Fielding, who is behind the two previous books, “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” said that the novel will be set in current London. While a third film is being planned, the two plots will not be related (the third movie is said to follow Bridget becoming pregnant), and the book will have Bridget’s tweets in place of the usual entries in her diary.
“[It’s] an entirely new scenario for Bridget,” Fielding said during an appearance on the TV show “Women’s Hour”. “If people laugh as much reading it as I am while writing it, then we’ll all be very happy… It’s more like ‘number of Twitter followers: 0. Still no followers. Still no followers’… She is still on the diet… She's trying a bit harder, and is a bit more successful, but she's never really going to change.”
The new book is due next fall and will be released through the publisher Jonathan Cape.
“Great comic writers are as rare as hen’s teeth,” Jonathan Cape publisher Dan Franklin told the Telegraph. “Helen is one of a very select band who have created a character, Bridget, of whom the very thought makes you smile. Like millions of others, I can’t wait to see what’s happened to her.”
It’s another installment of Sherlock Holmes: Amazon Edition. In the latest mystery to stir suspicion in the book world, Amazon’s buy button disappeared on its US website for several hours Thursday night.
The buy button disappearance affected the Kindle e-book versions of a range of titles, perhaps all, by the big six publishers. No other publishers were affected by the mysterious disappearance. The buy buttons returned within a few hours.
“The Kindle Store is experiencing a technical issue,” Amazon said in a statement described as “laconic” by bookseller newsletter Shelf Awareness. “We’re working to correct it.”
Herein lies the mystery. Was it indeed a “technical” issue, as Amazon described it? Or, as many in the publishing industry believe, was it a deliberate action designed to threaten major publishers?
It turns out this isn’t the first time Amazon has experienced this particular technical issue. The most famous incident occurred in early 2010 when Amazon removed buy buttons for all Macmillan titles to protest the publisher’s adoption of the agency model for e-books which allowed Macmillan, rather than Amazon, to set e-book prices. During that particularly nasty books war, Amazon halted the sale of Macmillan titles on its Kindle store before ultimately backing down.
“I think everyone thought they were witnessing a knife fight,” Sloan Harris, codirector of the literary department at International Creative Management, told The New York Times. “And it looks like we’ve gone to the nukes.”
This time around things haven’t quite escalated to that level. Thursday night’s technical issue comes on the heels of a Justice Department settlement over e-book pricing in which three of the five publishers accused of conspiring to fix e-book prices agreed to pay consumers to settle the DOJ suit. The settlement was seen as a victory for Amazon, which was a target of the alleged price fixing scheme.
Perhaps more tellingly, the disappearance of the buy button also coincided with the announced merger of Random House and Penguin Group. That move would create the world’s largest publisher and provide a more united front against the growing power of retailers like Amazon.
The merger, wrote the Wall Street Journal, “will create a publishing giant that will have more heft at a time when the book business is being rocked by the rise of online retailers and e-books.”
In other words, Amazon isn’t happy about this merger. So was the buy button disappearance a warning to publishers linked to these recent developments in the industry or was it a bona fide technical issue?
We’ll probably never know, but you can bet industry observers have their hunches.
President Barack Obama wasn’t the only person who won Tuesday night.
New York Times political statistician and FiveThirtyEight blogger Nate Silver celebrated his own victory: successfully predicting essentially all 50 states correctly, then seeing sales of his recent book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t,” soar 850 percent on Amazon.
After climbing to No. 15 on Wednesday on Amazon.com, “The Signal and the Noise” rocketed to No. 2 after Silver correctly predicted the election results. The 544-page book published in September is second only to Jeff Kinney’s popular children’s book “The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Book Seven).”
The victory is all the more significant considering Silver’s growing chorus of skeptics. Pundits like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and the New York Times David Brooks were critical of Silver’s reliance on poll data, writes Politico. The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein described Silver’s methodology as “little more than a sophisticated form of poll aggregation.”
