Today in publishing and literature: Penguin's latest edition of the classic Indian sex manual is light on nudity, but heavy on deckled edges and French flaps, Fidelity Investments has bought 10 percent of Barnes & Noble, and a way to write under a pen-name right out in the open.
Fidelity Investments announced plans to buy a 10 percent stake in Barnes & Noble Fidelity. On the surface, that doesn't sound like much, but for the sturggling retailer, which has talked about spinning its Nook unit off from the rest of the company in recent weeks to encourage future investments. By acquiring six million shares Fidelity can't put Barnes & Noble in a position to compete with Amazon's resources, but it will undoubtedly bolster research and design on the Nook products. Coming on the heels of a quarter where Amazon lost $800 million more than it projected, now is a good time to be the digital book upstart with some a bit more money at your back. [Reuters]
Last week, we wondered about the sheer amount of work that goes in to publishing a successful novel -- to say nothing of future successful novels -- under a pseudonym. For those less inclined to subterfuge, there's the intriguing not-quite-anonymous model used by Danny Walter to publish his Lemony Snicket series in which he plays an equally artificial version of himself. (While the 13 books in Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events series were coming out, Walter would make appearances at signings as the "handler" for the non-existent author.) This is a pretty neat way of having things both ways -- everyone knows he wrote the Snicket books, and he can mention how he -- or rather his pseudonym -- has a "new Snicket series" in the works, and finish plugging Why We Broke Up, a slightly more grown-up young adult novel he's written under his own name. The best way, it seems, to publish under a pen name, is completely anonymously or on a parallel track with your preexisting career. [GalleyCat]
The American Prospect has a very interesting look at a new translation of The Kama Sutra being published by Penguin that's more "beautiful objet d’art" than lurid how-to manual. Of the seven sections in the book, writes Ryan Bloom, Book Two is the one "explicitly devoted to the slapping, biting, tickling, and moaning that we’ve come to associate with the Kama Sutra." If anything, the manual's focus on "primary yellows and reds that call to mind the original Sanskrit texts," coupled with "French flaps, heavy paper stock, deckled edges, and tactilely pleasing matte finish" is yet another reminder of how publishers are trying to make actual printed books -- even sex manuals -- more luxurious, and (hypothetically) more likely to emerge over time as a living room show-piece as e-book continue to nibble at the print market. [The American Prospect]
Twenty Agatha Christie novels are in the process of being "rewritten in simplified versions so they can be used in the classroom to teach non-native English speakers how to read and speak the language." What a simple and fantastic idea. Most of the books follow a certain pattern, and a tale of murder in a country house -- even a simplified one -- is more likely to keep the attention of adults learning a second language. Christie's estate approved the program, and her publishers at Collins are adamant that the abridged editions "retain the flair of the original texts." [The Independent]