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Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Book News for Wednesday, December 27, 2006

  • First we lost the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Now former President Gerald Ford — the only president who was never elected to office — has died at age 93.

    Old famous people everywhere are cowering in terror, wondering who will be Number Three.

  • The New York Times' Manohla Dargis has a mild reaction to Notes On a Scandal, the film version of Zoë Heller's What Was She Thinking?, which stars Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. She calls it "a painstakingly classy package" with actors who are "among the finest on the market today," then notes: "The performers sell the goods, but the goods are cheap."

    Of course both characters are utterly despicable, as is the story that invites us into its trap just to prove that we all have our self-serving reasons, including the filmmakers.

    Then again, Newsweek calls it a "wicked delight," Variety declares it "deviously entertaining," and the Associated Press purrs, "It's a grand thing to watch these two Academy Award winners, who easily could be back in Oscar contention with this film, have at each other."

    Currently in limited release, the film will open nationwide this week.

  • Stephen King gives USA Today readers a glimpse into the Dark Tower comic book series.

    "[I]t's a true collaboration especially the narrative panels. Do I absolutely love everything? Nope. It's a collaboration. But I absolutely love a lot, and in an imperfect world, that's just about Nirvana."

    The first issue goes on sale February 7th.

  • How different are the U.S. and the U.K.? One need look no further than our incarnations of The Office to see some huge differences (as a major fan of the U.S. version and a polite admirer of the U.K. one, I can attest that there are huge disputes among the fans, as well).

    Here's another major difference: in the U.K., Terry Pratchett was the top-selling author until J. K. Rowling came along.

    An extraordinary 4% of all hardback books purchased on these shores are written by Pratchett, to say nothing of the honour that was bestowed on him a decade ago. As of 1996 he is officially the UK's most shoplifted author. How does it feel to sell 40m books? "It's 46m actually," he says smugly.

    Until recently, however, he was perhaps best known among mainstream U.S. audiences as the guy who co-wrote the Neil Gaiman novel that reads nothing like any other Neil Gaiman novel.

    Pratchett is on a career high. After two decades' toil he has recently become huge in the States and tonight Sky One will screen its excellent £6m adaptation of Hogfather, one of his 30-odd Discworld novels set on a planet similar to Earth that floats about space supported by four elephants standing on the back of a turtle. Next year Sam Raimi, director of the Spider-Man movies, will begin work on his own adaptation of a Discworld novel.

    It's also possible, according to this piece, that Pratchett has dark, evil powers.

  • BizReport notes that toys and books were the "fastest growing product category in the Holiday eShopping Index."

    Nielsen/Netratings tracked visits to online shopping hubs for the week ending December 10th and found the shopping as a whole increased by nearly $100 million from $469 million in 2005 to $563 million in 2006....After toys/video games, books/music/videos were the second-fastest-growing category with 46% growth year over year (YoY).

    This is surely good news for some people, who maybe bought a fourth or fifth luxury car with their fattened bank accounts. Frankly, it means nap-time for me.

÷ ÷ ÷

Brockman is the head writer for the daily Book News posts on the 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. 895 Days That Changed the World: The... Used Trade Paper $8.50
  2. Notes on a Scandal: What Was She...
    Used Trade Paper $0.95
  3. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate...
    Used Mass Market $3.95
  4. Hogfather
    Used Mass Market $4.95

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