Friday, November 30, 2007

Myth Fantasy, Urban Folklore, Fairytales, A Free Life by Ha Jin

Puss In Boots

Today, I decided to write a bit about Myth Fantasy, or novels which retell old fairytales or use old gods and legends and legends as their basis. One of the most prominent writers of this type of tale is Neil Gaiman who is a truly prolific writer. He recently wrote the screenplay of Beowulf which is in theaters now. It is a fantastic version of the Beowulf story. I'll wait for it to come to video. Another video which I will be waiting for from him is Stardust which is a film based on the graphic novel he wrote.

Two novels which he wrote are both based on myth and fantasy, the first is American Gods which sets the Norse pantheon in modern America. There are also cameos by the Egyptian gods and a few folk heros. Another novel called Anansi Boys tells a modern story of Anansi in contemporary America. This is full of the trickster tales of Anansi which are very entertaining.

I like when people use mythic characters as centerpieces in their novels. Jane Yolen wrote Briar Rose, a retelling of the snow white story during the holocaust. Also, Christopher Moore, who writes humorous fantasy used Coyote as a central figure in his novel Coyote Blue.

This may all seem a bit unusual. We all create our own myths everyday. This is why I read a nice collection of shaggy dog stories, urban folktales, and news of the weird. People do amazingly stupid things and it is often hard to tell if they are telling the truth or just making it up.

The Choking Doberman: And Other Urban Legends by Jan Harold Brunvand is an excellent book if you are interested in this kind of thing. She also wrote part of the graphic novel called The Big Book of Urban Legends which is quite entertaining. It is a comic book with all sorts of urban myths which are often passed off as being true.

Quite a few writers use myth as the basis for their novels. If you think about it, the story of Gilgamesh is the first novel. Then the Ramayana. This is followed by the Odyssey and the Iliad, then Beowulf. These are the true basis for most of the fantasy novels being written. At some level most fantasy novels being written have some of the characterization from these books. The Icelandic Eddas are also a rich source for fantasy novelists to draw from.

There are trickster figures from all over the world to draw from, the Monkey King, Coyote, Tom Thumb, Jack, Brer Rabbit, Sis' Roach, Anansi, Puss N' Boots (one of my favorite of all characters), Iron Heinrich, and any number of characters which are written into todays childrens fairytales.

We see in them in some of our favorite movies, I really liked Shrek, which is a near perfect "fractured fairytale", or retelling of a fairytale with a different twisted ending. Jon Sciezka does an excellent job of creating fractured fairytales for children with his books, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs , and The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales.

If you are interested in the morbid, sometimes which is both disgusting and funny. The Darwin Awards, is a site which lists incredibly stupid examples of people dying. It is also a book.
I started reading A Free Life by Ha Jin. It is about a Chinese family escaping the Tiananmien massacre and moving to America. I like the accuracy of the conversations and the accents. They seem to be excellent descriptions. The description of the immigrant experience is very engrossing so far. They move into a rich persons house where they keep the house in order. During the day, the father works in a series of menial security guard jobs and dreams of being a poet and novelist. The main character is originally here to get a Ph.D. in Political Science but now is very disaffected with the Chinese communists.
This book was on the New York Times 100 Best Books of 2007. I promise when I write about the books I am reading, I will not give you little stars or dry literary appraisals. This novel immediately starts tackling important issues like green cards, passports, and other every day things which happen when a new family moves into the country. If you want really good anecdotal descriptions they are here. It also shows how incredibly greedy and materialistic a lot of Americans are.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some Philosophy Books, And A Bit On Widgets

Marcus Aurelius Emperor of Rome

Today is Thursday, I am not quite sure what to write about. I was thinking of mentioning some religious or philosophy books which I have. My father gave me a copy of The Holy Bible designed and illustrated by Barry Moser. The woodcuts throughout are very beautiful. I occassionally like to the read the Psalms and Proverbs.

I used to work in the History, Biography, and Religion department of a large central library at one point. I would order the eastern religion books and mystical christianity books. I don't spend as much time as I used to focused on this type of writing.

I also keep a copy of the Tao Te Ching, and the Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi which I read on occassion. They both have a certain poetry to them. Although, I don't keep a copy, Sun Tzu's The Art of War can teach you a lot as well.

If you are looking for a superb piece of esoterica with all kinds of beautiful illustrations throughout, you might want to look at Manly P. Hall Secret Teachings of All Ages. It is a very interesting book.

We get a lot of questions about religion, especially christianity where I work. One thing I can say about some of the christian books is that some of them have a positive attitude. Attitude can get you to the right places in life sometimes. Although many people do not consider it a christian book, Norman Vincent Peale -- The Power of Positive Thinking can help you get pointed in the right direction towards less negativity in your life.

A lot of people have lost their sense of the Greek and Roman philosophers takes on life. A little book which has helped many people keep focus is the Enchiridion by Epictetus, it is the stoics guide on how to live. Another book is the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius who was the emperor of Rome. These are both precursors to a large portion of St. Augustine's philosoophy. Stoicism teaches that the self denial is the highest pleasure.


I have added a few widgets, namely a bestseller widget, a graphic novels widget, and an audiobook widget. I am still looking for an ebook widget. I haven't found a decent one yet.
I also put in a fish tank widget. It reminds me of fish tv, a popular show on cable, where people have simply put a camera in front of a fish tank the fish swim around.

Anyways, I am still reading A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin, I'll probably finish it today, maybe tomorrow. One of my favorite characters so far is Brienne the Maid of Tarth who is one ugly warrior woman. The writing is crisp and clean, it is very easy to read and enjoyable. The ironmen very much remind me of the vikings in their longships with their raiding, pillaging, and slave taking. This is really well worth reading.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

AALBC, Search Engine Submission

I am going to mention the African American Literary Book Club because I like the site design. One of my colleagues found out about it at Book Expo America in 2005. It has since grown to be one of the largest and best sites for reviewing African American literature. .
There are a few very good black science fiction and fantasy writers. A few good books which I can recommend are Steven Barnes, Zulu Heart-- An alternate America where the Moor's settle America and enslave the Irish and many Europeans. Europe has suffered an unrecoverable plague. Maryse Conde-- Who Slashed Celinare's Throat A Fantastical Tale-- a magical realistic fantasy which is set in Guadeloupe which combines political and social intrigue with vodun. The third novel is I am going to recommend is Clay's Ark by Octavia Butler about an alien plague that changes people into carriers of a mutated virus. A deeply dark book about our basest desires and what it means to stay human when you no longer are.

A lot of the patrons who come to the library like urban fiction. It is not my cup of tea, but because it has been asked for so much I can list a lot of authors even though I don't read them. I can even guess what people might like because the same people tend to choose a specific set of authors. Some of the authors which are being asked for are Zane, E. Lynn Harris, Chunichi, Karl Weber, Terri Woods, Omar Tyree, Noire, and others. I took the time to read Omar Tyree and I find him to be a very good writer. He is better than Iceberg Slim or Donald Goines the old school street authors which people sometimes ask for where I work in my opinion. I am not that fond of Eric Jerome Dickey, I don't like his writing style, but a lot of people love it. Most of the books come in soft cover trade paperbacks.

