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On the Books: Barnes & Noble reverses decision to close Bronx store

- Barnes & Noble has reversed this week’s decision to close its Bronx branch, the only major bookstore in the neighborhood. Borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. led the fiery local campaign to keep the shop open, brokering a compromise between B&N and the the property’s landlord. Mr. Diaz told the crowd at a press conference yesterday that “this is more thatn just a bookstore… This is where kids read and broaden their minds and do their homework.” [The New York Times]

- The first-ever Kirkus Prize-winning authors were announced in Austin, Tex. last night. Writers Lily King, Roz Chast, and Kate Samworth took home the brand-new $50,000 prizes in the fiction, nonfiction and young readers categories, respectively. King’s novel Euphoria, the story of three intertwined rival anthropologists, stood out “for its perfect construction, its economy and originality, and its fearlessness.” Chast, a cartoonist for The New Yorker, won for her illustrated memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, the story of the last few years of her parents’ lives—also up for a National Book Award later this year. Samworth’s Aviary Wonders Inc. is a a strange, funny, dark young adult tale about a world where birds are extinct. [NPR] READ FULL STORY

J.K Rowling to publish piece about Dolores Umbridge on Pottermore


J.K. Rowling is returning to the wizarding world to focus on one of Harry Potter’s most twisted foes.


On the Books: Flanagan's Man Booker Prize keeps him from returning to mines

- Earlier this month, Aussie author Richard Flanagan won the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, about World War II POWs who are forced to build the Thai-Burma “death railway.” Flanagan’s book may have been compelling written and about an interesting topic—but it was selling poorly. So poorly, in fact, that Flanagan was considering going back to work in the mines.

Well, he’s doing okay now. Last week, Flanagan’s book sales earned the U.S. equivalent of about $220,000, which is more than his combined BookScan sales for the previous 10 years. The $80,000 prize money also helped. Says Flanagan: “In essence, this means I can continue to write.” [L.A. Times]

- Harry Potter fans waiting with bated breath for a romance novel featuring Hermione and Ron should probably exhale. Earlier this week a report by the Daily Mail claimed J.K. Rowling was in a bar Monday celebrating the completion of a romantic novel. Rowling took to Twitter to explain that she’s only halfway through her current book, that that book isn’t a romance, and that “(brace yourselves) sometimes I have a drink even when I haven’t finished a book. Yes, that’s how rock and roll I really am.”

Of course, Rowling is already working on a screen adaptation of the Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and there are no guarantees her next novel will even be Potter-related. Looks like it’ll be a while before Rowling fits into this billion-dollar affair. [USA Today]

- All too often, the cycle in which washed-up celebrities cash in with pulpy memoirs and as guests on reality TV series repeats itself. But hip-hop legend Darryl McDaniels, a founder of Run-D.M.C., is doing something way, way cooler. McDaniels has loved comics since he read them as a kid in Queens, and now he has launched Darryl Makes Comics to put his own spin on the genre.

DMC No. 1 hits shelves on Oct. 29 and follows an alternate New York reality where DMC never became a rapper. Instead, the comic’s description explains, DMC wears a tracksuit and Adidas sneakers to defend “the city’s marginalized citizens against super villain and super hero alike,” allying himself with a reporter and a band of graffiti artists. The comics will blend “traditional comic book storytelling with the pressures and anxieties of 1980’s NYC.” This week has been a great one for comic lovers. [Mediabistro]

- Getting ahold of books in the Bronx will soon get tougher. At the end of the year, the only Barnes & Noble in the borough will close after 15 years in business. This Barnes & Noble was the last major full-service bookstore the area had, and many traveled by bus and train to peruse its books; now only specialty booksellers will remain in the Bronx. [The New York Times]

See the cover for 'The Heir,' Kiera Cass' new Selection novel


In August, fans of Kiera Cass’ best-selling Selection trilogy got some pretty awesome news: the trilogy will be a trilogy no more. Two new full-length books are on the way, starting with The Heir due out May 5. (The fifth book doesn’t have a title or release date yet.) Now, EW has an exclusive first look at the cover (above), and below, you can watch a behind-the-scenes look at how it was made.

