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On the Books: James Patterson donates $212,000 to British bookstores

James Patterson may be the top-earning author in the business, but he certainly isn’t greedy. Earlier this month, the author announced he was giving 180,000 hardcover copies of his books to members of the U.S. military. Now, he’s making a difference in the U.K., where he’s donated the equivalent of about $212,000 to 73 British independent bookstores.

The donations follow Patterson’s June announcement that he’d donate a quarter-million pounds worth of grants (that’s about $408,000) to U.K. bookstores with children’s sections.

“To my mind, this translates to a risk of living in a world run by the short-sighted, the self-centred and the glib. It is as grave a peril as I can imagine,” Patterson said. “No way around it—we’ve got to get kids reading.”

Bookshops will use Patterson’s funds for everything from weekly reading events to children’s book festivals to mobile book trucks. The author plans to announce more grant recipients next year. [The Telegraph]

The Maze Runner ruled the box office last weekend, and book sales reacted accordingly. The first novel in James Dashner’s post-apocalyptic series now ranks third on USA Today‘s bestsellers list. Other books in the series enjoyed a bump, with The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure charting No. 12 and No. 35, respectively. Dashner also has a prequel, The Fever Code, in the works for a 2016 release. [USA Today/L.A. Times]

Since his death in 1974, singer-songwriter Nick Drake’s career has faded into a shroud of obscurity and enigma. That could change later this year when Little, Brown releases Remembered For a While, the first authorized biography of the late legend. Set for a Dec. 9 publication to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Drake’s death, Remembered For a While will use the musician’s song “Fruit Tree” as a lens for his life’s work. [Publishers Weekly]

Amtrak reveals first class of writers in residence


We’re trapped in a workplace binary. Almost everyone chooses to work from home or in an office—but what about those of us who want to work in transit? Twenty-four authors are about to find out.

After a Twitter campaign spawned the hashtag #AmtrakResidency late last year, Amtrak received 16,000 applications from writers seeking to hone their craft aboard the company’s trains. On Wednesday, it announced the first class of resident writers; over the next year, the two dozen authors will ride Amtrak’s long-distance routes searching for inspiration and the perfect sentence construction.

As the L.A. Times reports, the list includes journalist Farai Chideya, bestselling author Karen Karbo, National Book Critics Circle Award winner Darin Strauss, tech entrepreneur Tynan, Gothamist‘s Jen Carlson, YA author Anna Davies, transgender author Jennifer Boylan, and Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly‘s former film critic. READ FULL STORY

Acclaimed webcomic 'Strong Female Protagonist' is coming to print


Created by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag, Strong Female Protagonist is a highly acclaimed and much beloved webcomic about Alison Green, a superpowered teen that used to fight crime as Mega Girl. But after a crisis of conscience leaves her wondering how much of a difference she can really make by punching bad guys, Alison decides to pack up her cape and go to college to try to help the world in other ways.

Equal parts dramatic and comedic, the series has been running since 2012 and you can read it all for free here. But maybe digital isn’t your thing. Maybe you want to enjoy Strong Female Protagonist in a way that doesn’t require batteries, or one that’s easier to lend to friends. You’re in luck.

After a successful Kickstarter last summer, Strong Female Protagonist is coming to print. Released as a graphic novel that will be distributed Top Shelf Productions, the self-published book will include the first four issues of the web series, along with some bonus material. It’s well worth checking out, and it’s indicative of the kind of bold and interesting things happening in the world of webcomics.

Strong Female Protagonist: Book One will be available in December 2014.


Unorthodox bedtime stories, the sequel: 'You Have to F-king Eat'


Adam Mansbach, the author of the international smash hit Go the F–k to Sleep, will delight exhausted and exasperated parents everywhere for a second time with You Have to F–king Eat—another children’s book that is most definitely not for children.

Described by independent Brooklyn publisher Akashic Books as “[p]rofane, loving, and deeply cathartic,” the book will tackle the universal frustration of parents who can’t get their kids to eat a damn thing. 

The followup to Go the F–k to Sleep—which spent 41 weeks on The New York Times Top 10 bestsellers list and was translated into over 30 languageswas inspired by Mansbach’s conversations with hundreds of other parents about their child-raising anxieties. Getting a kid to sit still and eat something without resorting to force-feeding is “a battle of wills just as pitched as sleep can be,” Mansbach said. “It seemed like a topic folks could use a laugh and a bit of catharsis about.” READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Publishing industry lacks diversity, female executives

An annual Publishers Weekly survey of industry employees found that 89 percent of respondents identified as white/caucasian, while 61 percent believe that there is little diversity in publishing. The study found that respondents recognize the direct impact of this racial discrepancy on the industry, agreeing that “[t]he dearth of minority employees directly affects the types of books that are published,” and that to resolve the issue, “there need to be more advocates for books involving people of color throughout the business.”

