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On the Books: Prominent children's author turns to Kickstarter

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Remember that ubiquitous 1985 children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? Author Laura Numeroff turned the picture book into a 15-volume series—and now she’s turning to Kickstarter to help fund her next project. She’s seeking $100,000 by Nov. 21 to cover the printing costs of a new series called Work for Biscuits, about a service dog in training. Numeroff turned to Kickstarter after her publishers rejected her manuscript on the grounds that “it was more suitable for the ASPCA to publish.” The funds generated will also finance an interactive tablet edition for readers with special hearing and mobility needs. Lynn Munsinger has agreed to illustrate the series. [Kickstarter]

Last month, EW took you inside the romance novel industry. Now digitally inclined fans of the genre have another way to get their fix. Diversion Books have launched EverAfter Romance, an online hub for downloading romance novel, with associated iOS and Android apps. Customers will have access to over 100,000 titles, from publishers including Harlequin and Avon and authors including Nora Roberts and E.L. James. To attract new users, EverAfter will provide readers who download the app and create an account with a free digital copy of Alessandra Torre’s novel, Sex Love Repeat. [Mediabistro]

And you thought hardcover prices were getting out of hand. A new list compiled by Forbes summarizes the 10 most expensive books ever sold, with prices adjusted for inflations. The record-holder isn’t a book in the traditional sense; in 1994, Bill Gates purchased Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester, a handwritten notebook of the man’s scientific observations, for $49.4 million. That’s nearly double the Gospels of Henry the Lion Order of St. Benedict, the 12th-century pinnacle of Romanesque art that the German government purchased for $28 million in 1983. The two notable American works on the list are a collection of 1820s drawings by John James Audubon (purchased for $12.6 million by London art dealer Michael Tollemache) and a series of documents including the Constitution and Bill of Rights (purchased for $10.2 million by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association). [Forbes]

Apparently evil doesn’t sell quite as well. Englishman Craig Gottlieb put a copy of Mein Kampf—which he claimed to Hitler’s own—on auction for an asking price of $99,000. The book sold for only $30,000. That’s not even half of the $64,850 that an autographed copy of the historical figure’s memoir sold for in a February auction. [L.A. Times]

Andy Weir on his strange journey from self-publishing to Hollywood

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Andy Weir has a deep fear of flying. He has not set foot on an airplane since 2007, when he traveled from his home turf in Northern California to visit his mother in Phoenix.

So in 2013, when he found himself signing lucrative contracts for the publishing and film rights to his debut novel, The Martian, he did everything over the phone. He never once met any of the disembodied voices calling from New York and L.A., never shook anyone’s hand or clinked champagne flutes in a cushy conference room. “I was honestly worried it was a scam,” Weir says. “Out of nowhere someone offers to make all my dreams and lifelong ambitions come true and pay me a big pile of money? It seemed too good.” READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Product placement comes to ebooks

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- It’s a fact of the modern world that product placement is everywhere. Books, however, were always sacred in that regard, untainted by commercial messaging: a slice of media we could consume without being not-so-subtly persuaded to consume something else, too. That assumption was upended yesterday with the release of Find Me, I’m Yours by Hillary Carlip—a new ebook and sponsored-content vehicle from RosettaBooks. Take the following scene from the romance/comedy novel, as retold by The New York Times, in which a character named Mags is made fun of by her coworker for using the artificial sweetener Sweet’N Low to sweeten her cup of joe.

“Hellooo, isn’t it bad for you?” the friend asks. Mags replies that she has researched the claims online and found studies showing that the product is safe: “They fed lab rats twenty-five hundred packets of Sweet’N Low a day … And still the F.D.A. or E.P.A., or whatevs agency, couldn’t connect the dots from any kind of cancer in humans to my party in a packet.” READ FULL STORY

A definitive Paul Simon biography is in the works

Simon & Schuster announced in a press release yesterday that it has inked a deal for a new Paul Simon biography, a definitive life account of the Simon & Garfunkel musician—and the first to involve the music legend himself in its creation. “For fifty years, Paul Simon has been a major cultural force,” said S&S President and Publisher Jonathan Karp. “This book will be essential to anyone who wants to understand how he did it.” READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Sherlock Holmes will stay in the public domain

Prepare yourself for a spike in Sherlock adaptations. The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case brought by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate that would have required authors writing about the iconic character to pay licensing fees. The announcement leaves a June decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the Doyle estate intact. The legal battled started last year when Pegasus attempted to publish In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, an anthology filled with stories about Sherlock by modern authors. The Doyle estate demanded a licensing fee; one of the book’s editors, Leslie S. Klinger, sued and won. [L.A. Times]

We already know Russians have arguably the best literature. But they’re about get the best commutes, too. Pretty soon, Moscow’s metro system will roll out a digital library of more than 100 classic Russian novels, so that commuters won’t have to carry the massive physical tomes with them. Passengers will only need to scan a code onboard trains with their smartphone or tablet to browse the virtual shelves. You still might need to bring your own copy of The Wealth of Nations. [The Guardian]

