paper trail

Jun 10, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

Amin Maalouf

Are books the LPs of the future? "Of course, the book has been around a lot longer and is far more deeply entrenched in our vision of culture—both what it is and what we want it to be—than the LP, which turned out to be a disposable format, a means to an end. Yet what the digital revolution in the music industry shows us, I think, is that what people want is music: the format doesn’t matter nearly as much as the product." Do people, then, want nothing outside the text? Actually, long-playing records may be the literal future of books. And just like the passing of LPs signaled the end of the great album cover, the rise of the ebook will surely diminish the importance of book design. In the meantime, book designers shouldn't look to Google for inspiration.

Barbara Kingsolver avenges her loss to Hilary Mantel in the Tournament of Books by winning the Orange Prize for Fiction. We thought The Lacuna showed Kingsolver at the "top of her craft," and wished Mantel's Wolf Hall were "twice as long as its 560 pages," so we're glad to see them both honored. In other prize news, Lebanese-born Amin Maalouf, a writer who has tackled "thorny subjects in novelistic form for decades," is the recipient of the 2010 Prince of Asturias Award for Letters; past winners include Paul Auster, Günter Grass, Doris Lessing, Mario Vargas Llosa, Arthur Miller, and Susan Sontag. But don't expect Lionel Shriver or Martin Amis to send their congratulations.

Whether they're for or against prizes, writers shouldn't live to please their readers.

"As the adult-skewing drama becomes an endangered species at the studios, is there any hope for that venerable subcategory, the literary-book-to-screen adaptation?" Variety reports that Hollywood book deals have declined in the past year, and that literary fiction suffered the biggest drop. The news is not bad for all genres, though; action-thriller-suspense, kid's fantasy and—inevitably—vampire and zombie books, along with young adult books, saw increases.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles one of our favorite online literary magazines, The Rumpus.