The Last Few Week in Books 1/4/12

by | Jan 4, 2013 | Uncategorized | 4 comments

As if my blogging hasn’t sporadic enough with the craziness of the holidays, next week is CES, land of 100″ TVs and 18-hour-work days! Yes, I am headed to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, where the devices of tomorrow are gawked at by the nerds of today. It’s always a lot of fun, if rather crazy for us CNETers.

The best way to keep track of the madness is to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Just be warned that your feeds will be a deluge of new gadget wizardry.

Meanwhile, there have been some interesting links the past few weeks, and I aim to share them with you.

Influential and popular blogger Andrew Sullivan made an influential and in some circles very popular move by going independent with his blog, breaking off from the Daily Beast and charging readers $19.99 for full access. Can he make it pay, many asked? Well, so far he’s apparently racked up a third of a million dollars.

Speaking of making it pay, Random House had quite a banner year thanks in large part to Fifty Shades of Grey, and Random House employees were treated to $5,000 shades of green.

Legendary author and Twitter maven Margaret Atwood is making a play of independence of her own. She’ll be serializing a new novel called Positron serially on a site called Byliner. (via The Millions)

In roundup news, The Atlantic surveyed the best middle grade and YA books of 2012, GalleyCat rounded up a collection of successful query letters, and Kristin Nelson continued her popular tradition of year-end stats.

And perhaps the most disturbing book article of 2012 was brought to you by library books and bedbugs.

Over in the Forums, why do you want to be published and why do you write, which social media site do you use the most, mental illness in fiction, why bad writing is an oxymoron and, of course, what makes for the great American novel.

Comment! of! the! Week! In yesterday’s post I suggested that perhaps we could readily tell real reviews from fake ones. Not so, says Chris Shaw:

Actually it’s pretty much proven at this point that no, we can’t pick out the false reviews ourselves. I’m having trouble finding some of the studies, namely the one I came across when this controversy first came out, which says humans identify the false one about 50% of the time–no better than guessing.This study gives some good info on the poor performance of humans in this matter, due to truth bias (we’ll say something is true 88% of the time… whoops). A couple articles say that 30% of reviews are fake, and this one says 70% of consumers trust online reviews, so I’m betting we’re missing just a few of them. Google the work by Cornell, MIT, U of Illinois Chicago, and some national economics group to find even more studies affirming that humans suck at telling when reviews are fake. 

Am I happy with what Amazon did? No. But it’s warranted. Like it or not, we all actually were born yesterday in this game. It’s the the best Amazon can do for us until they get more sophisticated at it (or one of those aforementioned universities gets their fake-fighting tech ready for prime time).

And finally, it was the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and there have of course lately been many Lincoln tributes and the Spielberg movie. One of the most fascinating things I’ve ever read about Lincoln was a speech by Frederick Douglass, who delivered an incredible assessment a decade after his death. (via Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Have a great weekend!


  1. Susie

    Thanks for not charging us for reading your blog! 🙂

  2. mira

    Well, I'm pretty skeptical about whether it's a good idea to monetize your blog through subscription. The biggest drawback – it seems to me – is gaining new subscribers. If you close off most of your content to people new to your blog, how will you lure them in? Especially since part of the draw is the community of commentors.

    I'm not surprised he has an intially high subscription base, but as he loses members through natural attrition, how will he replace them?

    I think a blog is best served by casting its net far and wide. To monetize it, I think the best option is donations. Not just a paypal button, but periodic requests and even fundraisers.

    Of course, I could be wrong, it will be interesting to watch.

    Re. Random House, sorry, I'm cynical! Yes, they gave all of it's employees a 5,000 bonus, but I suspect it was probably to calm them down about the merger. And I wonder: did they give the authors on their books anything? A $25 dollar holiday bonus? $10? A holiday card? Anyone know?

    I appreciate the list of YA/MG, I'm going to use that! 🙂

    And that bedbug story is chilling! Brrrr.

    Thanks for the links!

  3. Neurotic Workaholic

    Ew, I didn't realize that you could get bedbugs from library books! I've found bookmarks and grocery lists in borrowed books, but never bedbugs. The grocery lists are sometimes interesting, especially one I found where the person listed five different types of beer.

  4. csoffer

    I've been following you for a long time, and I think this is the first time I'm commenting. This was a great end of year post. The links you provided were awesome, and in some cases chilling. When you lead your followers to important things like "Bedbugs Hitch a Ride…" or an article on YA from the Atlantic that some of us (ahem) may have missed, you're really providing an invaluable service, and for no other reason that you're an extremely cool guy (who happens to be from Brooklyn, home of at least one other reasonably cool guy 🙂 ). Thanks for the great post.


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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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