There were a lot of eyeballs watching Silver ahead of and into election night. In the days and hours prior to the election, roughly one in five NYT.com visitors visited Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, which analyzes polling data to predict how many electoral votes each candidate will win. (The blog is named after the 538 total electoral votes.)
The result? Silver correctly predicted every state. (Though Florida votes are still being counted, Silver predicted the state would be very close, with a slight edge to Obama.)
Those interested in his electoral prediction would do well to check out “The Signal and the Noise,” in which Silver explains the art of prediction and outlines the methodology behind his system for determining everything from how well a major league baseball player will perform to who will win the presidency. (We listed Silver’s book as one of the “11 best books of September, according to Amazon.")
Being the mastermind statistician-soothsayer that he is, you’d think Nate Silver saw this coming.
Of course he did.
“I’m sure that I have a lot riding on the outcome,” Silver told Politico last month. “I’m also sure I’ll get too much credit if the prediction is right and too much blame if it is wrong.”
For now, Nate Silver and his “Signal and the Noise” gets our vote.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
My spell-checker doesn't like losers.
It recognizes presidential last names, even Fillmore, Van Buren, and Coolidge. But it's dumbfounded by McCain and McGovern, let alone Willkie, Frémont, and Breckinridge.
Such is the fate of most of the major candidates who make it onto presidential ballots, but no further. Some are forever forgotten (Thomas Pinckney, anyone?). But others manage to make a mark despite coming up short.
Where will Mitt Romney fit in? For perspective, I contacted author Scott Farris, a leading specialist in presidential also-rans who wrote 2011's "Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation."
Farris has some experience with the phenomenon of non-winning: he's run campaigns, been a political columnist, and even ran for Congress in Wyoming in 1998. (He lost.)
From his home in Portland, Ore., Farris considered Romney's options, pondered the fates of the second-placers, and looked back at a sore loser or two.
Q: What's next for Romney?
A: He's made it clear – or at least his wife has – that this is his last campaign. That eliminates the option of the loser making one more run at the presidency, which doesn't happen as often as it used to.
I look at him and think about Bob Dole in 1996. The day after the election, he held a press conference and said that, for the first time in 50 years, "I don't know what I'm going to do today."
That's a bit where Mitt Romney is.
Dole wrote a couple of books, he did some advertising – some of it notorious, like for Viagra and a controversial spot for Pepsi. He made a lot of speeches and ended up reconnecting with George McGovern to work to combat world hunger.
They ended up saving hundreds of thousands of children. It's been a very admirable career.
My guess is that Romney will do a hodgepodge of things. Could he be one of his church's leaders and continue to try to gain acceptance of the Mormon faith? He also obviously has a big family and will spend a lot of time with them.
I'm sure it will take some time for him to find himself.
Q: Who are some losers who set a high standards?
A: For the first 150 years of the US, it was OK to be a loser, you weren't stigmatized. Henry Clay lost but remained very influential. And William Jennings Bryan was an extremely influential man for a quarter century.
There are so many ways to serve.
John Kerry and John McCain went back to the Senate. Michael Dukakis completed his term as governor of Massachusetts and decided to become a college professor. Some of his students still talk about what a terrific teacher he is.
Q: Who should not be emulated?
A: Horace Greeley, who ran against President Grant, died within a month of the election, which he lost badly. He'd just lost his wife, and when he went back home, he realized he'd lost his beloved newspaper, too.
He had the most tragic life of a losing candidate.
Q: Who did the most to help his rival after the campaign?
A: Stephen Douglas worked very hard to work with Abraham Lincoln and convince the South to not secede.
The assumption is that Lincoln is a secular saint, and Douglas, his rival, must have been representing the dark side. There's no doubt he was a racist and on the wrong side of slavery.
But when the chips were down, he made a heroic effort. When he realized that he had no chance to be elected president, he devoted all his energies to trying to preserve the union and he spoke highly of Abraham Lincoln.
FDR asked for his help to sell "lend-lease" to the American public, to lend weapons, ships, and tanks to the British before the US got into World War II.
