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'Sweet Valley High' to be released on e-reader Tuesday, see the covers now!

First the Baby-Sitters Club and now Sweet Valley High? We might just explode from a fit of teen lit nostalgia. Sweet Valley High is the latest ’80s YA series to receive an electronic makeover. The first twelve books will be available on eReaders, smartphones, and tablets Tuesday. Have identical twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield — the original “California gurls” — changed at all since they first hit the shelves of teens and tweens everywhere in 1983? Brainy Elizabeth and on-again-off again boyfriend Todd Wilkins are still having their ups and downs and the popular Jessica is still getting into hijincks with her frenemy Lila Fowler.

The colors on the covers may be brighter in pixel form, and the books live on to pack their addictive candy-like punch. Click through to see exclusive images of the book covers, featuring the Wakefield twins and their BFFs.  READ FULL STORY

Gary Shteyngart discusses his upcoming roast, Nabokov, and his sex life

It’s been a decade since the Soviet-born author Gary Shteyngart published his debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. (Or, as he likes to call it, The Russian Debutante’s Handjob.) Since then, he’s developed a top-shelf reputation in the publishing world thanks to celebrated novels like 2006’s Absurdistan and 2010’s Super Sad True Love Story, not to mention popular essaysubiquitous book blurbs, and a highly active Twitter account.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of his debut, the Brooklyn Academy of Music will be hosting a roast of Shteyngart tonight, with high-profile guests like Kurt Andersen, Jay McInerney, and Sloane Crosley getting in on the action. In honor of the writer’s imminent shaming, we got the man on the phone and discussed his career, his fears, and the fate of publishing. He even offered to blurb the interview for us: “Not since Gay Talese failed to interview Frank Sinatra has there been an interview of such importance and scope. The best interview I’ve had since my co-op board.”

Read on to find out more about Shteyngart’s thoughts on sheep, American Airlines, and the person whom he’d most like to roast.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, where are you?
GARY SHTEYNGART:
I’m in the countryside above New York. Upstate, as some might say. It’s really nice here. There are trees, and sheep. A lot of sheep.

Are they your sheep?
Nah, they belong to a sheep farm. But I’d love to rent a few just to mow the lawn, because they eat a lot of grass.

But then you’d have to store them somewhere.
That’s the big problem. Where do you put them? And then how do you not eat them? They’re so tasty.

You just have to resist these urges, Gary. Moving on — your roast is coming up. Are you excited about that?
I am excited! I mean, it’s time to get roasted, I think. It’s been ten years of being a whatever, and it’ll be nice to… well, maybe not celebrate [my work], but they’ll at least allude to it.

Your dog Felix seems to be a little more nervous than you are. Are there any secrets that you or Felix fear will come out during the roast?
Oh, I think they’ll all come out. I mean, people know that I’m illiterate – that’s not a big secret. But there’s so many other dark things. The sheep, for example. My links to Petraeus. I mean, it’s all very dark.

What’s your darkest secret?
That I sometimes dance. There are pictures. Apparently my upper body doesn’t move, it’s just — I’m all legs.

So, Felix — how often does he write, and what kind of stuff usually?
You know, Felix is a very experimental writer. So he’s not exactly the kind of writer I thought he could be. But it’s all this kind of meta-universe where, you know, he can talk. It’s complicated. He went to Iowa. Which is funny, because I didn’t get into Iowa, but my dachshund did. So he’s a proud graduate. And he’s doing a Ph. D in Comp Lit at Yale now, which is annoying, because he’s always gone. He’s always traveling to New Haven. And he’s editing the canine edition of Granta.

If you could roast any writer living or dead, who would it be?
I’d like to roast Nabokov. Wouldn’t that be great? Because you know, he’d blast us, and you wouldn’t imagine he’d permit himself to be roasted. And then I would just invite the things that he feared the most in his life — like the Red Army Choir, maybe. And then I would have all the members of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute show up and serenade him. That could be great.

