Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Bugs, the Bugs! Does Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” Really Need a Movie?

Gabe Habash -- June 30th, 2011

This July, principal photography will start on a modern adaptation of Kafka’ Metamorphosis, the most famous name attached being Nick Searcy (TV’s Justified). Here’s a promo.

In this version, Greg is a teenager in the suburbs, with a decidedly cockroachian transformation (which, if you’re a Kafka nut, is somewhere between acceptable and blasphemous, depending on your interpretation of the word ungeziefer).

Knee jerk reaction, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of justification for this to happen. Director David Yohe and producer/writer Jason Goldberg are definitely enthusiastic about the project in the video, but something about this whole thing conjures up images of a sweaty guy in a rubber bug suit. And lots of blood (“Our take is a fresh modern horror version,” says Yohe). Maybe it’s the snazzy production quality that’s missing from the video and website. This is definitely a low budget production, which would probably be less worrisome if the story being adapted didn’t hinge on creature effects.

But far be it from snarky bloggers to put down what is clearly a project borne out of a love for the source material. Here’s hoping they can pull together enough funding to create a believable bug, which is likely what’ll make or break the movie. Hopefully it’ll be a better adaptation than Outer Dark.

And even if it’s not, thinking of gross bug movies has brought to mind Society, the cheesy 80s masterpiece starring Billy Warlock! Watch the incredible trailer here!

The Book Inscription Project Lets You See Others’ Great Personal Inscriptions

Gabe Habash -- June 29th, 2011

People love buying used books because you feel like a part of something, a past that’s put its mark in the book’s pages and binding.

Most of the time, you don’t know exactly who else has read the book, unless you find some sort of inscription, which is where The Book Inscription Project comes in.

The blog collects the best personal inscriptions out there, letting us glimpse the lives of others in sometimes heartfelt, sometimes funny ways.

Take, for example, the inscription in Elliott Smith by Autumn de Wilde: For Tara, Because no one ever gave you a book with an inscription before, because you love photographs, because we are obsessed with Elliott, and because I’m in love with the world through the eyes of a girl. -Seth


Kind of makes us want to write in everything we have now. What shall we write in our copy of Smokin’ Seventeen?

Great Fake Film-to-Book Covers

Gabe Habash -- June 28th, 2011

The website Cover Browser is a rabbit hole for book lovers, nostalgia lovers, or even Americana lovers. With over 450,000 covers on the site, it’s easy to get caught in an infinite loop of arcane books, comics, and magazines.

To get you started, we’ll give you one of our personal favorites. User Spacesick has created 13 fake, wonderfully retro-looking book covers for imaginary film-to-book adaptations in a series called “I Can Read Movies.”

Our favorite is the Highlander cover, which manages to be both understated and badass.

Amazon’s Best Books of 2011 So Far

Gabe Habash -- June 27th, 2011

We’re almost at 2011′s midpoint, and Amazon’s editors have selected the best 10 books of the year’s first six months. Of the 10 books, 6 are novels (but only 2 don’t feature historical context), 2 are memoirs, 1 is historical non-fiction, and 1 is science non-fiction. Overall, it looks to be a solid list, despite the historical leaning. The full list:

1. Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff. The true story of 3 plane crash survivors and how they made it out of the New Guinea jungle with little supplies and the threat of the famously brutal Dani tribe. For more, watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Zuckoff from June 22.

2. The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel by Téa Obreht. Wunderkind Obrecht has already been blessed by heavyweights in publishing near and far. Her debut novel tells the story of the legend of a tiger who befriended a deaf-mute woman in a European village, aligning folklore and present for a richly dichotomous narrative.

3. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson. Larson’s book tracks the rise of Nazism through two characters: William E. Dodd, the first American ambassador to Hitler’s regime, and Dodd’s daughter Martha, a young woman who becomes caught up with her new found access to a glamorous lifestyle.

4. Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton. The owner and chef of New York’s Prune restaurant, Hamilton crafts a memoir as no-frills as her restaurant’s simple menu.

5. The Tragedy of Arthur: A Novel by Arthur Phillips. Phillips’s novel is set up as the introduction to a (fake) long-lost Shakespeare play upon its first printing. Fans of Pale Fire will find a modern equivalent.

6. Bossypants by Tina Fey. The memoir by Fey covers her personal and professional life in equal measure.

7. 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson. A mother takes her son to reunite their family at the end of World War II–but obstacles like betrayal and the shock of war stand in the way.

8. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. A literary thriller that presents questions about memory and identity, Watson’s book tells the story of Christine, who wakes up every morning with no memory and has to have her husband explain her life to her. One day, however, she finds a note to herself telling her not to trust her husband.

9. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer. Foer writes of his experience in the U.S. Memory Championship, and discovers that we can train our minds to become stronger than we ever thought possible.

10. Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin. In this novel, a mother’s life is recollected by four voices: her daughter, her son, her husband, and finally her own. The novel traces her life before and after she disappeared in a crowded train station.

This is a Book Bound in Human Skin

Gabe Habash -- June 23rd, 2011

Clicking around AbeBooks can lead you to some wonderful discoveries–first editions and rare books that you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else. But AbeBooks is good for something else: weird books.

Some examples: Electricity in Gynecology, Movie Stars in Bathtubs, and Smocks.

Of course, if that’s not your taste, you could invest in this. It’s a book bound in human skin.

Dust jacket not included.

The $9,000 book is from the estate of Joseph Sadony, a P.T. Barnum acrobat and friend of Gandhi who apparently championed man’s capability of snatching the world’s intuitive knowledge right out of the air. Born in 1877, Sadony could’ve either been a genius who predicted all the forms of wireless technology that we know today, or a crazy person. On the one hand, he aided the Air Force with aerodynamic research and corresponded with Einstein. On the other hand, he owned a human skin book.

No word yet on exactly what “very good” condition entails. Or if that Spanish title translates to English as “Necronomicon.”

Read Faster with Spreeder

Gabe Habash -- June 22nd, 2011

Having a tough time slogging through your bedside copy of the Pentagon Papers? Well, Spreeder is here to help you read all about our Indochina activities at a much faster rate.

It works like this: just copy+paste your text into the box on the website, and Spreeder will automatically convert the text into a file that flashes the words, one at a time, on the screen. The speed is variable (the default is 300 wpm), and the goal is to keep raising your rate in order to “silence subvocalization.”

According to Spreeder, most of us read at about 200 wpm, because that’s as fast as we can read a passage out loud. We have our inner-voice (in a literal sense, not in a Jiminy Cricket sense) constantly saying the words to us while we read them. By throwing words at you faster than your voice can speak them, the act of reading simply becomes a visual experience, and the human eye is very adept at processing information quickly.

So, really, there’s no excuse left for you not to read all that the National Archives has to offer. It’s what all responsible, informed Americans do.

Goodbye Morning Report, Hello Roundup

Craig Morgan Teicher -- June 22nd, 2011

Every day for the past few years, PW has brought readers the most important book and publishing stories from across the Web–plus our pithy two cents–every morning in a post we’ve called “The Morning Report.”  Starting today, we’re taking it to the next level: introducing The Roundup, an ongoing feed of book news from the Web updated all day on!  You’ll see it there right now on our homepage, just above the fold on the right hand column.  It’s also got its own page here.

We’ll send out a tweet each morning with the first batch of stories we find, but check back throughout the day for more.  And look back at the archive of past days’ stories to see what the big news was once upon a time.

The Roundup will be your one-stop-shop for everybody’s take on the book biz–from all over the Web and all over the world. We hope you like it, and we hope you’ll stick around on our site for more of PW’s great book biz coverage.

The Polyglot Project Lets You Translate Great Literature With Your Mouse

Gabe Habash -- June 21st, 2011

If you’ve ever wanted to read the great writers like Cervantes and Dostoevsky in their original language, but have been hampered by your single-linguisticism, you owe it to yourself to head over to The Polyglot Project.

The Polyglot Project lets you read great literature in its original language–and double-click a word if you don’t know it. There are around 150 titles, including authors like Aristotle, Dante, Voltaire, and Chekhov.

The site should especially appeal to those in the process of learning a new language (as well as linguistic nerds). Is there a more entertaining way to learn German than by reading Kafka?

The PW Morning Report: Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Craig Morgan Teicher -- June 21st, 2011

Today’s links!

Ellsworth Remembered: The NYT obit for the first publisher of the New York Review of Books.

B&N Profit: ZDNet wonders whether the Nook will alter the profit equation when Barnes & Noble reports its earnings today.

Make Borders Stores like Apple Stores: That’s one idea a private equity firm has for the bookseller. From

Whitcoulls Absorbs Borders New Zealand: All Borders in New Zealand will become Whitcoulls stores. From the National Business Review.

European E-Growth: The Bookseller reports good digital growth in Europe despite the threat of encroaching US E-book companies.

Haiku for Keanu: Salon rounds up some hilarious haiku supposedly written by, but also sort of written against, Keanu Reeves (who, it turns out, is a budding author in several genres).