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Book News for Monday, June 22, 2009

  • Sister Act: Last week The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy profile of bestselling author Jodi Picoult, whose novel My Sister's Keeper is coming to theaters in a film version starring Cameron Diaz and Alec Baldwin.

    Picoult, who is 43, married and the mother of three teenagers, has found enormous commercial success as the most visible and dedicated practitioner of a subcategory of contemporary genre fiction that might best be described as the literature of children in peril....Picoult's message is at once cautionary and subverting. As much as her novels underscore the hazards of parental shortcomings, at a certain level they seem to exist to make a mockery of the cherished idea that we ought not to have any. To read them is to feel that hoisting a toddler into one of the Humvee strollers of the current age is like applying an exfoliant to a malignant tumor in the hope that it can be scrubbed away.

    Picoult's most recent novel is Handle with Care, which came out in March. Here is Jill's 2008 interview with Picoult for Powells.com.

  • Happy Furst Day: John Douglas Marshall interviews Alan Furst as the paperback version of the spymaster's novel The Spies of Warsaw marches into bookstores (and sites).

    Furst had it in mind to write a series of novels in a genre he was soon calling "historical espionage," literary works set in 1930s Europe amid the gathering thunderclouds of fascism and war. But he had no illusions that these novels would be his ticket to fortune or fame. "I was going to be the best failed novelist in Paris," Furst says. "That was certainly not the worst thing in the world that one could be."

    [...] There are now more than 1 million copies of his novels in print, with editions around the globe in 17 languages. Every Furst novel since Kingdom of Shadows has been a bestseller including his 10th and latest novel....Furst novels have become a Father’s Day tradition, with hardbacks released in even years, paperbacks in odd years, the literary alternative to the traditional dad’s gift tie.

    If you've got to fail at something, failing at being a failed novelist seems like a good way to go.

  • Catch Up: Did you miss Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon's appearance on last week's Colbert Report with a newly shorn Stephen Colbert?

    Now you didn't:

    The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
    Paul Muldoon
    Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Stephen Colbert in Iraq

Book News Round-up:

  • We can't resist mentioning the new book Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America by George Whalin.

    Guess which Portland-based bookseller made the list? (Read all about it here.)

  • If you missed Saturday's announcement, we've picked our winners of the Six-Word Memoir Contest. Check them out here.
  • A horror story about Kindle's DRM (that's digital rights management, for those, like me, who aren't tech-heads and weren't born knowing that — the piece itself doesn't bother to inform the lay-reader).
  • Publishers Weekly reviews the new Kindle DX: "Looks Good, Works Fine, Costs too Much."
  • Simon & Schuster may be in a bit of hot water after it promoted Stephen King's 2006 novel Cell with a series of unsolicited text messages that "may have violated the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act," according to Publishers Weekly.

    At least they didn't turn the recipients into bloodthirsty zombie maniacs. That's some kind of consolation for everyone.

  • The New York Times summarizes the Salinger trial to date.
  • An independent publisher explains why he chose to stick with hardcovers but jettison the dust jacket:

    Basically, paper-over-board books are hardcovers without a dust jacket. But not those musty, dowdy books you might find in an abandoned corner of a library... Printing technologies have come a long way, and now paper-over-board books can be as vibrant and attractive as any paperback, and printed in the same trade size as well.

    Is there anyone out there who reads hardcovers with the dust jacket on? And if you take it off, do you find that you lose or damage it?

  • How can you tell for certain that the E-revolution has hit publishing? Hotels are starting to offer complimentary e-Book readers for guests. I'm going to miss those wacky Gideons.

÷ ÷ ÷

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

  1. My Sister's Keeper - Movie Tie-In
    Used Trade Paper $2.95
  2. Handle with Care
    Used Hardcover $3.95
  3. The Spies of Warsaw: A Novel
    Used Hardcover $9.95
  4. Kingdom of Shadows Used Trade Paper $10.50

One Response to "Book News for Monday, June 22, 2009"

    Sandy June 24th, 2009 at 6:58 am

    I usually read hardcovers with the dust jacket on--I also use the flaps as bookmarks. However, I would gladly give up the bookmark feature for a beautifully printed paper over board book. What is the What and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie are two recent publications I can think of that are gorgeous. And you don't have to worry about tearing the nice cover, either.

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