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Book News Roundup: The Bill Gates Book Club is now in session

  • Here's a friendly reminder that the Seattle City of Literature party is happening tonight at the downtown library. If you're not sure why this is a big deal, Brangien Davis, the arts and culture writer at Crosscut, interviewed me about why I believe Seattle's UNESCO Creative Cities status is so important.

  • Vladimir Verano, who created the Third Place Press shingle at Third Place Books, has struck out on his own. His new design and consulting firm, VertVolta Design & Press, will work with authors to create self-published books of professional quality. Send him an email for more information.

  • As per annual tradition, Bill Gates has released his top 5 books for summer reading. In this hugely overproduced video, Gates says he admires Abraham Lincoln "and the tough things he faced." I kid, but the books he selects are all pretty good:

  • Meanwhile, great Seattle teacher and activist Jesse Hagopian has a suggestion or two for Bill's Book Club:
  • It looks like Amazon's e-comics sales and distribution platform, Comixology, is getting into the comics publishing business. They've got a big announcement coming on June 1st, and Heidi MacDonald at The Beat seems to think they've signed up some big-name creators to produce work for them. Amazon hasn't really made much of a dent in traditional publishing with their in-house presses, but the comics industry has been held hostage by a monopolistic distribution model for decades now. Could Amazon take over the comics industry by bypassing comics shops? I'd give them pretty good odds.

Book News Roundup: Ebooks run amuck

  • Are you familiar with The Humble Bundle, which sells online items — often games or pieces of software — for charity? The current Humble Bundle features up to $445 worth of sci-fi ebooks to celebrate the 2018 Nebula Awards. You can buy various tiers of books starting at a buck, but I'd urge you to splurge on the $20 or more bundle, which includes some great books including James Morrow's Only Begotten Daughter, which is one of my most-loved reading experiences of all time. And when we're talking about books that I love, this bundle also features Carol Emshwiller's The Mount, which is a favorite reading experience of mine.

  • How are ebooks really selling? According to Quartz's Thu-Thuong Ha, the answer is complicated, and it involves Amazon's shitty business practices.

  • Speaking of Amazon, it looks like they're shutting down Kindle Worlds, which was supposed to be an officially sanctioned fan-fiction outlet for intellectual property including Veronica Mars, GI Joe, and, weirdly, the works of Kurt Vonnegut.

  • Anyone know where I can find a copy of this book?

Book News Roundup: New seasons from Seattle Arts & Lectures and Book-It

  • Last night, Seattle Arts and Lectures announced a large part of their 2018-2019 season, which opens this fall. It's a pretty fantastic collection of big names (Doris Kearns Goodwin, Barbara Kingsolver) and hot contemporary authors (Tayari Jones, author of the Oprah-approved An American Marriage) and up-and-coming authors (Valeria Luiselli). They'll also host a special series to investigate and celebrate journalism, with guests including Van Jones and newspapermen Dean Baquet and Marty Baron. Upcoming poets include Alice Walker (!!) and Solmaz Sharif and Ilya Kaminsky. Read more and order tickets through SAL's website.

  • Book-It Repertory Theatre's 2018-2019 season has also been announced, and upcoming plays include Jane Eyre, My Ántonia, and American Junkie. Read more on Book-It's site.

  • As you likely have seen by now, Amazon is holding the city's economy hostage in order to protest the City Council's proposed head tax on big business. The tax, which would only be levied on the largest companies in Seattle, would likely cost Amazon 20 to 25 million dollars a year. Jeff Bezos reportedly makes 25 million dollars every two hours. Over at the South Seattle Emerald, an editor's note suggests that the city should call Amazon's bluff. I agree. Amazon has inspired a large share of this city's growing pains; it's time they pay for the solutions to the problems they've caused.

  • Here's a good interview with Seattle author Charles Johnson, whose new book of short stories, Night Hawks, is out this month.

  • Seattle Pacific University is hosting an all-day publishing bootcamp this Saturday. More information here.

  • There are scholarships available for a June class about writing inclusive fiction taught by K. Tempest Bradford and Seattle Review of Books columnist Nisi Shawl. Get on that.

  • Yeah, now everyone is on the "save Barnes & Noble" train. I agree that it would be calamitous for this country if Barnes & Noble went out of business, but I'm not sure anything can be done to save the chain now. They seem to be swallowing their own tail; I've seen too many bookstores start this death spiral to be too hopeful for the future of Barnes & Noble.

Book News Roundup: Today in books on TV...

