This Week in Books 4/15/11

by | Apr 15, 2011 | Uncategorized | 22 comments

Books! In! This! Week!

Quiet week on the link front, but there is still some bloggy and articley goodness for your perusal.

First up, big news on the e-reader front as Amazon is launching a $114 ad-supported version of the Kindle. Meaning, there are “special offers” as screensavers. Would you buy the $139 ad-free version or the $114 ad-supported version? (disclosure: article link is to CNET, I work at CNET)

Major congratulations are in order to my former client Lisa Brackmann (who you may know around these parts as Other Lisa), as her debut novel ROCK PAPER TIGER was nominated for Best New Novel in The Strand Critics Awards. (Congrats to the other non-former-client nominees as well). Also, Lisa is in China right now, and be sure and check out her incredible posts about her trip.

Self-publishing sure seems to be on everyone’s mind these days — Anne R. Allen has a post on three things to ask yourself before you jump on the self-publishing bandwagon.

Slate has a terrific profile of one of the greatest journalists working today, David Grann, and some of the techniques he uses to make his stories so uniquely compelling.

Eric from Pimp My Novel wonders if there will soon be such a thing as “bibliophiles” – just as there are audiophiles with their vinyl collections, he wonders if there will be bibliophiles collecting the physical objects and whether that will be a niche crowd.

And, of course, how to turn a book into a vase.

This week in the Forums, e-books may now be the #1 format, sharing resources on cover design, are you participating in the A to Z blog challenge?, would anyone use LinkedIn share buttons if I implemented them, and, of course, why would someone want to take over the world?

Comment! of! the! Week! There were lots of great comments about what people are building, but I have to go with Ulysses for comment of the week:

I love building!

1) Family.
2) Memories.
3) A career.
4) Some stories.
5) My own knowledge.
6) Happiness.
7) A castle out of lego with my daughter.
8) Faith.
9) The world’s best steak sandwich.
10) Contradictions.
11) A life.
12) Neural pathways.
13) Muscle mass.
14) A genetic heritage.
15) Relationships.
16) And, of course, a Super-Destructo ray, because sometimes building stuff gets dull. 

And finally, because every week needs more flying corndogs in space…. (and thanks again to Brent Peterson):

Have a great weekend!


  1. Ted Fox

    I love this point Anne makes in her post about the 3 questions to ask yourself before self-publishing:

    "There are some unspoken benefits to the old query-fail-query-fail-submission-fail-editorial meeting-fail, fail, fail system. It not only gives us numerous readers to help hone that book to perfection—it also teaches us to deal with rejection, failure and bad reviews."

    That's the most positive (and I believe 100% accurate) take on the process I've ever read. Thanks for that Anne (and Nathan).

  2. Lauren

    Oh Nathan…you always know just the right thing to share. I currently have a bundle of flowers and no vase, but rooms filled with books. Now, I have a bundle of flowers, a room full of books, and a link on how to turn a book into a vase. What a lucky day. Just kidding. I probably won't be vase-making, but I did giggle at the premise.

    As for the Kindle question, I don't see ads anymore so I'd go for the cheaper.

    On the bibliophile front, I think that there will be far more who buy paper books for a long time. Even many of my wealthy high school students refuse to get e readers. Almost none of them had a problem making the jump to IPods, though. When asked why, over half of the class was pretty passionate about how the experience just wasn't the same. These are bright kids with parents who give them very high credit limits. They are on the cutting edge of every techno movement, but most are shying away from this one so far. There's a very good chance I'm wrong, but my students have been solid leads on trends for years so I'll go with them for now.

  3. Ishta Mercurio


    And thanks for the Bibliophile link. I think there will be a subculture of physical book-collecting. Rachelle Gardner's post asking if publishing can really be compared to the music industry started me thinking about what publishing is really about, and I think the perception that it's about books is false – or at least, it's temporary. Publishing is about storytelling, which is increasingly done through the sale of audiobooks and film rights, as well as through the sale of ebooks, which are skyrocketing. So, I think of books in the future as being analogous to sheet music and scripts: great for collectors and great as a medium for getting the story to people who will transform it into a different medium that will reach a wider audience.

    Do I like this? No. Does this look like the coming reality? To me, yes.

  4. Ishta Mercurio

    Oh, also: Lisa is China? Wow. I wish I could turn myself into one of the world's future superpowers. 😉 I think you might have a typo there.


    Have a great weekend, Nathan, and thanks for the links!

  5. Rachel Giesel

    Nathan, I love the trailer! Very nice (:

  6. D.G. Hudson

    Ads are distracting and can be annoying. I would buy the ad-free version of the Kindle, if I didn't already have an e-reader.

    Anne R. Allen's post is quite interesting, and poses some very important observations. Thanks for the link, Nathan.

    Congrats to Lisa – how great is that to be nominated for an award for her first novel? Dreams are made of this. . .

    Read Eric's post on bibliophiles, and he may be right. I can see myself becoming one of those. There's something about the difference between tangible and intangible.

    Hope it's a great weekend for everyone! (If not, stay inside, drink the beverage of your choice and write.)

  7. Erik

    Re the new Kindle, as long as Amazon keeps ads off of the text pages of the books, then I don't see what the big deal is. Just get past the initial brainwashing on the screensavers and dive right into the ad-free prose. That's worth $25 to me.

  8. Sommer Leigh

    Yes! The Bransforum A to Z Blog Challenge bloggers are amazing! Anyone who isn't following these should go do so immediately. They are really cool. This has been one of the best months for blogging.

