Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'll be the featured guest on Stirring the Cauldron with Marla Brooks (the acclaimed Hollywood personality) to talk about ghosts, my favorite investigations, animal communications, my books, publishing in general or anything else you'd like to chat about. Just go to the link: and follow it thru Listen Live option - the chat room at 9 pm EST tomorrow night-Thursday, June 26th to hear me make a fool of myself! DINAH ROSEBERRY Editor at Large and her Radio show

Hungry Media Dragon Zell Aide on Book Pages Reminding the world to get a little CREATIVE
A memo from Tribune chief innovation officer Lee Abrams is being widely quoted. This snippet speaks to his view on book pages in newspapers: This is seriously the craziest Lee Abrams post ever.

Heard a conversation about how Book reporting doesn't generate revenue and may have to go away. WAIT! Maybe Book reviews and coverage are one of those things that don't generate revenue right now, BUT--are trademarks for newspapers and elicit high passion from readers. At XM, we had Opera channels. Low listenership...HIGH passion...AND--it was one of those things that even if people didn't listen or even like Opera, it was one of those things you had to have for completeness. Maybe Book sections in newspapers are just dated. Not the idea...but the look and feel. Maybe they're modeled after a book store in 1967 whereas we're in the Borders, Amazon, B&N era. Maybe they are too scholarly. Maybe they avoid genres like Christian books, Celebrity books and Popular novels, opting instead for reviews of the Philippine Socialist Movement in the 1800's. The point here is maybe Book sections need to be as dramatically re-thought as Borders re-thought retail. Not dumbing down--but getting in sync with the 21st Century mainstream book reader."

Zell Aide on Book Pages ; [; ]
• · Not surprisingly, yesterday's news that former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil has agreed to buy PFD from CSS Stellar generates more attention in the UK news media. Neil, the current chief executive of the Spectator, explained his decision to buy the troubled literary agency, which is only just recovering from last year's mass defection that created United Agents, stemmed from its back catalog: "If you were an asset-stripper you would be prepared to pay this price to close the company down and live off its back book, though that is absolutely not what we want to do." Michel attempts to draw line at PFD; The PFD Saga Continues
• · · · · Tragic Novel Hopes For Happy Ending Today's advance spotlight is on Andrew Davidson, a Manitoba native whose debut novel THE GARGOYLE has attracted considerable attention since Doubleday signed North American rights for $1.25 million last year. (The book publishes here in August, and also in 22 countries, including Davidson's native Canada.) Despite planned "title star treatment" from Borders and B&N (is the newspaper not allowed to use the term "co-op" in an article?) some doubt readers will want to turn past the first 75 pages of apparently explicit content. "It's too graphic, too sexual," said Rainy Day Books' Vivien Jennings, speaking of readers in the vicinity of the bookstore's Fairway, KS home. "It's not going to float here." But Davidson brushes off such concerns: "I am no more concerned about readers in the Midwest embracing the book than I am about readers at either coast, or abroad." Another Potential Debut Fiction Bestseller Preview from the WSJ ; Poets & Writers prints an extended version of Jofie Ferrari-Adler's interview with former Houghton Mifflin publisher Janet Silver, now at Nan Talese/Doubleday as an Editor-at large. Agents & Editors: A Q&A With Editor Janet Silver
• · · · · · The Wall Street Journal looks at how David Wroblewski's debut novel THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE (Ecco) benefited from being championed by The 566-page literary novel has already gone into its seventh printing -- a reported total of 90,000 copies -- a week after its publication. Driving that unexpectedly heavy demand has been strong reviews and promotional support from, which chose the book as one of the best books of June, kept it on its home page for two weeks at a 40% discount before the book hit stores, and posted an essay written by the author at Amazon's request. "We also had a preorder banner in May, which is something we do for books that we think will have significant interest for our customers," says Tammy Hovey, an Amazon spokeswoman. Amazon's Clout Helps Debut Novel ; Amazon's enthusiasm, combined with strong reviews in national newspapers, has helped other retailers take notice. "It's doing fabulously well and we've already reordered," B&N fiction buyer Sessalee Hensley told the WSJ, and Costco increased its initial order to 18,000 copies from 3,000 Amazon Shows Its Clout: Written exclusively for Beautiful Minds and Hearts

