Today in books: An excerpt from 'the next Harry Potter' hits the Web, the used bookstore will make you book a flight to Texas, and a fair price for a signed copy of Dick Cheney's memoir.

  • Erin Morgenstern's debut novel The Night Circus was featured in an article in The Wall Street Journal last month about the big advances publishers are giving to unproven authors of young adult fiction, in the hopes of stumbling on the next Harry Potter mega-franchise. It goes without saying that this is an inexact science--basically you find a competently-written story about young people struggling to fit in with their vampire/time traveler/19th-century magician peers and build out on the mythology from there. The Guardian has an excerpt from The Night Circus and it certainly has the elements of a book that could spawn a devoted following, including a mysterious circus, a magical prodigy with a wizened mentor, and a liberal dose of British English. But again: who knows? It's like the lottery, except instead of pure chance, success is determined by kids on the cusp of their weird and fickle stage. [The Guardian]
  • It should be a requirement that every author from a small town one day open a sprawling used bookstore in the center of town, preferably one where inventory outpaces the town's population by a ratio of more than 400-to-1. That's what Lonesome Dove author Larry McMurtry did in his hometown of Archer City, Texas (population: 1,850), opening a second-hand bookshop called Booked Up (volumes in inventory: 450,000) in four converted warehouses. The details of the shop and photos of McMurtry's own expansive personal library are the most enticing pieces book porn you'll see all week. [The New Yorker]
  • JibJab made its name on animated political parodies, but the company is branching out into children's books, a move Fishbowl LA's Richard Horigan unfavorably compares to "The Onion publishing cookbooks." It makes more sense than that. A new book will be released directly to the iPad every month, with users having the chance to purchase individual titles for $7.99, or get a monthly subscription and pay $3.99. Either way, it's a better deal than forking over $25 for a bound copy of one of those picture books celebrities keep foisting on the nation's youth. [Fishbowl LA]
  • $140. That's the going rate for a signed copy of Dick Cheney's new memoir In My Time over at AbeBooks.com. But hurry: there are only two copies left. [Abe Books via Reading Copy]