Hello, I have been thinking about search engine submission. I retried submitting my site to different search engines through . I also put the search engine into a variety of directories, selecting a variety of them from . Hopefully, this will start getting me some results from search engines. I have not gotten a single result from search engines according to hit counter, or from keywords. Everything has come from specific blog searches, forums, and blog sites.
Another site of interest has come up when checking where hits to my site were coming from. It is Google Reader, a blog reading tool put out by google. It looks mildly interesting.

Small Scale Online Bookselling, Romantic Science Fiction

For a while when the science fiction bookstore which I helped at closed in Manhattan, I tried small scale bookselling online. I used the various books I had collected mostly signed and unusual science fiction to make some money on ebay and abe. Things like signed paperbacks by Isaac Asimov, or signed hardcovers by Greg Bear. I would first put the items for sale on ebay, then if they didn't sell, I would put them on ABE-- Advanced Book Exchange, . I never found Alibris another booksale exchange to be very appealing. It was a very interesting experience.

I could create both a backlist and front list of titles doing this. However, I found that finding new books was not that easy, unless I chose to put an ad in the paper and take all comers, or was willing to buy entire estate sales worth of books. At the time, I was in Brooklyn, so I didn't have a car. A lot of New Yorkers don't drive.

I learned that bookselling really is very much a labor of love. There is not a huge amount of money in it, unless you sell very high quality rare books, or can sell in very large volumes like the Strand bookstore in Manhattan, or Amazon online.

For me unless the book was very valuable, at least $25 for a book, and ideally abve $50 it seemed like a tremendous effort for very little return. With used books, you have to list every book separately, they don't tend to repeat themselves, unlike new books where you can set up one listing and sell them repeatedly. It requires meticulous care and the promise of quality customer service to very picky customers.

I spent quite a bit of time learning to pack and ship the books. This is really important, surprisingly, it is one of the few things that differentiates online used booksellers is their shipping.

Bookselling online is incredibly easy to get into, almost too easy. I think it is one of the factors that drove many of the used bookstores out of business. It was no longer necessary for the pickers, the people who went out to library booksales, church sales, thrift shops and other places to get old books to bring them in to the bookstore, they could just sell them themselves. This created an incredibly competitive environment. Most of the pickers I've met are older people looking to supplement their income with a hobby.

When you can go to something like the -- The Independent Online Booksellers Associations and learn all the basics for free, or it becomes much too easy to enter the field.

Also, it increases theft from bookstores and libraries. Suddenly, there is a very easy way for people to sell material that is stolen. They can take it and put it online. Please don't buy books with library markings online or from used bookstores, the item you are buying could be stolen. Ask about the stores policy about library books. If they are honest, they will tell you "We don't sell books with library markings." This is a really important policy.

It is amazing the variety and kind of library thieves there are. One of the most common refrains we here is, "I paid my taxes for these books, I should be able to take these books home and keep them."

The concept of returning or borrowing books is unacceptable to many people. We have to keep all the windows locked where we work, or they will go out the window. People mangle the books so they can take them home. Videos and dvds are even harder to keep from being stolen. The most common sign of a book thief is a combination of razor blades and string... No library is immune from this kind of behavior. There are stories of people going around to various libraries around the country and filling whole houses full of stolen books. I've read about this multiple times. This is a nice little article on map thievery, almost as common as book thievery.,,2209582,00.html
Romance books are one of the most read type of books on the market. They account for most of the paperbacks that get printed. Something that is important to know is that mostly women read novels.
A good source for information and reviews on romance books is
One of my favorite cross genre writers is Elizabeth Lowell She writes romantic suspense, historical romances, romances, mysteries, science fiction, and even has a screenplay. She is a best selling author. She wrote one of my favorite books, a science fiction romance called Name of A Shadow which was nominated for the Hugo Award.
Another science fiction writer who wrote a classic romantic science fiction book is Tanith Lee,
The Silver Metal Lover. This was followed up by Metallic Love, a story of near perfect robots who are used as entertainers and escorts who escape their designers in the end.
I am adding Romantic Times to the list of places for book reviews.
I added a bestselling book widget and a comic book widget from widget bucks. I have also been posting on and to generate some more interest. The bumpzee widget is very large and cumbersome, I think. If they had something smaller, I might add it to my site.
It is rather interesting who is searching for and looking at my web site. There were two sites which I found rather interesting. One was Plaxo, an online address book site, and another was Zuula, a new metasearch engine.
I looked through the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2007 and chose two of them to put on hold. The first is Ha Jin A Free Life, the second is Pierre Bayard How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read -- a truly wonderful title. I do not read every book I reserve. I usually examine the first two chapters, the cover, and the blurb to see if I want to read the book. Not everything is worth reading.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Recruiter, The Competitive Intelligence Professional And The Librarian

Aynsworth Rand Spofford, Librarian of Congress, 1864-1897

For a while during the internet boom, I worked as a sourcer locating people for an internal recruiting department. There are some librarian positions at the larger recruitment agencies and outplacement services. At the outplacement companies they help executive locate companies and find information on companies they are applying to.

Internet Sourcer is a kind of specialist position, it is finding people on the internet to interview as hires. It can also include other things like examining company web sites, tracking certain kinds of news, looking at layoffs, finding sales leads, and identifying similar companies to the company you are working at.

At the company, I took the beginning, AIRS training-- Advanced Internet Recruting Strategies., What this really means is that I was trained in how to find people on the web. Recruiters look at web sites, forums, people databases, blogs, alumni associations, social networking sites and anywhere that people may gather on the internet. They often take the time to learn the more advanced commands in internet search engines like link, url, file type so they can find specific documents leading to resumes or people. They also use specialty people search engines , a biographical database, an excellent people finder.

I also used many more web tools as a recruiter than as a librarian. I had the Alexa toolbar which I checked to see who used a certain site. I used the deep web search engine, I had several tools on my desktop like

In addition, they extract information from web sites, phone numbers, titles and addresses using software like Black Widow Site Sucker, or Webmole email extractor. There are various trainers who show people how to find people on the web. Probably the most famous of these is , Shally Steckerl. There are others as well.

This makes many of them more proficient in searching the web than many librarians who are mainly focused on searching for documents and basic information. In fact in most public libraries, librarians are discouraged from letting people use email, forums, or blogs because they consider it disruptive. Things like and are frowned upon. But, this is where people are going to now. Social networking sites are becoming very popular. There is even one to share personal libraries, .

Things like are an incredible opportunity for people who find people as their business on the web.

Librarians in the public setting and in many cases in the corporate setting have fallen very far behind the curve in using the internet to find information. They are now just getting into blogs and other social networking software. Recruiters have been there from the beginning because they are looking for people.

The other group which is using the web much more extensively than librarians in many cases are the competitive intelligence professionals. People like David Carpe use the internet as a source for finding information about competitors companies. is one of David Carpe's websites. They also spend a lot of time finding people to interview so they can find out what is really happening inside a company. The web is a giant interconnected group of people that are writing about themselves, their interests, the places they are working at, the places they are working for, and just about anything else under the sun.

Librarians are not connected into the people part of the web. The web is not static, it is not the printed page. It changes dynamically. This is a nice little diagram of what social networking is: . People share websites in clusters. There is usually a central authoritative website which most people are linked to or discuss. The same goes for newsgroups. There are usually one or two people who have the most clout in a forum or newsgroup. Finding these people often identifies who you can ask where certain information is.

Librarians should take the time to learn more about how the internet works, especially the people focused part which is being ignored for the most part.