Monday, June 23, 2008

Twelve publisher Jonathan Karp has an essay in the Sunday Washington Post on the state of publishing. He remarks on "the relentless, indiscriminate proliferation" of commercial "ephemera" on the bookshelves" and freely admits "I too have sinned. In weaker moments, I've been seduced by tales of celebrity, money, gossip and scandal." He notes: "Most authors want their work to be accessible to a typical educated reader, so the question really isn't whether the work is highbrow or lowbrow or appeals to the masses or the elites; the question is whether the book is expedient or built to last. Are we going for the quick score or enduring value? Too often, we (publishers and authors) are driven by the same concerns as any commercial enterprise: We are manufacturing products for the moment. Karp On Publishing

Cold War Games Turning the Page on The Disposable Olympic Games
Perhaps the most revealing example of the role international politics has played in the Olympics was illustrated by the Games rivalry between the great ideologies of the twentieth century, capitalism and communism.

The Olympic Games, it is said, represent ‘ideals of humanity's highest callings—a universal quest for peace, moral integrity, and an exalted mix of mind, body, and spirit that transcends culture’. Tension still exists between the PRC and Taiwan and this resurfaced in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 in relation to the Olympic torch relay. After various attempts at compromise by both nations to allow the torch to travel through the city of Taipei, the Taiwanese withdrew permission for the Olympic torch to pass through their territory. There is speculation, however, that tensions between the PRC and Taiwan will ease following the election of Guomindang leader, Ma Ying-jeou, in March 2008.

The Olympic Games ; [We should also not forget the role of China in the debacle that is Zimbabwe Zimbabwe and China: a toxic legacy; The right to free speech does not come cheap. For too many journalists it is costing them their life. Journalists under threat]
• · A TECHNOLOGICAL breakthrough by University of Sydney scientists could lead to people downloading the latest movie in a few seconds or chatting with small, cheap, video systems. Chip may speed up internet 100 times; The social webs of friends, like the strings of a child’s hand game, are slackening. We are becoming more isolated, more alone and more lonely. How many patterns of life were based on kindred misconceptions, how many wolves do we feel on our heels, while our real enemies go in sheepskin by? Why we ostracise - the failing Cat’s Cradle

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It didn't get any bigger for techies than the opening of computer giant Apple's first southern hemisphere retail store in Sydney Die-hard Apple fans Reminding the world to get a little creative

Imagine all the people Thinking Differently The Cult Of Mac: Die-hard Apple fans
The fanaticism of Apple fans is renowned. Outside the Sydney store yesterday, a handful of people had already started to queue for the official opening at 5pm tonight: Thousands queue for Apple Store Sydney

They had jackets to help them survive the winter chill and some had Apple laptops to keep themselves occupied with iTunes as Apple: iTunes sells more than 5 billion songs
A few held grey-market iPhones that had been imported from the US and unlocked to work in Australia – a process that voids the warranty, but has so far been necessary to use the phones on local networks.

