Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Service of a Great Evening Out in New York

Thursday, April 18th, 2024

I attended an unforgettable interview at the 92nd Street Y this week. The glow of witnessing a lively and extraordinary conversation between two astonishing people—Doris Kearns Goodwin and David Rubenstein—continued to exhilarate and warm me on the bus ride home. The talk and ride were the best of New York, confirming, yet again, why I love living here.

Rubenstein didn’t let the conversation lag on any topic, nudging Doris off one and on to another memory time and again. She wasn’t the slightest bit flustered easily jumping back and forth to answer each question with heart stopping recall of fascinating incidents. She shared firsthand insights with dates and events/turning points of the 1960s—the focus of her new book, “An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s.” And she was funny. She told us that this book wasn’t her fattest and that a reader told her that she’d fallen asleep reading one of the others and that “it was so heavy it broke my nose.”

According to the Y’s program director, David, lawyer, businessman, [founder/co-owner of the private equity firm Carlyle Group], philanthropist, author, former government official and sports team owner [Baltimore Orioles], is often onstage at the Y, and you can see why. He was perfectly prepared, had all his questions in his head after reading the book “in three sittings.” He delivered them without notes with popcorn popping speed. The time flew by.

And while Doris let him lead her most of the time, he wasn’t in control. As he’d done countless times before, he’d step on her last sentence to ask another question. When he interrupted her while speaking about her children, as she’d only mentioned the name of her youngest of three sons, Joe, she ignored his latest question and said that she wanted to finish speaking about Joe, and she did. Joe had received the Bronze Star for Army service in Iraq and served a tour in Afghanistan.

After the talk I strolled from Lexington Avenue and 92nd Street to the Second Avenue bus stop at 86th Street and plopped down in a front seat when the bus arrived. Opposite me was a young man reading a copy of Doris’s book. Each attendee had been given a copy. I reached into my tote bag to pull out my copy, showed it to him, smiled and asked what he thought of the talk. That started a lively 30 block conversation about the interview, the relationship between Doris and her husband Dick, the difference in values between the 1960s and now, music—Mozart and Aaron Copeland in particular, [he is a musician] –and Malcolm Gladwell.

When he got off the bus a woman who had moved closer to us and had listened to our banter, sidled over and asked me if I’d just been to the Y. She said she’d wanted to attend but already had tickets to a concert. We chatted for another 10 blocks.

I walked home from the bus stop on a cloud.

It’s nice to go to events with a friend to have someone to talk to about the film, play, workshop, or talk. It’s not always convenient. But there’s something magical about having the chance to do so with strangers on a New York City bus.

Have you enjoyed similar conversations, as you exit an event or stop for a snack at a nearby restaurant afterwards–or on a bus?

Service of When a Company Listens to its Employees–or Not

Monday, May 24th, 2021

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

I knew a successful stockbroker who traveled the country at a time in which we manufactured a lot. He’d visit a corporation to speak with the employees on the line. He wasn’t interested in the boilerplate management wanted to share.

Today, employees voice their opinions of management’s decisions–some say even more than before.

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Emily Glazer described a recent to and fro in their Wall Street Journal article “Inside the Simon & Schuster Blowup Over Its Mike Pence Book Deal.”

The article’s subhead reads: “Petition demanded publisher drop potential blockbuster, saying it betrayed company’s promise to oppose bigotry, while CEO defended commitment to broad range of views ” They reported that 14 percent of the staff–200–signed a petition. “While the majority of employees didn’t sign the petition,” wrote Trachtenberg and Glazer, “it continues drawing external support and now has more than 5,000 external signatories.”

They wrote: “The Pence conflict stands out because the demand struck at the heart of the publisher’s business. Book companies, which have long prized their willingness to publish a wide range of voices, in contrast to the silos of cable news, say they need blockbuster books of all stripes to carry the rest of their titles.”

In addition, they reported that Jonathan Karp, president and CEO, “said one reason Simon & Schuster is comfortable publishing Mr. Pence is that the former vice president refused to take an action to overturn the election.” He told staffers in an online gathering “there wouldn’t be any discriminatory content in Mr. Pence’s book.”

