"Electronic author cooperatives" read self-published e-books so you don’t have to: Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?, Awesome Indies and Rock*It Reads are three collectives that wade through the muck to find books that could go mainstream. Blogger Andrew Crofts speculates that this "hugely encouraging and inspiring model” could provide a solution to “to the great marketing dilemma – how do you get your book talked about and heard about when there is so much competitive din going on all around?"
After observing that of “most of the writers I have friendships with... we met online, interact online, and I know very very little about who they are, what they do everyday, what they care about aside from what they post online”, HMTL Giant’s Lily Hoang puts together a spreadsheet to break down the online vs. real time interactions with her writer friends.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is changing the wall text for its exhibition “The Steins Collect,” about Gertrude and her brothers’ role as art patrons, to reflect the family’s sympathy with and possible ties to France’s Vichy government.
After ordering a pilot episode, HBO has passed on a TV series based on The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen’s 2001 novel about a midwestern couple and their adult children. According to Variety, the one episode that was shot was directed by Noah Baumbach and starred Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Chris Cooper.
Borrowing a model that’s commonly used in virtual MFA workshops, Mediabistro is gearing up to host its first online literary festival. The festival will take place between July 16 and August 1, and will feature writing workshops, “manuscript critique[s]” and a series of online video addresses and Q&A sessions. Here’s the catch: it costs $425 to participate.
The Atlantic’s roundup of literary feuds suggests that it might be wise to stay on Richard Ford’s good side.
And speaking of expensive literary endeavors, it costs roughly $2,500 per stop to send a writer on a book tour. Publishing Perspectives wonders if it’s worth it.
Bill Clinton’s thoughts on the fourth installment of Robert Caro’s LBJ biography.
Ben Lerner’s excellent novel Leaving the Atocha Station has won the Believer Book Award.
A federal judge in Montana has cleared author Greg Mortenson of fraud and racketeering charges surrounding the publication of Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson’s book about building schools in Central Asia. Mortenson was sued last year after journalist Jon Krakauer accused him of exaggerating the story and of using donations from his charity to promote the book. The judge did not rule on whether the accusations were true—only that they were too “flimsy” to form the basis of a lawsuit.
Bioeconomics of Fisheries Management and Succeeding with Technology are two of the very few Western titles permitted at the ten-day-long Tehran Book Fair, which opens in the Iranian capital today, and is expected to draw up to 550,000 people a day. In previous years, the Fair has been an excuse for Iranian authors to censor books and publishers, though the Los Angeles Times writes that this doesn’t mean that the books disappear entirely: “Despite the firm dictates of religious and cultural ministers, a vibrant underground market for banned books and movies exists in Tehran.” One Tehran man even bragged to the paper, “Give me any banned or illegal book. I can copy it exactly like the original one in less than a week and market it in the network across the country.”
Steven King really, really wants to pay more taxes.
Charles Felix’s The Notting Hill Mystery, believed to be the world’s first detective novel, is back in print after one hundred and fifty years. According to the Guardian, the novel is about kidnapping, hypnotism, and crimes "in their nature and execution too horrible to contemplate"
Erika Anderson offers some observations on author photos: While fiction writers are typically photographed outdoors—usually in front of a bench, tree, or brick wall—poets tend to stay inside, and are “the only ones who wear hats or leather jackets with nothing underneath.” Regardless of genre, chunky sweaters, scarves, and “anything black” are always acceptable. (We personally long for a return of the author photo that also includes animals: See Jane Bowles and Barbara Pym.)
Johanna Kamradt has created an infographic charting the themes of this year’s Booker Prize-nominated novels.
In Istanbul, Orhan Pamuk has opened a museum that mirrors his 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence.
The University of Southern California has gotten a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to develop a video game based on Henry David Thoreau’s writings about Walden Pond. In the game, “the player will inhabit an open, three-dimensional game world which will simulate the geography and environment of Walden Woods.”
At last week’s London Book Fair, when writers and agents weren’t discussing the fallout from the Justice Department’s charges against e-book publishers, they were signing books deals. According to Publishers Weekly, William T. Vollmann and Erik Larson both sold new books, agent Carmen Balcells sold the Chinese rights to Gabriel García Márquez’s 100 Years of Solitude for a million dollars, and OKCupid founder Christian Rudder signed a book deal with Crown to write a nonfiction book called Dataclysm about “how data is transforming our lives.”
The publication of Bring Up the Bodies, Hillary Mantel’s much-anticipated sequel to her Tudor-era Wolf Hall, raises the question—do you need to read the first book before picking up the sequel?
