Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

Share |

Sawing at the branch...
Continuing its breakneck book-coverage pace of...er...one article per month (or thereabouts), CBC.ca turned its attention recently to the Espresso Book Machine. You know, that lumbering mass of widgets that can bind together photocopies. The future, ladies and gents, has arrived. Remind me again, please, just how long did it take to refine the book-publishing and printing process?

Biting at the hand...
Nicholson Baker provides an answer of sorts to the above question in his long essay about the Amazon Kindle in the New Yorker. "A century and a half of evolved beauty and informational expressiveness is all but entirely rinsed away in this digital reduction," he screeds. (Yeah yeah, I know it's not a verb.) Now you can conveniently read Baker's hatred of all thing Digindle (that's Digital + Kindle, folks) for free on your digital interface of choice.

Kicking at the pricks...
Meanwhile, a high-school kid in Michigan has launched a class action suit against Amazon for hacking his kindle and yanking an edition of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four off the device. According to Geek.com and AFP, when Amazon pulled its little stunt recently — reminding people everywhere what it means to actually own a book — Justin Gawronski's summer homework assignment was ruined because he had made various notes in the Kindle about the Orwell book. Without the text, the notes were useless. According to Geek.com, his lawyer contends that Amazon had "had no more right to hack into people’s kindles than its customers have the right to hack into Amazon’s bank account to recover a mistaken overpayment.”

Living in the clouds...
Meanwhile, Google Books geek Dan Clancy, the behemoth's engineering director, shares his love of bricks'n'mortar bookstores over on mediabistro. Here's Clancy's vision of the future: "So part of our model is to figure out [how] we're going to syndicate for our partner program all of the books we sell that are new, so that any bookstore can sell a Google edition and find a way that people can buy them in bricks and mortar stores as well." Oh, so warm and fuzzy, Dan! Google loves books after all! Why do I feel like the history and future of all human thought is in dire jeopardy? Maybe it's because he followed up with this: "Our model is some people will read [our books] on a laptop, some will read them on the phone, some people will read on their netbook, and some people will read on their e-reader. And we'll work with any reader provider that wants to make it so they can get their books from the Google cloud." Er, um, didn't he forget to mention actual books — ie: ink on paper? What does he think bricks'n'mortar sells?

Chomping at the bit...
Meanwhile, writing workshops keep pumping out sadly deluded dreamers...er...I mean talented young scribes who are going to become literary stars with advances much, much, much bigger than mine someday. (Not so difficult, actually.) The National Post's latest instalment of their "Ecology of Books" series takes a look at the writing schools.

Dying in obscurity...
Meanwhile, the above aspiring scribes might want to have a scan of the Wall Street Journal's obit of professional ghostwriter Sandford Dody, who penned soul-destroying autobios for the likes of Bette Davis and Judy Garland. Yes, scribes, this IS how some of you will be paying the rent in the future. That is, if you are good and lucky.

Monkeying around...
Meanwhile, and just for fun, Boing Boing provides a list of books about people who've raised monkeys in their houses. (Hey, don't ask me!)

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Shaun Smith

Shaun Smith is a novelist and journalist living in Toronto. His young adult novel Snakes & Ladders was published in January 2009 by the Dundurn Group.

Go to Shaun Smith ’s Author Page