A lot of the strategies I have used to promote this site have come from my brief experience as a sourcer. I have searched newsgroups to find the proper group to post to, I have searched forums to identify where to drop links, I have looked at social networking sites to see where I can post comments or get widgets.

Anyways, this is part of my two cents for the day.

I have learned quite a bit trying to promote this web site. It has been a very interesting experience so far.
Let me get back to what I am focusing on books. I am thinking about bookselves right now and the proper way to shelve books in a bookstore or library.

Ideally when books are placed on the shelf, all the spine labels should be visible as well as writing on the spine, they should be hal an inch in from the edge of the bookshelf. The books should not be packed too tightly together because it breaks the spine of the book and causes it to split in half.

There should be a bookend on each shelf with approximately 3-5 inches of space at the end of the shelves. Shelves should be dusted regularly.

No books should be laid on top of other books. This can be dangerous because this leads to a chance for the books to fall off the shelf and hit somebody. Larger books can be dangerous especially if they fall and hit someone in the head or foot.

Ideally bookshelves should not be too deep and should include a bracket in back to prevent the books from falling behind other books.

I've always found steel case bookshelves to be the best. Wood may look nice but it is not very practical in some cases.


I am further into A Feast for Crows. I am on about page 60.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Some Thoughts on Reference Interviews.

Good morning,
I started reading a Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin. It is off to a good start.

Anyways, I am thinking of the concept of the "Reference Interview" which we learned in library school. It is basically, a way of asking people what they want to find. In a similar manner, there is the literature request form which you are supposed to use to find out what people want before you sign in to a database. Databases used to charge by the hour. Luckily, this is no longer true. I think people place too much faith in expensive databases.

The primary feature which is missing from most reference training is the art of elicitation getting people to give you information. This is one of the most important skills in reference work. Quite a bit of the time people don't know what they really want.

Here is a nice definition:

stimulation that calls up (draws forth) a particular class of behaviors; "the elicitation of his testimony was not easy."

Princeton University, Wordnet 3.0, c2006

There any number of missing features. One of the most important thing to do with most reference interviews is to start by clarifying the question presented to you so you have an idea where the question is coming from and what the library patron or customer is after.

After the question is clarified it is important to ask for background material, what they have read, where they got the information from, and if they have the information source with them.

If necessary take the time to rephrase the question. Don't be afraid to find other words for what they are asking for. Keywords are often quite irrational. Breaking up a question into three or four different search terms is generally a good idea. Whatever keywords they are using, when talking to people try not to talk about keywords, rephrase the terms as "natural language."

If they have the information request they are seeking, it could be the last book they read, an assignment sheet, a newspaper clipping, or the remembrance of hearing about a book on the radio, it is important to examine the question to see if it is matching with the information source. Sometimes people misinterpret what they are reading or hearing. Paying attention to things is always difficult.

Now you have the information that they are seeking. If it is simple direct them to the source and tell them if they can't find it come back and you will help them locate it. If you do not say this, people often will leave unsatisfied.

If it is complex, it is often best to go with the library patron to the source so you can compare what you have with what they want. This is true for a bookstore as well. Comparing allows you to become more focused on what the patron wants.

If you don't have what they want, you can know what to request because you have compared the material with the question being asked. Clarity is very important in answering peoples questions. Being prepared to refer people to other places is just as important. Also be aware of what you can and can't do in your setting, as well as what you have to offer. If you know the rules you can work within them.

If there is any question about whether they understand what they are looking for, it is best to clarify. This may annoy some people, but it will save a lot of time.

If you are in an information brokerage type situation or just want to show competence, at the point the question is answered offer to expand the format of sources. Would you like to help you find this information in a database, on the internet, in a magazine, in a newspaper, or in a document.

Expanding the format of the answer increases your fee and sometimes improves customer satisfaction. Information is information whatever format it is in.

While you are conducting the "Reference Interview" it is important to remember the primary purpose is to answer the persons question. Remember, the "Reference Interview" is usually very short, this means listen and pay attention. Look at the person being interviewed, and show that you are paying attention in small ways. Don't talk while they are asking a question.

Be aware of the "Observers Paradox", the more you interpret their question, the more you will change what the person is looking for. Try to stay focused on what the person originally asked for. This makes it less likely they will come back dissatisfied. Often a person will not realize they are getting something they didn't originally ask for.

Also be aware that when you are searching for something that makes you uncomfortable, you don't know why they are searching for it. Asking about it can lead to unnecessary friction. There are very legitimate reasons for searching for things on serial killers, abortion, sex, prostitution, censorship and other very touchy subjects...

There are a number of formats for material now, don't just search printed material, there are videos and audio as well. If someone asks for Martin Luther King's speeches, listening to the speech can be far more important than reading a transcript of the speech. Also some language is quite hard, Shakespeare is very hard for teenagers, so is Beowulf. The film or the audiobook can help them understand the material.

You don't know everything. Be prepared to hand off the question to someone who knows more than you do. Putting your ego aside often is hard when you want to help someone. Your position in answering a question is often that of a go between.

Be relaxed, you want people to want to come up and talk to you. Being distracted, angry, or stiff makes it hard for people to talk to you.

Some Methods from Elicitation that may apply to Reference Interviews:

Quid Pro Quo is one of the oldest methods used by spies and social engineers. It involves simply offering something-- a bit of information in return for an answer. It is very easy and natural to do this.

Be considerate, simply letting a customer or patron know they are appreciated will make them more open to talking to you.

If you provide small facts during the Reference Interview, people will think you know something and will be more open to providing the question they need.

Be prepared to offer a hypothetical situation around the question. This sometimes creates better clarity for the customer or library patron.

It is not good to be distracted, ask people not to use cell phones or other electronic devices, don't take notes during a reference interview unless they are asking for something simple like a phone number or address. More complicated information than that should really be printed up or stored to disk.
On another front, I have been asking people to review my site at various newsgroups and at Fuel My Blog. People have started giving me feedback which makes me happy. If you write feedback, I'll take time to look at your site as well.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Slow Day And The Independent Giant Bookstore.

Today will be a slow day. Both Steven Erikson's Bonehunters and George R.R. Martin's A Feast For Crows are giant books and will take quite a while to read. Now I understand why there are not as many reviews of these books. They are very long.

Barnes and Noble Booksellers used to have a used book annex in Manhattan, New York. It went out of business. I remember it as being mediocre compared to the Strand, the biggest bookstore in New York, which has become like a giant warehouse. Strand even sells used books by the foot as backdrops for movie, television, and plays. It is not uncommon to see people walking around Soho with Strand bookbags. It is a sign of literacy.

I go there sometimes to the basement to buy half price reviewers copies in hardcover. I used to go there before booksignings to pick up my half price copies to get signed.

They have an incredible variety of books. Almost anything you could want if you are a bibliofile. The shop is a tightly run union shop. Many of the people who work there, have worked there for years and have lots of experience in selecting books.

They have even opened an annex in the financial district and a downtown Manhattan kiosk.

I wish I had a chance to visit Powells books in Oregon. They are supposed to be the largest used bookstore in the world.

The other used bookstore I am going to mention which is massive is Logos books in Santa Cruz. For a while after the building was destroyed in the Santa Cruz earthquake, it was in a giant inflatable warehouse. It was actually kind of interesting to walk around in. I haven't seen the new store yet.

The common theme for these places is size and experience. They are putting many of the smaller independents in their areas out of business. The chains cannot complete with them in the used book business. Barnes and Noble really are focused on new books where a formula works.