Heidi Julavits discusses the editorial evolution of The Believer from a print-only magazine oriented towards 4,000-plus word pieces to a publication that can compete in the online economy of literary blogs and divided attention.
“Books will be smoother, faster, and slicker, and will be strongly influenced by space travel.” Thus spake bookseller Robert Berg to the Seattle Times in April 1962 when asked what the book industry would look like in the 21st Century.
The last time the New Yorker came close to changing its eccentric stance on diaeresis (not be confused with an umlaut) was 1978. Copy editor Mary Norris explains why.
McSweeney's offers some tips on how to write better.
A still from Life of Pi
In 2010, Brent Easton Ellis got into trouble for celebrating J.D. Salinger’s death in a tweet. He apologized, but two years on, Alexander Nazaryan argues that Ellis hasn’t gotten any better: “Reading the 538th tweet about how he is going to get stoned and watch The Lorax, you want to fly to Los Angeles, grab the guy by his shoulders and scream at him, ‘STOP TWEETING AND ACTUALLY WRITE SOMETHING.’"
Writer and sometimes Harper' columnist Larry McMurty has announced plans to downsize his Archer City, Texas, bookstore, Booked Up, by 350,000 volumes this August. To drive home the point that they’re not going out of business, the store’s website notes that Booked Up will continue to carry around 150,000 books.
Of the one hundred best-selling Kindle e-books this week, only fifteen were nonfiction.
Between recent books by Rajesh Parameswaran, Téa Obreht, Aravind Adiga and Yann Martel, The Millions claims that Tiger Lit has never been more popular... (Speaking of tigers, here’s the first still released from Ang Lee’s forthcoming adaptation of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, which stars a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.)
Eight years after n+1’s launch, editor Mark Greif reflects on the state of small magazines and their recent proliferation in the wake of Occupy Wall Street. After coming out of a tradition that produced the New Partisan and The Baffler, Greif says he now “care[s] about the New Inquiry, Triple Canopy, and Jacobin in New York, the Point in Chicago, the Los Angeles Review of Books on the west coast.”
Jon Cotner, coauthor of Ten Walks/Two Talks, will give his latest walking tour this Sunday in Central Park, where he will discuss the design philosophy of Frederick Law Olmstead and ponder the meaning of recreation.
HarperCollins is planning to release fifteen Milan Kundera audiobooks, including The Joke, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Book of Laughter, and Slowness.
Macmillan sci-fi imprint Tor/Forge announced this week that all of its e-books will be DRM-free by July, making it the first major publishing house to drop the digital restriction. In effect, this means that any Tor e-book bought on a Kindle will now be readable on an iPad or Sony e-reader or Nook—thus loosening Amazon’s control over the e-books it sells, which are currently only accessible through a Kindle.
At Salon, Jason Farago argues that novels written by straight authors about gay characters, like Herta Muller’s The Hunger Angel, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding, is a sign that “homosexuality may no longer be the taboo it once was, for writers—and for readers.”
Congratulations to Bookforum contributor Jacob Silverman for winning Jeopardy last night. He's on again tonight, and we hope he keeps it up...
At Htmlgiant, Lily Hoang asks writers if they’re friends with other writers whose work they don’t respect.
At his new blog “The Audacity of Despair,” The Wire creator and author David Simon explains why he’s “ambivalent” about posting his writings on his website: “Anything that says content should be free makes it hard for all writers, everywhere... A free internet is wonderful for democratized, unresearched commentary, and it works well as a library of sorts for content that no longer needs a defense of its copyright. But journalism, literature, film, music—these endeavors need people operating at the highest professional level and they need to make a living doing what they do.”
A Bronx cottage where Edgar Allen Poe lived for years will be awarded this week at the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards, known as the “Preservation Oscars.” The house, which Poe owned until his death in 1849, was built in 1812 and is now owned by the Bronx Historical Society.
Here is an in-depth history of Melville House’s “Art of the Novella” series, and of novellas in general in the age of #longform.
With Melville House books lining the walls of the fictional independent publisher in Lena Dunham’s show Girls, viewers could be forgiven for thinking that Dunham’s character was meant to be interning at the Brooklyn-based house (we did). But that’s not the case, says the Los Angeles Times. In 2006, at the recommendation of Lynne Tillman, Dunham interned at Soft Skull books under then-editor Richard Nash. "Oberlin kids were always smart and industrious," Nash said, referring to his former intern. "My bestselling authors were from Oberlin: David Rees, Matt Sharp... You basically said yes to Oberlin students when they wanted to intern." And as for the Melville House books, the publisher wouldn’t let them film in the office, so HBO rented their books to fill on-set shelves.