Did you get to pick who would be roasting you, or was it beyond your control?
Everything’s beyond my control. You think I just woke up one day and said, hey, roast me? They said, look, you have to do this, because that’s how publicity works these days. Anything that’s happening, you have to do it. I’m on Twitter, I’m on Facebook, I’m on — just, help. Help!

When you Google “gary shteyngart,” some of the first autofill results are “gary shteyngart married” and “gary shteyngart girlfriend.” Any thoughts?
Wow! That’s really shocking. I mean, have you seen me lately? Well, I guess shaving part of my beard worked? I didn’t realize I was going to get this kind of adulation. The first book that I wrote, The Russian Debutante’s Handjob, was written just because I wanted someone to share a bed with me. And I guess with these Google results, it’s worked out. But that’s my life. That’s life as a successful contemporary author: they don’t even mention your novels. It’s all about your sex life. And your tweeting. READ FULL STORY

Pearson, Bertelsmann confirm Penguin-Random House merger

Pearson PLC will merge its Penguin Books division with Random House, which is owned by German media company Bertelsmann, in an all-share deal that will create the world’s largest publisher of consumer books.

The planned joint venture brings together classic and best-selling names. As well as publishing books from authors such as John Grisham, Random House scored a major hit this year with Fifty Shades of Grey. Penguin has a strong backlist, including George Orwell, Jack Kerouac and John Le Carre.

The two companies said Monday that Bertelsmann would own a controlling 53 percent share of the joint venture, which will be known as Penguin Random House. READ FULL STORY

Johnny Depp launches his own publishing imprint

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He’s been a tipsy pirate, a crazed milliner, and a blade-fingered freak. Now Johnny Depp is trying out a different kind of role: book publisher.

The actor’s imprint will be a division of HarperCollins and will bear the same weighty-sounding name as his production company, “Infinitum Nihil,” which means “Nothing is forever.” Already slated for Depp’s imprint is The Unraveled Tales of Bob Dylan by journalist Douglas Brinkley, to be released in 2015. Brinkley and Depp are already co-editing House of Earth, a long-forgotten novel written by the late folk musician Woody Guthrie, which is scheduled for some time next year. READ FULL STORY

Random House buys Lena Dunham's book for more than $3.5 million

Hannah Horvath would be seething with jealousy right now.

Lena Dunham, the 26-year-old star and creator of the hit HBO series Girls, has landed a book deal at Random House for a massive $3.5 million. That’s more than the $2 million Dick Cheney received for his memoir In My Time and short of Amanda Knox’s $4 million and Tina Fey’s $5 million for Bossypants.

Bidding for the debut essay collection — titled Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned — started at $1 million and quickly climbed as publishers pursued the hot property. The 66-page book proposal contained “color, illustrations and a humor that publishing executives predicted could produce another bestseller like Tina Fey’s blockbuster memoir,” according to the New York Times. READ FULL STORY

'Girls' star Lena Dunham heading toward a huge, $3.6 million book deal

If Hannah Horvath got a monster book deal as quickly as Lena Dunham, the 26-year-old woman who created and portrays her on Girls, Girls as a TV series would come to a screeching halt. Where would our broke, semi-motivated aspiring essayist have left to go? There would be no need for roommates or crappy jobs.

According to Deadline, the bids for Dunham’s future advice-book-slash-essay-collection — tentatively titled Not That Kind of Girl — have climbed to a whopping $3.6 million and could go even higher as Dunham and literary agent Kim Witherspoon continue to meet with publishers. The negotiations began at $1 million.

To put things in context, if the deal happens, Dunham’s book would rake in more than Dick Cheney did for In My Time, which went for $2 million — and it would fall a bit short of Amanda Knox’s upcoming memoir ($4 million) and more than a million short of Tina Fey’s Bossypants ($5 million), although Fey had well more than a decade of fodder on Dunham.

Do you think Dunham’s writing is worth the big bucks? Will you look at Hannah Horvath differently when you watch season 2 of Girls?

Follow @EWStephanLee on Twitter.