It takes a certain amount of skill to sort through older books, identifying the collectible and rare books, the regular used books, the bargain books, and the unsalable garbage, then pricing and grading them appropriately.

If you are ever in Manhattan and feel nostalgic, I am going to recommend Roger's Time Tunnel, a very old school comic book shop. 207 W 14TH St Ste 2New York, NY 10011-7105Phone: (212) 691-0380 .

Ring the doorbell. They are on the second floor and will buzz you in. They don't have a website, but if you are looking for a place to find the very old, odd, or unusual comic book, it is a good place to go. They also have movie stills, magazines, paperbacks, pulps, posters, and a variety of other things. If you feel nostalgic and are into this kind of thing and like a fanboy atmosphere, it is a great place to visit. Their pricing and willingness to buy and sell is very good.

When there was still an outdoor flea market in New York around 20th avenue, I used to pick (search for bargains) at the flea markets and bring in comic books and other items for trade there.

Anyways, I added my first widget, . They were nice enough to ask about my site.

I am looking for other widgets or links that aren't too complicated right now. I just added a fish tank. A lot of bookstores have a cat. So Book Calendar now has a fish tank...

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Book And Its Cover, A Trip to A Bookstore

A lot of people think "You cannot judge a book by its cover." This can be a very misleading statement. Many people collect books just for their covers. Most science fiction and pulp art comes from book and magazine covers. Many people collect hardcover and paperback books just for their cover art. Kelly Freas, J. Allen St. John, Donato Giancola, and Michael Whelan are a few of the artists who people buy just for the cover art. Also some people buy old pulp magazines just for the cover art as well, things like The Spider Master of Men, Famous Detective, the Shadow, Astounding and other magazines are often purcheased just to have the cover art.
A books cover is the most valuable part of a book for a collector. This is because it is the most ephemeral part of the book and the hardest part to preserve. Most very old books have long since lost their covers. It follows that people wrap the covers in plastic to protect them. There is an odd corollary. It seems that bookstores and collectible shops can charge a premium for things wrapped in plastic. This is true for both comic books, magazines, and even paperbacks.
If you find a book that is not wrapped in plastic, it is usually much cheaper.
The cover of a book is also the first thing which a person sees when they are going to buy a book. Usually, they have to select the book from a large variety of other books. This makes it very important for the cover to stand out from a bunch of other books. This means if you are attempting to sell a book take a minute and see how your book stands out from five or ten other books at five feet, at ten feet, and at twenty feet. You really want your titles to be visible in the bookstore and display window. If you can see a books cover in the window of a bookstore while you are driving by in a busy city, then you know your cover is visible.
Up close you should be able to read the title clearly and the author clearly of the book. There should be some blank space to put a label on the spine for libraries, also there should be a place where you can put a sale sticker on the cover without disrupting the cover art. The spine should have the title of the book and the author easily readable from the side. If the spine title is not very readable people will have trouble finding it in libraries and bookstores.
Something that bothers collectors and booksellers is false aging marks or pictures that include wrinkles and stains on the cover to make the book look old. Collectors want their books to look absolutely clean. Dealers want their books to appear new so they can sell them as new.
Some thoughts on displays. It is good to mix up the size of different books from regular to size to quarto. Putting larger books in the back makes sense. Also laying down some larger books to break up the pattern of the display is a good idea. Colored cloth or felt which is the opposite color of the books being displayed provides an excellent background. Also mixing media, adding in videos and audiobooks can make a dispaly more interesting.
These are just a few thoughts on cover art. People really do judge a book by its cover. They then usually read the inside blurb on the cover flaps which summarizes the book. This is often done as part of the first stage of editing. Sometimes the books blurbs don't exactly match the contents, because they are written too early in the editing process. Also, the photo of the author is usually retouched to make the author look better. I usually take the recommendation sentences with a grain of salt, they are usually marketing statements.
It is not until they have looked at the cover and the inside flaps that they look at the inside of the book. Most people like to read the first chapter of a book before they decide to buy the book. However, some of the more old fashioned bookstores won't let them. You can look, but you can't read. This makes the cover even more important. Also, some people are too rushed, so first impressions count.
Anyways, I am enjoying the Bonehunters by Steven Erickson. I am still reading it. My favorite part so far is when Leoman of the Flails leads the Malazan army into a fire trap with burning oil, collapsing buildings, and berserk warriors. The fire trap turns into a firestorm and some of the heros of the novel have to escape underground through the warrens to get out. Lots of action.
I am going to go to a bookstore today and look at books. Exciting for me, maybe not so exciting for you, but still probably an interesting experience.
I thought about visiting Macy's because they are giving away Shrek dolls with every $35 dollar purchase. Maybe I'll get some underwear and socks... Ah, the appeal of mass media.
Anyways, today, I went to the mall, had a bite to eat, then went to the local Barnes and Noble, like many places we do not have a local independent bookstores. The chains and the giant web merchants have killed most of them. I bought one paperback, A Feast for Crows, book four of the Song of Ice and Fire Series. This series is #1 on the Internet Top 100 SF/Fantasy list. The first three books of the series are really excelent. I look forward to reading the fourth.
I also took some notes and placed holds at the library on Heavens Net is Wide by Lian Hearn, Odyssey by Jack McDevitt, the graphic novel, part of Stephen King's Gunslinger series, the Gunslinger Born. Most of the time I don't buy a lot of books when I visit bookstores.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day and Some Thoughts.

Harry S. Truman Receiving A Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving (Turkey Day),

Anyways, all the shops and libraries are closed and its a time to be with family and relax a bit. I decided to put down the Alton Gift by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross, a new darkover novel. It just didn't capture the way Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote her earlier Darkover novels. Marion Zimmer Bradley passed away in 1999.

I usually put down a book within the first two chapters of reading it. This is normal practice. In bookselling, people claim that if the reader finishes the first chapter they are very likely to buy the book. This is why you see cafes in Barnes and Noble and other bookstores. It really increases the chance that a reader will buy the book. The only real reason not to have a cafe in a bookstore is if the store holds rare or valuable books, like signed editions, and old manuscripts. Still food is a problem, so limiting food to just the cafe area is very important. When I worked at Brooklyn Public Library, they installed a cafe for the library users for the same reason.

I am really enjoying the Bone Hunters by Steven Erikson. Kharsa Orlong the giant Teblor warrior is turning out to be one of my fantasy characters. I also like that he makes monsters into characters in his books, they aren't just cardboard cutouts, they have opinions and actions. There are two spirits, Telorast and Curdle who are quite interesting in the story so far. The writing may be a bit dark for some people and a bit complicated, but it combines intrigue with plenty of action. I am currently at page 82 in the story. It is 799 pages including a glossary. The story is complex enought that there are threee pages of maps in the front of the book, as well as three pages listing the different characters in the story.
Today is a day for relaxation. Tomorrow, I will do the busman's holiday thing again. I will probably visit a bookstore and make a comment or two on the experience. Tomorrow is the busiest shopping day of they year in the United States.
So far Eschalon Book 1 the computer game has been very enjoygable as well. The graphics are very well done.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007, An Old Obsession and American Born Chinese

Last night I read American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. It is a graphic novel or large format comic book. The book was a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Michael Prinz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. The book has very beautifully designed color panels throughout. The central theme is being true to yourself and who you are.

