Wednesday News: Ars on Amazon, new Rowling, Best of Baileys’, and book of clothes
Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar store: One big ad for the Amazon app – Contrary to the piece in the Seattle Times I posted yesterday on the new Amazon Bookstore, Ars Technica’s coverage suggests that this isn’t just a bookstore, as Amazon apparently wants its customers to believe. There are a lot of photos posted in the Ars article, as well as descriptions that come from actually being in the store. Their ultimate verdict is that the store tries to be too many things, some of which are not particularly different from Amazon the online empire:
Yet Amazon isn’t just interested in offering a comfortable, curated book-buying experience. It also wants to whack everybody over the head with its rapidly expanding empire of devices and content-delivery ecosystems. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find a Fire TV demo, or a table dedicated to Fire tablets, or the bonkers “read the book, listen to the book, watch the book” display—you know, in case you didn’t know that Amazon is ready to supply you with the audiobook and film versions of any hit franchise you can think of.
A few tables were dedicated to Amazon Echo, which we found hilarious, given that the white noise in the store was so loud, you couldn’t hear robo-Alexa’s spoken responses. Whenever Amazon Books turns on its speakers—they will exclusively play music from Amazon Prime Music—those demos will prove harder to hear. – Ars Technica, h/t The Digital Reader
Is J.K. Rowling working on a new children’s book? – That’s a rhetorical question, of course, as Rowling told the BBC in a radio interview that she is, indeed, working on a new book that will be published under her own name. Her U.S. publisher, Scholastic, is already
counting the money expressing its excitement at the prospect, especially since it has been three years since Rowling has published a book under her own name. No word yet on the plot or whether it’s going to be connected to the Harry Potter series.
Rowling has not published a book under her name since The Casual Vacancy in 2012, which was highly anticipated as her first novel for adults and has been adapted as a BBC miniseries. She has published three books as Robert Galbraith in the Cormoran Strike series, with the latest released in October. Though she’s had moderate success as Galbraith, she told BBC Radio that she’s yearning to take back the Rowling name. – USA Today
Half of a Yellow Sun judged Baileys’ ‘Best of the Best’ – Celebrating 20 years, the Baileys’ Women’s Prize for Fiction (previously known as the Orange Prize) has named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun the best of the last ten years of winning books. You can watch Adichie’s video message (she could not attend the ceremony) in the linked article. Winners of the past decade include Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver, Eimear McBride, and Ali Smith.
Muriel Gray, author, broadcaster and journalist, and chair of judges in 2007 said: “While it’s sometimes pompous to call a book ‘important’, it’s appropriate to say it of Half of a Yellow Sun. For an author, so young at the time of writing, to have been able to tell a tale of such enormous scale in terms of human suffering and the consequences of hatred and division, whilst also gripping the reader with wholly convincing characters and spell binding plot, is an astonishing feat. Chimamanda’s achievement makes Half of a Yellow Sun not just a worthy winner of this most special of prizes, but a benchmark for excellence in fiction writing.” – The Bookseller
The First Book of Selfies – Ignore the schlocky premise of this article, and it’s a pretty interesting consideration of Renaissance culture, via Matthäus Schwarz, a 16th century German accountant who chronicled his extensive and elaborate wardrobe in a book of portraits of himself. The original volume is dangerously fragile, but thanks to Ulinka Rublack and Maria Hayward, an English version, titled The First Book of Fashion, has been published in both paper and digital, and among other things, it appears to be a great resource for anyone interested in Renaissance fashion (including authors).
Though remembered for the flowering of humanism and secularism, the Renaissance was still, by modern standards, a repressive era, particularly when it came to clothing. Sumptuary laws regulated which textiles, trimmings, weapons, and even colors could be worn according gender, social class, marital status, and profession. In his 1516 treatise Utopia, Thomas More may have questioned how anyone could “be silly enough to think himself better than other people, because his clothes are made of finer woolen thread than theirs.” But such distinctions were hardwired into Renaissance society.
Within these strictures, however, there was still a broad scope for personal agency. At the time, people effectively designed their own clothes with the help of tailors, dressmakers, and shoemakers. Albrecht Dürer—Matthäus’s contemporary in nearby Nüremberg—left an annotated design for the wide, flat leather shoes popular in the 1520s, and Matthäus boasted of his savvy color and fabric choices as he planned spectacular new outfits for a bewildering variety of occasions, from falcon hunts to funerals. The book raises important questions about the meaning of self-fashioning, now and then. – The Atlantic