• New Apple Store is a glass act Drive change so it doesn't drive you ; [The Apple store “experience”; Smile I'LL SCREAM LATER ]
• · At Stanford University's commencement address on Sunday, Oprah Winfrey advised the nearly 4,700 graduates to trust their gut. "When you are doing the work you are meant to do, it feels right," she said. "Feelings are really your GPS system for life. Check your ego at the door and check your gut instead. Every wrong decision was the result of me not listening to my voice. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it." Afterwards, each graduate received a copy of Book Club selection A NEW EARTH by Eckhart Tolle and another Winfrey favorite, A WHOLE NEW MIND by Daniel Pink. Oprah Speaks, Gives Away Books at Graduation Ceremony; Oprah tells Stanford grads to do what 'feels right'
• · As with other book clubs, authors will receive royalties of 4 percent of the cover price for books sold for $1 apiece, and 8 percent of the cover price for books sold at regular club prices. Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, one of the book club's "alliance partners," said he did not expect the club to generate much revenue for his company. "I'm not doing this for financial reasons," he said. "I'm doing it for movement-building reasons. Book Clubs, the Progressive Way; If the move had happened earlier, it would have affected the book club. But this is a new channel on UKTV, and it will be on the first page of the electronic programme guide. After 10 years, I think the club has a life of its own. What we need is the support of the retailers. If they keep faith and the books are still in the shops, then people will still buy them because they have Richard & Judy stickers. Richard & Judy's Instant Summer Bestsellers
• · · The Wall Street Journal tracks the growing number of books written by consultants, real-estate moguls, retailers and other entrepreneurs The Entreprenurial Book Boom ; Agents are supporting Hachette Livre UK's confrontation with Amazon. Curtis Brown managing director Jonathan Lloyd says: I think the entire industry of publishers, authors and agents are 100% behind [Hachette]. Someone has to draw a line in the sand. Publishers have given 1% a year away to retailers, so where does it stop? Using authors as a financial football is disgraceful Community Supports Hachette v. Amazon UK
• · · · The AP reports that Pershing Square Capital's Bill Ackman is encouraging the unloading of his money-losing big stake in Borders to Amazon. Ackman Hopes for Amazon Bid for Borders; The memoir by Lynne Spears--mother of Britney and Jamie Lynn--"delayed indefinitely" last December, is now likely for September publication by Thomas Nelson Brand Leaves Hodder; Spears' Book Back On
• · · · · Savannah Knoop, who played the role of JT Leroy in public, is writing a book about the charade for Seven Stories, GIRL BOY GIRL: How I Became JT LeRoy. JT Leroy Body-Double Has Book; Southern novelist George Garrett, "who never received the wide literary renown that his decades of glowing reviews would suggest," died olast week of cancer at age 78. On Garrett
• · · · · · It was also the event at which Amazon ceo Jeff Bezos showed himself as bold enough and strong enough to show up in front of the industry that launched his enterprise and stick a big fat thumb directly in their eyes. And perhaps so lost in his own world that maybe he didn't realize how insulting it was to offer book professionals (and booksellers who compete with him) a warmed-over version of the Kindle pitch he's been making since last fall as if no one had heard of the device. Booksellers talk big, act quietly at convention;
It's not quite The Shack, but Leinad Zeraus (aka database consultant Daniel Suarez) has had help moving his self-published debut technothriller DAEMON from bloggers and influential techies like Joi Ito, Stewart Brand, and Craig Newmark. As Wired reports, the book "tells the story of a terminally ill game designer who unleashes a diabolical, self-replicating Web entity that enlists disaffected Netizens in its mission to destroy civilization." After numerous rejections from agents, the author and his wife "approached bloggers whose writings on gaming, warfare, AI, and social media Suarez had mined for the book. Self-Published Novelist Gets Geek Cred

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

All humans are dead except those who have knowledge...and all those who have knowledge are asleep except for those who do good deeds … and those who do good deeds are deceived except those who are sincere...and those who are sincere are always in a state of worry … reports that fans of the Sex and the City movie are looking for a book featured in one scene--Love Letters of Great Men--that does not exist. The site says they have received hundreds of requests. The AP reports that "the closest text in the real world apparently is Love Letters of Great Men and Women: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, first released in the 1920s and reissued last year by Kessinger Publishing." That thirty-two dollar paperback has risen to No. 114 at Amazon.
If No One Hears About Your Book, No One Can Buy It; Crikey and their defamation lawyer: Separated at birth?

Can we change the heart of politics? Labor pair's surreal plunge into scandal
JOHN DELLA BOSCA appears to have run foul of the Premier a second time over the Iguanas Waterfront affair, it emerged last night, after Morris Iemma denied he or his office had ever been told of three statutory declarations that Mr Della Bosca's wife, Belinda Neal, withheld from the public.