Here’s the official description for The Heir: “Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won Prince Maxon’s heart. Now the time has come for Princess Eadlyn to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn doesn’t expect her Selection to be anything like her parents’ fairy-tale love story. But as the competition begins, she may discover that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she always thought.”


On the Books: Dave Gibbons named the first-ever comics laureate

- Renowned graphic novelist Dave Gibbons became the United Kingdom’s first comics laureate this week. Gibbons—the co-creator of and artist behind the acclaimed Watchmen series—received the title from Comics Literacy Awareness, a U.K. nonprofit that seeks to use comic books to promote child literacy and reading. Gibbons will begin his two-year ambassadorship in February. “He will be championing the role of comics in getting children to read as well as visiting schools and attending training events for staff and education conferences,” according to The Guardian

Gibbons’ influence on the genre has been well-articulated by Lev Grossman in Time, who called him “one of the major comic book artists of the 21st century, or the 20th, or really any other century you care to name.” Gibbons has also worked on esteemed titles like Green Lantern, Batman, and 2000AD.

- While Gibbons champions the power of comics for young people, writer and anthropologist Dana Walrath says they have the potential to benefit another generation, too. Earlier this month, writer and anthropologist Dana Walrath illuminated how comics can play an important role for the elderly in a TEDx Talk called “Comics, Medicine, and Memory.” After her mother fell victim to dementia, Walrath discovered that graphic novels were the optimal storytelling medium to entertain and engage her. She contends that most of the memories Alzheimer’s are able to retain are visual—similarly to very young children—and that the “visual-verbal combination [of comic books] makes up for some of the memory loss and lets content stay sophisticated.” Walrath penned a graphic memoir last year, Aliceheimer’s, chronicling her experiences with her ailing mother Alice. [GalleyCat]

- Speaking of the accessibility of comics for everyone: Offering a free Humble Bundle of Star Wars digital comic books, Dark Horse is.

Last week, the comics publisher democratized a collection of Star Wars graphic novels with the release of a massive digital package at a pay-what-you-want price. Dark Horse says, “fans of the epic sci-fi franchise can pay what they want for up to $190 worth of digital comics, all while supporting a great cause.” Buyers (or freebie-grabbers) can choose whether they want their contributions to support Dark Horse or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Download it now, you should—the offer began last week and continues until Oct. 29.

- For more comics reading, consider picking up the bestseller The Best American Comics 2014, a comprehensive compilation of the latest and greatest in graphic novel publishing. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s annual collection spotlights comics from print and digital mediums, fiction and nonfiction, in and outside of the mainstream. This year, comics scholar (yes, that’s a thing) Scott McCloud guest-edited the anthology with Bill Kartalopoulos. McCloud is the author of the classic 1994 comics primer Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. 

Simon and Schuster inks deal with Amazon: Publisher will control ebook prices


Simon & Schuster has signed a new multiyear contract with Amazon that gives the publisher nearly full autonomy over ebook pricing. Both dealmakers appear to be pleased with the agreement, going into effect Jan. 1, 2015. S&S chief executive Carolyn Reidy said in a letter obtained by The New York Times that the deal “is economically advantageous for both Simon & Schuster and its authors and maintains the author’s share of income generated from eBook sales.” The publisher will gain control over determining the prices of its authors’ ebooks, “with some limited exceptions,” according to the letter. Amazon, for example, can still offer some discount deals.


