Parini, who was a friend of Vidal’s, will release the book through Doubleday.
Doubleday executive editor and vice president Gerald Howard told the New York Times that Parini’s 30-odd-year friendship with Vidal would deeply inform the book and that Parini and Vidal had talked at least weekly, if not more often, for the past decades.
“He knows a lot about Gore that he’s heard directly from the source, and that’s certainly one of the major things that’s going to inform the biography, this intimate acquaintance that they had,” Howard said.
Parini was the editor for the book “Gore Vidal: Against the Grain,” an essay collection about the writer published in 1992, and has taken on other literary titans including William Faulkner and John Steinbeck in his biographies. He is also a professor at Middlebury College and the author of the 1990 novel "The Last Station" about the tumultuous late years of the life of Leo Tolstoy.
Rowling will participate in an interview conducted by “State of Wonder” author Ann Patchett at the Jazz at Lincoln Center on New York on Oct. 16. She will take some "select" audience questions during the session as well as sign copies of “The Casual Vacancy” for every audience member.
The interview will go out to booksellers via a live webcast, and ticket prices will range from $37 when bought at Lincoln Center to $44 for online purchases. The tickets will also be available via phone call for $43 and will go on sale Sept. 10.
A Navy Seal who was present at the raid that killed Osama bin Laden will publish a first-person narration of the events to be released on September 11, according to unnamed publishing executives, reports the New York Times.
The author, who was a “team leader” for the mission, will use pseudonyms to protect the identities of those involved, including his own. He will be known only by the pen name "Mark Owen." Kevin Maurer, author and co-author of several books with military themes, will be the co-author of this title as well.
The book, “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden” is owned by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin. Until now, the details of the book had been kept a secret, even from the bookstores that will stock it.
The publisher’s description promises a “blow-by blow narrative of the assault, beginning with the helicopter crash that could have ended Owen’s life straight through to the radio call confirming bin Laden’s death" and calls the book "an essential piece of modern history.”
With the bin Laden raid cited as one of the Obama administration’s greatest accomplishments, the book is expected to be an immediate best seller. But its timing – coming in the midst of the US presidential election cycle – could prove controversial. As the NYT blog points out, a film about the raid – “Zero Dark Thirty" by Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal – was originally scheduled for release in October, but was moved to December after Republicans complained that it could provide positive publicity for President Obama in the weeks before the election.
An insider has reported that the publisher plans to print 300,000 hardcover copies of the book.
If political book sales are any indication, Barack Obama is in for a tough ride this November.
That’s according to a new heat map of political books sold, which suggests more Americans are buying “red” books than “blue” books.
Amazon’s new Election Heat Map 2012 uses a rolling 30-day average of book-buying data to classify a state as red or blue depending on whether it has higher liberal or conservative book sales. For politicos and bibliophiles alike, it’s a fascinating geographic glimpse into Americans’ bookshelves – and political reading habits. (Amazon released a similar heat map four years ago in the run-up to the 2008 elections; see our blog on that here.)
But, Amazon is quick to point out, “books aren’t votes, so a map of book purchases may reflect curiosity as much as commitment.”
Currently some 56 percent of political book purchases are “red,” or conservative-leaning, according to Amazon’s heat map, which is updated daily. (Amazon noted that it classified books as red or blue “if they have a political leaning made evident in book promotion material and/or customer classification, such as tags.”) Bestselling “red” titles include “The Amateur,” “Killing Lincoln,” “Leading from Behind,” and “Atlas Shrugged.” (See our recent post on the Ayn Rand-Paul Ryan connection for more on that.)
“Book sales by geography always have interesting things to say about our states, and an election season is a particularly good time to use this data to help customers follow the changing political conversation across the country,” Chris Schluep, a senior editor at Amazon, told Politico.
Perhaps most striking is that the heat map is awash with red, indicating that conservative-leaning books are outselling liberal-leaning books in the overwhelming majority of states, coast to coast. Only six states – Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, New York, and DC – are selling more liberal books than conservative. Pennsylvania is the bibliophilic equivalent of neutral Switzerland, exactly equally split 50-50 between red and blue reading. The rest of America, including traditionally liberal California, is buying red.
Does the crimson map reflect how Americans will vote this November? Not necessarily. Instead, say industry watchers, it indicates the relative superiority of conservative imprints in seeking out right-leaning books and connecting with readers.
“I can tell you that there are conservative imprints and conservative publishers that are just brilliant at figuring out what kind of books their audience wants to read,” publishing industry analyst Michael Norris, of Simba Information, told Wired. “There just aren’t aggressively left-leaning imprints like that.”
In fact, Amazon’s heat map told a similar story four years ago, when conservative books like “Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Alaskan Political Establishment Upside Down” were top of the list and the map was similarly awash in red.
Wrote Books Editor Marjorie Kehe last election season, “It might be that publishers of politically 'red' books are scoring big in general. According to a new barometer devised by Amazon.com, books from America’s political right get much wider exposure than those from its left.”
Among Amazon’s findings:
• DC was the “bluest” state, selling the most liberal books at 78 percent liberal, 22 percent conservative.
• Mississippi was the “reddest” state, with 72 percent of purchases coming out “red” and 28 percent “blue.”
• In a head-to-head race, however, Obama still comes out on top. Some 64 percent of Americans are buying “The Audacity of Hope,” compared to 36 percent purchasing GOP contender Mitt Romney’s “No Apology.”
• In the veep race, though, Republican Paul Ryan is trouncing Joe Biden. Some 94 percent of Americans are purchasing Ryan’s co-authored “Young Guns,” compared to just 6 percent buying Biden’s “Promises to Keep.”