  • This morning, the King County Library System announced that they would be producing a new monthly show titled King County Reads airing on King County TV. As the Kent Reporter writes:
“King County Reads” episodes will be taped at many of the 48 community libraries throughout the area. The program showcases topics related to reading, including author interviews, library programs, digital reading resources and book recommendations.
Jonathan Majors (Hostiles) is set as the lead opposite Jurnee Smollett-Bell in HBO’s high-profile straight-to-series drama Lovecraft Country, from Oscar winner Jordan Peele and his Monkeypaw Productions, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, Misha Green and Warner Bros Television.
  • The Seattle Public Library's Shelf Talk blog lists some of May's most celebrated literary holidays. Did you know that May has a whole day to honor the limerick? And that this month has a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-themed holiday?

  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced in an interview that he's so rich — as the world's first triple-digit billionaire — that he can only think of one thing to do with his money: "“The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel,” Bezos said in the interview. Ann Eleven at Electric Literature offers up some alternate ideas for Bezos to spend his cash on, including housing the homeless, funding libraries, and providing clean water to Flint, Michigan. Also, I offered up an alternate idea on Twitter:

Book News Roundup: Get Moss, Talk to Books, and guess how much e-book sales dropped by last year

In Talk to Books, when you type in a question or a statement, the model looks at every sentence in over 100,000 books to find the responses that would most likely come next in a conversation. The response sentence is shown in bold, along with some of the text that appeared next to the sentence for context.
  • I asked Talk to Books some book-centric questions. Here are some answers:

  • And for fun:

Book News Roundup: City Arts wants you as a member

There are over 300 services listed in the guide. The print run of 40,000 copies will be available at over 75 locations around the city including through human service agencies, first responders, and the Seattle Public Library. Both the Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s Departments will receive copies to assist people in finding needed services. Real Change vendors will also have access to a few copies per day to share with people in need.
  • CROWDFUNDING ALERT: City Arts magazine is shifting to a nonprofit, and they're running an Indiegogo campaign to make the leap. The monthly magazine is seeking members to help support a "more robust digital footprint" and "more events." This city is seriously lacking in multidisciplinary arts coverage, and losing City Arts would be a disaster. If you can, kick in.

  • CROWDFUNDING ALERT, PART DEUX: In more fun crowdfunding news, Emerald City Comicon founder Jim Demonakos is Kickstarting an updated version of those old-school spinner racks that drugstores used to sell comics from. "The Classic Comic Book Spinner Rack" will come in black and white, it will hold all types of comics, and it will be "whisper-quiet." This project has already been funded, but you can buy your rack over here.

  • El Diablo Coffee, the delightful coffee shop right next to Queen Anne Book Company, has to move. Read the whole frustrating tale at Seattle Eater. No trip to QABC is complete without a short, sweet Cuban coffee from El Diablo.

  • At Library Journal, Matt Enis offers a librarian's perspective on Amazon's creepy always-on Alexa devices.

Contois does acknowledge that these devices also present privacy and security concerns that new adopters may not fully understand. “We make them aware that they may want to become more knowledgeable about that,” he says. “We do ask patrons, before returning them to the library, to reset everything to the factory settings.”
  • Every year at this time, comics shop retailers gather to discuss how their industry is doing. Heidi MacDonald at The Beat reports that this has been a tough year for the industry:
Every retailer I chatted with knew of a shop that had closed, often down the road. The reasons aren’t always simple, though. This shop had its lease raised. This shop expanded too fast. That one’s owner just decided it was time to pack it in.

Book News Roundup: Double your donation to Hugo House

Book News Roundup: Tired of writing? Try writing near tires.

  • Did you know that you can help young users of the Seattle Public Library "regain access to the Library's resources by paying for borrowed materials that were misplaced or lost?" Yep! Help a kid get a fresh start through the Seattle Public Library Foundation's Fresh Start page.

  • Last week, the National Book Foundation announced the judges of their 2018 National Book Awards. This year, the Foundation is introducing a new award for translated literature, and there's a Seattle connection to the new category. Elliott Bay Book Company events coordinator Karen Maeda Allman is one of the five translated literature judges, which means she's going to be reading a whole lot of work in translation over the next few months. Congratulations to Karen!

  • Donald Trump is good for the feminist bookstore business.

  • Readers are more creative and successful, according to a new study. But you already knew that.

  • Here's a great look at gender equality and cartooning from New Yorker cartoonist Liza Donnelly:

  • The AV Club looks back on the big mystery that was the secret identity of the anonymous author of the Bill Clinton roman á clef Primary Colors. For one brief moment in 1996, all of America was trying to figure out who wrote a novel about politics, of all things.