The story is broken into three interrelated stories that come together in a very solid finale. The first story is the story of the Monkey King and His Journey to the West. I've always really liked this story, when I was younger I read the story about the fight between the White Bone Demon and the Monkey King.  Monkey King is a classic trickster. The second story is about Jin Wang a second generation chinese kid who gets picked on a lot and just wants to be happy and fit in. He wants to not be bullied and do what the other kids do. The third story is about a visiting uncle called Chin-Kee who embodies all the American stereotypes of Chinese people and is visiting Danny, a Chinese American kid who tries too hard to fit in and has given up on his heritage.

The graphic novel is very much about growing up and accepting who you are. This is a very good graphic novel. It might be hard for some people because there are some messages about racism and some strong language. The ending is the best part. I enjoyed it very much.

Later today, I will get back to you on Contentville.

Article on Contentville:
I've been fascinated by the idea of Contentville for years. I first saw it in 2000 when they were opening and even applied for a job there. I never heard back from them. Maybe, I was lucky. I was working at an ISP at the time as a sourcer finding people for the HR department which is a kind of strange job. They actually sometimes hire librarians to do this in the more focused recruiting businesses. I never got rid of my original email  -- although, I am not using it for sourcing anymore. I am back to being a librarian with books. I like finding books much more than finding people. A lot of people did odd things during the dot com boom.

I still am very much interested in the idea of content and content super sites on the web. Contentville looked like a merger between a bookstore, a magazine store, and a document delivery service. I find this fascinating. One of the killing factors was lawsuits. Some of the writers objected to having their articles sold as individual pieces. The writers wanted more money to have their works published. Some of the writers of theses from college were very surprised to find their college papers for sale on a commercial website. This of course caused legal problems.

The idea was to sell high quality content in multiple formats. I think as an idea this was great but impractical. I have spent quite a lot of time thinking about whether this would be possible and how to do it without losing your shirt. I haven't found a satisfactory answer.

Ebooks are still not mature enough to make a lot of money at. People still prefer the print version of a book. It is a physical thing which does not require extraneous devices, ink is still easier to read than the electronic medium, and some people learn better when they have a physical object in front of them. Also, books still are a lot cheaper. This also goes for comic books and magazines. If a person is purchasing a magazine article, they will still probably want to have it printed up in a physical format. Technology often proliferates older technologies.

I think the idea of having a contentville style marketplace will eventually be revived. I don't just follow book downloads, mostly looking at ebooks. I think there are too many formats of ebooks.

Ultimately, it won't be the format which causes ebooks to succeed but a change to a newer form of screen technology called electronic ink. Both the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader use electronic ink. Electronic ink is much easier to read than traditional lcd screen technology. However, because it is in its infancy, it will be too expensive initially for most people.

I find that ebooks are fine to read in the regular html format. I really don't have a problem with it. It is the screen that is most bothersome. I also think of content as content. People have to stop thinking of media as being separate. Pretty soon, ebooks will start merging with games and it will become hard to categorize the different types of materials. For example, Hanako Games calls this a visual adventure novel, which is an intriguing idea . I really did enjoy the demo. It is a game which girls might like.

The most successful form of download is not books, it is downloadable audio. Audible appears to be king in this category. Libraries tend to have many more downloadable audio books than ebooks lately. MP3 files are including multiple audio formats, everything from poetry readings, podcasts, newscasts, radio, and music. This is the real success story of downloadable content.

People are also starting to download video as well now. I don't really get the point of downloading a video to a tiny little video reader. I find it bothersome, but other people like it so who am I to complain.

It is the literary part that interests me most. I know there are places like where you can share your libraries. I also got invited to by Katherine where they review fantasy books. It is a very nice site. What I like is the cover displays. It is a reviewing site.

What I am really interested in is something much more completely like a social network for books with a variety of features. There, the cat is out of the bag, I have been wondering how to do this. The closest thing which looks like it might be a place to start with a model is the African American Literature Book Club . Baen does a fantastic job with their site for selling books as well. .

I would like to see and participate in the building of a true quality content social networking site with book reviews, videos of author readings, writing instruction, bookselling, forums and other activities. This is a kind of dream that has stayed in the back of my mind for a while. This is what I thought Contentville would have become if it hadn't lost focus, been designed badly, and folded.

It is funny going back to this post after three years have passed.  There are now kindles, ipads, and new forms of book communities.  It looks like super content sites are becoming a reality now.

I had to go back and edit this page a little bit.  My writing has changed considerably for the better, I think.  Three years of blogging nearly every single day will change your ability to write.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

To Read or Not To Read-- NEA Study

The United States Library of Congress

This is a commentary on the NEA-- National Endowment for the arts study, To Read or Not To Read, A Question of National Consequence, . This is an incredible study, it shows that American reading and writing skills are declining in every category. People are losing their interest in literature in general. If you want to think of it this way on the web, not a single keyword in the top ten lists of keywords includes books or literature. Movies and music, but not books.

We are in essence creating our own Fahrenheit 451 by turning away from the habit of reading. As people buy less books, they become less of a commodity and they lose their importance in our minds. This study says even if we are reading, 35% of the time we are distracted by something else, the computer, music, email, the telephone, or any of another plethora of available media. We live in a distractive instant gratification environment which reinforces itself.

Teens are not reading, they are watching television, listening to music, or using one of a million different devices to fill their time, the ipod, the iphone, the pager, the portable psp play station, or the portable computer. When they come into where I am working, they head in to sign up for the computers, mostly to do "graphical research", look for images, anime, cartoons, drawings, or music, very rarely for books. And if they are at the library, a lot of the time, they are not there to get books, they are there to get videos, talk to their friends, or get on the computer. Reading is an assigned habit focused on reading the classics which many of them find dull, complicated, and harrowing. I can see the statistic that half of Americans don't read for pleasure writ clear every day I come in to work.

It is mostly the older Americans who are coming to us to get reading materials for pleasure, the middle aged and the teenagers don't do it so much. And those who do come up to talk to us, often talk about the large amount of books they have in the home. The more books they have, the more prosperous they often are.

In the study, there is a lot of material on how those who have a lot of books in the home do well in school, move up into management, are more likely to be involved in civic activities, and are more likely to succeed in life. This does not just reflect in America, it reflects in our place in the world.

Finland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden all have higher reading scores. This may translate into being more competitive in the international marketplace because quite simply they are better able to use the tools given to them. In my opinion, if Americans don't address the central issue of education for competence in reading and wrting we will lose out in the end.

Our prisons are filling with illiterates. There are far more people in prison who are illiterate than on the outside. It must be manly to not read books.

On a most important note, employers consider reading and writing to be essential skills in the workplace. 93% of employers consider the ability to read and write critical. They seem to be looking for the ability to write with clarity and accuracy to be very important.

When people read less it impacts my profession badly. We are partially funded by circulation statistics, how much people use and read material. So, if you are in a library take that book out when you go home.

The more people that use our libraries, the more money we get. This creates a downward spiral with less funding for libraries as people read less. Will they go to a bookstore instead? Even the bookstores seem to be carrying less reading material and is diversifying into other products, audio books, videos, and software. The bookstore is becoming a media center.

This is a personal example. I used to go to Forbidden Planet in Manhattan to look at science fiction books. They had rows and rows of science fiction boks. Now, they have one book case full of science fiction books, have introduced video games, increased the amount of Manga, a foreign import, and expanded their action figures. People aren't reading the fantasy and science fiction books they were once known for so they had to change considerably.

