- The Story that Wasn't: If a news story gets debunked before the next news cycle, did it ever really exist? Or was it the proverbial falling tree in the proverbial forest that no one proverbially heard?
Yesterday, the Sunday Times announced that Amazon is opening its first brick-and-mortar store — and in the UK, of all places:
Property landlords said that the American company, which has a market value of $59.1 billion (£35.6 billion), had launched a secret search for bricks-and-mortar stores to support its rapidly growing website. It is understood to be scouring the country for high-profile sites just as the Borders book chain is shutting up shop.
It represents an extraordinary reversal from the dotcom boom, when there were fears that internet shopping would kill off the high street. It would also be the most high-profile move by a web-only retailer into stores.
*shockwhispergaspwhisperheadshake* You can just imagine how atwitter this would make the publishing industry and its followers (especially on Twitter!). Except...
It isn't true. Amazon debunked it ASAP:
Amazon.com Inc...has no plans to open stores anywhere in the world, it said on Sunday, in response to a report it was planning to open high street shops in Britain.
Gosh, it's awfully easy to just start a newsy rumor on the internet that someone has to debunk.
Like this one: I have it on good faith from reliable sources that Amazon is planning to install a printer on its Kindle 3 so you can actually print out your eBooks and read them on paper! I suspect this is the wave of the e-future. (Retweet at your leisure.)
Bah Humbug!""Christmas Fail!" Before you crack open that copy of A Christmas Carol to read aloud to the little ones — or take the family to that new animated version with Jim Carrey — consider the changes Dickens himself made to the text.
In a small glass case at the New York Public Library, there sits a promptbook in which Dickens recorded amendments to his originally published text. Isaac Gewirtz, the curator of the Berg Collection of English and American Literature, explains that the author gave perhaps 150 readings of A Christmas Carol, despite the fact that, at the time, "public readings of fiction or poetry [were] not done; it was considered a desecration of one's art and a lowering of one's dignity."
Dickens must not have been concerned much with dignity, or with the sanctity of his own written word. His first performance of the story ran three hours. Later versions took about an hour and 25 minutes. Looking at the promptbook, it becomes clear just how much he cut. Complex sentences were replaced with simple ones. Often, anything to do with the state of mind of a character would be excised if it could be conveyed by tone of voice.
Sometimes, just for variety, he'd perform the story as beloved sitcom and cartoon characters portraying Scrooge — a tradition that continues to this day on our favorite television shows!
Book News Round-up:
- That copy of Poe's first book, Tamerlane, that I mentioned here last week? It sold at auction on Friday for a record $662,500 to an unnamed American collector.
- If the Huffington Post wants to stomp all over the romance genre, I know some smart bitches who read trashy novels who are only too happy to stomp 'em right back.
- The makers of Sesame Street are offering free eBooks for kids on their website, sesamestreet.org/ebooks. They can be read for free but not downloaded.
- Need another helping of Julie and Julia (and now Cleaving) author Julie Powell? Rachel Kramer Bussell interviews her for The Daily Beast.
And don't miss her Powells.com interview!
- I'll go ahead and link to this anti-technology rant in The Guardian that mentions Don DeLillo's love for his manual typewriter.
But this response on NPR's Monkey See blog is really much more entertaining to read. (And probably a better fit for someone who's reading it online.)
- Joe Queenan explores the tragedy of bad covers happening to good books.
- If you live in or near the Bay Area, here are some places where you can pick up the first McSweeney's newspaper, which goes out today.
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Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the Powells.com blog. In his free time he's hard at work on his fictional memoir, which changes titles daily.
The views and commentary posted by Brockman are entirely his own, and are not representative of the whole of Powell's Books, its employees, or any sane human being.
Books mentioned in this post