The Jana Partners hedge fund has purchased 6.59 million shares of Barnes & Noble, giving them an 11.6 percent stake in the company. As Publishers Weekly points out, Jana is a company "known for taking an activist role in companies in which it invests."
Hitler’s Mein Kampf hasn’t been published in Germany since the end of WWII, but that is expected to change when the book’s copyright expires in 2015. So to limit the potential damage that the book might cause when it returns to print, the German state of Bavaria—which owns the copyright to Mein Kampf—announced plans to publish an annotated version of the book that lays out "the global catastrophe that this dangerous way of thinking led to." According to Bavarian officials, an annotated English edition is also in the works—and an audiobook.
Joshua Cohen has won a Pushcart Prize for his short story “Emissions,” which was originally published in The Paris Review last summer, and will appear in his collection of novellas, Four New Messages, to be published by Graywolf Press in August. The story is available to read here. Hnd here is Adam Wilson’s review of Cohen’s novel A Heaven of Others. The Los Angeles Review of Books was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes—one for David Shields’s essay “Life is Short; Art is Shorter,” and another for Antoine Wilson’s “Notes on Hack.”
The Asian American Literary Review considers charge that Tao Lin is a “‘human meme,’ a walking, typing gimmick who routinely and unjustly captures milliseconds of the cultural hivemind’s time through his not-all-that-clever stunts.”
Last week, The New Yorker’s Ben Greenman, author of the novel Please Step Back, invited his Twitter followers to name the word they would most prefer to see permanently stricken from the English language. After weeding out the political picks (“Obama” and “war” were on many lists), Greenman found that there was an undisputed winner. “In the end, there was a runaway un-favorite: ‘moist.’ People, particularly women, evidently prefer aridity.” Still, "slacks" was the winner.
Hundreds of booksellers across the country gave away half a million copies of thirty pre-selected titles last night in honor of Free Book Night. Titles included Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun.
The future of Barnes & Noble may be in the hands of an “activist” hedge fund. Company stock jumped more than ten percent on Monday after Jana Partners revealed that it had bought more than twelve percent stake in the company. According to CNNMoney, Jana is known for “taking stakes in companies and then pushing for action,” and “could add pressure on Barnes & Noble to sell or spin off its Nook e-reader business.”
Alex Shakar’s second novel, Luminarium, beat out Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic and Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories to win this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books fiction award. In a review in our Fall 2011 issue, Justin Taylor noted that “Luminarium is one of those books that is not shy about being about what it’s about, and it’s about plenty: technology, faith, families, war, media, illness, New York, second chances, the aftermath of tragedy, and how grief shapes or even becomes the survivor’s life.”
On the Media’s annual episode on the publishing industry covers all the year’s hot-button issues, including the “fears of Amazon becoming a monopoly and the little publishing house standing up to it, a Pulitzer snub for fiction, and the problem of knock-off books.”
Literary tourism began with Faulkner-inspired pilgrimages to Mississippi, but as of late, tourism officials have expanded their horizons. In addition to Twilight-themed tours of the Pacific Northwest, Reuters reports, there are now outfits that allow participants to immerse themselves in The Hunger Games’ post-apocalytic world: “Fans ... will soon have a chance to channel the survivalist spirit of the novel's heroine by zip-lining through a North Carolina forest and taking classes in camouflage, archery, making fire, and shelter-building.”
Amelia Gray and Etgar Keret at the Los Angeles Times Festival of the Book
The New York state education commission scrapped a question on their middle school standardized English exam last week after widespread complaints that the question—a fable about a talking pineapple that challenged a hare to a race—made no sense. This week, the story's author, writer Daniel Pinkwater took to the Daily News to respond to the incident. "You bet I sold out," Pinkwater wrote an eighth grader who emailed him to complain. "Not to the Department of Education, but to the publisher of tests, useless programmed reading materials, and similar junk... You'd do the same thing if you were a writer, and didn't know where your next pineapple was coming from."
When David Markson died, his personal library was (in)famously donated to the Strand bookstore, where it was sold off in pieces. Now, bits of it are being reassembled in Reading Markson, a new blog dedicated to recording and interpreting the marginalia in Markson's books.
