* Literary agent Jane Dystel: “All of this makes me think that my colleagues on the publishing side have lost sight of the fact that in these new wild, wild west days in publishing, this is the time for them to take more, not fewer, risks. Taking risks has always been what the business of publishing is all about. There are no sure winners, guys, and the more fearful and cautious you get, the more authors will want to publish on their own—and won’t need you anymore.”
* Reminder: in the age of the death of the book, “Publishers sold 2.57 billion books in all formats in 2010, a 4.1 percent increase since 2008. (See also: Umberto Eco and Jean Claude Carriere, This is Not the End of the Book, which is actually about a wide array of topics ancillary to the death, life, or zombiehood of books.)
* Text Slang for Adults. Sample: “NSR = Need some roughage”; “T4W = Time for whiskey.”
* Lev Grossman on writing The Magician King: “when you’re in a certain phase of novel-making, you’re like a magpie: when something gleams at you funny, you swoop down and grab it and take it back to your nest, because you know, you just know, you’re going to need it later.”
* This may be the most impressive blog comment I’ve ever read (it’s from Cory Doctorow):
Education is a public good. It is best supplied and paid for by the group as a whole, because no individual or small collective can produce the overall social benefit that the nation can provision collectively.
Education doesn’t respond well to market forces because many of the social goods that arise from education — socialization, a grounding in civics, historical context, rational and systematic reasoning — are not goods or services demanded by a market, but rather they are the underlying substrate that allows people to intelligently conduct transactions in a marketplace as well as establishing and maintaining good governance.
There is a long and wide body of evidence that people with wide, solid educational foundations that transcend mere vocational skills produce societies that are more prosperous, more transparent, healthier, more democratic — that attain, in short, all the things we hope markets will attain for us.
* If you can get FiOS, you should. Tucson’s Internet access choices are so bad that I effectively have a choice between Comcast, which offers ~12mb / sec down and ~2mb / sec up, and nothing. I saw “nothing” because Qwest offers “DSL” at 1.5mb / sec down, which would’ve been great in, say, 1999, but is terrible now. I actually sent an e-mail to Qwest Arizona president Jim Campbell asking if Qwest was actually going to roll out real competition in my area. To Qwest’s credit, his administrative assistant, Deborah Statt, replied and said there wouldn’t be any improvement in 2010. Also to Qwest’s credit, she’s followed-up consistently. Alas, however, responsiveness doesn’t mean improvement, and I’m still stuck with Comcast.
* Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union comes to life, at least in terms of villains.
* PicPlum calls itself “the easiest way to send photos.” I ordered some; we’ll see how it goes.
* We’ll Show You Ours if You Show Us Yours; “we thought it would be fun to round up the favorite dirty books of some of our most illustrious literary critics at The Times. Below, their spicy replies.”
* Someone found Grant Writing Confidential by searching for “secrets to writing like dan brown.” I would start by being incoherent on the level of the sentence.