For the first time ever, e-books are outselling hardcovers. A new report from the American Association of Publishers finds that in the first quarter of 2012, e-books racked up $282.3 million in sales, while hardcovers trailed behind at $229.6 million. The good news is that sales increased all around: E-book sales went up by 28.1 percent, while hardcovers rose 2.7 percent.
BOMB magazine has received a $15,000 grant from Amazon to expand its literary section, First Proof. And speaking of $15,000 Amazon grants, writer Alan Averill was awarded the retailer’s fifth annual Breakthrough Novel Award for his debut, The Beautiful Land.
Rapper DeStorm Power name checks fifty-two book titles—from The Picture of Dorian Gray to Fifty Shades of Gray—in a single song.
Apropos of Ken Auletta’s article about Amazon and price-fixing, three New Yorker editors sit down to talk about the effect of e-books on writers, editors, and publishers.
Former Paris Review web editor Thessaly La Force is taking a break from her studies at Iowa to guest edit the Review’s blog, The Daily, this week. First up, an interesting G-chat with Sheila Heti (not easy to do, since Heti’s been interviewed nearly a half-dozen times in the past few weeks). Heti’s new novel has already become the most buzzed-about book of the summer (it is just being published in the US today, though it came out in Canada two years ago). James Wood delivered a reserved, somewhat dismissive review in the New Yorker, which will only make Heti’s target audience like it more, while Chris Kraus, Johanna Fateman, Lena Dunham, Miranda July, and many others have given the book unqualified praise; magazines like Triple Canopy and n+1 are reminding us to read Heti’s work in their archives; and the Huffington Post has made it “The Book We’re Talking About.” You might have a chance to talk it over with Heti herself tonight, when she reads at Brooklyn's powerHouse arena.
To make Jane Austen and Bronte more appealing to readers raised on Twilight and the Hunger Games series, publishers are repackaging the classics to give them more sex appeal. Sometimes the references aren’t so thinly veiled—HarperCollins released an edition of Wuthering Heights with the inscription, “Bella & Edward’s favorite book.” According to at least one Huntington, New York bookseller, the new editions are doing surprisingly well.
As if a fatwa weren’t enough, Iranian video game designers are continuing their campaign against Salman Rushdie in pixels. Video game designers have reportedly “completed initial phases of production” of the game “The Stressful Life of Salman Rushdie and Implementation of his Verdict,” according to the Guardian. Plans for “Stressful Life” were first devised by the Islamic Student Association three years ago, and though details about the game’s plot haven’t been released, the New York Daily News speculates that “the new video game will have Iranian youth chasing down and killing the author in the West…” But we’d like to note that if a recent profile of the hard-partying Rushdie in the New York Times is any indication, the controversial author’s life doesn’t seem all that stressful.
According to Janet Groth, a New Yorker receptionist for twenty-one years, there were upsides and downsides to working at the magazine during the sixties and seventies. While women had to deal with office misogyny and daytime drinking was still common, the institution did pay for its employees’ psychoanalysis.
A rare copy of Agatha Christie’s story collection Poirot Investigates (1924) went for a record-breaking £40,630 at an auction at the Dominic Winter auction house, according to the Guardian. The collection marked the first appearance of detective Hercule Poirot in Christie’s fiction (and this particular edition marked the first time Poirot was depicted on a dust jacket) and sold for at least £35,000 more than predicted.
An ingenious new blog, the Underground New York Public Library, judges subway riders by their book covers—specifically, the ones they’re carrying on the train. The site collects photos of people reading on the subway, as well as information about the books they’re engrossed in.
What has Faulkner really left us? John Jeremiah Sullivan examines the great Southern writer’s literary legacy.
It’s commonly repeated that languages are dying: one disappears every fourteen days, and more than seven thousand are predicted to vanish by the next century. But what does this look like up close? In the summer issue of National Geographic, Russ Rymer travels to Russia and India to witness the real-time disappearances of the languages Tuvan and Aka.