    I love your trailer Nathan. It is great fun to watch! You should be very proud and I can't wait to get my hot little hands on a copy of your book.

    As for the new Kindle, I think I hate it. It reminds me of when LiveJournal introduced free accounts with ads and pay accounts without ads. This was back when I still used LJ and it was one of the things that drove me away. It feels so slimey, even if it's got ads that are cool. I think they should have sold it for $99 instead. It might actually feel like a bargain then. The web comic Penny Arcade did a great comic about it yesterday:

  9. Samantha G


    Has anyone ever told you you slightly look like Proffesor Brian Cox (an astrophysicist.)

    Very slightly. Or maybe its just me. Anyway, great post as usual.


  10. Kristin Laughtin

    Is that what the "special offers" are for the new Kindle? I saw an ad for it on Amazon when I went to check the status of an order this morning, but since I already have the $139 version, figured I wouldn't care much and would come back to look at it later. I don't know…seems like if I still had to buy a Kindle, I'd just wait until I had the extra $25 and get the ad-free version, although I doubt the ads would bother me too much unless they were actually in the books.

    I thought at first I'd want a book vase, but then I remembered the anguish I experienced when trying to pick a book to hollow out to make a case for my Kindle. I ended up buying a hardcover journal with a magnetic closure so I wouldn't have to destroy any words.

  11. Mr. D

    Did someone mention something about a vase?

    I'm even seeing them in the photos of your commenters of the week!

    Maybe that's a good omen!

    Fingers crossed!

  12. Anne R. Allen

    Congrats to Other Lisa!

    And to me, too because I made Nathan's "this week in books"! In the same week I made Jane Friedman's Best Tweets for Writers. People seem to like that post.

    And thanks, Ted Fox. Until that poor indie author's meltdown, I hadn't ever thought of the query process as positive, but now I'm so thankful for the rejections that kept my early sucky work out of print.

    So thanks for all the rejections, Nathan. And thanks for the link. It means a lot.

  13. Other Lisa

    Howdy, all! Thanks for the shout-out, Nathan, and I appreciate everyone's congratulations!

    And I promise to blog more…right now I'm in one of the most beautiful places in the world (not just in China) and the only thing that's got me at my computer right now is the slightly inclement weather…So I'll put up another post in a bit…

    I would gladly pay the extra $ for no ads, personally…

  14. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    Thanks for mentioning the A to Z Challenge! As one of the co- hosts, it's been overwhelming to see so many join. But most are enjoying the experience.

  15. Nancy

    Hey Nathan, love your blog. Especially appreciate how deep you go, exploring angles on subjects like e-book vs paper book, trad-pub vs self-pub.

    Had to laugh at the book into vase project. I wrote about something similar a couple of days ago – re-purposing pens into a chandelier – and what it says about the future of physical books. Check it out at


  16. Mira

    Cool links this week, Nathan – thank you! I very much appreciate the bloggy and articley goodness. 🙂

    That's interesting about the ad supported Kindle. Ads in books, they are a'coming. I have mixed feelings about it.

    Wow, big congratulations to Lisa! Yay! (and to her agent, who started it all!)

    That was a great article by Anne. Very good points!

    Interesting article about David Grann. Journalists as writers don't get enough credit. And, yes, I think physical books will become a collectors hobby, and a niche crowd – just because of the space considerations (and dust).

    I thought the vase was pretty cool. As we transition to e-books, maybe book art will become a new hobby too. Better than throwing them under a building like in last week's video.

    Cool comment from Ulysses. I liked the lego castle with his daughter. Sweet. 🙂

    And that continues to be the amazing book trailer I can't stop watching. Speaking of book art!

    Thanks so much again, Nathan. Hope everyone is having a nice weekend.

  17. Anonymous

    Congrats Other Lisa!

    I want to second what Nathan wrote about Ulysses' comment…it led me to his blog: I've bookmarked and which had me laughing out loud–check out the rock, paper, scissors thing.)

    Thanks guys.


  18. Edward Anthony Kelly-Summers

    Nathan, I appreciate the post and beleive as Ted posted, that working through failure/rejection with a humble and modest attitude is the most important thing any person can do when trying to build. I am a humble person, and do not believe it in the best interest of any person to be arrogant, egotistical or rude for any reason.

    Having said that, I wanted to comment on the Megalomaniac forum, but forgot my log-in. Being a person with sometimes overly self-conscious tendencies, I often take things as negative, and most of what comes/came from my reactions is in the form of trying to make myself deal with what I beleived a negative issue, which causes/caused me to beleive a situation was of negativity in general. I always want to build healty friendships/relationships/contacts,and would never say, do, or behave to make myself appear 'superior' in any way, shape, or form. Mostly, I try to present
    myself as humble and unassuming, but felt as if a situation was out of my hands. I tend to become lost within circumstances that I cannot explain or understand fully.

    Sometimes things go beyond what you can physically, mentally or emotionally control. The process of trying to determine if I had the 'am I crazies' of writing coincided with a drastic change in a normal pattern of life. I offer my apologies to everyone, and plan to work to restore my reputation, peace and perform an honest evaluation of the 'am I crazies(of writing.)' Thank you for the assitance thus far, and I apologize for going off topic and length. Also, I do/did not want to go out of my way to attract attention,and do not believe I am in a situation to comment/judge any person's actions.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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