SHAUN SMITH'S SUNDAY SUNDRIES

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A WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF INTERNET CURIOSITIES FROM THE BOOK WORLD

Betting on C
You gotta love the Brits with their bookmaking on the Man Booker prize. Remember in 2002 when the Booker people accidentally announced on their website a few days in advance of the official announcement that Yann Martel was that year's winner? It was an error which saw British bookmakers suspend betting on that year's contest. Well, while no such error has been made this year, it seems that some Brit bookies have nonetheless become wary about this year's contest. As reported in The Guardian, the bookmaker Ladbrokes suspended betting on the Man Booker after receiving a whopping £15,000 in bets last Wednesday morning for Tom McCarthy's C. (Well, he certainly gets my bet.)

Philip Roth doesn't think your kids will read novels
Apparently Philip "Nostradamus" Roth has seen the future, and he says it doesn't include novels (see the third video here). Isn't it amazing how stupid supposedly intelligent people can sometimes be?

The ship is sinking, it really is
There's a really fascinating, if somewhat geeky discussion taking place on the Publishers Weekly blog about formatting poetry for e-books. Yeah, yeah, I know, it sounds about as exciting as having your taxes done by your dentist. But the truth is, the discussion — born when PW blogger Craig Morgan Teicher discovered a bogusly formatted electronic edition of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" — cuts to the very heart of what is happening in the world of literature and books. You see, as I've mentioned before on this blog, with the digitization of books, we are witnessing the separation by force of the word from the page. But Ginsberg, like so many other poets, wrote for the page, for the piece of paper, that is. To convert "Howl" into a computer file that can be displayed on a smart phone, tablet or other computer, the text has to be formatted in HTML, which does not behave like a typewriter, let alone like a pen. In formatting "Howl" for e-readers, the poem's publisher — Harper Collins — disregarded Ginsberg's liniation of the poem and thus grossly degraded the poet's work. It may seem like a trivial matter to those who don't care about the value of an artist's vision, but for those who do, it's an abomination. Unfortunately, the transition from paper to screen is going to see a lot of such carelessness. That's because the people who care about books are people who care about the printed page, about the piece of paper with ink on it. People who care about e-books are people who care about coding, and there is no reason to expect them to care about the printed page. They need to be told by the people who care about the printed page what has to happen digitally to preserve an artist's vision. Of course, you'd think someone at Harper Collins would be on this, but somehow I don't think the people at the helm over there really give a rat's arse about such matters.

"We sat drinking excessive champagne for a while and talking to some of the guests there until I realised just how dull it all was."
Here's the hilarious story of the guy who stole Franzen's glasses, told by the guy himself.

"When I find a good one, I get a little feeling of violent achievement"
Here's a great read by a used book dealer who obviously hates himself.

Ever wonder what lighthouse keepers did for fun?
They read books, of course.

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