E-Books: How Can You Judge a Book That Has No Cover?

An article in today’s New York Times brings up an intriguing point about e-books—there’s no eye-catching book cover to inspire others to have a fling with whatever you’re reading.  Cover design plays a big part in the book business, so what happens if readers start to favor e-books over “old-fashioned” hard copy?  (Mary B., Reader’s Services)


Trees of Knowledge

Yesterday I happened to read the editor’s introduction to the latest issue of Orion magazine. Orion is generally considered to be a “nature” magazine, and is usually shelved with similar titles at most newsstands and bookstores. But as the editor points out, Orion never intended to be viewed as any particular genre or fill any specialized niche within the magazine market. From Orion’s point of view, any writing anywhere that anyone is doing is in a sense “nature” writing. Since we all live in the natural world, any writing about people or place is in a way, writing about nature. Continue reading

From London with Love

Click above for an NPR interview with David Rose, creator of the LRB's personal ads column.

Spring has officially arrived, and if you choose to believe the hype, love is in the air.  Truth be told, however, the springtime air is also filled with pollen, mold, bees, and countless other love-inhibiting allergens and insects.  So, if you’d rather not trust your love connection to a seasonal weather change, allow me to suggest a matchmaking option you may have missed:  the London Review of Books.

Established in 1979, the London Review of Books is best known for its highly-regarded commentary on literature, film, art, and politics from such distinguished contributors as Martin Amis, John Ashbery, Julian Barnes, Christopher Hitchens, Hilary Mantel, and Susan Sontag.  But make no mistake, the LRB isn’t all business.  When advertising director David Rose joined the magazine in 1998, he spearheaded the creation of a personal ads column to help LRB readers with “similar literary and cultural tastes get together.”  Rose envisioned “a sort of 84 Charing Cross Road endeavour, with readers providing their own versions of Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft finding love among the bookshelves.”  The ads Rose received, however, were anything but expected. 

Continue reading