The survey also re-confirmed the perennial pay gap between men and women in publishing houses, a staggering $25,000 difference— even though women comprise 74 percent of the workforce. Part of this gap is due to unequal pay for similar titles, while part is explained by men’s dominance in higher-salaried management and executive positions. READ FULL STORY

Lena Dunham's here to give you advice (and persuade you to buy her book)


In anticipation of the release of her upcoming book, Lena Dunham is doling out advice in a series of YouTube videos, which feature an Eloise-esque backdrop and cameos from her dog, Lamby. Dunham’s book, Not That Kind of Girl, is a collection of personal essays presented as something of an advice book—as Michiko Kakutani writes in her positive New York Times review it’s “a kind of memoir disguised as an advice book, or a how-to-book (as in how to navigate the perilous waters of girlhood) in the guise of a series of personal essays”—hence the videos fit the theme.  READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Love in the Time of Kindles

The oeuvre of one of the past century’s most beloved authors is going digital. On Monday, Publisher Vintage announced it would publish nine e-books in English by Colombian author and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez. The titles set for release include classics like Love in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, though the novel many consider Márquez’ masterpiece, One Hundred Years of Solitude, remains conspicuously absent. That’s because another publisher holds its English-language rights.

Spanish speakers are in luck, though, because 18 of the author’s titles will be digitally published in their original Spanish. Editions in both languages will be released Oct. 15, about six months after Márquez’ April death. These books aren’t the only classics enjoying a digital renaissance. Another publisher announced last week that Charles Dickens’ novels would soon come to e-readers in their original, serialized format. [L.A. Times] READ FULL STORY

On the Books: Regan Arts to sell virtual-reality viewer kits with books


Regan Arts is launching its line of hybrid book/technology products on Oct. 28 with The Virtual Reality Beginners Guide and VR Smartphone Toolkit. The kit contains a 40-page book coauthored by TechCrunch writer Frederic Lardinois and DODOcase founder Patrick Buckley—the novelty is the Google-designed viewer it comes with, which readers will use in conjunction with their smartphone to create a virtual-reality headset. “This title is not just a book, it’s an experience,” a press release states.

Regan Arts, a venture between publisher Phaidon and former HarperCollins executive Judith Regan, says the cardboard head-mount and lenses in the kit will provide a “constantly expanding trove of immersive 3-D virtual experiences” to anybody with a smartphone and $25.95 to spend. “For millions, virtual reality is now accessible at a ridiculously low price,” Buckley said. Regan Arts will make iPhone apps available to power the experience. “Books are the oldest version of virtual reality,” says Regan, and The Virtual Reality Beginners Guide will “bring us beyond the book or screen, and past 3D.” [Publishers Weekly]

On Saturday, Hachette sponsored a lunch organized by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) in honor of author James Patterson. Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch’s remarks to the crowd at the Sheraton Hotel in Norfolk, Virginia. The luncheon took place amid the ongoing Hachette-Amazon negotiations, and Pietsch told the crowd (a collection of independent booksellers and authors), “Thank you for your support during this time. In difficult times you find out who your friends are.” He also noted, “Our sales of print books are up over 2013.”

When Patterson took the floor, he spoke to the issue more directly, chanting, “Go Amazon, Go Amazon. And I mean, Go!” to laughter from the crowd. On a more serious note, he asked, “Why can’t we have more American companies who are also ethical about how they do [business]?” [Publishers Weekly]

Brooklyn-based poet Casey Rocheteau, 29, is the first winner of the Write a House Project, an initiative started to encourage writers to live and work in Detroit. In November, Rocheteau will move into her new home in the recently bankrupt city, where she will live and write as its first official writer-in-residence. The property was in foreclosure until the Write a House Project fixed bought and fixed it up with the help of another local nonprofit. After two years, Rocheteau will receive the deed. “I’m thinking of a city that is currently undergoing this regeneration,” the poet says of Detroit. “It’s a city that’s seen a lot and taken a lot of abuse.” [The Los Angeles Times]

The Rona Jaffe Foundation awarded six writers a $30,000 cash prize at their 2014 Writers’ Award ceremonies in New York City last week. The winning authors are Olivia Clare (fiction), Karen Hays (nonfiction), Danielle Jones-Pruett (poetry), T.L. Khleif (fiction), Mara Naselli (nonfiction), and Solmaz Sharif (poetry). [GalleyCat]

Trailer for 'We Are Pirates' by Daniel Handler released


Author Daniel Handler—best known by his pen name, Lemony Snicket— has released a short video to tease his upcoming novel, We Are Pirates, hitting the shelves in February. 


Cover up: 10 essential banned and challenged graphic novels

It’s a sad fact that books are still regularly challenged and banned by various groups, both public and private, in the United States. But it’s heartening that organizations like the American Library Association and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are committed to fighting that censorship—especially this year, when the ALA is focusing its annual Banned Books Week—September 21 to 27—on comics and graphic novels.

Granted, that attention cuts both ways. While comics are now being taken seriously as literature, they’re also being challenged and banned along with literature. Below is a list of 10 essential graphic novels that have been deemed, at some point, unworthy of First Amendment protection. Taken together, they’re a measure of just how far we have to go when it comes to freedom of speech—and how far comics have come, in terms of popularity as well as their ability to embody everything from satire to education to poignancy. READ FULL STORY

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