E-reader companies stateside are taking a different tack regarding mass consumption. Kindle-producers Amazon released data breaking down the passages from notable books that resonate with the most people. The company released which excerpts fared best from novels including Pride and PrejudiceThe Lord of the RingsA Wrinkle in Time, and all the Harry Potter books. EW‘s favorite is this nugget from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: “Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.” [The Atlantic]

Does the wizarding world watch Sesame Street? Does it even have mass entertainment for little kids? If not, a recent video from the classic TV show will make little wizards and witches jealous of their Muggle counterparts. In a fake trailer from Sesame Street (how meta is this getting?) Cookie Monster advances his apparently thriving acting career with the lead role in Furry Potter and the Goblet of Cookies. Instead of the Triwizard Tournament, Furry Potter sorts cookies—with none other than Professor Crumblemore. [Bustle]

Parents, take note: When you read your kids a book, there’s a right way and a wrong way. Over the weekend, author Neil Gaiman—the guy behind adult fiction like American Gods, as well as young adult fiction like Coraline—spoke about how he reads to his kids. His four tips included doing character voices, incorporating physical body language, using physical books kids can hold, and repeating this procedure at the same time every day. [Mediabistro]

Tom Hanks to release a book of short stories about his love of typewriters

Tom Hanks will publishing a slew of odes to one of his earliest loves: the typewriter.

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Lena Dunham defends against sexual abuse accusations

Following the release of Lena Dunham’s memoir/essay collection hybrid Not That Kind of Girl, a few outlets pointed to passages from the book in which they say that the author, director, and actress admits to committing sexual abuse when she was a child. Dunham—in a self-described “rage spiral”—has taken to Twitter to refute the claims.

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The best comics and graphic novels of October

October was a pretty good month for comics. Hardly a week went by without a number of great titles hitting the stands, both digital and physical—so many, you may have missed a few. So before you dive ahead into November, take a look at these comics that came out in October. It’d be a shame if you missed them.

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Nick Hornby shares the oddest question he gets about writing female characters

Many readers know Nick Hornby for his music-tinged novels like High Fidelity and Juliet, Naked—a number of which have been adapted for film and television. But the British writer has also achieved great success as a screenwriter adapting the works of others, the latest of which will be Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon.

Wild, like his previous film projects An Education and Brooklyn, is based on a remarkable memoir written by a woman—and people can’t stop asking him one question in particular: What’s it like to be a man writing a female character?

READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Bruce Springsteen lists his favorite reads

- In August, Bruce Springsteen announced he would release an illustrated children’s bookOutlaw Pete will hit shelves Tuesday, and to drum up excitement, Springsteen talked to The New York Times about some of his favorite books. Some of Springsteen’s favorites make a lot of sense, given that he’s a champion of grandiose songs about daily life: He suggests Dostoevsky and Tolstoy as his favorite novelists of all-time, for their work on The Brothers Karamazov and Anna Karenina, respectively. He also says he just finished Moby-Dick and Love in the Time of Cholera and loved both.

The interview wasn’t all about doom and gloom, however. Springsteen regretfully admitted that he didn’t read The Grapes of Wrath until “long after” he wrote the classic song “Ghost of Tom Joad.” And when asked which three writers he’d most want to host for a literary dinner, Springsteen named four—Philip Roth, Keith Richards, Leo Tolstoy, and Bob Dylan—adding that “the babbling in different tongues would be wonderful.” [The New York Times]

- Some other rock legends are publishing a book—but it ain’t no Outlaw Pete. Just in time for the holidays, Taschen Books will release Rolling Stones, “a definitive, authorized illustrated history of the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.” Get excited: The 500-page collection can be yours for a smooth $5,000. For five grand you’ll get the “sumo-size” 20-by-20-inch book, which includes essays, photographs, archival material, an introduction by former President Bill Clinton, and is packaged in a clamshell case. [L.A. Times]

- A new collaboration would appear to bode well for horror fans. Doubleday and Vintage books have announced they’ll be working with Blumhouse Productions, who have brought horror franchises like Paranormal Activity and The Purge to the big screen with micro-budgets. The new venture, Blumhouse Books, will makes its debut with a collection of short fiction from people in the horror film industry, including Ethan Hawke, Eli Roth, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill, Chris Denham, and James DeMonaco. The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City should go on sale in July 2015. [Publishers Weekly]

- As e-readers become more and more common, one problem seems to persist: Efficiently reading things like textbooks. Tackling a fiction novel is relatively easy, because users go through it in sequential order. But finding a particular recipe in a cookbook or the right chapter to study for an exam—that can be tougher. Google Play Books wants to fix that. The company announced a big update to its Android app that will bring scrubbing, a common feature on lots of other smartphone apps, to the realm of digital books. [The Verge]

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