There was a huge sentiment to not enter the war, but it passed with a narrow margin. An alliance between the two also helped get Congress to extend the draft six months before Pearl Harbor.
Q: What about bad behavior? Were any also-rans less than gracious?
A: The two most ungracious of modern times were Barry Goldwater and McGovern. They really disliked the men they lost to.
Goldwater was appalled by some of Lyndon Johnson's tactics. Even though it was clear he was losing on Election Night, he didn't concede until the next morning and gave a fairly defiant speech.
When McGovern conceded, he said there was no way we're going to rally behind policies we abhor. When Inauguration Day came, he refused to show up and went abroad to criticize Nixon's behavior on foreign soil that day.
That would generally be considered bad form.
Q: Who's the most obscure also-ran of all?
A: That's probably Alton Parker, who ran against Teddy Roosevelt.
He was of the old "front porch campaign" school, while Roosevelt was very energetic and toured the country.
Parker is the only losing candidate who's never had a biography published. That's pretty obscure when you're up against candidates like Lewis Cass and Winfield Scott Hancock.
A: I'm afraid he's not driving me to write one. I've got a few book in mind, but he's not in the hopper. Maybe someday!
Randy Dotinga is a Monitor contributor.
The movie plans for an adaptation of “Wild,” the bestselling memoir by Cheryl Strayed about her solo journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, are moving forward, with “About A Boy” screenwriter Nick Hornby possibly on board to write the film.
The movie rights to “Wild” were bought by actress Reese Witherspoon’s production company Pacific Standard as well as by producer Bruna Papandrea, and Witherspoon is set to star as Strayed in the movie. Meanwhile, Strayed tweeted on Nov. 7, “Nick Hornby's desktop: Wild script in progress. (Squeal!)” with a link to what was presumably a photo. (The link is broken.)
“I couldn't be more thrilled," Strayed told the Oregonian when it was announced that Witherspoon will be bringing the movie to the screen and playing her. "She's such a wonderful combination of smart and charming. I really feel like she saw my vision and is the perfect person to bring it to the screen. If a genie gave me three wishes about who would play the part, she would be my first wish.”
Witherspoon was nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 2005 film “Walk the Line,” in which she portrayed June Carter Cash, and recently played a lead role – that of circus performer Marlena – in another high-profile adaptation, that of the Sara Gruen novel “Water for Elephants.”
Hornby is the author of the novels “Juliet, Naked,” “High Fidelity” and “Fever Pitch” and wrote the screenplay for the 2009 Oscar-nominated film “An Education,” which starred Carey Mulligan and Peter Sarsgaard. He is also writing the screenplay for the film “Brooklyn,” which is slated for a 2014 release and set to star “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” actress Rooney Mara.
“Wild,” which was selected by Oprah Winfrey as a book club pick, is currently at number 15 on the combined print and e-book nonfiction New York Times bestseller list for Nov. 11 and at number 9 on the e-book nonfiction list for the same week. The book was number one on the the combined print and e-book nonfiction list for six weeks starting July 22.
Apple and four publishers are close to cutting a deal with European Union regulators that will enable Amazon to offer lower e-book prices and end an antitrust investigation into Apple’s e-book pricing in Europe.
The decision effectively hands Amazon a victory in e-book pricing, allowing it to sell e-books more cheaply than its rivals. According to Reuters, a deal was offered to EU regulators in September by Apple and four publishers: News Corp. unit HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre, and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, the owner of Germany’s Macmillan. (Pearson’s Penguin group, also part of the investigation, did not take part in the settlement offer.)
The deal, which the EU regulators are poised to accept, allows retailers like Amazon the ability to set their own prices or discounts for a period of two years. It also suspends “most favored nation” contracts for a period of five years. Such contracts bar publishers from making deals with rival retailers to sell e-books more cheaply than Apple.
It was these contracts, which effectively prevented Amazon and other retailers from undercutting Apple’s e-book pricing, which sparked the EU investigation last December.
