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July 23, 2008

News & Opinion: More From The Penguin Blog--The Hornby Edition--and Other Stuff I've Been Missing

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 3:00 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

NickHornby.jpgI love Nick Hornby. His column, "Stuff I've Been Reading," is (or, sadly, was) the first thing I turn to every month when The Believer arrives in the mail. They're consistently the most unpretentious, enjoyable and downright funny reviews out there. If you're interested, McSweeney's has released two collections of those reviews--The Polysyllabic Spree and Housekeeping vs. the Dirt. Joe Posnanski, author of a wonderful book himself, has called Hornby's Fever Pitch "one of the five best sports books ever written." Hornby is also author of High Fidelity and About a Boy--both made into terrific movies--and Fever Pitch was also made into, well, let's say a Jimmy Fallon movie. He has authored many, many, many other books as well. But, none of that is why I'm writing of him today. I mention him today because he has his own blog, a fact I've somehow overlooked until I came across his post about eBooks, a hot topic here at 800-CEO-READ. The Penguin Blog picked up the post, which is where I found it. (And, what's the first thing I read on Nick Hornby's blog? That he's giving up his "Stuff I've Been Reading" column. Drats!) Anyway... onto that ebook post. Hornby begins:
In branches of Borders, they are trying to flog us their e-book reader, the 'iLiad', for £399. Meanwhile in the London Evening Standard, David Sexton seems quite taken with Amazon's version, the Kindle. In my branch of Borders on Monday, the iLiad was piled high on the left, just as you walk in; on the right is their wall of bestselling paperbacks, many of which are being sold at half price. It was a quiet Monday morning, and there didn't seem to be too much interest in the four hundred quid e-book reader; what was striking, though, was that there didn't seem to be too much interest in the four quid books, either. Attempting to sell people something for four hundred pounds that merely enables them to read something that they won't buy at one hundredth of the price seems to me a thankless task. (A member of staff at Borders told me that he attempted to persuade a young and famous comedian to buy an iLiad last week. He seemed interested, until he was told the price, at which point he swore loudly and walked away. So at the moment, they are priced too high for millionaire showbusiness entertainers.)
If you're interested in the eBook debate, be sure to check out the discussion that followed its posting over at The Penguin Blog. Paper Cuts has an interesting look at how the internet commerce has actually increased the price of certain books by discovering "a previously non-existent market for what you might call 'rare but not collectible' books." And, finally, The Guardian has been having authors submit their top ten lists of books in their genre. Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life, chose the top 10 book undercover economics books in February. His choices were: 1. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs 2. Micromotives and Macrobehavior by Thomas Schelling 3. The Poetry of Robert Frost, Complete and Unabridged by Robert Frost 4. Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton 5. The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod 6. The Winner's Curse by Richard Thaler 7. The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith 8. The Hare and the Tortoise by John Kay 9. How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff 10. Why Buildings Fall Down by Matthys Levy and Mario Salvadori For Harford's explanations of these picks, go here. For other author picks, go here. If you love independent bookstores as much as we do, start with Jeremy Mercer's top 10 bookshops of the world, and allow us to nominate here our beloved sister company, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.