paper trail

Jun 27, 2013 @ 12:42:00 am

Shirley Jackson

When Shirley Jackson published her short story “The Lottery” in the New Yorker in 1948, the magazine received more mail than it ever had before about a work of fiction. The story, about an unnamed American town that would select one of its residents to be stoned to death each year, also resulted in hundreds of angry letters to Jackson herself, most of which fell into one of three categories: “bewilderment, speculation, and plain old-fashioned abuse.” Was the story meant to be pure fiction, or scathing political critique? To get to the bottom of Jackson’s intentions, her biographer (and Bookforum contributor) Ruth Franklin visits the archives and speaks with the writer’s contemporaries.

Flavorwire digs up wedding photos of sixteen famous authors, including Roald Dahl, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Mitchell, William Styron, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Mary McCarthy.

If SparkNotes isn’t your thing (and you don’t actually need to know the details of a book) try ThugNotes, “a popular new YouTube series in which a fellow named Sparky Sweet tells you everything you need to know about classic literature.”

According to a very grim earnings report, Barnes and Noble had a rough 2012, thanks largely to nosediving sales on the Nook e-reader. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company’s digital business sales dropped 34 percent in the last quarter of 2012 compared with the year before, and its overall annual digital sales fell by 16.8 percent.

Book sales may be falling, but e-book sales are on the rise, as demonstrated by the uptick in tablet sales (well, except Nooks) and the launch of a number of digital-only imprints. The interesting thing about many of these imprints, Graeme McMillan observes in Wired magazine, is that many of them specialize in genre fiction. In fact, big publishers are banking on sci-fi, romance, and mystery books to be their big sellers, and “in the case of some genre titles, as much as 60 to 70 percent of the sales are digital.” McMillan explores some of the the reasons behind “genre dominance” in digital publishing.

According to the outgoing head of the Bank of England, Jane Austen is "quietly waiting in the wings" to replace Charles Darwin on the British £10 note.