“In January,” wrote the reporters, “the company canceled the publication of a book by Sen. Hawley, citing his role in challenging the presidential election results on Jan. 6, when rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.” Quoting Karp this was because “his actions ‘led to a dangerous threat to our democracy.’ He said the senator’s role in that day’s events ‘brought widespread disapproval and outrage to him and would have redounded to us.’”

Image by Natalia Ovcharenko from Pixabay

The reporters shared other examples referring to a pause in political contributions by Microsoft through 2022 to legislators who opposed certification of the electoral college, a move resulting from an employee’s appeal.

They mentioned that “Similar pressures [to address employee demands] have ricocheted across the business world,” mentioning  Apple, Delta Air Lines and Google. They didn’t specify the dynamics but in a Google search I found that:

  • Apple bowed to employee pressure to rescind its job offer to the author of a memoir in which he wrote disparaging things about women.
  • According to Shirin Ghaffary in vox.com, Google agreed to “scrap forced arbitration in individual cases of sexual harassment or assault after 20,000 Google workers staged a walkout demanding changes to how it treats employees. The walkout was prompted by a New York Times article that revealed Google had given a senior executive, Andy Rubin, a $90 million exit package even after it found he had been credibly accused of sexual harassment…..Employees who prefer to arbitrate privately will still have that option.”
  • Delta replaced uniforms for 60,000 employees because some claimed the originals made them sick.
  • On the other hand, CEO Jamie Dimon suggested that any of his employees who pushed him to restrict doing business with the military could leave JPMorgan Chase, Trachtenberg and Glazer reported.

Should corporations act on what employees request? Have you changed an employer or corporation’s mind about a major decision or can you name other examples where this happened?

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Service of Book Clubs: Tips From a Pro

Monday, April 5th, 2021

Deb Wright

I asked Deb Wright to share what’s happening with book clubs in her Chicago suburb. You’ll soon see why she is qualified to cover the subject.

Deb leads two and is active in an additional two. She heads Shakespeare Readers Theater and co-directs a Great Books group while participating in Louse Penny and woman’s book clubs. Deb’s secret to keeping up with all those books: She speed reads while retaining what she reads.

She says eight is the ideal number of participants so there’s time for each to chime in. With Deb–and another retired teacher who is in three of the groups–a wandering or diverted discussion doesn’t have a chance. They are there to discuss books. Men and women participate equally in Shakespeare Readers Theater and Great Books.

As with most things, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on club activities. “In some odd way I feel on vacation! I don’t have quite so many to-do lists,” Deb said. Nevertheless, “everyone I’ve spoken to has been reading political, fiction and non-fiction on subjects they’ve wanted to explore.”

All four of her groups passed on Zoom meet ups although she says that the public library in her town continues its discussions via this cloud-based video communications app.

The women’s book club, made up largely of League of Women Voters members, normally meets in a bookstore. Members have stayed in touch through email. “This group always chooses a non-fiction book or sometimes a biography. We don’t meet in July and August.” There’s a list of some of the books the club read last year after the last photo of this post.

The Great Books group–that should meet monthly in the town’s Chamber of Commerce–is on hold. This 37 year old club, that Deb founded with her co-leader, hopes to resume in fall with a new anthology. There is one Poetry Night a year.

Because most of the members of the Shakespeare Reader’s Theater are seniors hesitant to meet in person during the pandemic, it, too, is on hold. Deb is one of three planners, one of whom is a retired teacher and a Shakespeare scholar, theater director and actor. Deb said: “We choose part of a play and volunteers read the selections. I do the explaining, kind of ‘in the meantime, Richard murdered…’ So I give the what’s happening between the scenes.” There’s also a great actor with a wonderful voice in the group who, with his wife, started a summer theater in town.

The Louise Penny group will meet again in August when Penny’s next book is released moving on then–back to once a month–to another well-written mystery series by Charles Todd whose main character is Ian Rutledge. They gather in the banquet-size heated garage of a member. It boasts superlative ventilation and quantities of space for participants to distance six+ feet apart. Penny is the author of mystery novels set in Quebec. The Canadian author’s main character is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec.

