Today in publishing and literature: Christopher Hitchens final memoir will be published simultaneously in the U.K. and U.S., a modest proposal to help authors make more money, and the "Jefferson Bible" will be back in print next month.
The U.K. release date of Christopher Hitchens' final collection of essays, Mortality, which was scheduled for April, has been delayed until the fall. According to Karen Duffy, publicist for Atlantic Books, the new release date of September 1 will allow for "simultaneous publication" in the U.S. and the U.K., and also give editors extra time to pull together new material for the book -- including a new introduction. Hitchens died last month from esophageal cancer. [The Bookseller]
Scottish mystery author Ian Rankin has an interesting idea for making book-writing financially viable in the era of digital publishing and reduced advance money: make the first slice of a writer's annual income exempt from taxes. Obviously, a writer would think that a tax break for writers would be a good idea, but Rankin's notion has some basis in reality. Since 1997, Ireland's tax code had stipulated that the "€40,000 per annum of profits or gains earned by writers, composers, visual artists and sculptors from the sale of their work is exempt from income tax," provided the author/composer/artist/sculptor is an Irish resident. It's an attractive idea to be sure, but one that probably's a non-starter in the United Kingdom and U.S., what with all the age of austerity talk. [The Guardian]
Here's something self-publishing e-book authors should be concerned about: the average price of a self-published title in the Kindle Store's top 100 best-sellers dipped from $1.99 in January of 2011 to $1.34 in December. At the same time, the share of self-published books selling for 99 cents increased from 54 percent in January to 85 percent in December [TeleRead]
It took 26 years for Hollywood to get around to adapting Douglas Adams's 1979 science fiction novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for the big screen. Why the delay? Well, the book is very British, the special effects would have prohibitively expensive, and nobody from Disney -- which acquired the rights to the book in 1997 -- seemed to want to talk to Adams, who had adapted his almost-unadaptable book across a variety of mediums. In a 1999 letter to Disney executive David Vogel, Adams gently suggests that a "one-way traffic of written 'notes' interspersed with long, dreadful silences [from the studio]" might not be the best way to get the project off the ground, and offers to fly to Los Angeles to discuss the project. Then, with a flourish fans will undoubtedly recognize, Adams provides Vogel with a very, very long list of ways that he can be contacted. It reads like another case of a writer seeing his life's work put through the Hollywood wringer, but according to correspondence blog Letters of Note, the letter actually did secure Adams his meeting, so maybe he was on the right track. [Letters of Note]
Penguin Imprint Tarcher is going to reprint a facsimile of Thomas Jefferson's personal, heavily edited copy of the Holy Bible next month. The real "Jefferson Bible" (pictured aboved) has belonged to the Smithsonian Institute since 1895 and was first published in 1904,
but has been out-of-print since the 1940s. In an attempt to square the holy book with his own world view, Jefferson cut out large portions of the Gospels, as well as all mentions of the Virgin Birth. Update: The University of Virginia bookstore also sells a handsome version of Jefferson's bible. And since it's in the public domain, you can download it, though you won't have Jefferson's exact scissor-marks. [The Guardian]