Today in publishing and literature: Pippa Middleton will receive £400,000 for her party-planning book, Amazon's Kindle sales numbers remain infuriatingly vague, and The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik offers a theory on the appeal of fantasy novels.
- Royal sister-in-law Pippa Middleton has reached a deal with Penguin imprint Michael Joseph to write her much-discussed book of party-planning tips, ambitiously titled How to Be a Perfect Party Hostess. According to The Daily Mail, she'll "banking a cheque for £400,000," or $623,000. HarperCollins and Random House also apparently wanted the book, but were outbid. For her part, Pippa's said to have been telling friends she doesn't plan on using a ghost writer and has been "setting aside several hours a day to draft chapters." [The Daily Mail]
- HarperCollins has shelled out a "high six figure sum" for a memoir "about saving horses in Zimbabwe" by Mandy Retzlaff, whose horses can now be ridden across that country's scenic beaches. The publisher swears it's also "an incredibly moving account of trying to hold a family together against impossible odds," even though it doesn't feature any tips on being a good hostess. [The Bookseller]
- Between reclaiming his Facebook identity and paying his respects to Smokin' Joe Frazier on Twitter, it's been a busy November for Salman Rushdie, but it hasn't stopped the acclaimed novelist from "spending quality time" with Social Life Magazine editor Devorah Rose, who The New York Times described as a "self-made" social climber in a blistering profile back in June. On Friday, Rose tweeted a picture of herself with The Satanic Verses author at New York's Indochine restaurant, accompanied by the message: "Great times w @SalmanRushdie. Come back to the states soon so that we can have a do-over:) :) :)" Sources tell Page Six that the two According to Page Six sources, the duo has "already booked another dinner together upon Rushdie’s return to New York after spending Thanksgiving in London." [Page Six and @missdevorahrose]
- In a new press release, Amazon insists "millions" of Kindles have been sold since the new line launches two months ago. That 's probably, but the company's reluctance to reveal specific numbers on Kindle sales is frustrating for publishers and media companies who know the device is going great guns, but want to know how the numbers stack up against, say, the 23.6 million iPads that have been purchased so far in 2011. "If you publish books," explains Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab, "of course you need to invest time and energy into being on the Kindle.... When a media company is deciding whether or not to build an iPhone app, an iPad app, or an Android app, they have real sales numbers... to use when calculating whether it’s worth investing in the platform. On the Kindle, that’s harder. If sales numbers really are impressive, shout them from the rooftops!" [Nieman Journalism Lab]
- In this week's issue of The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik offers an examination and defense of the popularity of fantasy literature, paying special attention to the Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Twilight series. The appeal of such book, he argues, comes from the fact they offer "offer familiar experience in intensified form" to an audience desperate for something, anything, to relate to. "Kids go to fantasy," Gopnik writes, "not for escape but for organization, and a little elevation; since life is like this already, they imagine that it might be still like this but more magical." And with fewer magical rings and werewolves and vampires in biology classes. [The New Yorker]