A still from "Black Crown."

Three months after releasing Black Crown—a book-cum-video game that “puts you in the role of a clerk working for the Widsith Institute, a mysterious organisation undergoing a digitization project”—Random House says that nearly six thousand people have signed up to play Rob Sherman’s interactive novel. The book is free, but users can pay small amounts to get early access to story branches—Random House releases new content every week, and about 65% of it has already been made available. At the Atlantic Wire, Alexander Abad-Santos says that although the book has not ”gone viral, it is being embraced by a large enough audience to make experiential online novels viable for the publishing industry.” The book is scheduled to be “completed” in September.

Crime novelist Elmore Leonard has died at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke.

Shalom Auslander, Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel are the finalists for the 2013 Thurber Prize, which awards $5,000 to a work of American humor writing. Previous winners include David Sedaris, David Rakoff and Ian Frazier, as well as the Onion and Daily Show staffs for compilation books. This year’s winner will be announced on September 30 in New York.

In one of the stranger profiles we’ve read lately, the New York Times charts the winding career of James Truman from “the publishing world’s It boy and... Condé Nast’s editorial director at age 35” to a part-time record producer and wine entrepreneur. (Adding to his list of impressive credentials, it should also be noted that Thurber is Mr. Leanne Shapton). The piece ends, oddly enough, with him consoling a distressed cow.

At New York, Lionel Shriver writes about being overweight, and how weight factors into the development of her fiction: “As a novelist, I may appreciate that the body can both affect and, to a degree, reflect character. Yet as a person, I philosophically reject a linear relationship between this mortal coil and the soul it houses.”

Courtesy of the New York Public Library blog, here is a video that combines the Beastie Boys and librarians.

HTMLGiant on the art of acquiring books through casual sex.

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