“The Commission is likely to accept the offer and announce its decision next month,” an EU source said, according to Reuters.
Industry analysts chalk this up as a win for Amazon and consumers and more bad news for publishers.
“It's certainly another win for Amazon,” Mark Cooper, founder of Smashwords, an e-book publisher and distributor that works with Apple, told Reuters. “I have not seen the terms of the final settlement, but my initial reaction is that it places restrictions on what publishers can do, slowing them down just when they need to be more nimble.”
The EU’s probe has been running parallel to a similar investigation in the U.S. conducted by the Justice Department against Apple and several publishers. The European decision will likely have reverberations in the U.S. suit against Apple and several publishers.
Apple’s American antitrust woes arose last spring when the DOJ accused it and five publishers of conspiring to fix prices and forcing Amazon to raise prices. In the U.S., three of the five publishers – HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette – settled. Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin Group have denied wrongdoing and have decided to fight the suit in court in a trial scheduled for early next year.
On the heels of the EU settlement news, writes CNET, the big question now is whether Apple and the remaining publishers will seek a similar settlement in the U.S.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
Put down that Kindle and pay attention to the airline safety video – it may be a little different from what you’re used to.
In advance of the first “Hobbit” film coming to theaters Dec. 14, Air New Zealand partnered with Weta Workshop, the special-effects and prop company behind the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films, to create a special in-flight safety video for the airline with a Middle-earth theme. The movie features flight attendants dressed as elves, a captain that bears a passing resemblance to wizard Gandalf the Grey, and a cameo by “Hobbit” director Peter Jackson as well as everyone’s favorite ring lover, Gollum.
“Welcome aboard this Air Middle-earth flight,” the female flight attendant proclaims to an audience of passengers that includes normally dressed humans and also consists of what looks like elves, hobbits and dwarves.
Later in the video, two passengers imitate the rolling “r” pronunciation actor Ian McKellan (who played Gandalf) famously used when pronouncing the word “Mordor." Another passenger, leaning forward in his seat to demonstrate proper emergency procedure, spots the famous One Ring on the floor in front of him, only to have it snatched by Jackson.
“My precious!” Jackson exclaims and puts it on his finger, instantly disappearing.
Another Gandalf doppelganger is urged by a flight attendant to put away one of his favorite accessories from the film, his pipe. Later, the Gandalf-like passenger lights his staff to help other passengers exit the airplane, including Gollum, who is prowling along the aisle, and what appears to be a horse.
In accordance with the airline rules, a Ringwraith, one of the creepy hooded creatures that pursue protagonist Frodo in the “Lord of the Rings" films, turns off his iPhone (something we imagine would be tough with his sharp metal hands).
Check out the full video below.
Wellington National Airport in New Zealand is also celebrating the upcoming “Hobbit” release with a statue of Gollum that is more than 42 feet tall. For the week of the “Hobbit” première, the city of Wellington will be renamed “the Middle of Middle-earth.”
Now independent booksellers are joining the bandwagon, continuing an Amazon boycott of sorts by refusing to carry books published by Amazon.
“At a certain point you have to decide how far you want to nail your own coffin shut,” Michael Tucker, owner of a Books Inc. chain in San Francisco, told the New York Times. “Amazon wants to completely control the entire book trade. You’re crazy if you want to play that game with them.”
The Times piece focuses on an upcoming Amazon book, “The 4-Hour Chef,” by bestselling author Timothy Ferriss. Ferris’ previous two books, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” and “The 4-Hour Body,” published by Crown, were bestsellers, ranking well on Amazon. Ferriss was lured away to Amazon with a seven-figure contract for “The 4-Hour Chef.” As publication approaches, the book is still flagging, ranking at No. 597 in books at Amazon and 4,318 in the Kindle Store. (An updated edition of “The 4-Hour Workweek” published in 2009 was 328 in books and 2,723 in Kindle, by contrast, according to the NYT.)
