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Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Book News for Wednesday, January 24, 2007

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic Little House on the Prairie books are getting an extreme makeover to make them hip for kids, according to this Newsweek piece.

    This month, for the Little House books' 75th anniversary, the first eight stories appear with photos of models as Laura instead of with the Garth Williams illustrations. (The text is unchanged.) "Girls might feel the Garth Williams art is too old-fashioned," says Tara Weikum, executive editor for the Little House series. "We wanted to convey the fact that these are action-packed. There were dust storms and locusts. And they had to build a cabin from scratch." (The new tag line: "Little House, Big Adventure.")

    Also, they're adding prairie terrorists, who will seize the cabin, beating Pa to within an inch of his life. Laura escapes the siege by hiding in the barn — and only she can stop the terrorists before they set off a wheat bomb that will wipe the West off the map.

    To those who weep for the future, I offer this quote from 10-year-old Rachael Ross: "I like seeing real people better than drawings....Drawings look sort of fake." Ladies and gentlemen, the future President of the United States.

  • Nerve wonders if the problem with kids today is that they don't have Sassy magazine like my generation did.

    The publication of "Why are New Kids on the Block so Famous?" is a seminal event in the history of sex education. Who but Sassy was going to tell girls that the pablum being served up to them by the rest of the press actually sucked?

    Um... short answer: boys.

  • Meanwhile, boys get their own literary thrills, thanks to a resurgence in "boys' own adventure" fiction.

    Some, however, fear that the genre will reinforce gender stereotypes, inspire racial tensions, and generally lead to future generations running the world exactly as it's being run today.

  • A Miami Herald story looks at why e-textbooks aren't selling better. Basically, there are too many different formats and no all-encompassing reader. What the e-book industry needs is its own .mp3 format and iPod.

    Not including e-textbooks, digital publishing was a $25 million business nationally in 2006, with growth of about 20 percent to 30 percent each year — and that's growth during times with limited e-book software and hardware....If the steady growth continues as technology improves, in 10 years digital publishing can easily become ''a pretty significant part of the publishing business,'' he said.

    If he read that, Garrison Keillor just barfed in his own mouth.

  • In related news, Google is exploring downloadable e-books.

    What Google really has its eye on...is the ability to sell e-books that users could read via their PC's Web browser, and even on their mobile devices.

    I'm really not sure how this is different from any other e-book seller, except that it would be Google. But that might be just the magic ingredient for success.

    I hear there's even talk of manufacturing Google breakfast cereals that can be downloaded right into your children's bowls while they stare at the photographs in the anniversary editions of the Little House books.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.

The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.

Books mentioned in this post

6 Responses to "Book News for Wednesday, January 24, 2007"

    e January 24th, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    OMH, this Little House news just about killed me.

    e January 24th, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    erm, I mean, oh my Gawd, not oh my H.

    lisa_emily January 24th, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    I'm glad I'm not planning to have children. My Hawd! (I mean Gawd)

    Carla January 24th, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    This is so wrong .. I Love Garth Williams work .. He worked a lot with Margaret Wise Brown "Mister Dog" for one and I even have a Garth Williams collection.. Look him up on the web and you to will recognize a lot of his books, I bet you even had them when you were a kid...

    Patty January 25th, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Please say this is a big joke, and I will wake up from this nightmare soon! Everything about these books should be preserved in its ORIGINAL form. The artwork, the story, everything! I feel like kids today have enough modern stories, these books are about the FRONTIER!

    Lynn (aka “the viper”) January 25th, 2007 at 11:35 am

    This is criminal - the House books should be preserved as written - the Garth illustrations are part of the entire package and the books won't be the same without them! A pox on whoever dreamt up this idea - lame,lame, lame...

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