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On the Books: Amazon finds indie booksellers make up a quarter of top Kindle Direct Publishing ebook sales


Good news for indie booksellers: They’re making a dent in Amazon’s Top 100 ebooks sold on the Amazon Kindle. Meanwhile, Norway is making steps toward digitizing all books in the 20th century. More on those stories and other top headlines below:

Amazon revealed a quarter of the top 100 Kindle ebook sales — through Kindle Direct Publishing — in the U.S. were by self-publishing indie authors and publishers. [The Guardian]

The National Library of Norway has been digitizing every book published in Norwegian since 2006 and will finish doing so in the next two to three decades. Anyone in Norway will eventually have access to all 20th century works, including those under copyright, writes The Atlantic‘s Alexis C. Madrigal. [The Atlantic]

Writer José Esteban Muñoz, known for his studies on queer theory, gender, and sexuality, has died at age 46. [The University of Minnesota Press]

Baltimore has become “The City That Reads,” with about 160,000 children’s books being distributed free to the city’s schoolteachers this week. [Baltimore Sun]

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named sci-fi author Samuel R. Delany the grandmaster for 2013. Delany will be presented with the award at the Nebula Awards in 2014. [LA Times]

Collections of artful accidents in Google Books scans have cropped up online. Kenneth Goldsmith examines their appearances. [The New Yorker]

This year’s National Book Award winner for fiction James McBride talked how he writes, where he writes, and what he does when he’s rewriting. [The Daily Beast]

Looking for a gift for a young reader? Check out this list of holiday-friendly children’s books. [USA Today]

On the Books: Tom Clancy's 'Jack Ryan' franchise may continue; 'Catfish' host Nev Schulman lands book deal

It’s quite a Wednesday for book news — today’s top stories feature Jack Ryan, Catfish, and bad sex. Read on for more headlines: READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Norman Rockwell's family protests new biography for suggesting artist was gay; 'Gone Girl' paperback sale date announced

Members of Norman Rockwell’s family are protesting a American Mirror — a new biography of the artist by Deborah Solomon – over the book’s suggestions that he may have been secretly gay or had “pedophilic impulses.” The family members called the book “shocking” and said that Solomon’s aim for writing it was “publicity and financial gain and self-aggrandizement.” Solomon, however, said that the book is primarily about Rockwell’s work. “I feel like this is really the first book that convincingly makes the case for Rockwell’s artistic importance,” she told the New York Times, “and I would hope to keep the discussion on that subject.” [New York Times]

Random House has announced the paperback sale date for Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl: April 22, 2014, according to a press release. The novel spent 11 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list and is being adapted into a film starring Ben Affleck, who spoke with EW about working with Flynn here.

The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana started a new digitization project, which, through a $3.2 million grant from the Polonsky Foundation, plans to provide “Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts, and incunabula, or 15th-century printed books” for free through the project’s website. [Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project]

Apple’s e-book antitrust case continues to stir up drama, as the company said in a court filing that its court-appointed monitor, Michael Bromwich, charged $1,100 an hour. The complaint states that “Mr. Bromwich has already shown a proclivity to leap far beyond his mandate, and now this Court proposes amendments that would give him power to interview Apple personnel ex parte, something he will no doubt be quick to exploit.”

Authors weren’t the only ones who swarmed to indie bookstores for Small Business Saturday over the weekend. President Obama and his daughters, Sasha and Malia, visited Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C. to choose some titles off its shelves. [Sacramento Bee]

Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm died at the age of 84. Negm was best known for his revolutionary work and criticism of political leaders, spending 18 years in jail for protesting Egyptian presidents including Hosni Mubarak. [The Telegraph]

Book publisher Andrew Schiffrin died at 78 in Paris on Sunday. Schiffrin was renowned for working with authors including Jean-Paul Sartre, Marguerite Duras, and Gunter Grass. [LA Times]

Why do our brains love lists? Why do readers prefer clicking on “listicles” instead of reading long form journalism, and yet, feel guilty about it afterward? Maria Konnikova explores this head-scratcher. [The New Yorker]

Lolita may belong to Vladimir Nabokov, but did Dorothy Parker’s “Lolita,” a story published in The New Yorker three weeks before Nabokov’s novel arrived in bookstores, rip off Nabokov’s story after seeing the manuscript early? [New York Magazine]

ICYMI: Fifty Shades of Grey has added a new cast member: singer Rita Ora. Check out the photos of the cast here.

