Today in books: British publishing is releasing its best and brightest (or at least bestselling) today, Courtney Love is writing a memoir, and Cold Mountain author Charles Frazier's new book works, if you leave the schadenfreude at the door.
- Today is the third Thursday in September, or as it's known in British publishing circles, Super Thursday. The whole conceit is like an inverted, book-centric version of Black Friday in the United States, with publishers swamping merchants with high-profile new titles to kick off the Christmas buying season. According to the BBC, approximately 200 new hardcover titles are being released today. The BBC notes that figure alone is "about three times the number of books released in an average week." Add in the paperbacks, e-books, and trade paperbacks and the total number of new titles arriving on shelves is closer to 500. That's actually a decline from the 800 texts that came out on Super Thursday in 2008. "As in previous years," Tim Masters of the BBC, "titles by comedians and entertainers feature heavily" again this year, with Steve Coogan's I, Partridge (the "autobiography" of Alan Partridge, the pompous weatherman Coogan's played on television and radio in Britain for two decades) emerging as one of the favorites to sell the most copies. As usual in the United Kingdom, bookmaker William Hill has already posted odds so people can begin betting on who they think will "top the Xmas charts." It's all very British we admit, but why don't American publishers have a Super Thursday-type day? Googling the phrase, it's astounding how little crossover there has been to the U.S. market. There must be a reason. Do American publishers know something about staggered release dates that their counterparts do not? Or would a shock-and-awe, place-yer-bets book release free-for-all somehow extinguish America's love affair with the printed word forever and completely? [BBC and The Telegraph]
- Charles Frazier's book Cold Mountain arrived out of nowhere in 1997, a legitimate masterpiece that brough the author fame, rapturous reviews, the National Book Award, and an underrated movie adaptation with Nicole Kidman. For his second book Thirteen Moons, Frazier received a reported $8 million advance from Random House based only on a one-page outline. The 2006 sophomore effort tanked, and the publisher ended up losing nearly $5.5 million. His third novel Nightwoods comes out this week and if you can get past the notion that Frazier's "a symbol of the publishing industry’s profligacy," it's spellbinding, says Washington Post literary critic Ron Charles. "Sorry, haters, but this is a fantastic book," Charles declares, "an Appalachian Gothic with a low-level fever that runs alternately warm and chilling." And it's not set in the 19th century! [The Washington Post]
- HarperCollins has bought the rights to a new memoir by Courtney Love. This is technically her first memoir, but she's released her diaries and two young adult novels about "a petulant, doll-faced amnesiac named Ai" who wanders the streets of Tokyo and kills people in "the name of fashion," so she clearly knows something about putting pen to paper and coming up with a beginning, a middle, and an ending, though possibly not in that order. There's no title or targeted publication date yet. [The Bookseller]