• W.G. Sebald
    September 02, 2010

    Sep 2, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    In a letter to shareholders filed with the S.E.C., Barnes and Noble's board of directors write that they believe Los Angeles-based investor Ronald Burkle has "a self-serving agenda to seize control of Barnes and Noble," and outline actions that the shareholders can take to thwart the coup. They write: "Burkle has provided no strategic vision and offered no plan for the Company’s future. Instead, he continues to take conflicting positions, hoping shareholders will be taken in. We think only one conclusion is clear—you cannot believe what Burkle says, and you certainly do not want him in

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  • From Take Ivy, photo by Teruyoshi Hayashida.
    September 01, 2010

    Sep 1, 2010 @ 8:47:00 am

    The Guardian's Books blog has begun its "Not the Booker Prize" competition, where you can nominate a book to win England's second most coveted literary award. Read the wonderfully wry terms and conditions (all twelve of them) before you vote, but think twice before nominating yourself: 2009's winner, Rana Dasgupta, found his triumph to be "very depressing."

    Random House reports that it saw a boost in profits in the first half of 2010. Thanks, Stieg Larsson!

    As students make their way back to college, powerHouse Books is publishing a reprint of the 1965 cult classic Take Ivya collection of

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  • August 31, 2010

    Aug 31, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    On July 30, Kevin Morrissey, the managing editor of the Virginia Quarterly Reviewtook his own life. Following that, questions were raised about how the award-winning literary magazine, which is  affiliated with the University of Virginia, has been run under editor Ted Genoways. Most have questioned how the magazine spent its money, and some have debated whether Genoways was a "bully" in the workplace. But no one predicted that the small-print-run journal would cancel its winter issue and close its offices—or that it would become national news. That this is happening a month after Morrissey's

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  • John Clare
    August 30, 2010

    Aug 30, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    In the past couple of weeks big-name agents like Andrew Wylie and authors like Seth Godin have used e-books to challenge traditional publishing, making us protectively clutch our paperbacks. At Digital Book World, Emily Williams examines the crucial questions of copyright and contracts in the emerging battle to control the e-book future, while at The Atlantic, Tim Carmody looks back at "10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books." The latest craze of the heady e-book era, the Kindle 3, is out now and earning rave reviews; John Naughton explains why this version of Amazon's e-reader will thrive: "

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  • A Penguin/Odyssey Editions title
    August 27, 2010

    Aug 27, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Following Random House's e-book deal with Andrew Wylie earlier this week, Penguin is now negotiating with the super-agent about digital rights to books in Wylie's direct-to-Amazon Odyssey Editions. Insiders speculate that the deal with Random house nets up to 40 percent for backlist titles by Wylie's clients (a significant raise from the old 25 percent rate). According to the website The Bookseller, Wylie's DIY Odyssey imprint has been whittled down from twenty titles to seven—if negotiations with Penguin succeed, there will be only a handful of titles from his e-book gambit left.

    Over at the

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  • Alberto Caeiro da Silva, one of Fernando Pessoa's many aliases.
    August 26, 2010

    Aug 26, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Rick Gekoski's article about the Man Booker Prize gives you a real sense of the importance of British literary awards—or perhaps just the self-importance of authors nominated for them. Either way, the famously malcontent author Thomas Bernhard would have a field day mocking the pompousness (though he'd probably pocket the prize money anyway).

    Music fans will have the satisfaction of seeing Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards read from his forthcoming autobiography, Life, at the New York Public Library on October 29th, leaving us to wonder not just how he's survived this long, but also how

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  • Andrew Wylie, photo by Eamonn McCabe
    August 25, 2010

    Aug 25, 2010 @ 9:47:00 am

    Standoff ends: It was only a month ago that literary agent Andrew Wylie, in a challenge to publishers who resisted negotiating new terms with authors over e-book rights, announced his own e-publishing venture called Odyssey Editions and offered exclusively on Amazon twenty backlist titles ($9.99 each) by his clients, including LolitaInvisible Man, and Portnoy's Complaint. Whether Wylie's move was a bluff, a taunt, or an earnest expansion of his business, Random House wasted no time in responding, ceasing all new English-language business with the tony lit agency. This was undoubtedly

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  • John Ashbery
    August 24, 2010

    Aug 24, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    As the rave reviews of Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom, pour in ("Masterpiece of American fiction," "Novel of the Century," etc.) and the backlash begins (though you can't buy the book yet), Lorin Stein blogs at The Atlantic about what it means for the future of literary fiction (and the companies that publish it). Stein knows the territory well; he worked for Franzen's publisher, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, for more than a decade before decamping to the Paris Review a few months agoHe writes: "In my 12 years at FSG, we saw publishers lose millions every season trying to corner the market

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  • August 23, 2010

    Aug 23, 2010 @ 2:00:00 pm

    “Buying literature has become cool again," proclaims Paul Levinson, a communications professor at Fordham, in a New York Times article about how e-readers are shattering the stigma of being a bookworm. A recent iPad buyer agrees: “It’s almost like having a new baby . . . people approach me and ask to see it, to touch it, how much I like it. That rarely happens with dead-tree books.”

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  • Lovecraft
    August 23, 2010

    Aug 23, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    New York magazine details the history of the ailing Barnes and Noble and the current behind-the-scenes power struggle between founder Len Riggio and his rival Ron Burkle to control its future. 

    Have you ever looked at a white chocolate truffle and wondered: "What black arts could have stripped this chocolate of its natural hue?"  At McSweeney's Luke Burns has, imagining H. P. Lovecraft as a candy copywriter for Whitman's Sampler. 

    Who are the world's highest paid authors? Don't ask—you probably already know.

    Tonight, Taylor Plimpton reads from his new book, Notes from the Night, at Manhattan's

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  • Christine Schutt
    August 20, 2010

    Aug 20, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Over at The Village Voice, Michael Musto devotes his entire column this week to his horrid situation with the publisher Alyson Books. Musto's Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back was supposed to be in stores on February 1st, but Alyson still hasn't published it, and hasn't been very forthcoming (at least not with Musto). We hope that Alyson, which is owned by Regent Media, sorts this out soon, because other books we're excited to read—namely Laurie Weeks's Zippermouth and Kevin Killian's Spread Eagle—are also in limbo.

    "Get ready for ads in books," says the Wall Street Journal. The paper

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  • Lydia Davis
    August 19, 2010

    Aug 19, 2010 @ 9:00:00 am

    Barnes & Noble put itself up for sale on August 2. Now, B&N founder and chairman Leonardo Riggio has bought 990,740 shares of the company's stock—apparently in "an effort to strengthen his voting position for a likely proxy fight."

    English-speaking francophiles, rejoice: You can get a sneak peak at Lydia Davis's new translation of Madame Bovary in Playboy's September issue. According to a tweet by Hugh Hefner, it's "a great read."

    Google Editions, which was supposed to make millions of books digitally available this summer, will now launch in the fall. Despite its seeming potential to

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