THERE'S a reason courtroom witnesses swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That's because an omission can be just as damaging

Iemma and minister fail to do the numbers ; [Like fiddling while Rome burns ; Iguana affair ]
• · WHEN Belinda Neal started dating a young NSW Labor Party official, John Della Bosca, she opened the door to more than just a new relationship Power families; Bullies get away with anger unleashed in private ;
• · The Rich List: Where are they now? ; Executive rich BRW list
• · · You stab my back and I'll stab yours: management perceptions and experience of organisation political behaviour Bending the rules to fit the situation and self promotion.; High speed
• · · · Opes Prime director, Deloitte clash in court Guide to track a broking firm that went broke; Battered Babcock & bankers
• · · · · THE litigation-fest surrounding Opes Prime has intensified, with the collapsed stockbroker's first Singapore client, Asia Pacific Links, taking Federal Court action late on Friday against financier Merrill Lynch. Opes client sues bank; Conspicuous consumption is reflected in a Russian joke making the rounds It describes how one wealthy businessman tells a friend of buying a tie for $100. “You fool,” the other responds. “You can get the same tie for $200 just across the street.” Additional Costs Allowances ; GOVERNMENTS often get more than they bargained for when they hand control of major infrastructure to private equity companies. High price to pay for private equity
• · · · · · Tracking plastic's breakdown products ; Man-made chemicals in food chain cause deepconcern, say researchers. Sheree Bega reports absorption in the human body, or their use reduced Cancer and households link probed

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage. They've experienced pain and bought jewelry.
- Rita Rudner

Gillian Sneddon has not limited her criticism to the NSW Labor Party. She has also criticised the clerk of the Parliament, Russell Grove, and another parliamentary officer over the Orkopoulos investigation Carelessness, Recklessness or Intentional Grovelling?

Can we change the heart of politics? Role of the Blogger The truth has blown up in our faces so many times
Like artists, bloggers have a role in a culture to alarm us, and perhaps to frighten us

There are soap opera producers who would not buy the believability of the script written in the corridors of powers of the NSW Parliament. Some journeys cannot be put into words … it is even easier to write about the Cold River crossing than it is to capture the goings inside the parliamentary culture. You would never know it from listening to the media dialogue, but the most pressing issue of our age is most certainly the fact that we need more direct sunlight when it comes to managerial powers. Ever since the rise of Marxism, crowds have been trying to take the power out of the hands of the powerful. And good on 'em (us!). Over the last hundred years or so these ideals have certainly had their ups and downs, but recently the trend has emerged again, this time in the form of Crowd Clout...

• It seems that telling the truth is dirty politics OurBrew: Power in Numbers; [Making the world a better place one person at a time feels like simple commonsense to me. People Power = In fact, nothing could be further from the truth? ; A Mediocre Piece of Journalism ]
• · Tim like Cold River is happiest in water, and the sea has delivered him his first big BOOK. REVIEWS, Tim Winton says a little grumpily on Schwartz Media's SlowTV website, are like the weather. There is nothing much you can do about them: they arrive, they pass. And teaching is detritus, a way of "policing the text. Breath is, as the reviews have been saying, Winton's best yet ; Tim Winton is probably Australia’s greatest living writer; Streetfighter critic pulls no punches
• · My own mortality was as real as night and day and as certain as their cold, motionless bodies in those coffins. The river of tears was for my friend I fantasised about my funeral ; I view life as a journey of initiation for death. A person lives, suffers, dies. All the rest is grace. And love is grace. Writing is grace. Ships from and sold by MediaCrazy ; Another ray of hope Sometimes we must look deeper to see the goodness
• · · The Burchett revival is founded upon a distinctive form of post-Cold War intellectual inertia Agent of Influence ; Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest is determined to redeem his reputation - and vast paper riches - on a promise many said he'd never keep The accidental billionaire
• · · · Lessons from Private Equity Any Company Can Use (Memo to the CEO) So what exactly is private equity?; You cannot kill truth by murdering journalists

