of Atria Books, the Simon & Schuster imprint that is releasing the electronic editions in partnership with Vook, a multimedia company. She added, “You can’t just be linear anymore with your text. In some cases, social-networking technologies enable conversations among readers that will influence how books are written. The children’s division of HarperCollins recently released the first in a young-adult mystery series called “The Amanda Project,” and has invited readers to discuss clues and characters on a Web site. As the series continues, some of the reader comments may be incorporated into minor characters or subplots."

That is all fine and good. I encourage interaction between the author and readers and the world of reading and the relationship to the text is quickly transforming. But there are some cases where this doesn't work for me.

“It really makes a story more real if you know what the characters look like,” commented Fred L. Gronvall in a review on The videos, he wrote, “add to the experience in a big way.”

I'm sorry, but my Brobdingnagians are not yours and I don't need a video insert to flesh out my Marlowe. He's just fine tucked away in an intimacy Raymond Chandler and I have developed over the years.

The romance writer Jude Deveraux wants a more sensory experience from the reading experience:

"Ms. Deveraux said she envisioned new versions of books enhanced by music or even perfume. “I’d like to use all the senses,” she said."

God forbid Ms. Deveraux and Simon and Schuster tackle the epic retelling of Andersonville prison camp where 13,000 Union soldiers died in fetid conditions. Or, maybe that's the perfect use of this new technology. We shall see.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Waysgoose 2009!

Waysgoose 2009 was another rousing time for families, artists, printers, and steamrollers. The fifth annual printer's party held each spring at the bookstore brought in artists and printers to show their wares and show people how its done in hands-on exhibits. Kids and well, everyone, love to roll their own prints. For a second straight year a steamroller was used to create 3 by 4 foot prints outside the store and the weather held off long enough to allow for some magnificent printmaking. Some of the large prints will be auctioned off later this fall and the proceeds donated to Tacoma Public Schools libraries. We thank everyone who showed up and participated in this Waygoose, and we hope to see you at the auction, and at next year's Waygoose!

We also thank Kevin Freitas who showed up and took some pictures, we were far too busy to get the camera steady. Here are more photos from his webpage:

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alice Paul and Ordinary Equality

"There is nothing complicated about ordinary equality."—Alice Paul

The newest broadside of the "Dead Feminist" series from Chandler O'Leary of Anagram Press and Jessica Springs of Springtide Press has arrived.

Here's info from the Anagram Press webpage -

"Printed from hand-lettered original typography and hand-drawn illustrations and patterns (in fact, everything was done by hand, the hard way!). This piece is a collaboration between Chandler O'Leary of Anagram Press and Jessica Spring of Springtide Press, who think everyone deserves an equal slice of wedding cake.

The wedding cake illustration is inspired by the architecture of San Francisco, epicenter of the battle over Proposition 8 in California. "Prop Cake" made its debut at the 2009 Codex International Book Fair in Berkeley, just in time for Valentine's Day.

The poster was printed on an antique Vandercook Universal One press. Each piece is printed on archival, 100% rag, recycled paper, and signed by both artists. Edition size: 108. Paper size: 10 x 18 inches.

Colophon reads: Alice Stokes Paul (1885-1977) continued the work of the suffragists, and helped form the National Woman's Party to demand equal rights. The NWP engaged in militant demonstrations and the first picketing of the White House; these "Silent Sentinels" were mobbed and imprisoned, then force-fed while attempting a hunger strike. Public and media support for their cause grew and by 1920, women secured the vote. Alice Paul continued to work on their behalf, writing the original Equal Rights Amendment in 1923."

This is a great limited hand press series by two of our favorite artists. Well worth coming in and taking a look.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Seeds of Victory

The second broadside of a series celebrating feminists has arrived. The broadside, illustrated by Chandler O'Leary of Anagram Press and printed by Jessica Spring of Springtide Press, features Eleanor Roosevelt. Printed in an edition of 76 copies and signed by both this is another beautiful print by these artists.

