• July 3, 2015

    Harper Lee

    Harper Lee

    As HarperCollins prepare to publish the most pre-ordered book in their history, Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, the plot thickens in terms of just when and how the lost-and-found novel came to light—it was apparently several years earlier than Lee’s lawyer, Tonja Carter, had announced to readers, which further complicates the questions already surrounding the circumstances of its publication.

    Following Gawker’s lead, editorial workers at Salon have also decided to unionize.

    Meanwhile Gawker itself won a delay of several months in its trial with Hulk Hogan over his sex tape. As the hefty lawsuit continues to loom over the site, there has been increasing interest in Gawker’s finances, which it seems, according to the financial statements Nick Denton has pre-emptively released, are looking healthy.

    Novelist and Bookforum contributor Porochista Khakpour has a memoir up at the Virginia Quarterly Review about illness and her New Age past: “Then I called a company that got people off Western meds—a front for Scientology, I later discovered—which convinced me during a phone consult that I was a benzodiazepine addict who had ruined my own life but said, ‘Don’t worry we deal with many VIPs like yourself who have taken a bad turn.’”

    Amazon’s plan to pay self-published authors per page read instead of per book downloaded is even stingier than you might have imagined: In an email this week they announced that the amount paid for each page could be a mere $0.006. Writers are likely to see a huge cut in royalties, and you could also say that the new per-page system seems designed most especially to punish concision.

  • July 2, 2015

    Bill O'Reilly

    Bill O’Reilly

    Publishers Weekly gently addresses Bill O’Reilly’s distress over their failure to include his book Killing Reagan in their latest “announcement issue,” which provides librarians and booksellers with a list of the upcoming season’s significant books.

    The political journalist Leslie Gelb has landed in trouble for apparently promising Hillary Clinton friendly coverage in advance—”He said he would give you a veto over content,” a fundraiser wrote to Clinton, “and looked me in the eye and said, ‘she will like it’”—and sending her the text of his 2009 piece to read before it came out. The new owners of the magazine that published it have now added a defensive editor’s note: “While we cannot speak to the policies of prior owners, AMG/Parade does not promise favorable coverage or allow any story subject control of the editorial process.”

    Scribd, the subscription-based reading site that aims to be a Netflix for e-books, is dropping thousands of romance novels from its catalogue. They have to pay the publishers every time someone downloads and gets stuck into one of their titles, and apparently Scribd had hoped, as Laura Hazard Owen writes, that it would be “more like gym memberships” (most people never go)—turns out this business model doesn’t work so well when subscribers actually want to read the books.

    President Obama joined the ranks of those slamming the New York Times for recommending putting peas in guacamole as “one of those radical moves that is also completely obvious after you taste it.”

  • July 1, 2015

    David Foster Wallace and Jason Segel

    David Foster Wallace and Jason Segel

    ‘‘I think let’s start iterating,’’ Arianna Huffington says. ‘‘Let’s not wait for the perfect product.’’ At the New York Times magazine, a look inside how the Huffington Post is run: “It’s as though Huffington is spreading an illness while simultaneously peddling the cure. Call it hypocrisy, but it testifies to her savvy. The business of web media is figuring out what people want — and if what we want is contradictory, why shouldn’t Huffington profit from that contradiction?” A recent Gawker post called the place “essentially Soviet in its functioning. Purges and show trials are common.”

    If you have time in life to read just one more piece on David Foster Wallace (now being played by Jason Segel in a new film), you should probably make it this one.

    As of Monday, the NSA gets to start collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk again, only this time they don’t have to keep it a secret.

    The author of The Car Thief, Theodore Weesner, has died. The New York Times has an obituary that quotes from Weesner’s strongly worded letter to the editors of the NYT Book Review (writers take note) in response to a 1987 piece on one of his less well known novels: “I repeat: Your reviewer did not even understand what he read. And you printed it. You break my heart. You owe me much more than an apology.”

    The Paris Review is putting up some recordings of conversations with writers (“consider them deleted scenes from our Writers at Work interviews, or directors’ cuts”): This week, it’s the poet Czesław Miłosz.