  • This tire shop that helped a writer overcome writers block really ought to consider making a title of "Official Tires Tires Tires Writer in Residence."

Book News Roundup: A correction, a cabaret, and a circle of critics

  • First, let's begin with a correction. In this week's Event of the Week column, I credited the Dock Street Salon solely to Dock Street Press publisher Dane Bahr. In fact, Bahr co-hosts the salon with Seattle author and publisher Heather Jacobs. And this week's edition of the Salon was entirely curated and coordinated by Jacobs, not Bahr. I sincerely apologize to Jacobs for getting that wrong, and I've amended the listing to give her proper credit.

  • Here's a last-minute event you ought to know about: The Bell & Battery Cabaret is a variety show that's happening at the Rendezvous at 8 pm tonight, and twice on both Saturday and Sunday. Performers include Markeith Wiley and Ade, and the show also features Seattle poet Shin Yu Pai, who says she will "read a commissioned poem about nightclub singer Pat Suzuki and also sing a song." You've got five chances to see this one, so get to it.

  • Did you see the Pew poll about American reading habits? Turns out one in five Americans regularly listen to audio books, almost 75 percent of Americans read a book last year, and print books aren't going anywhere:

Some 39% of Americans say they read only print books, while 29% read in these digital formats and also read print books. Just 7% of Americans say they only read books in digital formats and have not read any print books in the past 12 months.
  • This year's National Book Critics Circle Award winners include Improvement by Joan Silber, Whereas by Layli Long Soldier, and Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser.

Book News Roundup: Rise of the machines

All that autumn and winter she tended the flower. After the petals faded and fell, slender leaves speared up, glowing with life and green throughout the cold winter. She fed the flower her secrets, burying them one by one, and watered it with drops of her blood, red as the flower had been, because there was no death in the garden, and the flower, her grandmother had said, needed death to live.
The automated store even features a robot who is touted as a key feature of the store. Although she didn't find the store's prices to be competitive, customer Mrs. Zhang commended its automated worker, saying that "the interaction with the store's robot is something worth experiencing, especially for the children."

Book News Roundup: Get ready for a sci-fi reading (with beer)

  • Next Tuesday, outstanding sci-fi writing organization Clarion West is hosting a reading and open mic at Naked City in Greenwood. First, the open mic will encourage people to share short works, and then local sci-fi authors Randy Henderson, Seanan McGuire, Evan Peterson, and E. Lily Yu take over the stage. Tickets are ten bucks, and it benefits the Clarion West Writers Workshop. I hope you'll consider coming out and supporting emerging sci-fi writers.

  • At Seattle Magazine, Erica C. Barnett wrote about a Seattle Public Library employee who was stuck with a needle in a library bathroom. Unlike other library systems, SPL doesn't provide sharps containers — and for the most maddening reason in the world:

[SPL Spokesperson Andra] Addison says there’s a simple reason that the library doesn’t provide sharps containers for drug users: “We don’t allow illegal drug use in the library. It’s against our rules of conduct.” Providing sharps containers would be a tacit acknowledgement that people are using drugs at the library in violation of those rules.
  • Okay, look. In a perfect world, nobody would suffer from opioid addiction. But we do not live in a perfect world. This dumb head-in-the-sand policy is endangering our librarians, and SPL needs to reassess their responsibility to their employees immediately. Thanks to Barnett for the great reporting.

  • Great news! We told you a couple months back that West Seattle coffeeshop C&P Coffee, home to the Words West readings series, was in danger of closing unless they could raise the funds to save the site from development. They have successfully raised the money, which means C&P isn't going anywhere. Thanks to all who helped.

  • Last week, Capitol Hill Seattle Blog talked with Elliott Bay Book Company manager Tracy Taylor about the bookstore's upcoming SeaTac outlet.

Book News Roundup: Did you need another reason to love Dolly Parton?

  • Emerald City Comicon is coming this weekend! The fantastic Sarah Anne Lloyd at Curbed compiled a handy list of Seattle-area comics shops to visit over the weekend. I have to admit, I had never heard of Burien's Ancient Comics until I read this list and now I can't wait to check it out.

  • The Seattle Public Library's Shelf Talk Blog is celebrating ECCC with a list of worldbuilding comics, including Faith Erin Hicks's excellent Nameless City series.

  • Applications close tomorrow for Clarion West's summer workshops. If you're an aspiring sci-fi writer, you should get involved with Clarion West; they're an amazing resource.

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing a Captain America series. The first issue will be published on July 4th.

