Archive for November, 2007
A few weeks ago I jokingly mentioned a Burglar’s Dog gig guide. Well here’s the next best thing – the Dog aka Mark Jones reviews the singles in the latest issue of NARC magazine. Click on the image below for a readable version. Pete Doherty fans needn’t bother.
One of our favourite book bloggers, Grumpy Old Bookman aka Michael Allen, has announced he is taking a sabbatical from blogging. His incisive views on the publishing industry have been a regular lunchtime read for us, and he has always been kind to us at Tonto. He might return to blogging in a year or so, he says, but until then we wish him very well. The blog will remain online, serving as a very useful resource for anyone with an interest in books. And every aspiring writer should read Michael’s (free) essay On The Survival of Rats In The Slush Pile and get hold of his book The Truth About Writing, which he also offers as a free PDF.
If you’re at all familiar with the work of The Burglar’s Dog you’ll appreciate why we found the newspaper article posted below quite amusing. The headline “IT’S PARTY TIME” could hardly be less appropriate for a piece about the grumpy old dog, and the accompanying photo of drunken teenage revellers doesn’t quite match his demographic. But perhaps this will introduce the book to a whole new set of fans? Will teenage girls buy the book, take its advice, ditch the Bigg Market, and start drinking in the Newcastle Arms? (That fine establishment’s regulars will hope not.) Only time will tell.
The article was meant to be a Burglar’s Dog’s guide to a Christmas night out, but that seems to have been lost somewhere. Fear not, we’ll post the guide here on the blog nearer to Christmas. In the meantime, you can read the article by clicking on the image below. Thanks to Ron Wilcox, manager of Borders at Gateshead’s Team Valley for the quote: “It is a really popular book and will be great as a Christmas present. It is the funniest book in the world.’
Elsewhere, number one Newcastle United website NUFC.com is hosting a series of special Burglar’s Dog pre-match pub reviews, and running a Burglar’s Dog compo.
Friday 30 November is the deadline for your votes. As we’ve seen various other organisations suggesting that people can vote for them, I thought I’d give us a little plug in case any of you were considering a vote… but looking at the website, I discovered that Newcomer of the Year has to be an ‘artist’ rather than a company. Shame, because we were certain we’d win. A friend of mine sent me a text message the other day saying he was voting for Tonto as Newcomer of the Year because we ‘gave books a kick up the a*se’, so at least the judges at The Journal will get a laugh out of the process.
Tonto Press has published two deserving newcomers this year Pete Tanton who won Tonto New Novelist competition and Mark Jones who wrote The Burglar’s Dog, so if you fancy voting for them, you can do so by clicking here.
I think celebrating the arts (especially in our own region) is a good thing. It would be great to see some writers get a mention or some of the many literature events that are now happening in the North East.
So Amazon has launched its electronic book reader, the Kindle. It uses the same “paper-like” display as Sony’s reader, can store 200 books, and offers wireless connectivity. At a hefty $399 (Amazon won’t ship them outside of the US) it’s sold out already. But not everyone is happy with their purchase. The average customer rating as of today is just 2.5 stars out of 5.
My initial reaction, judging solely from the photos, is that it looks pretty ugly. It looks dated in “Apple White”, which Apple stopped using a few years ago. Jonathan Ive certainly hasn’t been anywhere near this one. Some of the features seem unnecessary. It allows users to read newspapers and blogs – but so does the internet, available on most modern mobile phones. Also, although Amazon’s backing means a large number of titles will soon be available for download, at around $9.99 each they’re not much cheaper than a good old paperback.
I can see how something like this would be useful for business purposes, to carry many previously bulky reference and text books, but for leisure I think people will stick to old fashioned books – at least until Apple comes up with something more desirable than Amazon’s effort.
So you’re trying to place an ad in the Guardian’s Review section, like you did last year. After two weeks of unanswered phone messages and emails you finally get hold of someone who can help. The price is agreed, the ad is booked, and you’re ready to supply the ad artwork as a print ready file, like you did last year. Only the Guardian no longer accepts files direct. So you have to go through a middle man and pay an extra fee. Only the middle man doesn’t accept print ready files. He only accepts designers’ files, converting them to print ready, then supplying them to the Guardian. If you already have print ready files, he says, then there’s nothing he can do for you. You get back to the Guardian and explain the situation. Can’t they just accept the file direct, like they did last year? After all, it is only a classified ad? No. So you can’t place the ad. This country, the Guardian isn’t what it used to be, Charlie Brooker’s the only bit worth reading, etc.