Read more:
Lena Dunham shopping advice book — What do you want to see in it?
Mindy Kaling: An in-depth interview about her book, childhood, shoes, and homemade sashimi
Rita Wilson says no to nudity on ‘Girls’. What other actresses have no-nudity contracts?

J.K. Rowling's 'The Casual Vacancy' sees respectable sales figures during first week

J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy is reportedly “on track to become the year’s bestselling novel in hardcover,” according to EVP of Little, Brown Michael Pietsch.

Which is another way of saying it’ll be one of the best-selling novels of the year other than E L James’ paperback Fifty Shades trilogy. Nielsen BookScan reports that Rowling’s first novel for adults sold 157,000 hardcover copies in its first week of publication, and Little, Brown announced that the novel has sold 375,000 copies across all formats. The book only went on sale on Thursday (whereas books are normally published on Tuesdays), but it fell short of the record set for adult books by Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, which moved 550,946 copies in its first week of publication in 2009.

The Casual Vacancy has exceeded our expectations,” Pietsch said. While it may turn out to be the best-selling hardcover fiction of 2012, it probably won’t be the top-selling hardcover overall. No Easy Day, Mark Owen’s firsthand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, sold 254,000 copies in its first week and continues to do well, moving 52,000 copies this past week against Rowling’s adult debut.

Will you be purchasing a copy of The Casual Vacancy?

Read more:
J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy': 10 NSFW lines you would NEVER see in a Harry Potter book
J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy': Read EW’s review
J.K. Rowling considering a ‘director’s cut’ of the ‘Harry Potter’ books

Release date for Navy SEAL's bin Laden account moved up

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Penguin Group is clearly expecting a big response to No Easy Day, a former Navy SEAL’s first-hand account of the raid that successfully killed Osama bin Laden. Plans for the high-profile book have been changing day to day. Dutton, an imprint of Penguin, announced yesterday that the publication date will move from the previously announced Sept. 11 to Sept. 4. The initial print run has risen from 300,000 to 400,000 to now a massive 575,000 copies. Dutton cited “overwhelming excitement” as the reason for the new publication date and the expanded first printing.

No Easy Day has been creating a stir not just for the unprecedented look at the historic mission, but for the potentially sensitive information it may contain. A representative for Dutton tells EW that the account was vetted by a former special operations attorney for “tactical, technical, and procedural information as well as information that could be considered classified” and that it was found “to be without risk to national security.” The account is being published under the pseudonym Mark Owen out of concern for the Navy SEAL’s personal security, although his alleged actual identity has been widely publicized.

Read more:
Navy SEAL writes firsthand account of Bin Laden raid
No conspiracy: New documents explain Pentagon, CIA cooperation on ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ — BREAKING

Singer-songwriter Steve Earle has deal for 2 books

Steve Earle likes the literary life.

The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, and published author, has a two-book deal with Twelve, the publisher announced Friday. Earle will write a memoir, scheduled for 2014, and a novel set in the 19th century about an escaped slave. A previous Earle novel, I’ll Never Get Out Here Alive, came out last year.

According to Twelve, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Earle’s memoir will tell of his friendship with Townes Van Zandt, his drug problems and the making of the 1995 album Train a Comin’.

Read more:
Caroline Manzo of ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey’ has a book deal
‘True Blood’ cookbook: What recipes do you want to see?
Molly Ringwald on her new novel, getting dissed by casting directors, and writing about kids

Navy SEAL writes firsthand account of Bin Laden raid

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A U.S. Navy SEAL who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has written an anonymous first-hand, blow-by-blow account of the operation to be released on Sept. 11.

No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden is described by its author, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen, as an effort “to set the record straight about one of the most important missions in US military history.”  Penguin, the book’s publisher, added that the work provides a “blow-by-blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life to the radio call confirming Bin Laden’s death.”

The project had been top secret within Penguin — word had not even reached Washington before yesterday’s announcement. The US government was said to be surprised by news of the book’s release and admitted to not having had the opportunity to review the book for any potential security breaches.

Should it be deemed that there is classified information in the book, Owen could face criminal charges. READ FULL STORY

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