And Michael Tucker’s Books Inc. isn’t the only store sitting out. Many indie stores surveyed by the Times either refused to carry Amazon books or said they would special order only if asked. (A few were carrying books published by the new Amazon-Houghton Mifflin Harcourt line, New Harvest, but grudgingly.)
The American Booksellers Association, which represents independent booksellers, got the ball rolling back in February of this year by removing all Amazon titles from its IndieCommerce e-commerce database, according to the UK’s Guardian.
Even Walmart and Target are refusing to carry Amazon-published books, and in a pointed message to the mega-online retailer, they’ve both stopped selling the Kindle, concerned it will lure customers away.
Whether this boycott of sorts is more than a blip on Amazon’s radar remains to be seen. Though Amazon-published books have enjoyed some success largely in digital sales through Amazon’s website, “a book that aspires to be a genuine national best seller needs more than that,” writes the Times.
It seems the mega-retailer’s online model that undercut so many traditional booksellers is now hampering its own success.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
She’s been a pop superstar, an actress, a reality show star, and an "X-Factor" judge.
Britney Spears’s next title? Author.
According to early reports, the book would be a roman a clef, or a novel that would “incorporate fictionalized versions of her own experiences.”
It’s actually not Spears’s first book. The singer wrote “Britney Spears’ Heart to Heart” with her mom, Lynne Spears, in 2000, and “A Mother’s Gift” in 2001. This would be the first work of fiction for Spears, however.
With this new pending book deal, Spears will join a growing band of reality TV celebrities penning books, including the Kardashians and Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi of Jersey Shore. Spears’s plans are already being compared to TV personality and The Hills star Lauren Conrad’s 2009 New York Times bestseller “L.A. Candy,” about a girl who moves to Los Angeles and becomes the star of a reality show. Conrad has written two novels in the series since then, a surprise success for the reality show star.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by the news. Spears has previously mentioned how important reading is in her daily routine. “Every night, I have to read a book, so that my mind will stop thinking about things that I stress about,” she once said, according to AOL News.
No word on when the new book will be released, but folks are already hypothesizing the storyline.
Writes the Washington Post’s Celebritology 2.0 blogger, “I for one am dying to read the story of a pop star who becomes wildly famous for her ability to sing with a python draped around her neck, stars on a B-grade UPN reality show with her dancer husband, suffers a severe breakdown that involves shaving her head, but then triumphantly bounces back and lands not just one, but two, 'Glee' tribute episodes devoted to her work.”
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
Let's put it this way: you can't take me anywhere.
About 13 years ago, I visited the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta with some friends. For some reason, I decided it would be fun to pose for a photo in the chair behind the desk in the mock Oval Office.
First I tripped over the velvet museum rope. Then the desk chair swung backwards as I sat in it, nearly flipping me over. Finally, I held up the desk's "The Buck Stops Here" sign for the photo and watched helplessly as its little metal holder fell off and clattered onto the floor.
That's when the security guard arrived on the scene. "Step away from the desk, sir."
I did as ordered. But we weren't evicted and even got to continue our tour.
Since then, I've joked that while they're pretty lenient at the Carter museum, folks are even more easygoing at the museum of the mostly forgotten Rutherford B. Hayes. There, you can stay the night in his bed and go home with a piece of his living room couch!
That's not true. (I checked, just in case I ever find myself in Fremont, Ohio.) But Hayes is definitely one of our most obscure presidents. It's a funny thing, since he landed in office thanks to one of the most remarkable – and crooked – presidential elections in American history.
As pundits dream of a tie in the Electoral College this year, I contacted historian Roy Morris Jr., editor of Military Heritage magazine and author of 2005's "Fraud of the Century: Rutherford B. Hayes, Samuel Tilden, and the Stolen Election of 1876."
From his home in Chattanooga, Tenn., Morris talked about the bitter battle over the disputed results, the chicanery that cast the entire election in doubt and the shrewd tactics that turned Hayes into a winner.
Q: Set the scene for us. What happened during the presidential election of 1876?
