Even Microsoft Is Giving Up On Barnes And Noble’s Nook

Barnes And Noble To Spin Its E-Reader Nook Off Into Separate Business

“Barnes & Noble said on Thursday that it had reached a deal with Microsoft to buy back its stake in the Nook division, which the bookseller is planning to split off into a separate, publicly traded company at some point before August.”

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The Debut Book That’s Outselling Harry Potter And Setting Records

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“The vlogger’s book Girl Online has become the fastest selling debut novel since records began. She tweeted she was “blown away” after more than 78,000 copies were picked up in its first week. That’s more than Harry Potter author JK Rowling and EL James, who wrote 50 Shades of Grey, achieved with their debuts.”

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Why The Novel Is Lagging

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“The novel form isn’t the reason so much contemporary fiction seems uninspired; for that, we’d do better to consider other causes, of which there are plenty: an emphasis on documenting social conditions and modernity over the study of individual characters, a post-Freudian tendency to lean on secondhand psychoanalytic ideas as a cover for incomprehension or shallowness, a corrosive commitment to niceness at the expense of the kind of social and moral judgments that used to be at the novel’s center, MFA programs, to name just a few possibilities.”

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The Was-Shakespeare-Gay? Wars Are Back

Portrait of William Shakespeare

“If wide notice is taken of a current spat over what we can read about Shakespeare’s sexuality into the sonnets in the correspondence columns of the Times Literary Supplement, Sonnet 20 may be a future favourite at civil unions. “

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“He Sounds Gay” – What Exactly Does That Mean?

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“Affect a lisp, assume a lilt, and add a fair amount of flamboyance. Presto! Instant gay man’s voice. It’s a stereotype, to be sure, but is there any truth to it? Bob Garfield and Mike Vuolo talk to Benjamin Munson, a speech scientist at the University of Minnesota, about what it means to sound gay.” (podcast)

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Apple Defends Raising E-Book Prices

Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Inte

“I knew some prices were going to go up, but hell, the whole world knew it, because that’s what the publishers were saying: ‘We want to get retailers to raise prices, and if we’re not able to, we’re not going to make the books available digitally.’ You have to fight for your principles no matter what. Because it’s just not right.”

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Chinese Government Tries To Ban Wordplay And Puns In The Media

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The State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television “has banned wordplay on the grounds that it breaches the law on standard spoken and written Chinese, makes promoting cultural heritage harder and may mislead the public – especially children.” Problem is, puns have been enmeshed in every single aspect of Chinese culture, from the New Year’s menu to wedding gifts to people’s own names – for a few thousand years now.

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Why Are Our Children’s Books Getting Less Diverse?

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“Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, only 67 were written by African-American writers, and only 93 centered on black characters. That’s actually the lowest tally recorded since 1994, when the Cooperative Children’s Book Centre began collecting data. Children’s books didn’t do much better with American Indian, Asian, or Latino kids.”

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Is Our Literary world Set Up To Exclude Poor People?

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“While some aspiring writers from less privileged backgrounds do find their way to graduate school, they remain substantially outnumbered. Because socioeconomic disparities in the United States have long coincided with gender and race, that factor of class goes a long way in determining the demographic makeup of grad programs. This has far-reaching consequences for who gets represented in the American literary canon that graduate-educated writers are increasingly coming to dominate.”

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Serious Writers Go To Work For Big Brands

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“A number of companies are latching on to a broader advertising notion of ‘the writer,’ either as a conceptual, disembodied mascot or, in the case of Chipotle, by gathering literary luminaries to form a collective ‘spokescribe.’ As serious literature becomes further marginalized, cloistered from the cultural Kardashians at the gate, brands may be tapping into a quality associated with it that historically seduces aspirational consumers: elitism.”

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That Lost Shakespeare Folio Was Mistakenly “Left Behind”

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“Clitheroe’s Stonyhurst College began as St Omers College there in 1593. A spokeswoman said the “dog-eared” book must have been “overlooked” when the college was ordered to leave in 1762. The Folio collects 36 of Shakespeare’s 38 known plays for the first time, and was originally printed in 1623, seven years after the playwright’s death.”

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Rare Shakespeare Folio Discovered In France

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“The book was discovered this fall by librarians at a public library in St.-Omer, near Calais, who were sifting through its collections for an exhibition on English-language literature. The title page and other introductory material were torn off.”

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How New York’s Iconic Strand Bookstore Survives In The Internet Age

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“Though there are signs of life in the independent-bookseller business — consider the success of McNally-Jackson — few secondhand-book stores are left in Manhattan. Only two survive in midtown, and the necrology is long. Skyline on West 18th Street, New York Bound Bookshop in Rockefeller Center, the Gotham Book Mart on West 47th — closed. Academy Books is now Academy Records & CDs. So, then: Why is there still a Strand Book Store?”

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“Books Aren’t Just Commodities” – Ursula K. LeGuin’s Speech At The National Book Awards

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“Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. … Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. … And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.”

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Did Paperbacks Help The U.S. Win World War II?

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“The largest of them were only three-quarters of an inch thick—thin enough to fit in the pocket of a soldier’s pants. Soldiers read them on transport ships, in camps and in foxholes. Wounded and waiting for medics, men turned to them on Omaha Beach, propped against the base of the cliffs. Others were buried with a book tucked in a pocket.”

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