We’re trying out RankTracer, a service for tracking Amazon rankings and estimating sales. You can follow a book’s progress on the website and via weekly and monthly reports for $2 per month. It’s a US-based site, but you can track sales on Amazon.co.uk. For example, today I can see that The Burglar’s Dog has sold an estimated 4 copies in the last 24 hours, and 33 in the last week. This is obviously useful to any author or publisher who habitually checks their Amazon rankings once or twice a day. Most interesting is RankTracer’s provision of estimated sales figures. I’ve seen various investigations into how Amazon’s sales rankings correlate to sales figures (like this one), but most have been based on the US site, which obviously sells a lot more books than the UK site. Because of the way books are sold – via wholesalers, then via retailers, and then with the deadly spectre of returns hanging over everything – it can often be months before publishers (and authors) can have accurate sales figures to hand. So anything that can give a barometer of how a book is selling has to be useful.
The Rocketbelt Caper is featured in the new Christmas issue of T3 gadget magazine. You can see the printed article by clicking on the image below. The published text is quite a bit shorter than the supplied copy, so if you’d like to read the original text it’s posted below.
FROM SCI-FI TO REALITY
Buck Rogers and James Bond owned one â€“ now you can too
“No well-dressed man should be without one,” quipped Sean Connery of the amazing flying rocketbelt as James Bond whizzed over the heads of befuddled Spectre henchman in Thunderball. But this most sought-after of sci-fi gadgets is much more than a movie prop. The rocketbelt is real â€“ originally developed by the Nazis and then the US Army, before becoming the world’s most profitable entertainment attraction. Powered by highly-concentrated Hydrogen Peroxide, the flying backpack lifts its pilot into the air on a jet of supercharged steam. Now gadget fans who find the iPhone a tad dull can purchase their own personal flying machine. The folks at Tecaeromex (www.tecaeromex.com) will sell you a custom-made rocketbelt, plus fuel lab and training package, for $250,000. That should make the commute to work a lot more interesting, but watch out for telephone wires â€“ the words “cheese” and “slicer” spring to mind.
1939 â€“ Buck Rogers introduces sci-fi fans to the concept of the flying “rocketbelt”
1945 â€“ Nazi scientists try â€“ and (thankfully) fail â€“ to build the “Skystormer” rocketbelt
1953 â€“ Engineer Wendell Moore develops the first working rocketbelt for the US Army
1965 â€“ Sean Connery’s James Bond evades bad guys using a rocketbelt in Thunderball
1984 â€“ 2.5 billion people watch the rocketbelt spectacularly open the LA Olympics
1991 â€“ Disney’s The Rocketeer battles nasty Nazi spies with a flying rocketbelt
1995 â€“ Three Texan friends build the best ever rocketbelt â€“ the RB-2000
1998 â€“ A feud over the RB-2000 ends in lawsuits, kidnapping and murder
2001 â€“ Tom Cruise flies a futuristic rocketbelt in Minority Report
2008 â€“ Pretty Bird, starring Paul Giamatti and based on the RB-2000 story, will open
“The Rocketbelt Caper: A True Tale of Invention, Obsession and Murder” by Paul Brown (ISBN 9780955218378, Tonto Press, Â£8.99) reveals the secret history of the rocketbelt, and tells the full story of the RB-2000 murder.
Are you a student in Newcastle? Are you bewildered by the limitless sprawl of Newcastle’s legendary drinking scene? Have you spent all of Mummy and Daddy’s money already? Fear not, because we’ve teamed up with Newcastle University’s Courier newspaper and Blackwell’s bookshop to offer a full English pound off The Burglar’s Dog, the indispensable guide to the eighth best party city in the world. The Alternative Guide to Drinking in Newcastle upon Tyne will tell you where to go, where to avoid, and assess your likelihood of getting a sound beating if you stumble into the wrong drinking hole. Essential reading, I’d say. Just print and cut out the voucher below (click on the image first to get the full-size version) and present in to Blackwell’s on Percy Street at Newcastle’s Haymarket before 31st December 2007 to receive Â£1 off the cover price. There’s also a compo in the article below, with a closing date of tomorrow, Friday 16th.
[Are you NOT a student? There's no reason why you can't print out and use the voucher as well.]
Californication is a new TV show, currently airing on Five in the UK, starring David Duchovny as Hank Moody, a writer who has forgotten how to write and now spends his time blogging and, erm, fornicating his way around California. In this week’s episode, Hank gave a careers talk to a school class. ‘Being a writer blows,’ he said. ‘It’s like having homework every day for the rest of your life.’ Fairly un-PC but reasonably amusing, Californication could be one to watch for more useful writing advice.