Deb taught language arts [English] to all grades in a Chicago school but mostly 8th–adding American History from 1865 to the present the last five years. She’s also an artist and avid gardener. In addition to her garden and grounds, she cares for almost 100 indoor plants, four cats, an old house and her young grandchildren for weekly play dates. This summer she volunteered to tutor three first graders who didn’t cotton to remote and hybrid learning.

Have you belonged to a book club? Do you have questions for Deb?

Following are some of the books the woman’s book club read last year:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens; Beloved** by Toni Morison; The Land of Sea Women by Lisa See; Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan; Before We were Yours by Lisa Wingate; Born A Crime by Trevor Noah; The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict and The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee. Deb added: “There were a couple of others but they were not worth reading.”

Deb said “**Beloved was almost too difficult to read; I would not read it at this point in time. We also read Educated by Tara Westover at the end of the previous year. Worth reading but intense–one of those triumphs of the human spirit.”

Service of Dreading the End of a Beloved Book or Series

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Belgian Neuhaus chocolates

As I reach the end of a much-loved book or Netflix series I dread the anticipated feeling of loss. I’ll miss the characters I’ve befriended, fiction or non. With options to mingle and in-person entertainment cut off–especially for the covid-cautious–it helps to have something to look forward to if there isn’t a good movie on Turner Classic, a scheduled live online concert or event or reruns of a favorite series like “Blue Bloods” or “Law & Order.” [I miss Jerry Orbach.]

The only reason I dislike e-books is because I can’t gauge when the end will happen–how many pages or chapters I have left. So how can I slow down so the book lasts longer? I want to pace my reading as I do consumption of fancy chocolates. I try to eat only one a day.

I borrowed Erik Larson’s “The Splendid and the Vile” from the New York Public Library at a busy time and hardly started it when the library took it back. I’m now #195 in line for 255 copies. I haven’t mastered the pace and timing of borrowing. When I select a few books they all seem to arrive in my virtual book box at once.

I try not to binge watch episodes on Netflix of “West Wing,” “Call My Agent,” “Broadchurch,” and “The Crown” that I save for late night. I even split into two nights a good flick “The Half of It.”

E-books at the NY Public Library

I was disappointed by the first episodes of Darren Star’s new series, “Emily in Paris.” Maybe I’ll become fonder of the characters as I continue to watch.  He also created the iconic and fun “Sex and the City” among others. While the City of Lights never looked better and the fashions are terrific, so far the dialogue is predictable and characterization of the Americans and French clichéd, the former optimistic, friendly and creative, the latter luddite, unsociable and grumpy. Paris is also a highlight of  the “Call My Agent” series but the characters and situations are quirky and funny. [One of the actors called her agent because the director insisted she lie nude in a casket. The nude part was OK but being depicted dead in the altogether not so much.]

What entertainments do you look forward to during the pandemic? If you borrow e-books from a library how do you time your reservations so you don’t end up with either none for days or too many at once? Can you recommend some books–e, audio or traditional–TV series, movie or programs on a subscription-based streaming service? How many services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, or Disney do you subscribe to? Which is the best? How do you find time for more than one?

Service of Trust III

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Over centuries there have been millions of examples of King Solomon’s choice where mothers give up their children to save them. Nine year old Gittel’s mother did. The character of a prize-winning book, Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story, written for children six years old and up, Gittel’s experience was inspired by the flight of author Lesléa Newman’s grandmother who also escaped her homeland alone.

In the book Gittel’s mother was refused entry to the ship that was scheduled to take them both to America to flee Nazi Germany. She didn’t pass the health inspection so Gittel made the long journey by herself.

Imagine never seeing your parents again. Gittel did but Newman’s grandmother didn’t.  The tragedy of this loss resonates with many families. “All of my grandparents came through Ellis Island in the very early 1900s,” said David Reich. “Some came with a sibling, but none came with their parents and none of them ever saw or even spoke with their parents after they left Russia, Hungary and Poland, other than by letters.”

Lesléa Newman, author, Gittel’s Journey

At that time, author Newman told Bill Newman last week on WHMP Radio, Northhampton, Mass., “Gittel found her family [in New York] because many people were kind to her on the boat, they created makeshift families and she was taken care of on Ellis Island until her family could be found.”

