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Book News Tuesday: FTW, Books + Electricity = $$, and The Hobbit Goes Ever On

  • For the Win: Another battle was won on the field of censorship as a federal appeals court ruled against two Oregon statutes that would "criminalize distributing sex education and other non-obscene materials to minors." Among the plaintiffs were Dark Horse Comics, Powell’s Books, Inc., and Annie Bloom's Books.

    An article from notes that the statutes, while intended to protect children, were far too all-encompassing and encroached on civil liberties:

    The lawsuit was filed against state Attorney General John Kroger by the American Civil Liberties Union, Powell's Books, Dark Horse Comics and a number of other Oregon booksellers that feared the law could be used against sex education and other non-obscene books, the ACLU said.

    State of Oregon officials argued that the statutes applied only to 'hardcore pornography,' but the Ninth Circuit Court found that they applied to a wide array of materials.

    Our own Michael Powell, owner of Powell's Books until this summer, was quoted in several articles, saying:

    This is an important victory permitting readers — both younger and older — to obtain what they are constitutionally entitled to read,' said Michael Powell of plaintiff Powell’s Books. 'It is also a victory for booksellers who do not want to ask 13-year-olds for identification or risk going to jail for selling a Judy Blume book.'

  • Bookstores Juice It Up: The Dallas News reports on a head-shakingly clever move to increase sales and drive walk-in traffic, as Half Price Books, right off of the NW Highway in Dallas, Texas, installs the state's first electric vehicle charging station. Not endorsed in any way by power company backing, the bookstore wanted to top off an already fairly impressive "green" campaign by becoming the first company in North Texas to install a charging station. The service is complimentary but slow, and the hope is that folks will pop in and fill up on fiction, while their cars stock up on electrons.

    The charger is relatively slow, and some cars will take hours to get a full charge. So the idea is to change consumer thinking about refueling, from waiting next to the vehicle to just leaving the car plugged in while shopping.

    'We're thinking, lunch hour, when they come and shop anyway,' said Becky Gomez, promotions manager for Half Price Books. ''We'll give them a basket, too.'

    The charging station can send text messages to drivers about the charging status. Half Price will let customers use the stations for free until next September, when executives will decide whether to charge. Half Price buys renewable electricity from Green Mountain Energy.

    Not sure what this portends, but with a fairly reasonable price tag of $10,000, it wouldn't be surprising to see more of these electro-pods popping up. According to, they're gaining popularity already, particularly in France and California.

    Way to come up with the creative solutions, Half-Price! Others will surely be taking note.

  • To Live and Let Bond: In his new book, The Man with the Golden Touch: How the Bond Films Conquered the World, Sinclair McKay explores how the marriage of Ian Fleming's stories to Hollywood's silver screen erupted in one of the most powerful series the world will ever know. Which is not easy to do when your leading man looks quite different from decade to decade. In an interview with NPR, McKay touches on the befuddling split between fans as to whom they favor:

    Your opinion of Bond is probably based on which film version of him you're watching, McKay says. 'There are not many of my contemporaries who look at Roger Moore and feel that this is the man who can instantly save the world. But we adore Roger Moore over here [in the UK] for the fact that he brought a certain kind of light humor to the part.'

    More amazing even than how Bond manages to save the world, time and time again, from increasingly mad villains, is how anyone could possibly prefer Roger Moore over Sean Connery. That's just crazy. But, let's discuss: Who's your favorite Bond?

  • In Celebration of Hobbits: Today, in 1937, The Hobbit made its debut and immediately warmed the hearts of readers across Great Britain.

    The One Ring reports that the book's immediate success was overwhelming even to J. R. R. Tolkien, as evidenced by his statement to his publisher:

    At the moment I am suffering like Mr. Baggins from a touch of 'staggerment.'

    73 years and millions of fans later, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy remain some of the most read, loved, talked about, and obsessed over books of all time.

    Happy Birthday, Bilbo, and thank you, J. R. R. Tolkien.

Book News Bits 'n' Bobs

  • While it's not to love that narrow-minded individuals continue to attempt the banning of books, what is to love is the celebration of the fact that they have not managed to do so. If you're in the area, Coastal Carolina University will hold a Banned Books Read-Out at Kimbel Library to celebrate National Banned Books Week.
  • Stevie Wonder wants more books to be available for people with disabilities. Something else to wonder about for sure... with publishers slowing down on the printing of regular books, will even less attention be paid to braille and similar formats?
  • Five out of the six authors shortlisted for this year's £30,000 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize are women. Way to go, ladies.

Via the Twitters

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Heidi Mager does marketing stuff for Off the clock, she spends much of her time wrangling a kindergartner, chasing after her toddler, feeding her husband bacon, and attempting to avoid doing housework.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again
    Used Mass Market $3.95
  2. The Man with the Golden Touch: How... New Hardcover $25.95
  3. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great Books...
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  4. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret... Used Trade Paper $5.00
  5. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings...
    Used Mass Market $19.50

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