  • Fantasy author Terry Goodkind became an internet villain this week when he encouraged his fans to mock his most recent book cover, which was illustrated by Bastien Lecouffe Deharme. I've literally never heard of an author shitting on his own book cover in public. Goodkind is known as an Ayn Rand acolyte; it's not too surprising that he has no idea how to act like a decent human being.

  • But let's not dwell on the horrible people in the world. Let's celebrate the truly great human beings out there, like Dolly Parton. Why am I talking about Dolly Parton on a book site? Because of this story from the Washington Post: Parton just donated her hundred millionth book. Yes, her 100,000,000th book.

Parton is the founder of Imagination Library, a nonprofit that started out donating books in Sevier County, Tenn., and grew into a million-book-a-month operation. Families who sign up receive a book per month from birth to kindergarten. The singer donated her organization’s 100 millionth book to the nation’s library on Tuesday.

Book News Roundup: Elliott Bay Book Company goes to the airport

  • Buried in this South Sound Magazine story about new additions to SeaTac International Airport by Kirsten Abel, there's a piece of news that Seattle Review of Books readers will be especially interested to hear. A ton of local restaurants are opening in SeaTac over the next few years, but SeaTac will also be home to an outpost of the Elliott Bay Book Company. This move has a local precedent, of course: Portland indie bookstore Powell's has an airport outpost, too. I'm incredibly excited to see bookseller-approved selections at SeaTac, rather than the usual Hudson News monotony.

  • Yesterday, I chatted on Facebook Live with Evergrey cofounder Monica Guzman about three spring books I'm looking forward to reading over the next three months.

  • West Seattle Blog's Tracy Record wrote an excellent post about Pulitzer Prizewinning novelist Colson Whitehead's visit to a West Seattle high school.

  • We're very excited to hear that civil rights legend Representative John Lewis has announced a second comics trilogy to pair with his March series. The new trilogy, about his life in politics, is cleverly titled Run.

  • Fuck off forever, Milo.

Book News Roundup: Tacoma park honoring Frank Herbert to open this year

  • We first told you about this seven months ago, and now it's officially a reality: Tacoma has named a new park after the life and works of sci-fi author Frank Herbert. "Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park" is an 11-acre park featuring "Frank Herbert Trail." Tacoma Metro Parks commissioner Erik Hanberg told the News Tribune that Herbert's “experiences in Tacoma shaped his appreciation for the delicate balance of nature, so it feels right to attach his name to a park that reclaims toxic land.” The park is set to open by late summer or fall. We'll let you know when it opens, and we'll take a field trip down to check it out.

  • Susan Fried at the South Seattle Emerald writes about how the Somali community in south Seattle got together with Seattle Public Libraries, Seattle Public Schools, and the Seattle Housing Authority to create a children's book that celebrates Somali culture and language. The book will soon be available in libraries and schools around the nation.

  • A stronger man than I would be able to resist the urge to refer to this post as "Poetry in Motion:"

Book News Roundup: Opportunities including Fellowship Awards, a coworking space, and a book club

It is with a heavy heart that I must report THE FAMILIAR has been paused. There’s no denying the intense readership that showed up for this endeavor: bright, ambitious, inspiring, inquisitive, compassionate, rare, energetic, involved, brave, funny too, and most of all beautifully aware. Unfortunately, I must agree with Pantheon that for now the number of readers is not sufficient to justify the cost of continuing. If there is solace, find it with her: Xanther remains our new storm, VEM’s as real as any sky, and Redwood depends on no book by me to harrow this world. Read well and live well, then you will love well. The rest is in the wind. . . . . . . . . . #thefamiliar #seasonone #beahymnforgood #markzdanielewski #houseofleaves #onlyrevolutions #thefiftyyearsword

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Book News Roundup: Support a cartoonist, say goodbye to Zanadu, and read the fast-food Fire and Fury

  • Seattle cartoonist Sarah Glidden launched a Patreon. For just a buck a month, Glidden will give you access to her diary comics. Glidden notes that her personal comics lately have been about her pregnancy and impending motherhood, and "I thought it would be nice to have a little more of an intimate space for posting comics of such a personal nature." Glidden has already produced two books of excellent comics journalism, and these personal strips give her an opportunity to share a different kind of story.

  • Over at Seattle Refined, William Harris mourns the slow passing of downtown comics shop Zanadu Comics. The store closes on January 28th.

  • At City Arts, Margo VanSynghel interviews Seattle author Ijeoma Oluo, whose book So You Want to Talk About Race was published last Tuesday.