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Today, we're announcing the beta release of SearchScan, a new feature from Yahoo! Search that helps protect users from viruses, spyware and spam. We've heard from users that security and privacy continue to be major concerns when they are online. We've also learned that solutions that require downloads and constant updating are less than ideal. To tackle the problem, we partnered with McAfee to build a feature that provides a safer and hassle-free search experience to all users...How does it work? SearchScan leverages McAfee's SiteAdvisor technology to alert users if risky websites appear in Yahoo! Search results. Starting today, SearchScan will be turned on by default for all users in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Spain... Yahoo Search Blog: - Hungry Media Dragon Searchers

Hungry Media Dragon Policing the Media
The Australian media largely ignored a major conference looking at its own future

YOU could be forgiven for not noticing, but at the beginning of this month Sydney hosted one of the most significant conferences on the impact of new media yet to take place in Australia.
Why didn’t you notice? Well, if you are an academic it was probably because it was pitched at journalists, and we all know how suspicious the academy is of hacks and, in turn, how anti-intellectual journalists can be. If you are an ordinary member of the public you may well have missed it because the mainstream media organisations barely reported it at all. This is very strange, given that many of them sponsored the gig, and the title of the conference was The Future of Journalism. You’d think they’d be interested. The leading British media commentator Roy Greenslade attended the conference and wrote about it on his blog at the Guardian. But the Australia media almost ignored it.

Meyer: I was 'verballed' by Murdoch ; [Eric Beecher, who runs four websites including the iconoclastic, said: Crickey I can't see a funding model for serious journalism in future, not one that will pay for large staffs with specialists, and foreign correspondents and stringers, everywhere. I can't see ads paying for big operations that costs tens of millions of dollars. Websites can attract millions but not the necessary tens of millions ]
• · Keeping Up with Class Actions: Reports, Legal Sites and Media Dragons of Note ; Harvard Law faculty votes for 'open access' to scholarly articles - In a move that will disseminate faculty research and scholarship as broadly as possible ; Blogging has become a mainstream method of communication...
• · Customers in shopping centres are having their every move tracked by a new type of surveillance that listens in on the whisperings of their mobile phones. The technology can tell when people enter a shopping centre, what stores they visit, how long they remain there, and what route they take as they walked around Every move tracked ; Related, also from Slashdot: Path Intelligence has developed a proprietary, patent-pending, new technlogy that is able to accurately locate mobile phones whilst indoors Path to Intelligence
• · · Canadian Lawrence Hill's THE BOOK OF NEGROES, about a West African girl sold into slavery in 18th-century South Carolina who eventually returns home, won the overall Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Tahmima Anam of Bangladesh won the Best First Book prize for A GOLDEN AGE. Someone Knows My Name ; Let me begin with a caveat to any and all who find these pages. Do not trust large bodies of water, and do not cross them. If you, Dear Reader, have an African hue and find yourself led toward water with vanishing shores, seize your freedom by any means necessary. And cultivate distrust of the colour pink. Pink is taken as the colour of innocence, the colour of childhood, but as it spills across the water in the light of the dying sun, do not fall into its pretty path. There, right underneath, lies a bottomless graveyard of children, mothers and men. I shudder to imagine all the Africans rocking in the deep. Every time I have sailed the seas, I have had the sense of gliding over the unburied. Some people call the sunset a creation of extraordinary beauty, and proof of God's existence. But what benevolent force would bewitch the human spirit by choosing pink to light the path of a slave vessel? Slavs
• · · · Literature can transmit what is best in us but with equal zeal and power can transmit what's worst in us. You'll find as much racism, sexism, cruelty and intolerance in literature as you'll find in the real world. Literature is beautiful and it is wise and it is foolish and it is cruel. Literature is a lot like us. Which is probably why I love it so. I'd like to thank also literature. ;
• · · · · ABCD: embracing a digital future
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has launched four new internet services, designed to explore the interactive possibilities offered by digital media, and to ‘connect with its audiences with distinctive, innovative, Australian content’. ABC Playback is an internet television service which offers, for the first time in Australia, full-screen definition and quality over an internet connection. The ABC’s website allows users to register for the beta-testing phase, which commenced on 26 March. ABC Playback initially comprises three channels:
• ABC Catch Up — showing recently aired programs from ABC TV;
• ABC Real — showing natural history programs and documentaries; and
• ABC Shop — showing ABC programs which can be purchased from the ABC’s website. ABC Managing Director Mark Scott on Digital Media Dragons; THE ABC plans to launch a breakfast television program on ABC2 as part of another push into digital media ABC woos internet viewers

