How Kindle Lost My Business

The best books start here.

Category: Sweet Nonsense

photo-1Oh, Jeff Bezos. There was a time when I was a true believer. I bought the first generation Kindle relatively early on—March or April of ’08, thereabouts. I was impressed (or flattered, anyway) by the letter from you that came with it, complimenting me on being a daring early adopter, one of the few, the proud—

The ripped-off.

Mind you, it did work for just over a year. Sure, the back came off all of the time, and the clumsy design meant I was always turning pages by accident (seemed like every edge of the damn thing had a page flip button). Sure, reading off of a gray screen is nowhere near as fine as reading off of a crisp page, but hey, it’s a new technology! It’s trailblazing of the sort that heralds a … [more]

trophyIt may surprise you to know that, despite the approximately seven hours of reading I do on an average work day, I try hard to find time to read for pleasure, too. It doesn’t always work–sometimes I’m burnt out after a long day to the point of eyeball explosion–but every so often I need a break from books for children, books I might be interested in signing, or books where my red pen longs to make corrections to simple sit down and enjoy a good story.

While I realize it’s a little late for retrospectives now that we’re nearly 5% of the way through 2010, I thought I’d compile a quick list of my favorite books for 2009. As you can imagine, I tend to read more books for children than books for adults, and … [more]

seuss_cat_in_the_hat_fish_stickerThe other day, I asked readers to vote for their favorite villains of children’s literature. We received some great responses. There were a slew of witches from various stories, included witches of the sea, the West, the Waste. Harry Potter’s foes received several nods, although no one picked Voldemort, the big bad guy himself. A surprising vote was cast for Nellie Oleson from the Little House books…I mean, sure, she always had those nice dresses, but she wasn’t exactly killing people, was she? And it simply wouldn’t be an Upstart Crow poll without some tongue-in-cheek replies, with the top two wise guy choice going to the fish from The Cat in the Hat for his “nagging, whining, threatening” and “joy-killing negativity.”

Roald Dahl’s Mr. and Mrs. Twit each received multiple votes, as did the sadistic … [more]

snidleyThere are many great villains out there, from the moustache-twirling doofuses, to the sick and twisted sociopaths, to the evil wizards bent on world domination or the misunderstood loners who think their heinous acts are actually doing good.

Kids books have seen the arrival of some truly memorable villains in the past few years, so I thought I’d take the pulse of you readers and writers to see which ones rank as your favorites. Are you more a fan of the classic, 100% evil villain? Do you like your bad guys to have a troubled past and some sympathetic reason for going afoul? Are you into the darkly charming bad guys/girls who you either love to hate or hate to love? … [more]

If you haven’t seen it yet, this video has been making its way around the InterBloggaTwittersphere today:

Short of making the cardboard frame yourself and purchasing an iPhone to slip inside, we’re not quite there in terms of this capability on the current eReaders, but this video does suggest some wild possibilities, no?… [more]

If the queries I receive are an indication, many writers see whatever story they’ve created as just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. “You think the story ends here?” they’ll say. “Just you wait, mister! Just because Timmy and Jimmy rescued Wiggles the dog doesn’t mean their adventure has ended!”

I’ve blogged about unlikely sequels before and don’t want to rehash too much of what I’ve already said, but I got to thinking recently about some children’s books that had unexpected, and pretty damn good, follow-ups. … [more]

ThankfulIt’s been quite the year in the world of books and elsewhere, and no one is more aware of our ridiculous good fortune than all of us here at Upstart Crow Literary. So we are counting our blessings. And boy oh boy, do we have lots of reasons to give thanks as the holidays approach.

Because we will be taking a break from our (almost) daily blogging to spend time with our loved ones, Chris, Danielle, Ted and I have compiled a list of the things that inspire us to clasp our hands together, roll our eyes heavenward, and say, Thank you!

In no particular order, we present to you our first annual “Things the Agents at Upstart Crow Literary are Thankful For List.”

(just rolls off the tongue, don’t it?)… [more]

training-wheelsThere has been chatter lately of a new category in publishing, something that people refer to by the breezily condescending handle of “New Adult.” If you haven’t come across New Adult in your daily grazing of the blogs, there was a discussion of it during a twitter YA lit chat a week or so ago, a transcript of which you can read here. (You’ll have to scroll down to 11 November at about nine pm). And there is a pretty cool contest for new writers being run by the brilliant Dan Weiss’s new team at St. Martin’s that ends today, and which you can read about here.

The short of their proposal is this: A “new adult” category of books for high-teen readers through mid-twenties. The distinguishing elements of books in this … [more]

training-wheelsThere has been chatter lately of a new category in publishing, something that people refer to by the breezily condescending handle of “New Adult.” If you haven’t come across New Adult in your daily grazing of the blogs, there was a discussion of it during a twitter YA lit chat a week or so ago, a transcript of which you can read here. (You’ll have to scroll down to 11 November at about nine pm). And there is a pretty cool contest for new writers being run by the brilliant Dan Weiss’s new team at St. Martin’s that ends today, and which you can read about here.

The short of their proposal is this: A “new adult” category of books for high-teen readers through mid-twenties. The distinguishing elements of books in this … [more]

bookcrossing_logoBack in 2003, I was obliviously hustling through Madison Square Park, rushing from someplace unimportant to someplace equally unimportant, when my eye chanced upon a practically brand-new copy of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man just sitting there naked and alone on a park bench. Thing is, I had been dying to read that very novel for a few months, ever since seeing the first of the fabulous William Powell/Myrna Loy vehicles. And there it was, placed in my path (or very nearly) by book angels or fate or the tempting demons who hound my every step.

I skidded to a halt and glanced around. Had someone merely gotten up to can her garbage? To shoo a pigeon? To collar his dog? To bag up her child?* But no, there was no one around but the … [more]