Nurturing strangers, typical of the period, “stands in such stark contrast to the way the US is reacting to and treating immigrants seeking asylum from Central America and Mexico today,” said Newman, which is what motivated her to write the book to show children–and to remind all her readers–that “there are other choices when a stranger comes to your land.”

“Gittel’s Journey,” magnificently illustrated by Amy June Bates, won a 2020 Christopher Award because it exemplifies The Christophers’ motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Like the other celebrated authors, illustrators, writers, producers, and directors of 20 winning feature films, TV programs and books for adults and young people the book also “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”

Would you be able to let go of your child to save him/her? Is there a valid rationale for mistreating innocent children or anyone escaping danger? Will we again return to a caring culture that proudly and aggressively protects the innocent and fragile?

Photo: thechristophersblog.org

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot III

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Money plant cutting

Since the pandemic began, I’ve written two previous Service of Little Things posts. Two of the following four little things may really be big.

My vote counts

I’m grateful for the link a friend sent me for the skinny on which exemption to check to legitimately send for an absentee ballot in New York State. https://www.nbcnews.com/specials/plan-your-vote-state-by-state-guide-voting-by-mail-early-in-person-voting-election/.

When I drilled down to New York, https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html I learned which option to check: “Unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability (temporary illness includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID-19).

Queries to the NY Board of Elections and to one of my senators had gone unanswered.

 A tree grows in a NYC high-rise

I was thrilled that a cutting from a money tree, aka Pachira aquatica, Malabar chestnut or Saba nut–seems to have taken root. This baby [photo above] is two months old. I feel joy watching it grow.

E-book heaven

And while this isn’t little–I splurged and bought myself an iPad and I’m thrilled with it–the book world is my oyster thanks to the New York Public Library’s e-book collection. Some books I’ve reserved, photo right. I’d never wanted to read a book on a gadget but the library is still closed and in any case I am uncomfortable borrowing a book during the pandemic. Like any convert, I’m taken with this space saver that almost everyone else has owned for years.

Talent to Amuse

I learned that a wonderful series on Netflix–“Call My Agent”–is in production for another year. In French with subtitles, it’s a well done, funny show that takes place mostly in Paris. It’s about a quirky collection of talent agents and their famous clients.

Do you increasingly appreciate little things in these unsettling times? For what are you grateful?

Service of Borrowed Books from the New York Public Library

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Visiting the New York Public Library branch on East 96th Street with my mother is one of my earliest memories. The system is 125 years old this year. As a result, it publicized statistics of most-checked out books over time which is significant because it’s the second biggest library in the country, behind the Library of Congress.

There was a distinct difference between the genres of books most borrowed by library habitués last year vs. those over time.

  • In 2019 citizens most checked out six adult fiction and four nonfiction books, leading with Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming.”
  • The most borrowed since the beginning included six children’s, three fiction and one nonfiction book. Number one is “The Snowy Day,” a children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats.
  • The range of publish dates of last year’s favorites is 2017 to 2018; over time from 1936 to 1997.

Top 10 takeouts in 125 years

  1. “The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats, [1962]: 485,583 checkouts
  2. “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss [1957]: 469,650 checkouts
  3. “1984,” by George Orwell [1949]: 441,770 checkouts
  4. “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak [1963]: 436,016 checkouts
  5. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee [1960]: 422,912 checkouts
  6. “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White 1952]: 337,948 checkouts
  7. “Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury [1953]: 316,404 checkouts
  8. “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie [1936]: 284,524 checkouts
  9. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” by J.K. Rowling [1997]: 231,022 checkouts
  10. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle [1969]: 189,550 checkouts

Top 10 takeouts in 2019

  1. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama biography [2018]
  2. “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover [2018]
  3. “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng [2017]
  4. “A Spark of Light” by Jodi Picoult [2018]
  5. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens [2018]
  6. “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee [2017]
  7. “Circe” by Madeline Miller [2018]
  8. “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty [2018]
  9. “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou [2018].
  10. “Milkman” by Anna Burns [2018]

Are you sad to learn that there are no children’s books on the 2019 list? What would the reason be? Have you read any of the books on the two lists? What are some of your favorites both recently and over time?