Tavi Gevinson conquers 'the hole of cyberspace' with Rookie's Yearbook Three

You can tell a lot about Tavi Gevinson by the way she wields her silver Sharpie. Her body rigidly bent over a long table, the 18-year-old media wunderkind signs copies of her website’s latest anthology, Rookie‘s Yearbook Three, with mechanized precision. As a preteen, she started her career with that same intentionality, drawing 30,000 daily readers to her fashion blog Style Rookie. Then there’s her signature—a looping heart, accompanied by her first name—on every book’s title page, which represents the Tavi who created the catchall web publication Rookie because she “hated that any girls could feel excluded” from the Internet “clubhouse.” And then there’s her banter.

On this September day, she’s holed up in a windowless room at her publisher’s New York office, signing 4,000 copies of Yearbook Three for an upcoming promotion. Barnes & Noble will distribute the special books on Black Friday, and the idea that people will line up before the sun rises for something she signed amuses Gevinson.

“I hope we can be the one that someone dies at, this year,” she says, pausing between Sharpie strokes and looking around the room. “Just kidding.” READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Tom Hanks pens short story for The New Yorker

- We know how much Tom Hanks loves typewriters—but since he co-wrote 2001’s Band of Brothers, the actor hasn’t had much original writing to show. Maybe he wiped the dust off his favorite typing device for “Alan Bean Plus Four,” a fictional story he penned for the new issue of The New Yorker.

The humorous story, about four buddies who journey to the moon in a capsule made from duct tape, is positively Hanksian. As an author, Hanks uses similar themes to the roles he has championed—limitless ambition, vivid detail, and emotional depth. Or maybe that could all stem from the 18-minute recording The New Yorker provided of Hanks reading the story himself. [The New Yorker] READ FULL STORY

Margaret Atwood, others explore the short-story cycle


On one hand, you have novels. On the other, you have short stories. But is the split that clear-cut? If the world of books has taught us anything lately, it’s that widely held boundaries—between self-publishing and the establishment, cliché and rejuvenation, even one genre and the next—have become blurred.

Granted, most of those things have overlapped to some degree in the past. Case in point: novels and short-story collections. In September, Margaret Atwood—celebrated author of The Handmaid’s Tale and the MaddAddamn Trilogy (the latter of which is being adapted by director Darren Aronofsky for HBO)—saw the release of her latest short-story collection, Stone Mattress. It comprises nine stories that embody the quirky yet profound tone Atwood has been mastering for decades, full of fantastic situations grounded in poignancy, humor, and the entanglements of desire.

What’s especially interesting about Stone Mattress, though, is the book’s first three stories: “Alphinland,” “Revenant,” and “Dark Lady.” While listed on the table of contents as individual tales, the trio connects to form a single, if short, novel of roughly 100 pages. In those pages, a group of friends try to navigate the transgressions and regrets of their collective past. The linked tales also spotlight fictional works of literature that exist within the universe Atwood has created. Alphinland is the name of a spectacularly popular fantasy novel series written by one of the characters, C. W. Starr (a cheeky spoof of J. K. Rowling); the Dark Lady suite is a series of romantic poems written by Starr’s late husband, Gavin Putnam. The device is playfully meta, but it also underscores how storytelling often can’t—and often shouldn’t—be neatly tied up in discreet little parcels. READ FULL STORY

What We're Reading Now: 'Not That Kind of Girl' by Lena Dunham


Another week, another handful of days spent pacing the halls and circling the conference rooms asking everyone if they were finished with their copy of Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl. They all said variations of “no” and “stop asking” until Matt finally asked me a question I wasn’t really ready for: “Why don’t you go buy it at the store?”

No good answer there, so I went and picked one up.

Then, rather than tear into it, I just stared at it for days. I’d go over, grab it, sit down, read the dedication and then pull up Lena on Instagram, which would lead to scrolling through Jack Antonoff’s life, which would somehow result in being on Kendall Jenner’s page, and then it’d be time for bed. Or, I’d go over, read the quotes on the back cover and turn on HBOGo (and not watch Girls, which I had never actually seen prior to this week). READ FULL STORY

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