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.”
Thanks to its wealth and post-war embrace of the rest of the world, Japan often seems like a Western nation. But the similarities end when crime begins.
When someone stands accused, the justice system works in ways that seem bizarre to people in places like the US and UK. Guilt is virtually assumed, confessions are expected, and everyone demands to understand motives.
Just over a decade ago, the mystery of a young British woman's disappearance overturned everything. Nothing – not the convoluted case, the international outcry, the wily suspect or the bizarre trial – followed protocol. Neither did many of the players, including a bereft family trying to find its way in a strange land.
Richard Lloyd Parry, a British journalist based in Tokyo, covered the case from the beginning and recaps the tale in his gripping new book "People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished From the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up."
Despite the grim and gruesome topic, it's a masterpiece of perceptive and humane journalism, perhaps the best true-crime book of the century so far.
In an interview, Parry talks about the complexity he discovered in a seemingly simple young woman, his journey into society's expectations of the grief-stricken and the inability of the concept of evil to answer questions.
Q: What makes this such an interesting tale?
A: There so many different kinds of stories in it. In the beginning it was a mystery, then it became a kind of family drama: Lucie Blackman's father, sister and mother came out and were looking for answers with increasing desperation. It became a police drama, and eventually a suspect was arrested.
Then there was a courtroom drama, and an almost existential mystery of who this man was and what made him what he was. Close to the end, it even became a bit of personal drama for me.
By telling those stories, you gain insight into Japan society, into this British family, and into the way they interacted.
Q: How is crime and punishment different in Japan?
A: Superficially, the systems look similar: You have courts, judges and juries (although back then they didn't have juries).
Crime in Japan is really very low still. This case is not the tip of an iceberg. It's a very safe country, but when an unusual crime does come along, the police are ill-equipped to deal with it. They simply don't have the practice, and when they do, they're hamstrung, partly because of the extreme reliance of Japanese courts on confessions.
Most of the time they get confessions – something like 15 out of 16 cases – and Japanese prosecutors are reluctant to proceed to trial without confession.
When a suspect refuses to confess, they struggle to build a case through detective work.
Q: You write about how the Japanese justice system expects to understand a criminal's motive. Why is that so important?
A: It has to do with justice being seen as not only being about punishing criminals and recognizing the suffering victims, but also in some way restoring social harmony. Parts of that is understanding the crime and why it happened.
Q: You found many levels of humanity in a fun-loving and risk-taking young woman who seems rather ordinary at first glance. How did you realize that such a person could actually be quite complex?
A: In the beginning, I'd assumed she was not one of the most interesting people in the story: she was very young, she had a normal background. I wasn't expecting to devote that much time to learning about her.
Once I got to know some of her friends, I realized how wrong I'd been. I talked to these friends, and every one of them described a person who was slightly different and sometimes significantly different.
I realized that at the age of 20, life is very complicated and people have very complicated personalities, and you do present different facets to the world.
Q: How does your interest as a person in her play out in the book?
A: The first 40 pages are about Lucie growing up in this perfectly middle class family in the south of England. It was both interesting to me and necessary in the book.
I wanted her to be more than just the face on the poster, a person in a chain of events. I wanted to restore her humanity, her personality, and allow her to be more than just a victim.
Q: You write about how members of her family grieved in very different ways, not always meeting society's expectations. What did covering this story help you to understand about grief?
A: What I realized was that collectively, we all like to feel that we are sympathetic and understanding of those who are experiencing loss and grief. But in fact, we have a rather narrow set of expectations of how people in those situations should behave.
Lucie's family, particularly her father, failed to behave in a way that we expected. From the beginning, her father was dynamic, not at all passive, and he made the decision early on to take control of events and direct them.
He rarely wept or appeared overcome with emotion. This made people feel suspicious, uneasy and even hostile toward him. He wasn't doing anything wrong, it was just because he didn't match this stereotype of the stricken, grieving parent.
Q: What did you learn from Lucie's mother?
A: She once said to me, "'Moving on and closure' – what do they mean, where do you move on to, what closes?" Those are cliches from people who have not experienced grief. It's another example of the narrowmindedness about these situations and the impatience with people who have suffered a loss.
Q: Do you feel like "evil" is involved here?
A: I don't know what it means. By labeling something as evil, we give ourselves a false consolation that we've understood why this person did that. But it doesn't explain anything.
What interests me in human behavior is not these moral labels. Even the people who appear to be most obvious candidates for the term "evil" are human beings. They come from the human family, they're one of us.
Randy Dotinga is a Monitor contributor.
Conrad has been posting a video series on her website titled Crafty Creations in which she shows viewers how to make objects such as a ribbon headband. Last week, the new segment aimed to demonstrate how to create a storage box using books by ripping out the pages and attaching the covers to the sides of a box.
Conrad removed the video yesterday after news articles, including one on Gawker, were posted critiquing it.
“Last Thursday, she destroyed books to the soothing sounds of gentle guitar, and a box occurred,” Gawker writer Caity Weaver wrote.
Snicket appeared to take the incident in stride.
“It has always been my belief that people who spend too much time with my work end up as lost souls, drained of reason, who lead lives of raving emptiness and occasional lunatic violence,” Snicket said. “What a relief it is to see this documented.”
Other commenters, however, were more outraged by Conrad’s crafty actions.