Service of Counting on a Brand: Bye-bye Microsoft E-Library

Monday, July 29th, 2019

How do you know you can trust a brand to keep its products in business and parts available for as long as you need them? The question doesn’t apply anymore just to major appliances, motor vehicles, furnaces, solar energy technologies and gadgets like VCRs, CDs and DVDs. The subscribers to Microsoft’s E-Library know what it’s like to be left in the lurch. I heard about their loss on NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro and Josh Axelrod reported “Starting in July, Microsoft will be closing its e-book library and erasing all content purchased through the Microsoft e-bookstore from devices. Consumers will receive a refund for every e-book bought.”

I read traditional books but some of my best friends rely on e-books. I’d be irritated if I’d paid for a book and was left hanging at a crucial juncture when Microsoft pulled the plug.

Garcia-Navarro interviewed Aaron Perzanowski, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, who pointed out that losing a book you’ve annotated and use in your job is more than exasperating. Think of lawyers, teachers or academic researchers who have spent time to study a book and write themselves virtual Post-It notes on manuscripts. The additional $25 refund doesn’t make this customer whole, said Perzanowski who also wrote the book “The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy.”

“In a University of Pennsylvania Law Review article, Perzanowski found that users are often misled when they click the ‘Buy Now’ button, thinking that they’ve gained permanent ownership of digital content.

“‘You can go out and buy a car and you think you own the car because it’s parked in your garage,’ Perzanowski says. ‘But in reality – how it functions, who can repair it, what replacement parts are compatible with it – all of that is controlled through software code. And, so I think that line between the physical and the digital is getting increasingly blurry.’”

The culprit is a tool called Digital Rights Management or DRM software. “Your car, your smart home appliances, your home security system – all of these systems have software that allows for this kind of control over how the devices are used, and I think we’re going to see these same sorts of situations crop up in the context of physical devices that are being used in people’s homes.”

Have you lost the use of something you owned because there are no parts available to repair it or did you learn that, like the e-books you bought, you really didn’t own it at all? Do you factor in shelf life when buying things for your office or home or are you resigned to short-lived pull-by dates on almost everything but processed honey with its forever lifespan?

Service of Whose Job is it Anyway? Fact Checking a Nonfiction Book

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Writing a book is daunting. Grasping the tremendous amount of information often gathered over many years and then wrapping it in the coherent and engaging form of a nonfiction book leaves me in awe and admiration of authors. Writing is just the second of many essential steps.

Lynn Neary wrote “Checking Facts in NonFiction,” a transcript of an NPR program I heard on Weekend Edition Saturday. “Authors, not publishers, are responsible for the accuracy of nonfiction books. Every now and then a controversy over a high-profile book provokes discussion about whether that policy should change.” Fact checking is in an author’s contract with the publisher.

The controversy Neary mentioned involved feminist author Naomi Wolf’s latest book Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love. Matthew Sweet, the host of a BBC 3 podcast “Free Thinking,” said in an interview “I don’t think any of the executions you’ve identified here actually happened.” According to Neary, The New York Times joined the fray adding that she’d also made errors in previous books.

An author/journalist friend wrote me in an email: “It’s a privilege to be an author and it’s also a responsibility. We’re human and mistakes are unavoidable…and it sure would be nice if publishers were willing to pick up the tab for fact-checking. But at this point, they’re not, and I think there is a level of due diligence where you are responsible for either hiring a fact-checker or putting in the long, tedious hours to do it yourself.”

Neary reported that Maryn McKenna “paid $10,000 to have someone check the facts in her last book ‘Big Chicken.’” McKenna concentrates on science and health. Best-selling authors like Wolf– and another author caught with errors, Jared Diamond who wrote “Upheaval”–can afford to pay fact checkers McKenna told Neary.

McKenna said “It really makes one wonder whether accuracy, as a value, is something that’s really top of mind for publishers or whether there’s a separate calculation going on about sales volume that accuracy and veracity doesn’t really intersect with.”

My author/journalist friend, who did her own fact checking for her fifth book—it was nonfiction–added: “I also asked a leading neonatologist to read the whole manuscript so he could tell me what I got wrong, and he very generously pointed out my errors so I could correct them before the book went to press. I’m sure there are still mistakes in there somewhere–there was so much conflicting source material and as a journalist there’s also a point where you need to make your best judgment. (For instance, newspaper eyewitness accounts of the same event on the same day conflicted, which I explained in the end notes.)”

