Bluff The Listener
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Roxanne Roberts, Faith Salie and Luke Burbank. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill.
SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.
Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
RHIANNON RIEGER: Hi, this is Rhiannon from New Castle, Pa., about an hour north of Pittsburg.
SAGAL: Well, thank you for answering my first question.
SAGAL: Did you say your name is Rhiannon?
RIEGER: Rhiannon, yes.
SAGAL: Were you named for the Fleetwood Mac song?
SAGAL: You were? That's awesome. How old were you when you found out what those people were really like?
RIEGER: (Laughter) Old enough to know I kind of like that.
SAGAL: Yeah, they're pretty cool. Do people expect things from you because you're named Rhiannon? Do they expect you to wear, like, gauzy, flowy outfits like Stevie Nicks does, or...
RIEGER: Luckily I do most of the time.
SAGAL: Oh, well, there you are.
LUKE BURBANK: Wow.
SAGAL: Well, Rhiannon, welcome to the show.
RIEGER: Thank you.
SAGAL: You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Rhiannon's topic?
KURTIS: Try reading a book.
SAGAL: 2017 stands to be a great year for the publishing industry, what with all the people buying books for the burnings we'll be having in town squares.
SAGAL: Don't come empty-handed. Our panelists are going to tell you about a new trend in publishing. Pick the one who's telling the truth, you'll win our prize, Carl Kasell's voice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?
RIEGER: I am ready.
SAGAL: All right, Rhiannon, first let's hear from Luke Burbank.
BURBANK: Sales of e-books have soared in recent years. Customers report enjoying the convenience of being able to bring hundreds of books with them anywhere they go. But what if you don't actually have time to read those books but you still want to sound super smart at parties or on dates? That would be impossible, right? Well, not anymore. Meet the Amazon Whisper, which debuted this week. It offers customers the option of having Alexa, the Amazon Echo robot, on standby to whisper plot details and opinions about books into their ears via wireless ear buds.
BURBANK: Gone are the days of nodding along like you know what people are talking about.
BURBANK: No more gaffes like saying, boy, they never did find that fountain, did they, in reference to "The Fountainhead."
BURBANK: Or, and to think he'd one day become U.S. president when the novel "Ulysses" by James Joyce is mentioned. The service is $5.99 extra per book except for anything written by Bill O'Reilly, which is an extra $20 because even algorithmic robots have some standards.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: The Whisper program from Amazon which will whisper useful and true facts about books in your ear so you can converse intelligently. Your next story of someone rocking the book world comes from Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: First there were audiobooks, then adult coloring books and now complicated books for uncomplicated people. Political experts say President Trump connected with millions of voters because he spoke at a sixth-grade level. Now, Modern Classics is launching a new series of simpler more accessible versions of its literary library. "Grapes Of Wrath," for example, is now about people who drive across the country in their Prius and don't know how to fix it when it breaks down.
ROBERTS: "The Great Gatsby" is mostly tips for throwing a great party in the Hamptons.
ROBERTS: "Moby Dick" is just 40 pages about a guy who wants a decent fish dinner at Red Lobster.
ROBERTS: Quote, "we are extremely excited to bring these iconic titles to a new audience," editor James Charrington (ph) told Publishers Weekly. Reading is fundamental, but it doesn't have to be hard.
SAGAL: Complicated books made uncomplicated for an uncomplicated readership. Your last story about something new in publishing comes from Faith Salie.
FAITH SALIE: How in the world do you get millennials, who grew up with smartphones and Facebook and an infinite number of TV shows on demand, to actually read a book? [Expletive] if I know.
SALIE: Actually, that's a solution. Profanity, and a crap load of it, right on the cover of the book. More and more books are bearing titles that contain curse words, such as the trendy adult coloring book "F-Off (ph), I'm Coloring." There are cookbooks like, "Bake Sales Are My Biotch (ph)" and a new primer called "[Expletive] Apostrophes."
SALIE: Marc Resnick, editor of "If You Give A Kid A Cookie Will He Shut The F Up?" says...
SALIE: ...If you don't like, don't buy it. Books have a lot to compete with these days.
SAGAL: Aw. All right, so...
SAGAL: ...One of these is a new trend in publishing. Is it from Luke Burbank, a service that will actually whisper in your ear the true details and insights into various works of literature so you can sound smart? From Roxanne Roberts, great works made very, very, very, very, very simple for the modern reader? Or from Faith Salie, just profanity, just a lot of swearin' when it comes to literature? Which of these is the real story of a publishing trend?
RIEGER: While the first two are very believable, I'll never forget the first time I heard about the book, "Go The Bleep To Sleep."
RIEGER: So I'm going to go with number three.
SAGAL: OK, your choice is Faith's story about profanity in publishing. To find out the correct answer, well, we spoke to someone high up in that industry.
GAIL GONZALES: I don't think anyone wants to be gratuitous, but of the projects I see that get published they're putting the best of the curse words out there.
SAGAL: That was Gail Gonzales, who's the publisher of Rodale Books. She's talking about the new trend toward swearing in book titles. But you...
RIEGER: Thank you, though.
SAGAL: ...You got it, Rhiannon. You won a point for Faith just for swearing. And you, of course...
RIEGER: Whoo, (laughter) I had faith in you, Faith.
SAGAL: ...Have won our prize, the voice of Carl Kasell. Thank you so much, Rhiannon, for playing.
SALIE: Thanks, Rhiannon.
RIEGER: All right, take care.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWEARIN' TO GOD")
FRANKIE VALLI: (Singing) Swearin' to God, there's no one else on earth I'd rather be. Mm, swearin' to God...
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