The AP Stylebook has yielded and accepted the modern usage of "hopefully" as correct. Prior to this, the only accepted meaning of the word was "in a hopeful manner."
It takes fifty-six hours to listen to the entire Infinite Jest audiobook, and that's not including footnotes. To resolve the issue of how to deal with the 388 footnotes, Hachette decided to use a different actor's voice to indicate when a note was included within the text. "It was the hardest book I ever had to narrate... it was maddening, engaging, enlightening, frustrating and entertaining," narrator Sean Pratt said of the experience.
In honor of the two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Germany is re-tooling a scenic tourist route from Frankfurt to Bremen as Fairy Tale Road: "Along its route, visitors can stay (in some style) in the very room from which Rapunzel was depicted as letting her hair down, and sleep in the tower where Sleeping Beauty supposedly pricked her finger."
Over four hundred writers participated in the Los Angeles Times's Festival of Books this weekend, which featured dozens of panels and sessions across the USC campus. Chad Harbach, Mona Simpson, Etgar Keret and others addressed everything from dealing with a successful novel to playfulness in fiction to crime and food writing. Full coverage of the events is up at the LAT's books blog.
C. E. Morgan, Luc Sante, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, John Wray, Philip Gourevitch, Ruth Franklin, and Gary Panter are among the fifteen winners of the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center fellowship, which awards grantees a private office, a stipend, and research assistance from library staff. If this weren’t enough, it’s been an especially good month for Wray and Franklin—last week, both were awarded Guggenheim fellowships.
David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis—starring Robert Pattinson—will be one of the main features at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. A complete festival lineup is available here, and a trailer for the movie (which looks awesome) is up at Slate.
Lena Dunham tells the New York Times that she loves autobiographies, biographies, and is obsessed with "The Private Diaries of Catherine Deneuve, in which we learn intimate details about working with titans of the French New Wave and she talks smack about Bjork.”
For just under $25, boutique publisher U Star books will reprint a paperback edition of a classic novel with your name in it. So far, twenty-seven books are available for personalizing, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Women, and The Three Musketeers. Notable omissions include Lolita and American Psycho.
Y.A. fiction isn’t a genre, it’s a category: the Atlantic Wire goes deep into the definition and history of the rapidly popularizing body of literature.
The New Yorker opened its fact-checking department in 1927 after a profile of Edna St. Vincent Millay went terribly wrong (her mother wrote in to complain). Here’s a short history of their published corrections from the following eighty-five years. Meanwhile, have you been wondering what New Yorker staffers are reading?
Penguin has bought the rights to Jonathan Safran Foer’s next book, Escape from Children’s Hospital, which is a fictionalized account of a real explosion JSF experienced at a summer science camp when he was nine. The incident “left Safran Foer's best friend without skin on his face or hands,” and left the author “unscathed by inches.” The book will be released in early 2014.
They didn’t win the Pulitzer, but the three books nominated have seen a spike in their Amazon sales. Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams jumped from #990 to #98, Karen Russell’s Swamplandia went from #984 to #155, and The Pale King is now #561 (paperback) and #625 (hardcover).
Ted Hughes’s 92-year-old brother Gerald has written a memoir about their childhood in Yorkshire, England. The manuscript was “discovered” at the London book fair this week, when the poet’s daughter mentioned to a publisher that her uncle was putting the finishing touches on the book. "It's an evocative account of their childhood together,” publisher Jeremy Robson said of Ted and I, which will come out in the UK this fall. “Roaming the fields, fishing, shooting—all the material for Ted's later poems, and a good deal more."
Americans are dominating the shortlist for Britain’s Orange Prize—an annual award granted to a novel written by a woman in English. Of the six nominees, four—Cynthia Ozick, Ann Patchett, Madeline Miller, and Canadian Esi Edugyan—hail from this side of the Atlantic.
Jonathan Lethem “writes” a YouTube essay on Roosevelt, New Jersey, for The New Inquiry.
Knopf is pulling a 2666 and will release Haruki Murakami’s epic IQ84 as a three-book paperback set. You can see John Gall’s design (which we prefer over the Chip Kidd hardcover) here.
Portland’s innovative Publication Studio, the brainchild of novelist Matthew Stadler and Patricia No, is in New York to showcase some of its latest titles, which include Kevin Killian’s Spreadeagle and STS’s Golden Brothers. (We also recommend Dodie Bellamy’s The Buddhist.) Their series of events starts tonight with a mixer at MoMA, continues on Friday at Printed Matter, and then, on Saturday, moves to a restaurant for a five-course meal.