Even in places where there is a successful bookstore, they are not focusing on literature necessarily, they are focusing on tie-ins, a further sign of distraction. You go see Harry Potter, buy the book by J.K. Rowling, visit the web site, and maybe even listend to the sound track. Media is now a complete package where you have to listen, concentrate, and read. A bookstore is a business, at least that is the way we normally think of it. However, this is changing. A lot of bookstores are folding.

Many of the surviving bookstores are becoming nonprofits and inviting in other forms of entertainment. Nkiru books in Brooklyn, New York for example, an African American bookstore changed into Nkiru cultural center. Housing Works, one of the most successful used bookstores in Manhattan uses its proceeds to help homeless people with AIDS-- Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. It takes donations and sells them. It is a really high quality bookstore. I have seen other bookstores starting to change their status to nonprofit.

So what is happening with those young adults who are not reading, how are they making it through the school system. They can now listen to their assignment, plenty of them come in requesting the complete audiobook of Lord of the Flies, or if they really can't be bothered and can't understand Hamlet, they rent the video instead of reading the book. Reading is a difficult skill for a lot of people.

Less than a third of American teenagers are reading daily. This is problematic. I like to think that as an adult people will at least read the morning paper each day, or listen to someone reading it to them.

We need to do something. I think part of that something comes from the world wide web. People are turning to the internet to do a lot of their writing and reading. The study mentions newspapers losing ground to the internet. The study states the internet is less formal, less edited, and less linear than newspapers. In a way, I approve of this. My grammar is far from perfect, and I do have quite a bit to say. If blogs weren not available, I would not be able to say it to you.

Also people are turning to places where they can talk about themselves like, there are over 98 million pages a huge amount of writing and reading if you think of it. Also has over 17 million pages. The internet is a giant collaborative open book. It gives people an opportunity to express themselves that simply wasn't there before, like I am expressing myself now.

I think the internet is quietly generating a new generation of readers. We can see it in the explosion of interest in urban fiction which comes from the street from people who you normally don't think of as readers and writers. It is violent, full of sex, drugs, and darkness in many ways, but it creates new readers. With the availabiliity of the internet and computers, it opened whole new opportunities for people who would not normally be reading. I can see the hunger for many people who want to read Zane, Noir, Omar Tyree, Chunichi, and other urban fiction writers.

There is a real renaissance in African American writing and reading. This site, has grown tremendously since one of my colleagues saw it at Book Expo America in 2005.

People want reading, they just want it to be relevant to their experience. I think a lot of publishers are out of touch and are not producing material that jibes with every day American experiences. I will probably take the time to read "A Free Life" by Ha Jin, because it looks like it reverbates with the American experience. America is becoming a more diverse society. Publishers are just beginning to wake up to change. We are starting to see change with more international writers becoming available in American like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Umberto Eco, Isabel Allende, and Jonathan Carroll who has an amazing personal website .

Also we are seeing a real explosion of poetry. Poetry in print from small presses has just exploded in availability because it is so easy to print books. It is also a form of free expression which takes well to the web. I was at a workshop, Poetry In the Branches, and the presenter said that were five times as many poetry books being printed as there were ten years ago.

We can now print exactly what people want when they want it. Maybe, bookstores and libraries need to be a little more flexible in how they get books to people. With companies like , it is possible to print books just in time and on demand. We are not far from a future where books become instant as well. Instabook . This will change things considerably. It will lead to a different place and job for books and reading in the world.

Maybe we can reverse this trend. I am not quite sure how, but it needs to be done to keep Americans educated, employed, and free.

This is my daily rant. How did this start? I went to my library and found my library card was expired and I needed to go back the next day to renew it so I could take out some books. I found an article about To Read or Not To Read and decided I should look at the study and comment on it instead of going in to the library and getting a book to read. Sometimes, a little bit of the busman's holiday can be bit overwhelming. After all, this study has a chance to have a real impact on me.

I took a walk to my local library again today, but found it was closed. I guess, I should have called beforehand. Tomorrow is Turkey Day, so it will be closed. The walk was very nice though. It gave me a chance to stretch my legs. I always liked walking better than driving.
I went back again to my library at around three o'clock, it was open. I got a new library card, paid a few dollars in fines, and went and sat down at the free computers for an hour. It is kind of funny sitting there acting like a library patron. I also picked up four books to look at: The Alton Gift by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross, The Atomic Bazaar, The Rise of the Nuclear Poor by William Langewiesche, a graphic novel called American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and The Bonehunters A Tale of the Malanzan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson. I have not started reading any of them yet. I might start tonight. Signing off and wishing you well for now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Librarianship, Bookselling, and Publishing

The library of the Nautilus with a picture of Captain Nemo.

Creating The Customer Driven Library Building on the Bookstore Model by Jeannette Woodward is about how to improve libraries by understanding how retail bookstores work. The central tenet of this book is that the best way to improve libraries is through better customer service. The book claims that many of the customer service practices of bookstores can be adapted by libraries. Jeanette Woodward says that libraries need to look at their bottom lines and see how statistics and qualitative surveys on what library patrons want can be used to improve service in libraries. Serving the patron and the community become the central goal of the library.

There are detailed sections on how to display materials, improve signage, and generate positive publicity. It challenges the traditional idea that the librarian knows best and claims that what the patron wants is more important. If the library patron doesn't get what they want, they go elsewhere, usually to the local bookstore. Things like how to run a cafe in a library setting, adjust hours so they meet patrons needs, and use staffing so that technology is used effectively are written about.

It claims that the library patron needs to feel safe, have fast service, feel good about their visit, and be informed about what happens in their library. This should be written into the mission of the library.

This is an excellent book that tackles many thorny issues in the public library. It is well worth reading for both librarians and booksellers.

This post is particularly about the relationship between libraries, bookstores, and publishing. One of the review links I have posted is to Bookweb, the newsletter of the American Bookselling Association. Bookweb has quite a few news articles as well as information on what the best books are for selling in the independent bookstore.

The ABA, American Booksellers Association, also sponsors, Bookexpo America, the trade show for American publishing. This show occurs every other year in New York City at the Jacob Javits center. It will be in New York in 2009. I try to go every year it is in New York city, . The price is incredibly cheap $75.00 in US dollars three days. Close to the same time as the Bookexpo, there is the Day of Dialog between librarians and publishers. You have to register several months in advance to get tickets for the Day of Dialog. . I easily pay for the cost of the event in the amount of free sample books which I end up sending back to where I am working, about sixty pounds of free new books.

Quite a few librarians attend the event in addition to booksellers and publishers. Most of the librarians are either collection development or reference librarians. I usually meet several different people who I have worked with at one point or another when I go there. It takes about a day and half to just walk around all the booths in the Jacob Javits Center. There is every kind of book, comic book, ebook, and book related material there.

Last time I was at this thing in 2007, I got to here a panel by publishers on science fiction in the library setting, as well as pick up a few free books like Armageddon Reef by David Weber, and the graphic novel, Invincible for myself. During the Day of Dialog, George R.R. Martin, the science fiction writer, was one of the invited speakers.

In April 2008, I will be going to the New York Comic Con, which offers free admission to professionals, librarians are considered professionals so I get to go free. Last time I was there, there were professional discussion panels on anime, manga, and graphic novels in the library setting. What is different about the New York Comic Con from other comic conventions is that the main purpose of the convention is to meet and talk with all the different comic book publishers like Fantagraphics, DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, and others.

