I’ve been crushing on simplicity lately. Mostly this is an Internet Affair, reading about other people’s efforts to purge their homes of unneeded dreck. The best on this subject is our former girlfriend (Joshilyn Jackson)’s hilarious blog about getting her things in order and (not coincidentally) how her brain works. I am similarly disposed. I love the idea that I too could pare down my belongs to 126 items.… Read More
Coco Chanel and the Ballets Russes
On May 5, 1921 – the fifth day of the fifth month – Coco Chanel had a gift for her soigné clientele. She had commissioned Ernest Beaux, known as le nez (the nose), to create a variety of fragrances for her review. Number five was the clear winner. Chanel No. 5 would become the best-selling perfume of all time, with current estimates that a bottle is sold every 30 seconds around the globe.… Read More
This Earth Day, let’s consider earth: meaning, the sense of the word as a synonym for soil.… Read More
Don’t Just Talk About the Weather
Last December, an American milestone passed virtually unnoticed. Forty years earlier, Harrison Schmitt became the 12th and last person to walk on the moon. Mr. Schmitt and the 11 men who preceded him — beginning with Neil Armstrong in 1969 — had this in common: All were employees of the United States government.… Read More
“The Boys,” Hollywood and the Awakening of a Young Writer
I'd like to write a bit about my father, Philip G. Epstein, and my uncle, Julius J. Epstein, and the feud that developed between them and their boss, Jack L. Warner--a feud that shines a certain light on larger conflicts in American culture.… Read More
First Hand Report from Bahrain
The movement opposing Bahrain’s autocratic monarchy is gaining strength in what has become the longest-running uprising of the Arab Spring. Demonstrators clashed with security forces Thursday [February 14] as they marked the revolt’s second anniversary and shots were fired by security forces.… Read More
The Future of Books
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is held every January and is the industry showcase for technological innovation. In the past it has been the launchpad for milestones such as the first CD player; the Camcorder; the Plasma TV and the Xbox.
This year there was no single product that caught everyone’s imagination but something very significant did happen: It was generally agreed that this was the breakout year for the ‘Internet of Things.’… Read More
If the Shoe Fits
Full disclaimer: I am a 46-year-old, happily married, professionally successful mother of three. I have advanced degrees from Ivy League universities. I’ve met former Presidents. I vote Democratic; I believe strongly in women’s rights. And yet I am still hopelessly, totally reduced to starry-eyed dreaminess by the story of Cinderella.… Read More
Verbal Tics and Political Routines
A lot of what we say and do becomes habit-forming. Groundhog Day 2013 could serve as a reminder that some political habits should be kicked. Here are a few:… Read More
Israel’s Election and the Iran Crisis
Israel’s January 22 elections will produce a new government. The extent to which it will differ from the outgoing government remains to be seen. But efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons might be affected. Could the composition of a new Israeli government indirectly impact the Israeli-U.S. discourse on Iran's nuclear program?… Read More
Losing My Religion?
Last week NPR was asking Catholic listeners to call in and share their thoughts about birth control. I found myself wondering whether I’d meet the test. I was certainly steeped in the culture and tradition. My great-grandmother went to Mass to pray for a husband. She met a prosperous widower who’d lost his first job for being Catholic. My grandmother was their eighteenth child. Her inheritance went to the Jesuits. I spent my childhood in parochial schools. I’m the sixth of ten, or seventh of eleven, if you count my oldest sister’s twin.… Read More
The Next Wave of the EBook Revolution
In the old days, Christmas was a time for a huge upswing in book sales. Gifts such as celebrity memoirs, gorgeous illustrated reference books, quirky humorous one-offs, limited editions from fiction authors, and of course endless cookbooks dominated the market. So important was this period that publishers all over the world would gamble huge amounts of time and money in the hope of scoring a Christmas bestseller. Nowadays, while there is no denying that Christmas gifts are crucial to the book industry, a whole new set of dynamics has emerged that are even more important.
The most critical is how Christmas drives tablet sales.… Read More
How to Build a Grassroots Power Base
Millions of Americans are eager, even desperate, for a political movement that truly challenges the power of Wall Street and the Pentagon. But accommodation has been habit-forming for many left-leaning organizations, which are increasingly taking their cues from the party establishment: deferring to top Democrats in Washington, staying away from robust progressive populism, and making excuses for the Democratic embrace of corporate power and perpetual war. It’s true that many left-of-center groups are becoming more sophisticated in their use of digital platforms for messaging, fundraising and other work. But it’s also true that President Obama’s transactional approach has had demoralizing effects on his base. Even the best resources—mobilized by unions, environmental groups, feminist organizations and the like—can do only so much when many voters and former volunteers are inclined to stay home.… Read More
Penguin Random House
Analysts everywhere are talking about this merger as being inevitable and the assumption is that more will follow quickly. This belief is predicated on the fact that Amazon, Apple and Google are completely redefining the business sector now that ebooks and online retailing have taken such a firm hold.
By combining forces, Penguin and Random House hope they will be able to bring down costs, but in an era where almost everything is moving digital, this isn’t really about saving on warehouses or transport.… Read More
In The Beginning
When I started my agency I lugged manuscripts around New York City dropping off my clients’ work by hand and on foot. From my studio apartment/office I’d head to Farrar Straus at Union Square and St. Martins in the Flat Iron Building and then schlepp to the large publishing houses in midtown. Sometimes I’d grab a cab rationalizing that it cost so much less than a bike messenger would have, which was true.… Read More