From the text of the broadside: "Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 - 1962) transformed the role of the first lady in the White House, where she served from 1933 - 45. In an effort to cultivate self-sufficiency and patriotism, she planted a Victory Garden on the White House lawn. Spurred in part by the first lady's example, more than 20 million Americans had home gardens and grew 40% of the country's produce during World War II. Today, amid rising food prices, climate change, and the finite supply of fossil fuels, we encourage the next first lady, Michelle Obama, to follow in Eleanor Roosevelt's footsteps and set an example for sustainability and hope once more - beginning on the White House lawn."

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Future is One Year Away?

Over the long holiday weekend we were having discussions with new book sales representatives and the prospects of the world of publishing. There was talk of the announcement by Houghton Mifflin that they wouldn't be acquiring new manuscripts which struck us as a very bad idea for a company that publishes new titles. We were concerned with the seemingly anachronistic publishing method of acquiring manuscripts from authors and then beginning the process of editing, marketing, producing then distributing the title. A process that can take up to a year if not longer for the title to arrive at your bookstore. A process that's about as nimble as an elephant in quicksand. This system is the way publishing's been done since the beginning of time, and that time is over.

It seems the only authors this will be workable for in the future are authors that publishers want to cultivate to customers that already have an unwavering love for the author. An author like Toni Morrison who gives you a "big" book every four years or so.

More and more titles are being published that are derivatives of blogs and bloggers and the 24/7 world of information is quickly making the old time frames of publishing moot. How many customers will be willing to lay out $35.00 for the next Bob Woodward hardback expose in the near future when his latest was concurrently available for the Kindle at $9.99?

James Gleick recently had an article in the New York Times that addressed this problem and the future of publishing. While he rightly believes that the book will not disappear because in its essence it's the perfect medium for reading he does come to an unavoidable truth:

"For some kinds of books, the writing is on the wall. Encyclopedias are finished. All encyclopedias combined, including the redoubtable Britannica, have already been surpassed by the exercise in groupthink known as Wikipedia. Basic dictionaries no longer belong on paper; the greatest, the Oxford English Dictionary, has nimbly remade itself in cyberspace, where it has doubled in size and grown more timely and usable than ever. And those hefty objects called “telephone books”? As antiquated as typewriters. The book has had a long life as the world’s pre-eminent device for the storage and retrieval of knowledge, but that may be ending, where the physical object is concerned."

Save the plodding world of publishing books for books that we'll want to savor again and again. As Gleick states, "Go back to an old-fashioned idea: that a book, printed in ink on durable paper, acid-free for longevity, is a thing of beauty. Make it as well as you can. People want to cherish it."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chestnuts and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

We've recieved a beautiful new broadside from Jessica Spring of Springtide Press and Chandler O'Leary of Anagram Press. Illustrated by O'Leary and printed by Spring in recognition of a woman's right and responsibility to vote. 44 copies (in recgonition of the upcoming election of the 44th president of the United States) were printed by hand at Springtide. A quote from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who wrote many of the speeches for Susan B. Anthony, graces the broadside, "Come, come my conservative friend wipe the dew off your spectacles and see the world moving."
If only the election process could be as well done as work like this.
Here at Kings Books we always know when autumn has hit full bore. We know by the chestnut tree across the street and from the throngs of local citizens wielding thier brooms and extendable poles slapping at the tree and knocking down the chestnuts to make that Japanese delicacy Ku Ri. That's really taking the local food movement to heart I'd say.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Seattle Loses More Bookstores

Couth Buzzard Bookstore in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle closes it doors as reported by the Seattle Times. And Couth Buzzard is not the only one, M Coy Books and All for Kids Bookstore also closed this year, among others. Although Seattle still has the most bookstore's per capita then any other city, rents and buying habits are taking its toll on the traditional open bookshops left open.
Yes, you can buy your book from Amazon but you can't get the same satisfaction of browsing a well stocked local store and find the book you weren't looking for. It's what I call the happy accident of discovery that makes the difference.

thanks to Shelf Awareness for the lead.