Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead

Posted July 21st, 2010 by Grant

Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead may seem like a surprising title since the band was never popular in the sense that The Beatles or U2 were. But the Grateful Dead did have a vast following which they built up without the constant air time and massive chart successes other bands needed. As the internet comes of age and social media marketing moves to the fore, it makes sense to look to real-world outsider marketers like the Grateful Dead. Their example of grass-roots community-building and direct “customer service” is worth exploring — especially now that the internet is geared toward making that approach faster and more practical than ever.

Mountain of Crumbs

Posted July 20th, 2010 by Grant

Elena Gorokhova grew up in Leningrad during the Cold War, and A Mountain of Crumbs — a memoir with the sweep of a great Russian novel — is her narrative about her day-to-day struggle at home and at school in the Soviet Union. The story covers her life from age five to twenty-four when she left for America after marrying a graduate student from New Jersey. Read More…

Free eBooks from Barnes & Noble

Posted July 16th, 2010 by Grant

Barnes & Noble has announced that they’ll be giving away free eBook versions of classic books each week for the summer. To take advantage of the offer, go to and sign up for a account, if you don’t already have one. You really can’t go wrong with free classic books.

The Shallows

Posted June 16th, 2010 by Grant

Huh? Oh yeah, Nicholas Carr wrote a book called The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. It’s all about how the web is making our brains more… something or other. Flighty I think it was. Less able to concentrate on one thing for more than a moment. Excuse me while I go Google “plus fours”. What are or rather were those exactly?

The Upside of Irrationality

Posted June 11th, 2010 by Grant

The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at HomeAuthor Dan Arialy talks about his new book The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home with NPR’s Robert Siegal here: Exploring the ‘Upside of Irrationality’. Not surprisingly, Arialy and Siegal discuss some surprisingly counterintuitive examples of irrationality in action. What’s most encouraging about Arialy’s latest book is how it reveals irrationality to be a good thing in certain circumstances. Behaving with disregard to pure logic can have as much to do with people acting against their baser instincts as much as for them.

Lips Unsealed

Posted June 7th, 2010 by Grant

Lips Unsealed: A MemoirAging pop stars are unpretty things. Though a few manage to remain respectable (and a handful even somehow remain relevant), most become classic has-beens scrambling for attention by jumping on bandwagons and harping on past achievements. They then usually write their autobiography when it’s far too late for anyone to care except for super-fans and sad people trapped in the same fairyland of lost youth. Case in point: Belinda Carlisle. Once the glamorous lead singer for the meteoric 1980s girl group The Go-Gos, Carlisle went on to a lackluster solo career and virtual anonymity. Lips Unsealed: A Memoir is her new autobiography detailing her rise and fall, plus a lot of drug abuse. It’s pretty self-indulgent and probably only interesting to truly die-hard fans of Carlisle and/or The Go-Gos. Read More…

How to Wreck a Nice Beach

Posted May 30th, 2010 by Grant

How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop, The Machine SpeaksAnyone who’s found themselves entranced by the sound of electronically altered human speech will understand the almost emotional infatuation that led to author Dave Tompkins’ How to Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder from World War II to Hip-Hop, The Machine Speaks. What’s really fascinating is that there’s a whole lot more to the invention and development of the vocoder than just the effort to create a cool musical device. Not only was it surprisingly invented way back in 1928, the vocoder actually owes much of its development to WWII-era cryptography. The Allies would use it to break down recorded messages into their constituent frequencies, transmit them electronically, and then reassemble them once received. Read More…

New Book by Mark Twain

Posted May 25th, 2010 by Grant

According to The Independent, Mark Twain will be publishing a new book this year. No, the reports of his death were not greatly exaggerated — although it would be wonderful if that were the case. The book is an autobiography which he stipulated should not be published until 100 years after his death. Evidently, it contains quite a bit of scandalous gossip and bilious social commentary that he didn’t want made public until well after his death and the deaths of his contemporaries. It’s now been a full century since Twain died in 1910, and the first volume of three will be released in November of this year. Read More…

The Making of The Empire Strikes Back

Posted May 22nd, 2010 by Grant

Not really just in time, but close enough, is the upcoming release of The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back by J.W. Rinzler. The book will be released in October 2010, although the actual 30th anniversary for the release of the film was yesterday. Along with insights into how the special effects and famous characters were developed, the book will also include new interviews with Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams.

Imperial Bedrooms

Posted May 20th, 2010 by Grant

Imperial BedroomsEsquire has published an exclusive excerpt of Bret Easton Ellis’s latest novel Imperial Bedrooms. It’s available here: Exclusive Excerpt: Read the Beginning of Bret Easton Ellis’ New Book. Imperial Bedrooms is Ellis’s sequel to his quintessential first novel Less Than Zero, and reintroduces many of the same characters 25 years on.

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