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Book News: J. K. Rowling Gets Sued (Again), iPad for Kids, and More

  • Harry Potter and the Price of Fame: You know those times when you're sitting around your day job, all frustrated and whining to your co-workers, "I'd give anything to switch places with that J. K. Rowling, with all her money and worldwide adulation and bestselling books"?

    Now you can stop yourself with: "But hey, at least I don't get sued for plagiarism every 2.5 seconds."

    Guess 2.5 seconds just zipped by, because here she is, getting sued again by yet another writer who hasn't paid close attention to recent history. (Or, rather, the late writer's estate.)

    The lawsuit, filed in a London court, claims Rowling's book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire copied substantial parts of Jacobs' 1987 book, "The Adventures of Willy the Wizard — No. 1 Livid Land." Jacobs' estate also claims that many other ideas from "Willy the Wizard" were copied into the "Harry Potter" books. Jacobs died in London in 1997.

    Isn't there a spell to protect Rowling from this kind of thing? Next time I'll skip envying Rowling and instead daydream about being her lawyer.

  • Rotten Apple: Oops — looks like Apple might not raise e-book prices quite as high as initially expected...

    Since Apple announced plans to sell digital books on its forthcoming iPad, it has been cast as something of a savior of the publishing industry for allowing e-book prices to go above the $9.99 that Amazon charges for e-books on its Kindle device, a price that publishers say is too low to sustain their business.

    But as more details come to light of the actual negotiations between Apple and publishers, it appears that Apple left room to sell some of the most popular books at a discount.

    Yay for Apple consumers! Bummer about those publishers going out of business soon.

  • Frankenstein Lives: In an interesting egg/chicken/back-to-egg situation, the producers of the X-Men films are interested in adapting Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series for film. What's unusual is that the books started as a sort-of novelization of a short-lived TV series.

    Instead of the traditional setting for the horror character, the movie — which could be turned into a franchise — will be set in modern-day New Orleans.

    [The producers] told Variety: "These books have enough twists and turns to keep the public coming back to the theatres for many years to come."

    Unless the first film turns out like this.

    The most recent book in the series is the third one, Dead and Alive. A fourth title, Lost Souls, is due in June.

Book News Round-up:

  • Amy Bishop, the scientist who shot several colleagues last week after she was denied tenure at an Alabama university, wrote an unpublished novel about (guess what) a scientist who teaches at an Alabama university and struggles for tenure. Turns out Bishop is also second cousin to John Irving.
  • NPR spoke with Henning Mankell, creator of the acclaimed Kurt Wallander mysteries, about his new novel, The Man from Beijing, "which takes readers on an international journey from Sweden to China to Africa." He's a little more cheerful than you might expect.
  • Bestselling book-churner-outer James Patterson is moving on to comics. But he'll still probably publish 80 novels a year.
  • Google Books is getting its day in court.
  • Check out the finalists for the Best Translated Book Award.
  • Purists, get ready to be outraged. Fisher-Price has developed an "iPad for kids" called the iXL, which even has an e-reader component: "The stylus-controlled touchscreen includes little applications for reading, drawing, handwriting, and art and music."

    I hope it has WiFi capabilities so kids can check their email while at Chuck E. Cheese.

÷ ÷ ÷

Chris Bolton co-created the all-ages webcomic Smash, which will soon be published by Candlewick Press, and created the comedy series Wage Slaves. His short story "The Red Room" was published in Portland Noir from Akashic Books.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Portland Noir (Akashic Noir)
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  2. Frankenstein: Lost Souls (Dean... Used Hardcover $8.95
  3. Dead and Alive: Dean Koontz's...
    Used Mass Market $3.95
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire...
    Used Trade Paper $6.50
  5. Return to the Little Kingdom: Steve... Used Hardcover $9.95
  6. The Man from Beijing
    Used Hardcover $3.25

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