I am a big fan of comics lit, that is things like Maus by Art Spiegelman, the comic book adaptation of the Ring of the Nibelung by P. Craig Russell, the Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gonick, a biography of Kafka by R. Crumb, and many other works. I don't read a whole lot of superhero comics.

I collect what are called "ground level" comics, things that are not quite underground comics, and not quite mainstream comics. People like Vaughn Bode, P. Craig Russell, and Richard Corben. My focus in collecting is mainly science fiction, fantasy, and horror comics.

Another convention I will attend is the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art Festival on June 7 and June 8 in the Puck Building in Manhattan. This convention once again is very affordable to attend. Once again, this convention is not like most other comic book conventions, it focuses almost entirely on independent comic book publishers. There are tables from people like Fantagraphics, Soft Skull Press, Last Gasp, Drawn and Quarterly and illustrators like Craig Thompson. Last time I was at the festival in 2005, I got to meet Sara Turner of Make Like a Tree Comics. She has a really excellent free science fiction web comic caled File 49 . This really satisfies my fanboy urges.

I haven't had a chance to visit MOCCA-- Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art in New York, but I recently looked at their listing of comic books on the internet. . They also have a catalog. . Maybe, on my next vacation I will get a chance to visit.

I have plenty of thoughts on the more low brow aspect of the librarians and booksellers. One of these things is the public library fundraising booksale which usually comes with cupcakes, cookies, and coffee which is done by the "Friends of the Library." At almost every such event, you will see pickers, or bookscouts who are trying to find special books to sell either on ebay, or to their local bookstore. Most are older gentlemen or ladies who have experience with this kind of thing. It is a hobby for them which brings in some extra money. For the most part they are curmudgeons with a slightly grumpy hands off my stuff attitude. They also attend church rummage sales, flea markets, used bookshops, second hand goods stores and other such venues.

Anyways, this is a piece of my post for the day.


Another link which I am posting is this is a news aggregator for the alternative energy industry. If you are interested in alternative energy, this gives very up to the minute news.


I really haven't thought of anything new to post about improving my site statistics. I'll come up with some more later today.

Alright, I posted a few comments by myself to myself in the comments section. Right now, I am not worried about comment spam and link dropping. Please comment-- remember no porn, no truly gratuitous violence, no super hateful spews, flaming and different opinions are welcome. I like a little debate. It makes the world go around. If you want to put in a link to your blog please do. I will gladly post a comment in return on your blog. Thanks. Talking to myself. Wow.

Anyways, there is so much that is so easy to miss. I just updated my complete profile. It is so easy to miss stuff on this site.

While I was looking at Google Groups help for blogs, I found several blog review style groups in Google, Blogger Review, Blogger Help Group, and Blogger General Discussion where you are supposed to post your URL and ask for comments. I then looked for some web sites that reviewed blogs, there is Bloggeries Blog, and The Weblog Review so far.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cartoon History of the Universe And Link Dropping

Right now, I just finished looking at a book which I received as a present, The Cartoon History of the Universe III From The Rise of Arabia to the Renaissance by Larry Gonick. This is a long running "graphic novel" which is about history. What is nice about these cartoons is that they are very open ended and try be comprehensive on which people they cover. The section on Islam for example covers the Middle East, North Africa, and parts of Eurasia like Turkey. The humor is slightly irreverent throughout the comic and draws you in well. The history seems to be accurate. The cartoon book has an extensive bibliography, a list of names from history, and an index. I remember reading the smaller comic books when I was a child of six years old. They were were my fathers comics.

Apparently, what I am doing is link dropping, which is the thruth. It has been a more effective strategy than using search engines. I got exactly two hits from Google Blog Search, one was for the book Un Lun Dun, the other was for the Wizard of the Crow. When I look at the free hit counter I am using from hitcounterguru, there is no activity from keywords, just forums and usenet groups. I would have to add my site to a spam style free search engine to get better results from keywords. I would rather be labelled a link dropper than a spammer. On that thought, I looked at the requirements for being listed in DMOZ, a nonprofit directory. One of the requirements is that you not have too many external links, so I think I'll pass with this one.

I was looking at the top ten keyword sets on searchenginewatch, it is quite funny. Almost everything is commercial, the word book or literature isn't even on the site list. Maybe if I talked about, cnn, pizza hut, or yahoo 360, I would be on the list of interesting sites.

So I guess I must mention that I like CNN, it is the most read news site. I read it sometimes in the morning along with Yahoo News, something which isn't even mentioned. The only time I watch the news is when I am at the laundromat, I would much rather read it online just when it has come off the wire. If you wait even a single day, the news article gets objected to by some group or other and gets homogenized. It takes about a day from when something is released to the Associated Press to reach the print newspapers. This gives plenty of times for the editors to change the news so it doesn't offend anyone. We don't have a liberal media or a conservative media we have a homogenized media.

Now the second thing I should mention is, it is a ubiquitous web site, one of the top ten in use in the United States. I was looking at the Philip Jose Farmer, website, one of the truly great science fiction writers, he has a link which has his personal information and links to him. Philip Jose Farmer is well worth reading. I was actually looking for what his signature looked like on the site. is probably a site traffic magnet. Somehow, I think I'll take a pass. Although, I am wondering if I posted myself as an African Bull Elephant it might attract attention to this site in a kind of Barnum and Bailey style.

Now that I have added a link to an important Myspace site, I will further my keyword research by adding a string of the most used keywords in the Label for this Post.

I went and found some more blog search engines to add my site to:,,,, Read A Blog, Blog Pulse, and Blog Boing Boing. net is a truly wonderful site with lots of strange things on it like collapsible paper rocket ships and other oddities. Cory Doctorow, the science fiction writer, is the main editor and poster for the site.

I also took some time to go back through search engine watch and find some more places to apply for a URL entry. These were MSN Live, Search King, and Best of the Web Blogs. I am not really that much of a technical person. Some places gave me the option of pinging my site to other blog search engines. I must have done it from three different places.

It is really up to the editors to decide whether they like what I wrote. This is a really unpredictable thing in my opinion. A lot of writers and editors are really quirky and interesting people. Every editor is looking for slightly different things depending on the guidelines which are presented to them by their employers.

Something you may consider if you are planning a book talk is to have an editor talk instead. Authors are very interested in hearing what it takes to get published, or how people choose which books to publish. Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you can get an editor who also has written a number of books.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Elizabeth Moon and Some More Random Thoughts.

I am about halfway through Moon Flights by Elizabeth Moon, a short story collection. I enjoyed reading her earlier science fiction and fantasy. Both the Deeds of Paksenarion series, and the Vatta's War series are very good. There is a short story called Say Cheese which is set in the Vatta's war setting. This collection is a mix of swords and sorcery and military science fiction. So far, I've liked "Fools Gold" about a miser turned into a dragon, and "Politics" which is about the politics of a group of marines in the future. There are fifteen stories and an introduction by Anne McCaffrey who she has collaborated with.
I've finished adding images to each of my posts. These are all public domain images with their copyrights removed or just in the public domain because of age. I got most of them from .
It is fun to look through this site, there are a lot of very interesting images. Most of the images aren't particularly modern, but they are free and in my mind free is good. They are good for things like bookmarks, newsletter headers, and other minor items.
I haven't found any new places to post my site. I might go through and look at my keywords again to see how they might be improved. I am working a little bit each day on making this site better.
I just went and added a listing for Book Calendar to the social network site

Friday, November 16, 2007

Science Fiction Art Books. Daily Musings.

