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Friday News: RIP Nook(?), Syracuse schools equip students with summer reading, the losers in Hachette v. Amazon, and a random reading project

Friday News: RIP Nook(?), Syracuse schools equip students with summer reading,...

So This Is How The Nook Ends – In his inimitable style, Mike Cane sounds the death knell for Nook, noting that the announcement by Barnes and Noble and Samsung to build “co-branded tablets” says more about how B&N has abandoned Nook than it does about the prospect of one more freaking tablet on the market.

What I notice missing in the above is any link to the Nook App Store. Using “regular” Android, they won’t need that store now. I guess they’re monitoring legacy users and will know when it’s best to finally pull the plug on that money drain. –Mike Cane’s blog

Syracuse district to give 10 books to every elementary student for summer reading – With a donation of books and backpacks from Scholastic totaling over $100,000 the Syracuse School District added more than $275,000 to give every student from K-5 10 books for summer reading. This will amount to a distribution of almost 93,000 books, all intended to encourage students to read during the summer without having to put any effort into acquiring books, which can be a deterrent, especially during months when kids can become easily distracted by other activities, leisure or otherwise. I hope they chronicle the results of their experiment, because it seems like a very reasonable approach to cultivating young readers.

Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras told the students the books were intended to stop “summer learning slide.” The district cited research showing that as much as 85 percent of the achievement gap between students from low-income and high-income families can be attributed to the loss of reading skills during the summer. –Syracuse.com

“You Root for the Authors!” Hachette Author Stephen Colbert vs. Amazon – Although I’m sure many authors are cheering on Stephen Colbert in his war on Amazon, I was disappointed that in the end, he refused to see how much shared blame and responsibility there is between the massive publisher and the massive bookseller. Does nobody remember (non) agency pricing and the collusion settlement????

Still, it’s very true that authors and readers lose when neither publishers or booksellers have robust competition. So, if a bookstore like Powell’s benefits from this situation, and if other independent bookstores can take good advantage of the current vacuum, I think that will be good for everyone, including, in the end, Hachette and Amazon.

So on last night’s The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert did a mitzvah for a young debut author, Edan Lepucki, whose apocalyptic novel,California, is “currently unavailable” on Amazon, ramping up to a July 8 release. As fellow Hachette author Sherman Alexie explained, bookstores order copies of books based on presales, pre-publicity, and pre-orders coming, most often, from Amazon. Lepucki’s book falls in that category. But Colbert is coming to the rescue, determined to try to “sell more books than Amazon.” When you go to his site, there’s a link to pre-order California through Colbert and the excellent Portland bookstore Powell’s. –Flavorwire

GHOSTS IN THE STACKS: Finding the forgotten books. – This is such an interesting article about an idiosyncratic reading project by retired English professor Phyllis Rose. Rose decided to read a random assortment of books, specifically a shelf in the library. Has anyone read these particular books in this particular order? Will the specific assortment of books shape how they’re read and what the reader gets out of them? Are there specific ways in which they should be read? A fascinating meditation on not only what we read, but how our own reading patterns may have an element of randomness to them we haven’t really contemplated.

Her shelf, she decides, must have a combination of new and older works by several authors, both men and women, and one book has to be a classic that she has always wanted to read. The shelf cannot contain any work by a person she knows. She surveys some two hundred shelves, and eventually settles on LEQ-LES. It holds twenty-three books by eleven authors, including “A Hero of Our Time,” by Mikhail Lermontov; Gaston Leroux’s “The Phantom of the Opera”; novels by Rhoda Lerman, Margaret Leroy, and Lisa Lerner; and Alain-René Lesage’s “Gil Blas.” (There are only three female authors in her sample, a fact that she analyzes at length, though she does not comment on its racial monotony.) She has never before read any of these titles, and she will read them in whatever order fancy suggests. “The Shelf” reviews facts about each author’s life and summarizes the plots of the novels, but, always, the real focus is on Rose herself: what she likes and dislikes, how she feels while reading, whether it is easy or difficult to escape into the story. She’s on the lookout for “spontaneity, inclusiveness, and uniqueness”—three things that she prizes in fiction, and three of the elements driving her project, too. –The New Yorker

Tuesday News: Nook Press hits the UK market, the future of the Great American Novel, profile of Arundhati Roy, and Cover Girl’s new girl power video

Tuesday News: Nook Press hits the UK market, the future of...

