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Book News for Friday, August 14, 2009

  • Symbol of Change: Dan Brown's new novel (have you heard of it?) is going to be released simultaneously in hardcover and in eBook format.

    Earlier this summer, the publisher said that it was weighing plans for the release of a "Lost Symbol" e-book, as the publishing industry studies how sales of electronic books affect sales of their dead-tree counterparts....In an email message this morning, Suzanne Herz, a spokeswoman for Knopf Doubleday, said, "Now that all of our security and logistical issues surrounding the e-book of 'The Lost Symbol' have been resolved, the e-book will be released simultaneously with the hardcover on September 15."

    We'll know the revolution has arrived when Dan Brown's mega-blockbuster sells more eBooks than real books. Is September 15th going to be that day? Stay tuned.

  • As Tears Go By: NPR takes a look at the late John Updike's final short story collection, My Father's Tears and Other Stories.

    There's plenty here for longtime fans. Olinger, the post-industrial Pennsylvania town that appears in many of his books, is again prominent, and Updike's trademark wandering sentences, which, like Wordsworth's poetry, seem to go in two directions at once, are everywhere. But My Father's Tears also has a quality, sometimes found in final books, of being filled with light and wonderment. It's not only a fitting final book, but a joyous one.

    Well, his final book for now. (See: Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, and pretty much every famous author who died with an unfinished work jammed into the back of a desk drawer somewhere, praying no one would ever read it.)

  • An Extensive Apology: A disgruntled writer makes peace with wunderkind Nick McDonell over his latest book, An Expensive Education.

    In 2002, Nick's novel Twelve — now in production as a Joel Schumacher film starring Kiefer Sutherland, Emma Roberts, and 50 Cent — hit bookstores amid a torrent of publicity and A-list blurbs that praised the 17-year-old author as a literary spokesman for our generation. I went crazy with envy (being an adolescent writer without a book deal at the time) and condemned Twelve in the New York Press as "self-serving swill from a rich kid with connections."

    [...] Recently Nick and I crossed paths at a publishing event. I offered a mea culpa for my juvenile behavior, he graciously accepted, and we agreed to sit down for an interview upon the release of his new novel...which follows a Harvard alumnus who inadvertently facilitates the massacre of an African village while working for the CIA.

    Sorry, (SPOILER ALERT!!) no fistfights. But interesting nonetheless.

  • Walk the Dinosaur: Brace yourself for some harsh words:

    Let's face it — the whole chain bookstore, publishing house, agent, author thing is bankrupt. It's even more 19th century than newspapers and old-fashioned crank music records. Don't get me started on why the book business is worse off than television, radio, or magazines (all of whom are under extreme pressure). Of all these industries facing revolution, the book folks are the most arrogant. They just don't get it.

    Ouch. Though, he does make some good points.

Book News Round-up:

  • NPR speaks with Philip Kerr about his novels set in pre-war Berlin, the most recent of which is A Quiet Flame.

    While you're at it, click here to read Kerr's Q&A for Powells.com.

  • College textbooks right on your iPhone? CNet examines how CourseSmart's eTextbooks app is giving the Kindle a run for its eMoney.
  • Maybe that's all moot anyway, since there are rumors that Apple will unveil its newest gadget supreme, the Apple Tablet, on September 7th. And that could change the whole ballgame since "Apple sees the product fitting in between iPhone/iPod Touch and MacBook, both in price and functionality."

    Are you confused or salivating?

  • Do you read eBooks? NPR's Monkey See blog wants to hear from you!

÷ ÷ ÷

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.


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