One of the things which I do is collect science fiction art books. I really enjoy having them. I do not have a huge amount of books in my house. I try and limit myself to books which are either valuable and special, or immediately useful. It is always easy to find books or bring books home when you work in a library. In most cases it would be bringing my work home with me if I had a lot of popular easy to get books at home. Most of these books are large quarto books.

One book which I am recommending is The Frank Collection A Showcase of the World's Finest Fantastic Art, Jane and Howard Frank, Foreword by John C. Berkey, and Afterword by Don Maitz. What is interesting about this collection is that it is entirely located inside Jane and Howard Frank's house. The book is broken up into sections by location in the house, Horror Hall, Entryway and Grand Staircase, The Dining Room and Its Wall of Fame, The Sword and Sorcery Guestroom, and other places. This makes the book quite entertaining. Imagine having the cover painting for the Reality Dysfunction painted by Jim Burns in your kitchen. Or having a painting by Jim Powers of the cover of The Number of the Beast by Robert Heinlein in your Living Room. It is very fanciful. It covers most of the great science fiction artists. What is even more interesting is that it also includes puppets, sculpture, and science fiction furniture, not just cover art of science fiction books. There is enough art for a small museum in the house as it is portrayed.

Another science fiction art book is Infinite Worlds, The Fantastic Visions of Science Fiction Art by Vincent Di Fate, Foreword by Ray Bradbury. This is an alphabetically organized biographical guide to every major science fiction artist. It includes a brief biographical snapshot of each artist and a few of their pictures. The writer of the book, Vincent Di Fate is one of the premiere science fiction artists. It includes people like Chesley Bonestell, Frank R. Paul, Reynold Brown who did mainly lobby cards for films, Wayne Barlow and Virgil Finlay. This book is very nice to look at. There are pulp covers, book covers, and internal art from a variety of science fiction themes.

It is rather interesting. I could not find the Vincent Di Fate book on Powell's which usually has most things. It is hard to find this kind of material. Also when I put in the Frank Collection, Frank Cho, the cartoonist, was added to the list.

I went to a customer service seminar at work this morning. It was to put it mildly, a dud. On the way back from the meeting, my supervisor picked up a Calendar Book at Border's bookstore.

Sometimes life just gets you down and you need a little pick up. A little maudlin humor sometimes helps. When I need to see how ridiculous the world really is, I take the time to read the Daily Snopes from the Snopes sight. It is well worth a laugh. It is amazing what people are capable of:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Please Tell Me About the Books I Have Posted.


Hello, if you could please tell me about the books I have posted so far it would be great to get some comments. Also comments on any of the links would be appreciated as well. I am surprised at the lack of feedback.

I recently went to Yahoo Groups, but I found most of them were very heavily moderated, even the public ones require you to clear the posts with the moderators. So I posted on Yahoo Groups -- books which was the only unmoderated group which I could find which also did not moderate individual posts.

If you have a site you would like me to post a link to please let me know in the comments section.

Or if you would like me to comment on your thoughts on your blogs let me know as well in the comments section.

Schulz and Peanuts, Counting Heads

Charles Schulz Museum

Good morning,
I am still reading Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. I have spent over a week reading it. The text is very dense and gives a lot of details about Schulz's life. It seems that Schulz's cartoons changed with how his life was happening. I've gotten to one of the more juicy parts as they say, Schulz is divorcing his wife at fifty and marrying a younger woman to make himself happy. The book depicts Schulz as a straight arrow, a teetotaler, a religious man with a weakness for strong women. Joyce, his first wife, seems to be his model for Lucy who always pushes around Charlie Brown. There are two sets of black and white photographs of Schulz's life. The photographs look like an idealized all American family like the Waltons which is kind of disconcerting. They seem to fit an every man image. Every other page seems to have a strip of Peanuts in it once you get past the first third of the book. The strips often match word for word what is happening in Schulz's life at some point. I am really enjoying this book. It is extremely well written, with very thick prose. The biography feels a lot closer to the truth than most biographies that I have read. It even has 59 pages of source notes to document the authors research, and a very extensive index. If you like biographies, this is something well worth reading.

Another book which I chose to pass up putting in this blog initially which I read several weeks ago is Counting Heads by David Marusek. It is his first novel. The science fiction reads like a novel of contemporary life even though it is set in the future. The descriptions are so well written that they come to life and make the setting very believable. It is almost too believable, sometimes the writing loses the sense of wonder ordinarily occurring in science fiction. It follows the life of Samsamson Harger, a man who lives in the future. He starts off as an artist producing packaging design. Then it describes his marriage, life, and death. The book is broken into stages. There are a lot of plot devices. Halfway through the book, SamSamson gets seared so he cannot have his age rejuvenated and stinks terribly. This ensures no sequels. The future being described has a lot of ideas. There is a spaceship being built to colonize the stars, but the backers keep on fighting on whether to colonize the far stars or just the inner solar system. This book has a lot more depth than most science fiction I have read recently. If you want to read a very literary work of science fiction, this book is for you. If you'd rather read space opera, or fast paced military science fiction don't read this book.

I am thinking about what to say next. I'll probably go back through this site and recheck the keywords. I got maybe three or four people coming in from the newsgroups which I posted to. I am going to do the next stetp today. I am going to go through Yahoo Groups and see which groups I can post a link to to get this going some more.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Books About Green Capitalism and Worldchanging

Quite a few of the books which I have read during the last year are about green capitalism or as the call it "natural capitalism." A lot of the ideas for natural capitalism stem from the Rocky Mountain Institute . One of the most substantive works is Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Amory Lovins and Paul Hawkens. It talks about ways to integrate environmental technologies like lean manufacturing, recycling, energy efficiency, and refurbishing items with capitalism to make more profitable cleaner companies. Amory Lovins also talks about how to switch away from an oil based economy. There is an excellent ebook on this subject at by Lovins. I highly recommend his work.
Another book which came out of a website is Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century, Alex Steffens, Editor. This is a collection of various technologies and ideas on how to make the world a better place. Once again this book is focused on clean technology, and new ideas for a greener form of capitalism. The book comes from the website . This web site is very much future oriented. It talks quite a bit about energy issues, population issues, housing, and clean technology. It is well worth looking at.
Big And Green by David Gissen, Ed., is a guide to green buildings which are energy efficient, often use recycled material, are designed to be aesthetically pleasing, include recycling technologies, and often build renewable energy into them. There are quite a few architectural diagrams and pictures throughout the books. Green buildings are a very interesting issue. Take some time if you can to look at
I see a positive future where we won't need oil coming up. I don't see a negative future without oil. Life will be cleaner, healthier, and more long lived in the future. People need to take some time to figure out a better vision of what is coming next. Read about it and think about how you can make the world a better place to live.
On that note, I posted links to blog at the newsgroups Sci Fi & Fantasy Writing, Online Books and Ebooks, rec.arts.books.marketplace,, rec.arts.sf.written, rec.arts.books, and alt. books.
If you can think of any place where I can post a link to my site please let me know with comments. I would really appreciate it. This can be a message board, web site, blog, or group.
I just started adding keywords to each of my blog posts. They are pretty generic for the most part. You can see them at the bottom of the posts. Hopefully, this will generate some more interest in the site. Someone searched for "un lun dun" to find this site which is pretty surprising.