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Well that’s one way to increase funding…

February 6, 2012

I hardly ever see commercials these days, but fate was on my side the other week. I happened to be watching TV at a friend’s house when this ad came on. I laughed so hard.

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Happy 235th Jane!

December 17, 2010

The poster girl for literary spinsterhood turns 235 today, and tributes have been pouring in from all over the bloggosphere – even Google UK did a doodle to mark the occasion. I too thought I would contribute my commemorations, and take my lead from Jane Greensmith over at Reading, Writing, Working, Playing and write about my Austen Epiphany.

My first Austen was Northanger Abbey, and at about 11 or 12 it was the first grown-up book I ever read. I wish I could say there was a worthy reason why I was drawn to it, but I must confess that it was the cover – lots of women in pretty dressed – that made me pick it up from the one spinning rack of “adult” books in the school library (then as now that’s enough to get me to at least read the blurb).  I had previously tried to read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, giving up upon encountering the mystifying word “marrows” (in all honesty I’m still not entirely sure what a marrow is…), but despite not understanding a great deal of Northanger, I persevered as Catherine Morland appealed to my over imaginative self.  Not being fully versed in the nuances of satire or the Gothic novel,  I approaching the story with the same sort of naiveté Cathy does, becoming disabused about everyones faults along with her, and savouring all the balls and over-the-top haunted house drama.

Even though it would be many years before I read Austen and understood her, I was hooked.  I like Northanger even better now than when I first read it,  but even as I giggle at Austen’s spot on skewering of teenage fancy and literary romanticism, part of me wishes I could be that precocious eleven-year old again, enjoying a ripping yarn and discovering the greatest English novelist for the first time.

You had me at “KHAAAAAAN!”

September 14, 2010

On the whole I am not keen on book trailers.  While, from a marketing standpoint,  I see their use,  they tend to be so badly done that they do the book they represent a disservice.  They stem from the mistaken belief common amongst advertising types that if you post a lousy video on Youtube it will inevitably go viral and sell millions of copies of your book, and Canadians, I may report with mixed feelings, are leading the way. Nine times out of ten these trailers are rubbish, but every now and then an exception to the rule turns up.  Behold the nerdy awesomeness which is the book trailer for Quirk Book’s Night of the Living Trekkies.  I’m not much of a zombie fan, and even I want to read this book now.  Heck,  I want somebody to option the movie rights!

Plagiarism Video

June 11, 2010

Taking about plagiarism is boring.  But you know what isn’t boring?  SINGING about plagiarism.  Only the Norwegians, eh?…

What’s Next? APA Style Guide: The Musical?

Covering all the Bases

May 31, 2010

“Never judge a book by its cover” the old adage says,  but people do, so book jackets are designed to appeal.  The point of a book cover is to grab a potential reader’s attention,  to get them to think “hey, this looks like something I might like to read.”.  It’s therefor interesting when the same book, the same product, is spun in a different way to appeal to a different audience, simply by a change of cover.  Perhaps the most famous instance in recent history are the various Adult, English, and American Harry Potter covers.   I ran into another interesting example at work today while putting together a poster to promote the 2010 Arthur Ellis award winners.  Alan Bradly’s splendid The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie naturally won the best first novel award, and in searching for images for our poster,  I discovered that it’s been published with several different covers in other locations, all of which are up on the book’s website.  I found this multitude of covers surprising because the Canadian cover – the vibrant  apple-y green one – was what tempted me to pick up the book (i.e. pinch it from mum’s “to be read” pile), and still grabs my attention when browsing.  The sheer number of international licensees is staggering,  as is the diversity of the covers.  Falvia’s a doppelgänger for Wednesday Addams on the German, a cutsy-sweet girl detective in Portugal, and a nascient blond bombshell in Asia. The Brits have two covers, a dead crow on the hardcover and a rambling country house on the paperback.   The Hebrew cover is the creepiest – a dead body lying in the cucumber patch.   I leave it up to you to decide what each of these covers say about their target market.

The Professionals

May 13, 2010

Ryan Deschamps posted a very thought-provoking article on The Other Librarian about “Ten Reasons Why ‘Professional Librarian’ is an Oxymoron”.  His ten reasons are compelling ones, but there are a couple points that I’d like to address in detail.

Obviously point #8 (Accredited Library Schools Do Not Adequately Prepare Students for Library Work) strikes a cord with me.  I mean, no duh.  Library school is useless.  But that doesn’t mean we aren’t a profession:  it just means that we’re a profession whose leaders and educators need to figure out what the heck they want to be.  Currently library schools are torn between meeting the demands of students to providing them with the skills they need to get a job, and the school’s desire for the prestige and funding which comes from fostering theoretical research in information science.

The split personality of the modern MLIS is partly the fall-out from point #3 (Librarianship is Too Generalized to Claim Any Expertise).  Deschamps argues “The issue is that librarians, rather than having a specific area of expertise, actually need surface knowledge of variety of things – management, technology, community development and so on”. To some extent this is true; jack of all trades, master of none sums up the role of many librarians nicely.  But most jobs these days require you to be a bit of an all-rounder.  And we do have an area of expertise; we manage and connect people with information, and we do that better than anyone else.

A lack of expertise leads into point #4 (‘Librarian’ Assumes a Place of Work, Rather than the Work Itself). According to Deschamps Librarianship is “not an activity, but a product or service” and this excludes us from being professionals.  I would argue, however, that the service of information organization and retrieval is theoretically little different than what a lawyer or a CPA, and they are indisputably professionals.

And what side of the argument do I come down on?  I’m not sure.  Are we professionals in the same way that doctors or engineers are? No.  But neither do we fall into the category of common labourers.  Really I think we librarians exist in an awkward middle ground, neither fish nor fowl, along with people like teachers.  Really what it boils down to is whether being a professional is in the mind, or the membership card.

Or your can split the difference and read Fanny Hill.

May 7, 2010

There are many arguments for and against ereaders –and as a library student I think I’ve heard them all. Though there can be no greater supporter of books than myself, even I have begun to be seduced by the convenience of being able to carry bazillion paperback mysteries with me and then not have to worry about finding shelf space for them when I’ve done. The roomie was gifted a Kindle and while it’s a very sexy little machine, I wouldn’t fork over nearly half a g for it.   At a much more reasonable $150, however, the new Kobo from Indigo – which has the advantage of not being proprietary – is an attractive proposition indeed.

Furthermore, I’ve discovered a heretofore unrecognized advantage to an ereader – it is the ultimate plain brown paper book jacket. Not only will no one be able to tell what you’re reading, but they won’t even know that you’re concealing it. This benefit occurred to me when I was investigating the Kobo offerings and discovered that they sold digital versions of a certain rather embarrassing series of books which are a guilty pleasure of my old housemates and mine (and no, it’s not Twilight). Of course the downside is that ereaders hamper literary bragging as well: no one on your daily commute will know if you’re reading The Story of O, but no one will know if you’re reading Finnegans Wake either.