Monday, April 18, 2011

Soup and Salad: Breakfast with Roald Dahl, Dzanc Books Resurrects Reprints, Book Ads, Subtitles: Literature's New Flop Sweat?, Notable Novelists Card Game, Under the Jacket, Gorgeous "Required Reading"

On today's menu:

1.  Coming soon to a cereal box near you (if you live in Britain): Roald DahlThe Telegraph reports on the latest gimmick to encourage reading among pint-sized, sugar-buzzed rug rats:
The innovation is being pioneered by Puffin, which has struck a deal with the estate of Roald Dahl, the much loved children's author, and Asda, the supermarket. The excerpts from The Witches; The Twits, The BFG; Danny, the Champion of the World and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will appear on at least ten million boxes of cereal sold in Asda over the next few weeks. They will appear on the back of all of the supermarket's own-brand children's cereals, such as rice pops, frosted flakes and honey hoops.  The extracts are only a couple of hundreds of words long, but Francesca Dow, the managing director of Penguin's children books, which owns Puffin, said she hoped many would be intrigued enough to track down the whole book after reading the boxes.
Hey, I did the same thing as a kid back in the 60s.  But I mostly read about riboflavin, Trisodium Phosphate, and Red Dye #40.

2.  Everything old is new again over at Dzanc Books.  This time around, the innovative small press is launching a reprint series--or, as the publishers call it, a rEprint Series.  That emphasis on the "E" should clue you in to the fact that these resurrected treasures of literary fiction will come to us electronically, "available on all eReaders, including Kindle, Nook, Sony, Cybook, Jetbook and all others," according to publisher Dan Wickett.  Some titles are already locked in--including Town Smokes by Pinckney Benedict, Year of Fire by David Lynn and Alive and Dead in Indiana by Michael Martone--but Wickett tells us he's still on the hunt for more "great works of literary fiction that have either recently gone out of print and/or the author holds the eBook rights to and is looking for a publisher."  So, if you're an author and this shoe fits, or if you're a reader and have a title you'd like to see rEprinted, get in touch with Dzanc at

3.  At Three Guys One Book, Jason Rice makes a valid point about how publishers should be targeting their ads to online readers, specifically those who browse blogs:
Soon, the people who say, “I don’t go online to buy books” will die off. And people who find out about books because they read it on a blog, talked about it on Facebook, or used Twitter to blab about what book they love, will be the only thing driving book sales. Print magazines and newspapers are the VHS of today. It’s a joke to think they are not.
I've done my best to keep The Quivering Pen as uncluttered and ad-free as possible (earning a small pittance* by click-throughs to the titles linked to Amazon), but I enjoy the occasional banner ad at other sites--particularly Shelf Awareness, which does a great job of buzz-build for new and upcoming books.

4.  At The Millions, Bill Morris asks: Are Run-On Subtitles Literature's New Flop Sweat?   I would also add that long subtitles (predominantly on non-fiction books) are a waste of good design space.  Sure, some of them are laced with humor and irony, but let's be honest: 20-word book titles are cumbersome as a backpack full of boulders.  With a very few exceptions, no one ever remembers what comes after the colon and we all end up referring to the book by its left-of-the-colon title anyway.

5.  Have you heard about the new card game Notable Novelists?  Based on the classic "Go Fish" game, players collect sets of three cards (Author, Library and Bio) depicting writers like Flannery O'Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway and (believe it or not) Roberto Bolano.  Great idea, but I'm still reluctant to surrender my cherished Authors card game, which I spent hours upon hours playing as a kid.  It's the first place I ever heard of Idylls of the King and Atlas Shrugged and I'm sure it laid the foundation for my lifelong love of Dickens.

6.  Remember The Silent Land, the novel I mentioned in the last edition of Front Porch Books?  Lisa Peet at Like Fire has the inside scoop on the jacket design.

7.  And, finally, from the Department of I Want come these limited-edition prints which are part of the "Required Reading" exhibit at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles.  Will someone please loan me $500 so I can buy these?  (Click on the images to enlarge)

"Moby" by Ken Taylor
"Velveteen Rabbit" by James Flames
"Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Jason Edmiston
"Walden" by JC Richard
"At the Mountains of Madness" by Mike King

*Enough to make Oliver Twist look like a member of the gentry.


  1. David, after I read your request for a loan and began looking down through the prints, I was about to say, "Sure, I'll loan you $500...if I had it. But then I saw Walden, and, well, now I can't loan the money to you. Sorry. Gotta find someone to lend me the money so I can buy that one. I don't live all that far from Walden. It's just a bit bigger than the pond I live on. Yeah, we're confused about our ponds here. Great post, by the way.

  2. Love Walden...that's a beautiful image.