The author/journalist added: “I was terrified of making mistakes and agonized over details. So while this opinion might come back to bite me, my feeling is that there was a level of sloppiness in Wolf’s book that’s troubling.”

Neary wrote: “Money, says literary agent Chris Parris-Lamb, is the main reason writers don’t get their books fact-checked.” Parris-Lamb told her “I would like to see every book fact-checked, and I want to see publishers provide the resources for authors to hire fact-checkers.” Neary said: “Parris-Lamb sympathizes with writers, but he doesn’t expect publishers will start paying for fact-checking anytime soon because, in the end, he says, the author has more to lose than the publisher.”

Do you read nonfiction? Do you assume the information in the biographies, history, memoirs, journals and commentary you read is accurate? Does a sloppy research job feed the fake news monster? Given the state of book publishing today, what if anything do you think will inspire publishers to step up and pay for fact checking?

Service of a Surprise Ending: Books Win, E-Books Lose

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

I wasn’t tempted by e-books. I stare at a computer all day and when reading for enjoyment, I prefer holding a book. Further I can find a comfortable position on a train or in a pile of pillows at home and balance the book on my lap.

“According to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), a non-profit trade organization for indie book shops, its membership grew for the ninth year in a row in 2018, with stores operating in more than 2,400 locations. Not only that, sales at independent bookstores are up approximately five percent over 2017.” So wrote Joshua Fruhlinger in observer.com.

He reported in November 2018 that e-book sales are stagnant. “E-book sales have slipped by 3.9 percent so far this year, according to data from the Association of American Publishers, while hardback and paperback book sales grew by 6.2 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. During the first nine months of 2018, hardback and paperback sales generated nearly $4 billion combined; comparatively, e-books only raked in $770.9 million.”

Simultaneously, he noted, Barnes & Noble is limping, even though it put so many of the small booksellers out of business. (Remember the movie “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan?) “According to the ABA, the number of independent booksellers increased by 35 percent from 2009 to 2015—the same years that Amazon was pushing the Kindle and Barnes & Noble was pushing its own e-reader, the Nook.”

He added “The numbers are indeed bad: According to Nielsen, 2016 e-book sales among the top-30 sellers were down 16 percent from their 2015 numbers. E-books’ share of all books sold is also on the decline, accounting for 27 percent of total sales in 2015 compared to 23 percent in 2016.”

Alexandra Alter in The New York Times used the word blockbuster to describe 2018 results for book publishers. “Hardcover sales are up, and unit sales at independent bookstores have risen 5 percent.” She mentions three books–“Fear,” “The President is Missing,” and “Becoming”–that passed the million-copy mark. Sales of some books were so brisk that they were out of stock at the height of gift-giving time. That’s not so hot for the authors who lose in both royalties and ratings.

The reasons for the book revival? Fruhlinger attributes it in part to “the simple joy that comes with scanning bookshelves and the subsequent, sensual act of reading an actual book. It seems that of the very few things people want to shop for in-person, books are one of them.” And he feels that hearing of the death of the book industry electrified fans into action.

He’d end up with nothing to read if he’d forgotten to charge his Kindle before a flight and resented that he couldn’t lend a book he loved. Twice he lost his Kindle when he left it behind, first in a plane’s seatback pocket and then plugged in for a charge in his hotel room.

I’d like to add that wrapping and giving a book as a gift is more satisfying than giving a virtual book.

Fruhlinger is a fair and balanced reporter. He wrote about a friend who tears through many e-books a week on his phone which is always with him. “Perhaps after years of e-book hype (and/or fear-mongering), we have finally arrived at a middle ground. When it comes to travel and convenience, it’s hard to beat e-books. But when it comes to a cozy book shop visit on a Sunday afternoon followed by a cup of coffee and your favorite author, nothing beats the real thing. And it appears that after years of experimentation with e-books, many people are realizing the same thing.”

Do you prefer e-books to hardcovers or paperbacks? Why do you think e-books are losing the competition in this all-things-digital-are–super-age? If you’re planning to write a book would you try to publish an e-book or a traditional one?

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