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Chronicle Books

Friday, September 03, 2010

Book Review: The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks by Bethany Keeley

James and I often rant about unnecessary quotation marks. “Who is being quoted,” is our common refrain.

Bethany Keeley took her curiosity about this phenomenon to new heights and after years of blogging, compile the best examples into The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. (Guest post by Bethany on the Chronicle Books blog.)

When quotation and attribution is unnecessary

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, “commonly known or readily verifiable facts, proverbs, and other familiar expressions can be stated without quotation or attribution unless the wording is taken directly from another source.”

Which makes me wonder, what unverifiable fact makes a “hamburger” and to whom are we attributing “live” lobsters?


I don’t trust the editorial wisdom of Wikipedia, but according to the masses, common use for quotation marks is apparently “to call attention to ironic or apologetic words.”

Day Old “Bread”
Ironic or apologetic?
Unverifiable fact?
Unfamiliar expression?


I love the quotation use in this one:

Do “NOT”
PARK here



Are we calling attention to the irony that this place has customers? Perhaps it’s all just apologetic.

Bethany Keeley’s The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks is a collection of photographs of signs in stores, offices, streets and “facilities” making interesting use of our favourite punctuation mark.


And just because quotation marks can be so confounding. Here is some fun with single and double quotation marks.

“Don’t be absurd!” said Henry. “To say that ‘I mean what I say’ is the same as ‘I say what I mean’ is to be as confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. You remember what the Hatter said to her: ‘Not the same thing a bit! Why you might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!’ ”

The Book of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks by Bethany Keeley
Published by Chronicle Books
Distributed in Canada by
Raincoast Books

Monday, March 16, 2009

SXSW: No Think for Old Publishers

New Think for Old Publishers panel at SXSW drew a lot of frustration from the crowd of book lovers and supporters.

The official description of the session was:

This is not a discussion of whether ebooks are killing treebooks, or whether it’s possible to get cozy with an Amazon Kindle. It’s about how participatory culture and the online world interact with good olde book publishing.Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, Deborah Schultz, and fellow panelists will share with the audience a variety of perspectives on what’s going right and what’s going wrong in publishing, assess success of recent forays into marketing digitally, digital publishing, and what books and blogs have to gain from one another. Penguin Group (USA), which houses some 40 plus imprints and publishes an extremely broad variety of physical and digital products everything from William Gibson’s first ebook in the 90’s to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food to Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels (the source for HBO’s True Blood) is deeply involved in exploring ways that old and new media might better collaborate. Audience members are invited to speak up about what they think book publishers could/should be doing to better provide relevant information and content to blogs, websites, and online communities. Come tell old media what you want and how you want it.

Clay Shirky ITP
John Fagan   Mktg Dir,  Penguin Group (USA)
Deborah Schultz   Founder/Chief Catalyst,  deborahschultz.com
Peter Miller   Dir of Publicity,  Bloomsbury USA
Ivan Held   Pres GP Putnam’s Sons,  Penguin Group (USA)

They certainly told publishers what they think. The summation was “you suck at this is the biggest way possible.”

I think it’s unfair to attack the folks on that panel but as representatives of the industry they do have to go back to their houses and understand that they need to convey, not that bloggers are an unruly bunch, but that publishers need to get off their asses and get involved with social media. Enough is enough.

BookSquare says
If you’re going to hold a session called “New Think for Old Publishers”, you gotta come with some new thinking. Either that or tell the audience that it’s a research session…and the audience is supposed to bring the new thinking. Good idea, needed better execution. Nobody read the panel description to mean “we want the audience to tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it”.


The publishing people on stage said, essentially, tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it. You have 300 people who give up an hour of their lives to hear the cool things the traditional publishing business is doing…and you can ask them to consult on your business?

Watch a video of the panel here.

Other links to conversation about this panel:
Medialoper has a fairly neutral assessment of what unfolded.

Twitter stream of comments on this panel #sxswbp

Monique’s summary
What went wrong is this:
* Publishers have not listened to the crowd for a long time.
* The crowd is restless.
* Publishers wring their hands about the web.
* The crowd offers options publishers don’t like.
* Publishers weep into their hands.
* The crowd wants to help and offers other suggestions.
* Publishers act like deer in headlights.
* The crowd plows down publishers and reinvents the industry without them.

What this panel really came down to is that the wisdom of the crowds is not being tapped. The crowd is now sick and tired of trying to help people who won’t help themselves.

Hold me to this: I’m going to organize a panel in Vancouver. We’re going to create a model for publishing and marketing books. We’re going to move forward as an industry. Leaders will be identified. Roles will be assigned. If you’re not open to totally change everything you’re doing, then you are not ready for this revolution. Don’t come.

Who’s in?


Peter Miller Glibness. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Tips from a panelist who barely survived” in Publishers Weekly.
Read the article.

Michael Tamblyn of BookNet Canada on 6 Things That Revolutionize Publishing

Saturday, March 14, 2009

SXSW 09 Interactive

I’m really excited to be at SXSW this year. I have wanted to come every year and have always had some excuse. This year, I’m here!

