News & Notes is a weekly Saturday post featuring book- and publishing-related news, links to interesting articles and opinion pieces, giveaways on this and other blogs, and other cool stuff.
Books & Ebooks in the News:
- The Washington Post is adding monthly book review columns for romance and SFF! Sarah MacLean and Nancy Hightower will share their three favorite new books each month.
- The wizarding world supports Scottish rugby, according to a new “story” on J. K. Rowling’s website, Pottermore. Since you can’t read it without joining Pottermore, The Guardian has been nice enough to summarize.
- B&N’s 3rd quarter earnings were down 10.3% from the previous year, in yet another sign that the last major bookstore chain is struggling. However, their Nook losses are down by 50%, and they plan to bring out a new color Nook in 2015, so apparently they haven’t given up on the ereader device. (Publishers Weekly)
- Apple filed an appeal in the ebook pricing case this week, asking the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Cote’s ruling. (CNet) Business Week also has an article on the appeal, suggesting Apple is prepared to fight this case all the way to the Supreme Court.
- Publishers Weekly discusses the children’s and YA book market, including ebooks. There are some interesting graphs, including pie charts of where books are bought (Amazon & B&N have 43% of the market between them) and who buys YA (will it surprise you to know it’s mostly adults? No, I didn’t think so.)
- A 6-year-old collected 600 books to donate to homeless children in NYC. (Sarah Goodyear, The Atlantic)
- There’s an ebook sharing app on Kickstarter. Ownshelf is described as a book discovery and and recommendation site, “Goodreads meets Dropbox.” The idea is also to let you share your ebooks with other people. (Um… I’m pretty sure that’s illegal for any book sold with DRM. Just sayin’… )
- Tolkien letters. A 5-page handwritten letter to a fan (H. Cotton Minchin) recently went up for auction, and the Tolkien Library has the full transcript. The letter discusses maps, Tolkien’s colleagues’ reactions to his writing fantasy, publishing difficulties, the origins of Sam Gamgee, and more. The Guardian offers an article on another, unpublished letter to Rayner Unwin (son of Tolkien’s publisher, who was influential in getting the books published.) In it, Tolkien regrets W. H. Auden’s dislike of the Aragorn-Arwen romance and discusses his own difficulties in preparing the appendices found in the third volume of The Lord of the Rings.
- Time explored the world of fanfic in an excellent and balanced article from back in 2011. Still worth reading!
- “Are the robots about to rise? Google’s new director of engineering thinks so” profiles Ray Kurzweil, the genius inventor and visionary (or crackpot, depending on your view) who now heads Google’s engineering program. What I found most interesting (or alarming) is the list of AI companies Google has recently bought. Stop worrying about Amazon; it looks like Google is out to take over the future.
- A forensic linguistics computer program helped confirm Rowling as the author of The Cuckoo’s Calling when the leak first occurred, and here’s how. (Smithsonian Magazine)
For Writers & Bloggers:
- Amtrack is offering “writer in residence” programs — essentially free, long roundtrip rides for an author to spend, well, writing. (The Wire)
- “How to Write YA”. Good advice from Seth Fishman. (Publishers Weekly)
- The 2014 Children’s Book Week poster is out! Children’s Book Week runs March 12-18 this year.
- Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Songs, a compilation of previously-unpublished song lyrics by the author of Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, will be released in March. It’s illustrated by 12 artists and includes a CD of the songs set to music by Emily Gray and Tom Proutt. I wish I had a youngster of the right age for this! (Publishers Weekly)
- The Jungle Red Writers blog has an excerpt from Susan Elia MacNeal’s fourth Maggie Hope mystery, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent (forthcoming.)
- J. K. Rowling is writing the third Strike mystery and may have as many as seven planned, according the The Sunday Times. But publisher Little, Brown says there’s no foundation to that claim.
- The Ultimate Sci-Fi and Fantasy Showdown: Sidekick Edition. Samwell Tarly or Samwise Gamgee? Willow or Hermione? Fezzik or Chewbacca? (HarperCollins, on BuzzFeed)
- 22 Books You Should Read Now, Based On Your Childhood Favorites (BuzzFeed)
- Sherlock reviews musicals he was forced to attend with his parents (Kathryn Funkhouser, The Toast) Can you guess which one musical he didn’t hate?
Just for fun:
That’s it for this week!
I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles, lists, and links for News & Notes, so please let me know if you see (or write!) anything that might be good for this feature. You can leave me a comment or send me an email — my address is on the About/Review Policy/Contact page.