  • What happens if you load Fire and Fury and a bunch of fast food advertising copy into an artificial intelligence? You get sentences like: "As the Russia investigation seemed to be a problem for Donald, he told Priebus to get fifty more chocolaty-chip cookies shaped like the White House to try to create confusion over which was the one with the President in it."

  • This, via AbeBooks, is simply stunning:

Book News Roundup: Dune Night redux, Seattle Public Library gets nerdy, and more

  • If you follow comics in Seattle, you probably know about Dune Night, the comics jam that happened regularly at Cafe Racer. Since the future of Cafe Racer is in doubt, Dune Night has been on hiatus. But there's no room for a hiatus in our hearts! Tomorrow night, the Leary Traveler in Ballard presents an art show of some of the best Dune Night pieces from 6 to 9. Expect many Duners (Duniacs? Dunes and Dunettes? Artists who have created work at Dune Night?) to be in attendance. The show will be up at Leary Traveler for at least a month.

  • Shelf Talk, the Seattle Public Library's blog, interviewed new Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda about the book that has been most influential in her career.

  • Emerald City Comicon is teaming up with the Seattle Public Library to bring comics education-themed programming to the library on Thursday, March 1st, including a number of panels on how to incorporate comics into literacy programs. ECCC says "An ECCC Professional Badge is required to attend ECCC at The Seattle Public Library. Pro Badges are free of charge to educators and librarians."

  • Bookselling Without Borders is now providing a scholarship to "send booksellers on all-expenses-paid trips to the world’s premier book fairs, including the Turin Book Fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the Guadalajara International Book Fair." They are accepting scholarship applications between now and February 28th. If you're a bookseller and you'd like to connect to the larger international bookselling community, you should apply.

Book News Roundup: A King of Joy, a book bunker, and a chance to win a Washington State Book Award

  • Congratulations to You Private Person author Richard Chiem, whose debut novel, King of Joy, has been bought by Soft Skull Press. According to the press info, it's "a story of survival and revenge, which follows a woman whose grief for her dead husband leads her to a pronographers underground studio in the woods."

  • On their site today, Capitol Hill Seattle blog highlights newly reopened used bookstore Horizon Books. Tonight from 5 to 9, Horizon is featuring a spoken word reading with music and art from Rani Laik. CHS reports that Horizon's goal is to build "the most strange & unique book bunkers in all of Seattle."

  • If you're a Washington state author who published a book in the year 2017, you should submit your book right now to the Washington State Book Awards. The deadline is February 1st, so get down to it.

Book News Roundup: A new Seattle-area magazine! A new book from Ellen Forney! The same terrible old president!

  • It's not very often that a new media outlet debuts in Seattle, so let's pay attention to Unite Seattle, which went live today. They publish coverage of arts and news in Seattle with an eye toward LGBTQ issues — and they have a dedicated books page!

  • The president of the United States of America is still whining about how he should be able to ban a book because he doesn't like it.

Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness so we’re going to take a strong look at that... We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts.
  • The year 2018 is not entirely a loss, friends. Seattle cartoonist Ellen Forney is publishing a book in May! From her Instagram, we get a sneak peek at the mockup of the cover:

Book News Roundup: Restaurant suggestions from David Sedaris

PageBoy Magazine is now accepting submissions for our upcoming (tenth!) issue. We are following our Writers on Writers issue with an issue devoted exclusively to 17 word poems, or "17s" ... Please send 5-10 of your best works in prose or poetry - as long as each is exactly and only 17 words short - to pageboymagazine@hotmail.com by March 15, 2018. We are open to any style, any voice, as long as it "works," so do whatever you like with the form. We're curious to see what you come up with!
  • The submission request goes on to explain that "17s are an old form, invented at Harry's Bar on 15th Ave E in Seattle during the fall of 2016." They "consist simply of 17 words, that is their ONLY constraint." I can't wait to see this issue.

  • The South Seattle Emerald interviews Alvin “LA” Horn, a self-described "grown and sexy" novelist from South Seattle who's reading at Third Place Books Seward Park on January 15th.

  • If you have a high tolerance for internet slideshows, the Seattle PI has a slideshow of the Seattle Public Library's most checked-out books of 2017 and it's very interesting.

  • There are a handful of tickets available to see David Sedaris read at Broadway Performance Hall tonight and tomorrow.

  • Speaking of Sedaris: earlier this week, he visited Poppy, a very good restaurant on Capitol Hill. They posted his suggestion card, which is packed with good advice. The real question is: why doesn't David Sedaris run a restaurant?