Today in books and publishing: The e-book pricing courage of the publishing industry, William Shakespeare turns 448, and John Irving explains why he's not a Hemingway fan.
When the Justice Department announced two weeks ago it was bringing antitrust charges against five major publishing houses, it gave publishers a chance to actually fight back for a change. This isn't something the industry has a long history of doing, writes New York's Boris Kachka. "Going all the way back to the Depression, when they let stores return unsold volumes at no cost," he writes, "publishers have met industry challenges with valiant defeat." Three of the publishers have already settled and a judge could eventually rule against the remaining two, Macmillan and Penguin. Even if that happens and it comes out there was a scheme by publishers to keep the price of e-books high Kachka argues "it’s heartening to see publishers—the people who actually know how to curate, edit, design, and care for books in ways Amazon just doesn’t or won’t—counterattacking for a change." Maybe, but it will be even more heartening not to have to pay $14.99 for an e-book. [New York]
William Shakespeare would have been 448 years old today and there are plenty of ways to mark the occasion. The Royal Shakespeare Company, for instance, is leading the summer-long World Shakespeare Festival, which includes ""performances of nearly every play in the canon by companies from 35 countries working in 37 languages" at the Globe theatre. In Chicago, meanwhile, it's Talk Like Shakespeare Day. On Twitter, the Smithsonian Institute shared a link to a treasure trove of Bard-related items in their art collection, including a proof from an early illustrated version of King Lear. [Smithsonian]
John Irving: not a big Hemingway fan. Also not a big Tom Wolfe fan, but for today, mainly not a big Hemingway fan. "I thought, I surely don't want to become a writer to write sentences as simplistic and short as this guy does," explains Irving in an interview promoting his new book, In One Person. "If you want to be an ad writer and write ad copy, OK, short sentences are appealing. But it seemed to me to be a dictum and dulling." Fair enough. Everyone's entitled to their own opinions. There were certainly folks who did not care for, say, The Third Hand. [via SimonSchusterVideos]
Pound-for-pound, there isn't a book we're looking forward to more this year than Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to her sprawling Man Booker Prize winner Wolf Hall. Based on Mantel's interview about the book for HarperCollins' imprint Fourth Estate, readers should expect a "shorter, more concentrated, fiercer" book than Wolf Hall, with a heavier dose of Anne Boleyn. We're fine with both of those things. Bring Up the Bodies comes out May 22. [via FourthEstateUK]
Alex Shakar's novel Luminarium won the top fiction prize at the 32nd annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, besting Ghost Light by Joseph O’Connor, The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje, Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic, and Binocular Vision: New & Selected Stories by Edith Pearlman. The Otsuka and Pearlman titles were both National Book Critics Circle Award winners. [Jacket Copy]