Shades of gray are single-handedly keeping Random House in the black.

Tune in to Connecticut’s WNPR station at 1pm today to hear Dushko Petrovich talk to Victor Navasky about the art of making magazines. But before you do, read Petrovich’s Bookforum review of Navasky’s anthology.

Random House posted record profits last year thanks to the staggering success of the Fifty Shades trilogy. The publisher, which will soon merge with Penguin, made nearly $420 million last year—a 75 percent increase from the year before. According to The Guardian, “Fifty Shades accounted for almost one in ten of the 750m books Random House sold globally in print or online across the year.”

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has signed a deal with the Penguin Group’s Sentinel imprint to write a book about his adventures in union busting. Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge, which Walker will co-write with Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, is tentatively scheduled to come out in late 2013.

At the New York Review of Books blog, Edward Jay Epstein recalls how fudging his way through a pop quiz in Vladimir Nabokov’s European lit class at Cornell landed him a job watching movies for the master.

Willa Cather’s letters will be published next month in what the editors acknowledge is a “flagrant” violation of her last wishes.

What happens when Jacques Barzun writes to you out of the blue and invites you to write a book? “Had I been an aspiring writer,” Helen Hazen confesses in an essay for the American Scholar, “I would have slumped to the floor and wept. But I wasn’t; I was an aspiring dabbler, and the only thing that happened was that my mind stopped functioning.”

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