We’re enjoying this glimpse into Americans’ political reading habits, but we’re not reading too much into it. After all, four years when Amazon’s heat map was cloaked in red, a decidedly blue candidate won the majority of Americans’ votes.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
Warner Bros. has decided against adapting Stephen King’s "Dark Tower" series, the latest obstacle in the effort to get King’s books to the screen, but Deadline reports that Media Rights Capital is in talks to take on the "Dark Tower" project.
After Universal Pictures put an end to a planned project of multiple feature films and TV series based on the books, Warner Bros. picked up the project, with “The Da Vinci Code” director Ron Howard set to direct and frequent Howard collaborator Brian Grazer scheduled to produce. Rumors had swirled that “Les Miserables” star Russell Crowe could sign on to play protagonist Roland Deschain.
Warner Bros. had planned three movies and two separate TV adaptations to tackle the story, which consists of eight books, including King’s latest addition to the series, “The Wind Through the Keyhole.”
According to an article in Education Week, high school teachers requested over 400,000 copies of Ayn Ryan’s novels for the 2011-2012 school year through the Ayn Rand Institute’s Books to Teachers program. The institute says that this is a 30 percent increase in demand from the year before.
Ayn Rand's novels support her ideological standpoint that capitalism is the best economic system possible and that individuals must follow their own self-interest. Her arguments are controversial – to say the least – and should have the potential to spark lively debate in classrooms. Her novels include "The Fountainhead," "Atlas Shrugged," and "Anthem."
The Ayn Rand Institute reports that it has given out over 2.5 million copies of Rand’s novels and that close to 65,000 high school classrooms have taught one of her novels since it began the Books to Teachers program in 2002.
Through the institute, teachers can receive Rand’s books without cost if they agree to teach them. Additional promotion includes annual high school essay contests that ask students to grapple with Rand’s ideas and the themes in her novels. According to Education Weekly, 29,000 students, a record high, participated in the essay contest last year.
Olympic gold medalist, and key player on the US Olympic soccer team, Alex Morgan, has signed a contract with Simon & Schuster to write a trilogy for middle schoolers entitled “Three Kicks.”
The first installment will be released summer 2013. The series will center on the friendship of four middle school, soccer-loving girls. Editor Kristin Ostby says that the series should display how “sports are such an integral part of girls’ lives – as much as friends and boys.”
According to Publisher’s Weekly, the idea for the series was brought to Simon & Schuster soon after Morgan scored the winning goal against Canada during the semi-finals. She is reported to have said that she wanted her series to “inspire young girls” and “celebrate” her passion for soccer.
The Nook will be available at the Nook store, nook.co.uk in October, offering more than 2.5 million titles including books, magazines, newspapers, and apps. Barnes & Nobles has withheld the information about its retail partners until a later date.
This step will allow Barnes & Noble to compete more effectively with Amazon, whose Kindle e-reader has been available in the UK for quite some time. According to The Guardian , the retailer has stated that it plans to open up its digital bookstore to 10 new countries within the next year.
The Guardian reports that the new initiative has been backed by Microsoft with $605 million as it makes its first inroads into e-book industry. The new Windows 8 is set to be released in October and it will include a Nook app as part of the agreement.
Chief executive, William Lynch said that he is pleased to be able to offer the company’s Nook products to the “discerning and highly educated consumers in the U.K.”
“We’re confident our award-winning technology, combined with our expansive content – including books, children’s books, magazines, apps, movies and more – will bring UK customers the option they’ve been waiting for.”
The reigning wizard of book sales has just been overthrown – again – by Suzanne Collins’s "Hunger Games" trilogy, which surpassed the "Harry Potter" books to become the best-selling series on Amazon.com, the company announced.
“Since debuting in 2008, Katniss Everdeen and the Hunger Games have taken the world by storm, much as Harry Potter did a decade before,” Sara Nelson, the editorial director of books and Kindle at Amazon, said in a statement. “Interestingly, this series is only three books versus Harry Potter’s seven, and to achieve this result in just four years is a great testament to both the popularity of the work and, we think, the growth in reading digitally during that time.”
Though Amazon declined to produce specific sales figures for “Hunger Games,” Scholastic, the publisher for both books, told the NYT has 150 million copies of the "Harry Potter" series and more than 50 million copies of the “Hunger Games” trilogy in print in the US. Amazon’s sales figures include both print and digital sales. (“Hunger Games” has been a huge seller in e-book format; the "Harry Potter" series was unavailable for sale in digital format until March of this year.)
Collins’s trilogy is set in a postapocalyptic world in which children fight one another to the death and is wildly successful among teenage audiences, just as Harry Potter once was.
First “Fifty Shades” and now “Hunger Games.” Why Harry Potter’s waning popularity? The answer, we think is shockingly simple: Harry Potter is a decade old now. Hard to believe, right? Though he’s flagging now, the longevity of his sales record is a testament to J.K. Rowling and her boy wizard.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
Congratulations to “earworm,” “e-reader” and “game changer” – they and a host of other terms made the cut this year for the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.
Merriam-Webster usually adds around a hundred words to the dictionary each year, and 2012’s inclusions ranged from slang to terms created by food aficionados.
“Some of the new words this year provide colorful images," Merriam-Webster Editor at Large Peter Sokolowski said in a statement. “Terms like 'man cave,' 'underwater' (when used to describe mortgages), 'earworm,' and 'bucket list' paint vivid pictures in your mind. They show that English-speakers can be very creative as they describe the world around them.”
Other notable newbies included “gastropub,” “f-bomb, “ “sexting” and “cloud computing.”