Today in books and publishing: JK Rowling builds a treehouse Hogwarts; a change in leadership at The Bookseller; Amazon's income takes a tumble; writers weigh in on 50 Shades.
Income drops off at Amazon. With e-books on the rise and brick-and-mortar bookstores struggling to stay afloat, all bookish eyes are on Amazon. Its latest quarterly report provides a telling look at the Internet retailer's place in the book economy. Though its sales are up 29%, Amazon has reported the steepest decline in net income since 2002. Analysts are attributing the drop-off to Amazon's plan to offer next-day and even same-day delivery by opening warehouses closer to customers. The strategy goes straight toward undercutting one huge advantage bookstores still have over e-tailers: instant gratification. "They've got to continue to invest, and that forgoes short-term profits for long-term gains," says Needham & Co analyst Kerry Rice. "It's kind of a double-edged sword." Amazon is also investing more in the Kindle Fire and other technology. [Bloomberg]
The Bookseller has a new EIC. British publishing magazine The Bookseller has promoted Philip Jones to the editor-in-chief position. Current editor-in-chief Neill Denny will stay on as a columnist and occasional author interviewer. Jones is being bumped up from his current position as deputy editor and editor of The Bookseller's Futurebook blog. "What The Bookseller covers has changed dramatically," says Nigel Roby, owner of The Bookseller Group. "A few years ago it was a straightforward mix of news and features on companies and business models that had barely changed for 30 years. Now we report on companies that didn’t even exist then and we do so through print, web and new media." [The Bookseller]
Debating Fifty Shades. At this point, the arguments surrounding E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey series must be pretty familiar to anyone following it closely. Some praise it for helping readers to break free from stale sexual routines, while detractors say it promotes female subservience. Even though 50 Shades is widely mocked for its clumsy writing, these discussions are starting to bounce through the rarefied world of New York's literary elite. Erica Jong, Roxane Gay and other prominent writers gathered at SoHo's McNally Jackson bookstore recently to talk 50 Shades. "I don’t care if it turns people on, it’s not transgressive," said Gay. Jong called for writers "to come up with new fantasies that don’t hew to the ancient paradigms of dominance and submission." [The New York Times]
Treehouse of Hogwarts. JK Rowling is spending £150,000 on a backyard treehouse mini-Hogwarts for her children. The twin two-story treeforts will feature castle-like turrets, curved balconies and a connecting rope bridge. In case that doesn't sound magical enough, rest assured that there will be secret tunnels and trap doors. The planned structures are so large that they needed approval from the City of Edinburgh Council. [The Daily Mail]
Colson Whitehead's ten rules for writing. Learn it. Know it. Live it. [The New York Times]
Stanley Kubrick writes to Arthur C. Clarke in 1964. The director, who would've turned 84 yesterday, proposed "the possibility of doing the proverbial 'really good' science-fiction movie." Wonder how that turned out. [Letters of Note]
Under the covers, reading the covers. How much do you want these bookish sheets? [Los Angeles Times]