Barnes & Noble to Launch Nook Press in the UK This Week – Barnes & Noble is using the Oxford Literary Festival to introduce its newest self-publishing platform to authors in the UK. Although the platform has been available in the US for almost a year now, self-published authors in the UK and the 30 other countries in which B&N sells books have not been able to access it. According to Nate Hoffelder, B&N has also reached out for beta testers in France, Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, and Belgium, although he does not anticipate that they will follow through on their request. Instead, Hoffelder anticipates that B&N will allow Microsoft to have the European digital book market.

Colin Eustace, general manager of Barnes & Noble, S.A.R.L said: “As Nook continues to grow in the UK we are proud to announce the upcoming launch of the Nook Press self-publishing platform and we invite authors and writers at the Oxford Literary Festival to speak to a representative for more information.” –The Digital Reader

Can the Great American Novel survive? – An interesting article for those of you who take the idea of the “Great American Novel” seriously, as Lawrence Buell does in his own book on the subject, The Dream of the Great American Novel. This was definite click bait for me after Teju Cole’s comments about the novel being “overrated.” Literary critic Elaine Showalter discusses Buell’s book, as well as the whole concept of the GAN, including the question of whether any fictional work can represent the whole of a nation (and, indeed, whether there is a central national culture to represent). Besides the fact that the way fiction is written and consumed in the US has drastically changed over the years (now so many novels are written and read each year), there is the question of whether anything like the GAN has ever really existed, or whether it’s a bit of a literary fantasy. It’s also interesting to see that one of the “templates” that Buell identifies for the GAN includes Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind.

He proposes four templates that have shaped the conception of American novels over the last 150 years. In the first group are novels which have achieved such fame that they have spawned a continuous “series of memorable imitations and reinventions.” Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, for example, has been the source of four novels, four plays, three operas, two musicals, three films, and two dance creations, since 1985 alone. The second group he calls “up-from” novels, which tell the life story of a representative figure—almost always male—who seeks to rise from “obscurity to prominence.” This group includes F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (the shortest novel to be accorded GAN status), Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Philip Roth’s “American trilogy.” In the third group are the “romances of the divide,” about divisions between races, ethnicities, or regions, a category featuring Huckleberry Finn, William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind (both published in 1936); and ending with Toni Morrison’s Beloved, which he credits with surpassing its precursors in the intensity of its portrayal of slavery. Template four produces the “impossible communities” of the meganovel, setting a diverse group of characters against the background of “epochdefining public events or crises.” Here we find Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, John Dos Passos’s USA, and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. –Prospect Magazine

Arundhati Roy, the Not-So-Reluctant Renegade – What a fascinating, provocative profile of Arundhati Roy, focused particularly on the way she has been unable to separate her fiction writing from her non-fiction writing. Roy’s own politics, which have evolved along with her writing, are ever-present in her artistic consciousness, and yet she is also very engaged and invested in the artistic process. Over the years, Roy has been used as and has become symbolic of different ideas, and of different national causes and perspectives, and yet there is a sense of independence in how she lives her life and how she approaches her work — all of it. An interesting piece, especially, when we think about how we do or don’t separate the author’s life and beliefs from his or her work.

“I was never interested in just being a professional writer where you wrote one book that did very well, you wrote another book, and so on,” Roy said, thinking of the ways in which “The God of Small Things” trapped her and freed her. “There’s a fear that I have, that because you’re famous, or because you’ve done something, everybody wants you to keep on doing the same thing, be the same person, freeze you in time.” Roy was talking of the point in her life when, tired of the images she saw of herself — the glamorous Indian icon turned glamorous Indian dissenter — she cut off her hair. But you could see how she might say the same of the position in which she now finds herself. –New York Times

#GirlsCan: Women Empowerment | COVERGIRL – Okay, I know this is Cover Girl, and that it’s advertising, and that they’re exploiting the self-empowerment message to promote the beauty message. Still, a good message, and one delivered in a way that could be pretty inspiring for young girls, especially.  –YouTube