On the Books: Jennie Garth to publish memoir; Amazon to develop 'delivery drones'

And we’re back! There’s plenty of book news to catch up on from the holiday weekend, including a memoir announcement, a plan to build “delivery drones,” and more. Read on for the top headlines:

Actress Jennie Garth announced her plans to publish a memoir titled Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde, covering her time on Beverly Hills, 90210 and her life as a single mom, on April 1, 2014 through New American Library, a division of Penguin, according to the press release. “The past few years have been full of changes. Now I’m on my own with my three kids, and I just crossed that tricky invisible line into my forties,” Garth says in a statement. “Maybe because of all these things or maybe despite them, I feel like another chapter in my life is just beginning. This book is my story about where I’ve been and where I’m headed — and what I’ve learned along the way.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been everywhere in the news this year, from buying The Washington Post to battling e-book denouncers. Over the weekend, he unveiled the retail giant’s plan to develop delivery drones called “Octocopters,” which will fly packages straight to customers’ homes. See them in action in the video below. [Time]

Writer Natalya Gorbanevskaya, known for authoring pieces dissenting the Soviet Union and founding the underground magazine The Chronicle of Current Events, died Friday at age 77. [New York Times]

Thousands of copies of David Walliams’ children’s book fell into the sea during shipment, forcing HarperCollins to reprint an extra 30,000 copies. [The Telegraph]

ICYMI: Three unpublished J.D. Salinger stories leaked online via an eBay auction. [EW]

Here’s the New York Times Sunday Book Review‘s list of the 100 notable books of 2013. [New York Times]

And here’s The New Yorker‘s list of books to watch out for this month. [The New Yorker]

What happens when you have too many books? Claire Armitstead offers her tips for breaking up with your favorite titles. [The Guardian]

Another thought-provoking question: Is science fiction a dying genre? [The LA Review of Books]

Check out this fun collection of “Novelist Error Messages,” by Maggie Stiefvater.

Three unpublished J.D. Salinger stories leak online

An anonymous uploader leaked three previously unpublished J.D. Salinger stories this week. Previously only available at research libraries, the famously reclusive author’s “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” “Paula,” and “Birthday Boy” have apparently been traced to an eBay auction that ended on Sept. 23 with an astonishly low winning bid of £67.50 (or about $110). According to BuzzFeed, which first reported on the leak, Salinger expert Kenneth Slawenski has attested to the authenticity of the text.

“The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” was previously only available at Princeton University, and the other two were held at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center. The stories appear as PDFs of a printed (and presumably illegal) booklet with all three stories, though the printer has yet to be determined.

Most fascinating of the trio is “Bowling Balls,” which was not supposed to be published until Jan. 27, 2060 (50 years after Salinger’s death), per an agreement with Princeton. A sort of prequel to Catcher in the Rye, the story was originally written for Harper’s Bazaar, and many believe it to be Salinger’s foremost unpublished work.

On the Books: First book published in U.S. sells for $14.2 million at auction; authors to appear at indie bookstores Saturday

Today’s book news includes the most expensive book ever auctioned, a preview of this Saturday’s celebration of indie bookstores, and several year-end lists highlighting the best books this year. Read on for more headlines:

The psalm book published in 1640 — the first book published in English in the U.S. — garnered $14.2 million at an auction yesterday, short of the estimated $15 to $30 million, but record-breaking nonetheless. [ABC News]

This Saturday is “Small Business Saturday,” also known as, for hundreds of authors including James Patterson, Cheryl Strayed, and Sherman Alexie, “Indie First” day. The authors have pledged to volunteer as booksellers for independent bookstores, and Wally Lamb has called for more “book nerds.” [LA Times]

Publishers Weekly named Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, along with the ABA’s board as its “Person of the Year.” [Publishers Weekly]

The Costa Award, a prize honoring “the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in the U.K. and Ireland,” announced its shortlists. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life leads the all-female shortlist for the prize’s Novel category. [The Independent]

Time for this week’s lists: The Telegraph selected its picks for the best fiction books of 2013. [The Telegraph]

…And so did Forbes — but for all books this year. [Forbes]

Not sure what books are best for the holidays? Let writers like James McBride, Mark Halperin, and Ann Martin choose for you. Check out their picks for holiday reads. [The Washington Post]

To end the day with some positive news for the print business: A survey found that young people still prefer printed books to e-books, despite their heavy exposure to the e-book market, and to devices like smartphones and tablets. [LA Times]

On the Books will return Monday, Dec. 2. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

On the Books: Amazon scrutinized over labor practices; first book published in the U.S. may break auction record

An undercover BBC reporter acquired video footage of how workers at an Amazon warehouse are treated, prompting the company to release a statement denying any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, a small book of psalms may fetch up to an estimated $30 million at an auction. Those headlines and more below:

BBC reporter Adam Littler went undercover as a worker at a U.K. Amazon warehouse and captured footage with his hidden camera of the retail giant’s questionable labor practices. But Amazon released a statement saying, “We strongly refute the charge that Amazon exploits its employees in any way. The safety of our associates is our number one priority, and we adhere to all regulations and employment law.” [BBC News]

A book of psalms that was printed in New England shortly after the voyage of the Mayflower may break the record for the most expensive text ever sold at an auction, and is expected to reach between $15-$30 million. [The Telegraph]

On a related note, The New Yorker takes a deep dive into previous auction heavyweights, including John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which sold for $11.5 million in 2010. [The New Yorker]

And even more high-priced book news: The New York Public Library bought all of Tom Wolfe’s papers for $2.15 million. [The New York Times]

We’re not done yet: The St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York’s East Village announced it will be launching a fundraiser for its move to a cheaper space. The bookstore will host an auction of signed first editions. [CBS New York]