A: The Democratic nominee was Samuel Tilden, governor of New York, and the Republican nominee was Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio.
The country had just lived through eight years of the Grant administration and all its scandals. Tilden got the nomination because he was a squeaky clean reformer and had run the fight against Boss Tweed corruption in New York. Hayes got the nomination as a kind of compromise.
On election night, both candidates went to bed thinking Tilden had been elected because he had massive majorities of votes.
He was ahead by the modern equivalent of 1.3 million votes. In terms of the Electoral College, he needed 185 and he had 184 definitely.
Q: That's when an infamous character named Daniel Sickles entered the picture, right?
A: He'd been a Union general and a congressman and was notorious because he shot and killed an unarmed man who was having an affair with his wife, Francis Scott Key's nephew. Sickles was acquitted in the first acquittal based on a temporary insanity defense.
On election night, he was going to back to his house on Fifth Avenue in New York City and dropped by the Republican national headquarters a few blocks away to see what was going on.
There was only one person there, a clerk who was boxing up the office. He said, "Tilden's been elected."
But Sickle knew that Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana still had Reconstruction governments. They had 19 electoral votes, and both Republicans and Democrats had sent telegrams wondering who'd won those states.
Sickles figured out that if Hayes was declared victor in one of those states, he'd win by one electoral vote. He sent out telegrams to governors of those states and said, hold onto your states for Hayes, and if you do, he's elected.
Q: But you can't do that. You can't tell a governor to hold a state, right?
A: But he did.
Enough doubt was created in people's minds – sort of like with Bush and Gore in 2000 – that nobody knew exactly who had won. The first stories started coming out, and the Republican newspapers including the New York Times, said the election was undecided and Hayes claims victory.
Q: So the Republicans started controlling the narrative?
A: That's exactly right.
Q: How long did the stalemate last?
A: You went through several weeks of nobody knowing who had won.
Congress would meet in January and open the returns. The problem was that in those three Southern states, there were multiple sets of election results, one sent by the Republican governor and one by the Democratic governor-to-be.
To make it even more complicated, the Constitution at the same time said the president of the Senate would open the ballots.
The Republicans said that means he can decide which returns to accept, but the Democrats said he only can open them if there aren't two sets of results. If there are, he'd have to set them both aside, in which case nobody would have the majority of votes and it would then be turned over to the House to decide who'd be president.
Q: What happened next?
A: An election commission voted 8-7 that Hayes had been elected. He was sworn in secretly a day earlier than the scheduled inauguration because they were afraid that Tilden would go to Washington D.C. and declare himself president.
Q: This all happened just 11 years after the Civil War. How tense did things get?
A: A lot of the Democrats were saying that they would just march on Washington and seat Tilden. The slogan was "Tilden or blood."
Then there were secret meetings between Hayes supporters and Southern Democrats. The Democrats said that if he would end Reconstruction in these three states, they wouldn't prevent him from being inaugurated. They wanted control of their state governments more than they wanted a Northern liberal being elected president.
Q: What did Tilden, the Democratic candidate, do?
A: It was very similar to Bush vs. Gore. The Democrat was much more of a hands-off kind of guy in the interim, and the Republicans were much more active about making sure they claimed the election.
One reason Tilden lost was that he was a lawyer and assumed that if they followed the letter of the law, he'd be elected.
The Republicans in both 1876 and 2000 were much more active in pressing their case and controlling the narrative beforehand by claiming that they'd won in the first place. Gore, in 2000, and Tilden took a more admirable or patriotic position.
Q: Do you think the 1876 election was stolen?
A: I certainly do, although some historians feel it was justified because Hayes would have won if the Democrats hadn't intimidated black voters in sufficient numbers.
I give a lot of credit to Tilden. He said he wouldn't be seated at the point of a gun, and that was a powerful statement. If he'd said, "I consider myself president" and said he'd be seated, there may have been bloodshed.
Randy Dotinga is a Monitor contributor.