Are Books Making a Comeback?

Maybe predictions of the death of written, printed paper books were premature.

A new report in the New York Times suggests as much, based on two key points of data:

E-reader sales have flattened: “E-book sales fell by 10 percent in the first five months of this year, according to the Association of American Publishers, which collects data from nearly 1,200 publishers. Digital books accounted last year for around 20 percent of the market, roughly the same as they did a few years ago.”

The number of actual bookstores, however, is on the rise: “The American Booksellers Association counted 1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations in 2015, up from 1,410 in 1,660 locations five years ago.” Read more »

Jerry Seinfeld: Take My Endorsement Off Cosby Biography

One by one the Cosby empire is crumbling. Reruns of The Cosby Show have been pulled from several (if not all hosting networks), his agent in Hollywood has jumped ship and now AP reports that plans to turn his recently released biography, Cosby, into paperback have been nixed.

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Local Author Pens Debut Novel About Post-Graduation Blues

jenni fink sentenced to lifeMoorestown native Jenni Fink’s debut novel, Sentenced to Life, reaches out to the millennial generation and assures us we’re doing just fine. “I tried to think about what real life is right now and just put it into words so people can relate to it,” Fink explains. College graduates are all too familiar with the pressure of finding a job, getting married and having kids, but Fink seeks to calm these universal anxieties in her novel.

Sentenced to Life is a story of a young woman who gets a brutal wake-up call after receiving her diploma and moving back home. The book addresses relatable issues like changing family dynamics, rekindling past relationships and facing an uncertain future.

In anticipation of her book reading this weekend at James Oliver Gallery, I spoke to Fink—a graduate of the University of Arizona—about life after college and society’s unrealistic expectations of post-graduates.

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Philadelphia Abuzz in Anticipation of Harper Lee’s Watchman

Philadelphians in the literary world and beyond have been anticipating this day for one huge reason, and it has nothing to do with France’s Bastille Day celebrations.

Actually, it’s quite American in nature.

This is the day that, finally, Harper Lee‘s second novel, Go Set a Watchman, will be released to bookstores nationwide. Lee is the author of the classic 1961 novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This past weekend, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a preview of the book alongside a feature story about what Philly-area bookstores — corporate, like Barnes and Noble, and independent — and other creative institutions are doing to celebrate and promote the somewhat controversial launch.

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Aziz Ansari Coming to Philly on Modern Romance Book Tour

aziz ansari modern romance

Standup comedian and Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari just announced his 10-city tour in promotion of his new book, Modern Romance.

One of those stops—the very last one, in fact—is at Philly’s Annenberg Center on July 19th. It’s not clear whether or not the tour includes a standup performance or if he’ll just be signing books, though he does verify via Twitter that he will be talking:

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5 Awesome Books for This Summer’s Gay Beach Romps

Staff members at Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room share their favorite new books available at our iconic LGBT bookstore. Today, Assistant Manager Becky Hanno gives us her beach-trip picks.

5 Works of Queer Poetry for National Poetry Month

Staff members at Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room share their favorite new reads available at our iconic LGBT bookstore. Today, Manager—and published poet—Alan Chelak gives us a list of his favorite works of queer poetry to read in honor of National Poetry Month.

INTERVIEW: Michael Callahan On Searching for Grace Kelly

Tomorrow night, author (and, full disclosure, former Philadelphia magazine executive editor) Michael Callahan will visit Barnes and Noble to read from his recently published first novel, Searching for Grace Kelly. The story is a fictional account of three  young ladies who move to New York City in the 1950s to find fame, fortune and romance in the Big Apple. It’s inspired by and centered around the famed Barbizon Hotel, a boarding house / charm school of sorts that played home to legends of page and screen like Joan Crawford, Sylvia Plath and Philly’s own Grace Kelly. The book was actually inspired by an article Callahan wrote about the Barbizon in Vanity Fair in 2010.

In anticipation of his reading tomorrow, I shot my former colleague a few questions about the book. He talks about the in-depth research that went into re-creating New York City in the 1950s, how he came up with the title, and the possibility that it will be turned into a television series.

Photo by Evan Schapiro

Photo by Evan Schapiro

Congrats on the book, Michael! We’re all really proud of you around here.
Thank you. It’s been a wild experience with every possible emotion.

When did you realize the story would become something bigger than the piece you did in Vanity Fair?
Like most magazine writers I had always felt I had a book in me. I just didn’t know what to write about. I had done one book proposal for a nonfiction idea that went nowhere, and I was struggling to come up with another, more sell-able idea. My agent and I knocked around doing a book on the Barbizon, but it seemed like there was little left to say, non-fiction wise. Then she suggested I write a fictional story about the hotel. I was really, really nervous, because I had no fiction experience. So I told her if I could come up with a good narrative, I would give it a try. And I did.

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Throwback Thursday: William Way’s Fantastic Collection of Gay Pulp Fiction Novels

Every week William Way Executive Director Chris Bartlett and I meet for a rummage through the LGBT community center’s John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives, a veritable treasure trove of relics from gay Philadelphia’s past. This week, I got sidetracked by the the Archives’ fantastic collection of gay pulp fiction novels. These gems, with erotic, albeit kind of hilarious covers, and even better cover lines, were donated from community members over the years. Check out some of my favorites—or at least the ones that I could show—below: 


Just Whom Is Bruce Springsteen Trying to Impress?


I had the unusual experience this week of feeling sorry for a very chic, very thin Frenchwoman. That would be Fleur Pellerin, France’s minister of culture, who was asked in a television interview to name her favorite book by Patrick Modiano, the Frenchman who just won the Nobel Prize for literature. This put the French minister of culture in a highly awkward position, as she was unable to name any of the works of the highly celebrated M. Modiano, seeing as she’s never read anything he’s written. (She had, however, she noted, much enjoyed a recent luncheon with him.)

Mme. Minister then compounded her sin by admitting that she hadn’t read a book of fiction in years: “I read a lot of notes, a lot of legal texts, the news, A.F.P. stories, but I read very little,” she said in the interview, according to the New York Times.

Whereupon French social media exploded, and writer Claude Askolovitch promptly called Mme. Minister “barbaric” on the French site of the Huffington Post, demanding that she resign.

Poor Fleur. Read more »

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