On to the must-reads: Romesh Gunesekera published a new short story in The New Yorker titled “Roadkill.” [The New Yorker]

In an interview with The New York Times, National Book Award for fiction winner James McBride revealed he thought he had no chance against authors like Thomas Pynchon and Jhumpa Lahiri, so much so that he continued eating through the announcement. [The New York Times]

Writer Maria Popova posted her picks of the best biographies, memoirs, and history books of 2013. [Brain Pickings]

The Pacific Standard tackles the issue of fan-fiction: Can it be considered the next great genre of literature? [Pacific Standard]

On the Books: First woman held captive by Ariel Castro to publish memoir; court orders delay of Malcolm X book printing

The first woman captured by Ariel Castro has signed a book deal, while printing of The Diary of Malcolm X has been postponed. Read on for more headlines:

Weinstein Books announced it has acquired the rights to publish a memoir by Michelle Knight, the first woman Ariel Castro kidnapped and held captive, in spring 2014. According to the press release, the book will cover Knight’s early life, abduction, and present day, as well as new details about her captivity and escape. “I want to give every victim of violence a new outlook on life,” Knight said in the press release. “Victims need to know that no matter how hard it rains in the darkness, they will have the strength and courage that God gave them when they were born to rise above and overcome any obstacle that stands in their way.”

The publisher of The Diary of Malcolm X has been ordered to delay printing because the corporation representing the heirs of Malcolm X claimed the publishing house does not have rights to the diary. [Publishers Weekly]

The American Book Awards unveiled this year’s winners, including Louise Erdrich, Amanda Coplin, and D.G. Nanouk Okpik. The award honors “excellence in American literature without restriction or bias with regard to race, sex, creed, cultural origin, size of press or ad budget, or even genre.” [AP]

Following the National Book Awards, publishers are rushing to reprint more copies of the winning books, such as  James McBride’s winning novel The Good. [Publishers Weekly]

But perhaps it’s time to reconsider what book awards are all about. Ishmael Reed argues that the honors are losing their importance. [The Wall Street Journal]

Poet Wanda Coleman, a National Book Award finalist, died Friday at 67. [LA Times]

As 2013 closes, we’ll be seeing more lists like these, ranking the best books of the year. Check out the picks from The Washington Post. [The Washington Post]

How do you write a book about boredom without making it boring? Here are three that do the trick. [NPR]

Author David Grove talks 'On Location in Blairstown: The Making of Friday the 13th'


Given the fulsome tributes which followed the recent death of Lou Reed many folks may now feel well informed about the rock icon. But did you know Reed lived right next to where director Sean Cunningham shot his horror film Friday the 13th?

“He did,” confirms author David Grove, whose new book On Location in Blairstown: The Making of Friday the 13th features this nugget of information, among many others. “They filmed at Camp No-Be-Bo-Sco in Blairstown, New Jersey, and the property was owned by a man called Fred Smith. He kept talking to the crew about his neighbor, Lou. And the crew said, ‘Who’s Lou?’ And they discovered it was Lou Reed. He came by during filming and he sometimes played some music.”


On the Books: Cary Elwes to write book about 'The Princess Bride'; J.R.R. Tolkien biopic in the works


Cary Elwes is granting your wish with a book about Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, while a previously unpublished C.S. Lewis essay has been added to a new collection of his works, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s life will be documented in a planned biopic. Read on for more of today’s top books headlines:

Actor Cary Elwes is writing a book on the making of The Princess Bride, in which he starred as Westley, to be published by Touchstone, a Simon & Schuster imprint, in fall 2014. “It was a joy to work on such a magical film with an amazing cast of talented actors and friends,” Elwes said in a press release. “It will be great fun to revisit The Princess Bride and to share my fond memories of the unforgettable experience we all had.”

C.S. Lewis’ “Image and Imagination,” an essay rescued from a fire at the Lewis family home, will be published for the first time in a collection of his essays by the Cambridge University Press. [The Guardian]

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth has found a home online in a project produced by Google and Warner Bros. for the release of the film The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to allow fans to explore and virtually tour iconic sites. [The Hobbit official site]

Speaking of Tolkien, a Hollywood biopic on the author is in the works. [The Telegraph]

Discount retailer Costco issued an apology after labeling Bibles for sale in a Southern California store as “fiction.” [LA Times]

Weird news of the day: William Nicholson, the author of Motherland, one of the nominees for the Bad Sex Award, writes that there should be a “Good Sex Award.” [The Guardian]

Salman Rushdie gave an illuminating interview to The Wall Street Journal about his perspective on social media (“a friend of mine bullied me to use it”), his new novel, and how he became a writer (“I don’t have funny habits. I think of it as a job and do it like a job”). [The Wall Street Journal]

The Canada identity: Russell Smith explores what “Canadian literature” really means, and how writers should define “Canadianness.” [The Globe and Mail]

Want more literary engagement? Here’s a roundup of must-reads by the New Yorker staff. [The New Yorker]

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