“There are people out there who do really creative and useful things with old unwanted books, which gives them a new life and purpose,” one commenter wrote on Buzzfeed. “This is not one of those things. This is heinous.”
If Apple, Penguin, and Macmillan’s filings this week voicing opposition to the government’s proposed settlement in the e-book price fixing case are any indication, it’s going to be a long, drawn-out battle.
Penguin’s response to the Department of Justice? “The Emperor has no clothes.”
Apple’s very first line in its response to the Department of Justice? “Apple has not settled with the Government.”
In its five-page memo, Apple blasted the DOJ’s proposed e-book price fixing settlement, calling it “fundamentally unfair, unlawful, and unprecedented.” The proposed settlement effectively terminates Apple’s contracts with the three publishers who have settled “before a single document has been introduced into evidence, before any witness has testified, and before the court has resolved the disputed facts,” according to the memorandum.
In its filing, Apple said it never “participated in, encouraged, or sought to benefit from collusion,” and said its advocacy of the agency model (in which publishers, not retailers, set book prices) was necessary to break Amazon’s monopoly on the e-book market.
The Cupertino company said the DOJ should not penalize Apple with this contract-ending settlement before Apple “has had its day in court” and asked the court to defer judgment until after the trial, some ten months hence. If Apple and the remaining defendants win the trial, it argued, the legality of its original contracts would be validated.
Apple and five book publishers were sued by the DOJ in April for allegedly conspiring to raise e-book prices in response to Amazon’s efforts to price most e-books at $9.99. Three publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon and Schuster – settled with the DOJ while Apple, Penguin, and Macmillan decided to fight the government’s charges. Since then, the case has gotten a lot of attention, starting with a well-choreographed campaign against the charges by the Authors Guild and others in the publishing industry, followed by an outpouring of public comments against the settlement, including an op-ed by Sen. Charles Schumer in the Wall Street Journal criticizing the government’s accusations as harmful to the publishing industry. In response, the DOJ defended its suit.
With its judgment, the proposed settlement would automatically terminate Apple’s agreements with publishers and effectively bar Apple and other retailers from selling e-books under the agency model for two years – all without Apple’s consent and without a trial, the Cupertino company said in its filing.
In a bit of well-placed irony, Apple remarked, “This case is about an alleged conspiracy to force Amazon to adopt agency. Thus, a settlement enjoining collusion or precluding publishers from forcing agency on Amazon would be appropriate.”
For their part, both Penguin and Macmillan argued that the government provided no evidence that e-book prices rose under the agency model, then proceeded to share their own price analyses and urged the government to show its evidence.
It remains to be seen whether the court will approve the judgment forcing Apple to terminate its agency model agreement. With its legal memorandum, Apple is hoping the court rejects the settlement or delays its implementation until after the July 2013 trial. We’re preparing for a long battle.
Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
The new biography “Paterno,” centering on the life of disgraced Penn State coach Joe Paterno, details the former coach’s reaction to being fired and how his family tried to handle the scandal, according to an excerpt which will be published in the September issue of GQ.
“Paterno” author Joe Posnanski had joined Paterno in the summer of 2011, planning to observe the coach – with Paterno’s permission – through the upcoming football season for the biography. As a result, he was on the scene when the Sandusky scandal broke. The book will be released next week.
One part of the excerpt describes Paterno the day after he was fired from his position as head coach of the Nittany Lions. According to the biography, he “sobbed uncontrollably.”
“My name,” he said to his son, Jay, according to Posnanski. “I have spent my whole life trying to make that name mean something. And now it's gone.”
The Paternos took on a public relations specialist, Dan McGinn, to help them with the fallout of the scandal, and, according to Posnanski, McGinn asked Guido D’Elia, the director of communications and branding for football for the school at the time, if they could contact anyone on the board of trustees for the school. But D’Elia said that the board had been less than friendly towards Paterno since 2004. Spanier and the school's athletic director, Tim Curley, had reportedly suggested Paterno step down that year, and Paterno refused.
“We don’t have anybody on the board now,” D’Elia told McGinn, according to Posnanski.
According to Posnanski, Paterno’s son Scott, who had worked as a lawyer and unsuccessfully run as a candidate for a seat in the US Congress, was the first to realize the extent to which the scandal would damage his father’s career.
“Dad, you have to face the possibility that you will never coach another game,” Scott Paterno told his father, according to Posnanski.
Paterno died of complications from lung cancer in January. Last month, the NCAA fined Penn State $60 million, removed every win the football team had from 1998 to last year, forbade the school's football team from playing in postseason games for the next four years, and reduced the school's scholarships.
Posnanski told USA Today that when he planned his book, people asked him if Paterno was too beloved to make for an interesting read.
"The only question anyone seemed to ask about it was: 'What's left to say about Joe Paterno?'," he wrote. "Obviously, nobody asked me that question after Nov. 5."
Joe Amendola, Sandusky’s lawyer, said his client would most likely speak during his sentencing in September, and his planned book may be connected to that.
“Jerry views his sentencing as an opportunity for him to tell his side of this,” Amendola told the Washington Post.
A new investigation was recently started by the US Postal Inspection Service to look into allegations that Sandusky shared child pornography. Also, acording to Radar Online, federal authorities have heard from someone who claims to have witnessed Sandusky and a booster for the school abusing boys while on a private plane.