Today is my second day and I’ve attended two sessions so far that are worth blogging about. Here are my notes on the Boxcar Marketing site:

Everything You Know About Web Design Is Wrong
This was a quick comparison of transcendental changes in the film industry and how those same types of changes need to occur in web design.

Curating the Crowd Sourced World
Nice panel discussion from people who are currently letting the crowd do the driving (but, of course, the wheel is only controlled at any one time but one person). Perhaps the panelists are more interesting individually.

Fun Facts

SXSW Bag Pickup

There are 6500 registrants for the interactive portion. These are the participant bags.

The speakers’ name signs are last name only. This is so that the cards can be reused by all speakers with the same last name. Now that’s a cool planet-saving measure.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Birthday Goes On

My birthday usually lasts the full month. This behaviour wasn’t instituted by me. It came about because as a teen I lived in one place with lots of lovely friends and had lots of other lovely friends in another city. It meant that I got used to stretching out a birthday in order to make myself and others feel good about not being able to celebrate together on my actual birthday. The practice that started due to geography soon became habit so even now I love stretching out the celebrations.

This year was a truncated celebration. I was away in Jordan during the lead-up to my birthday, in a perfume workshop the weekend of my birthday, and have been bustling away with work since my birthday. The birthday celebration was Sunday night (Nov. 16) and there’s only been a quiet smattering of birthday wishes since. Not my usual full-blown agenda so I was very excited to get a bunch of cool mail this week.


Not in the mail, but stumbled up via Flickr, here’s the photo of my birthday party filling a full theatre row. (Thanks Travis.)


Thursday Andrew Zuckerman’s Creature arrived in the mail. Lovely, beautiful photographs from an amazing photographer. Andrew Zuckerman’s Wisdom is another worthwhile book (watch the video on his site). But Creature is eye-candy for the animal lover. It is about souls beyond human souls.

New Oils from Eden Botanicals

Friday afternoon my perfume oils from Eden Botanicals arrived. I’m looking forward to playing with the Black Currant.

Birthday Treats

Saturday morning the doorbell brought this tasty selection of treats from the Sherrett household. Thank you Linda!

Sunday morning the doorbell brought Alice Feiring’s The Battle for Wine and Love.

A perfect end to November. Thank you all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chronicle Book Reviews: Picture Books for Art Lovers

One of the great things about reviewing books is getting a chance to look at books that I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. For example, picture books. I have a small collection of picture books that I’ve bought because of the incredible artwork but these are not books I actively seek—unless I’m buying for my friends’ kids. (Ok, I secretly look at lots of picture books because I like illustration. I even hang out at “Make Things Night” with friends who are illustrators I just a hanger on.)

Raincoast Books recently sent me a couple of new Spring books from Chronicle Books that fall under the “beautiful artwork” category. They also have lovely stories.

Grandma Calls Me Beautiful: picture book from Chronicle BooksGrandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Team Barbara is well known to me because they previously published a very popular series called Mama, Do You Love Me and Papa, Do You Love Me. These were simple story books about a parents unconditional love. Barbara Lavallee’s watercolour illustrations are spectacular. In this book the setting appears to be Hawaii. I love the way she depicts Hawaiians and Alaskans in her paintings.

Wave by Suzy Lee
No text in this book. It’s a great graphic story book about a little girl playing in the waves. This is a fun book. Simple, beautiful. Black, white, blue and fun all over. I wanted to play in the waves after looking at this book. If I’m not mistaken this is the same Suzy Lee who published a very cheeky book called The Black Bird.

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosental and Jen Corace
Amy and Jen are the creators of Little Pea, one of my favourite picture books of all time. Little Pea is about a little pea whose parents force him to eat all his candy. It’s horrible: candy for breakfast, sweets at lunch, treats at dinner. Little Pea just wants his veggies. Little Hoot has a similar problem. He’s a little owl and his parents won’t let him go to bed early. Owls stay up late! And that’s that.

Only in Dreams: a Paul Frank Book by Parker Jacobs
Julius the Monkey is brought to life in the Paul Frank Books. I love this monkey. Who doesn’t love monkeys? The colours are bold! In this story Julius is off to dreamland. My favourite page is Julius paddling down a strawberry-milk river, near a frosted-cupcake village. I like this dream a lot.

Chronicle Books isn’t the only publisher with great picture books that take an irreverent approach to kids books. Harcourt Books has a fab book this season too.

Help Me, Mr. Mutt: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
“Are you always in the doghouse? Don’t yelp, get help! Write to Mr. Mutt, Canine Counselor ... Speedy replies guaranteed, complete with diagrams and tips. Help Me, Mr. Mutt is a hilarious collection of letters from dogs seeking advice. Totally brilliant.

Enter the Harcourt Books Contest for a chance to win a copy of Help Me, Mr. Mutt.

Janet and Susan has have an interview about writing the book. Get the inside scoop. Mr. Mutt is super cute. Find out if he or any of the other pups are based on Janet or Susan’s pets.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Book Review: Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years

Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years by Tony Nourmand (published by Chronicle Books) is a beautiful book of photos and essays on Audrey in front of the camera and behind the scenes. In addition to the photos, there’s lots of great images from the movie posters.

Watch my video review on YouTube.