The Last Bill Blog

Endings are really just another way of beginning. And as another end looms for me, so another beginning awaits. And very soon. It’s time for another step in a continuing and memorable journey that has enabled me to share the most wonderful of jobs for the last decade. And to share it with tens of thousands of people whose affection and support will always be carried with me.

Goblinproofing And Other Books

The winners of the new Diagram Literary Prize have been announced in Great Britain, and you’ll be delighted to know that the winner — and surely a most deserving book — is “Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop.” Yes, Reginald Bakeley’s epic survey of the fairy kingdom’s assault on fowls is finally available. You’ll want to check it out along with the other nominees for this wacky book title award.

Selling E-Books

If you harbored any doubts about the rise of the e-book — and you didn’t really, did you? — Publishers Weekly has come up with some statistics that show how successful they have become: more than 1,000 of them have sold more than 25,000 copies (or whatever you want to call them) over the last couple of years. And that coincides with a downturn in sales for the once-popular mass market paperback.

Award winners and Philip Roth

The recently announced National Book Critics Circle Awards include the usual deserving titles and idiosyncratic choices. Wonder how many of these books you’ve read given that almost without exception they haven’t shown up on anyone’s best-seller lists? And wondering also if you can really appreciate the self-consciousness that goes into a lot of these annual selections?

Recalling 1963

While the sports world looks back at Michael Jordan in the wake of his 50th year, I thought I’d look back to the literary world of 50 years ago. It was a time when luminaries like William Faulkner were still alive and writing, when everyone was reading “The Shoes of the Fisherman” and poetry was suffering one of its worst years. Please come along for a short journey back to another remarkable time.

Bookselling News

Word is out that the bookselling behemoth Barnes & Noble plans to close about 300 stores over the next 10 years, almost one-third of its outlets nationally. The announcement has surprised both supporters and opponents of the huge chain, though it’s very difficult for any of us who care about bookstores and reading to find even a glimmer of good news in this.

Out of Print Lists

If you enjoy looking over lists, here’s an offbeat one for you: it’s the 100 most searched-for out-of-print books in America. When you take a look at the entire list, you might wonder why anyone would be searching for some of those titles, but on the other hand, you just might be one of those secret Kyle Onstott fans. If you’re wondering what that means, we invite you to read on, please.

2012 Bestsellers

What were the books that Americans bought in the biggest numbers in 2012? Would you be surprised to know that about half of the list of the 20 top-selling books published last year were either Fifty Shades of Gray or Hunger Games titles? Would it surprise you to know what the remainder of the top 20 list looks like? We invite you to take a peep inside for some startling sadomasochistic, post-apocalyptic revelations.

Making Resolutions

The arrival of a new year brings with it a desire by many people to make resolutions, usually to do something better. It seems a noble idea, though surveys show Americans are pretty much divided about whether or not it’s a good idea. In fact, Americans are pretty much divided over a lot of things these days, including whether or not our major political parties are making sense any longer. Perhaps we need compromises, specially those of us who have resolved never to make resolutions. If you’re in that category or just need a little light reading, may we urge you on …

Finding Comfort at Christmas

Re-reading Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has always been a welcome and much anticipated holiday tradition for me, as has a laughing perusal of the Christmas sections of that author’s wonderful “Pickwick Papers.” This year, however, I didn’t quite get the same spirit-lifting feeling I can usually count on from them. That’s because things are a little different this Christmas; there’s an extra urgency to be with loved ones for joy and comfort. We all need extra doses of that as we approach the end of 2012.