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The public's right to know is being eroded by the proliferation of spin. IT'S not fashionable to say favourable things about the media. We are the people who sensationalise, quote out of context, live off negativity, criticise everyone but ourselves, beat-up stories, write piffle, lie, cheat, distort, and betray. Or as one writer put it: journalists are people who take in one another's washing and then sell it The dark craft of politics

Blog Rules Troubled waters: Thank god it's Friday?!
You may love it, you may hate it, but it has undoubtedly become an virtual icon, something you can't avoid. Blog and Matt … Will …

Those who possess power will surrender it only when they see that the costs - physical and psychological - of retaining it are higher than the costs of losing it.

• Deadspin founder takes job at New York magazine Going, Going, GONE! Deadspin Editor Quits ; [ON February 28, Matt Drudge, called the most powerful man in journalism, broke the story on his website that since before Christmas, Prince Harry, a junior officer in the Blues and Royal regiment, had been on a secret tour of duty in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Prince Harry and the chamber of secrets; Max Markson Why outsiders get such a hard time in Australia]
• · SOME ACCOUNTANTS MAY BE REQUIRED TO REGISTER AS LOBBYISTS The Federal Government has established a Register of Lobbyists It is a public document that contains information about lobbyists who make representations to Government on behalf of their clients. The Register will be fully operational from 1 July 2008. From that date, any lobbyist who wishes to contact a Government representative for the purpose of lobbying activities must be registered and must agree to comply with the requirements of the Lobbying Code of Conduct ; Facing the future of journalism
• · Is HRT good or bad? Who do we trust? ; Microscopic, high-tech "nanotubes" that are being made for use in a wide variety of consumer products cause the same kind of damage in the body as asbestos does, according to a study in mice that is raising alarms among workplace safety experts and others. Effects of Nanotubes May Lead to Cancer
• · · Housing affordability packages have been promised by both sides of politics for some time. All sorts of ideas have been canvassed: increasing the first home-owners grant, mortgage tax deductions, stamp duty holidays, more land releases. To the extent that most of these plans tend to increase demand for homes, they won't solve the problem. Unleased; I live in Vancouver, B.C. and have just read Wayne Errington's article regarding the effect of immigration on Australian housing prices Homing in on immigration
• · · · Strategic communications consultant Blogger - Trevor Cook writes: 70% of readers believe the garbage in surveys. Really.; SPIN. It's my favourite new word since I started going to the gym and engaging in this world of virtual cycling With the right spin-meister the most rotten of us can smell like a rose
• · · · · IT is every marketer's dream: an ad that makes the TV news, spreading its message to millions without an extra cent spent. Investigative journalist Bob Burton, author of 2007 book Inside Spin: The Dark Underbelly of the PR Industry, believes the use of VNRs by TV networks blurs the line between the two so much they can become indistinguishable. He estimates up to 200 VNRs, costing up to $20,000 each, are pumped out a year. Nevertheless, they remain one of the dirty little secrets of the industry PR handouts make the news; CONCERN over the print media's growing reliance on PR content has spiked again with this year's publication of Nick Davies' Flat Earth News, an examination of the British newspaper industry. Fearing the rise of 'churnalism'
• · · · · · You will remember last week we were talking about the £2,000 Dore "miracle cure" for dyslexia, invented by paint entrepreneur Wynford Dore Determined bloggers who blew whistle ; Uncommon, Commonsense: Twitter, social media, and unmashing the mashable Media Reform Is Finally Getting Some Attention