Today in books and publishing: Adorable, tiny libraries spread across America; E.L. James' gold mine; Nora Ephron, angry essayist; Fitzgerald breeds Gatsbabies; Jonathan Franzen on social media.
The cutest little library. Yesterday I mentioned the new "trend" among a certain set of folks who are busily creating their own luxurious mahogany-wooded home libraries full of books (like Dickens'!) to "make them look smart." Those libraries may be nice to sit in for an hour or two, but they have nothing on the wee public adorableness of the Little Free Library, a "'movement" that's gone nationwide. The Los Angeles Times' Martha Groves writes of one such library in Sherman Oaks, California, created by 76-year-old Jonathan Beggs: "Using odds and ends of fiberboard and Douglas fir, the retired building contractor fashioned a hutch the size of a dollhouse. He gave it a pitched cedar-shingle roof capped with copper. The door, trimmed in bright red, opens to three shelves filled with books by Joyce Carol Oates, Tony Hillerman, James Michener and others. Below hangs a sign: 'Take a book or bring a book or both.'"
Part book exchange, part community-building exercise, part impromptu book club, the Little Free Libraries springing up around the U.S.—the movement started in Wisconsin; the picture above is of a Little Free Library in Silverlake (note the cigarette)—remind us of a more Rockwellian, neighborly time, when people read print instead of looking at e-readers; when they talked to each other and shared milk and eggs and books instead of gchatting or "pinging" each other; when the world was a softer, more personally friendly, place. And if none of that, it was certainly more aw-worthy: "When a 9-year-old boy knocked on his door one morning to say how much he liked the little library, Beggs knew he was on to something." Nobody say bed bugs, you'll ruin everything. [LAT]
E.L. James is a monster. A money monster. The website Celebrity Net Worth has estimated her earnings from her monster-trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey. Anyone could guess that with the 20 million or so copies sold and merchandizing and movie deals the author is doing quite well. How well?
It’s safe to assume that E.L. James has long ago sold enough copies to repay her seven figure book advance, which means at this point she is earning the standard 7% royalty on every $14 paperback and 25% royalty on every $10 ebook. In the last month, James has sold 4 million paperbacks and 1 million ebooks which equates to $2.94 million in paperback royalties and $2.497 million in ebook royalties. In other words $5.4 million in four weeks, $1.35 million per week!
If the rate of sale, or even something a bit like it (sales have ebbed slightly, which doesn't mean that she'll see a dip; she's still at the top of the best-seller lists) continues, "this September E.L. James will receive a check for roughly $20 million from publishing company Vintage Books." (She also got $5 million from Universal/Focus for the movie rights.) Not bad for something that started with Twilight fan fiction, eh? Yep, she's a monster. [Celebrity Net Worth]
The feminine legacy of Nora Ephron's essays. Bob Minzesheimer points out in USA Today that Nora Ephron "was a best-selling essayist, which is as rare as being a successful female filmmaker" (for now, not forever, we hope). I Feel Bad About My Neck hit the paper's best-selling books list at number 7 in 2006, and Ephron's latest collection, I Remember Nothing, reached number 22 in 2010. The inspiration for these essays: rage, she said, or "things that get to me." Ephron leaves us with a mandate, then: Write it out, ladies. Write it out. [USA Today]
An accidental legacy of Fitzgerald: Gatsbabies. Oh, horrible, most horrible, what would the Tender Is the Night author have thought of the renewed creep of the flamboyant dandy or "preening prepster" into Manhattan's upper spheres? (And would a pink and green tie by any other name smell as awful?) Also, are "Gatsbabies" new, or just the same old thing with a different news peg? Discuss with snifters and popped collars. [The Observer]
Jonathan Franzen hates social media. Maybe he has a point? Nahhhh. [Nathan Bransford.com]