Today in books and publishing: A first-time Aussie novelist is now a millionaire; writers who think they can act; Amazon seeking instant gratification; publishing company makes more by ditching Amazon; and Daniel Suarez talks drones.
Seven figures for the rights to Burial Rights. Relatively unknown Australian writer Hannah Kent just came out on the winning end of an intense bidding war. Her debut novel Burial Rights netted the 27-year-old author over $1 million. Little, Brown and Company reportedly paid that amount for the U.S. rights to Kent's book, a piece of historical fiction about the life of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person formally beheaded in Iceland after being convicted for murder in 1830. If that gory premise intrigues you, check out Kill Your Darlings, the literary journal where Kent is a deputy editor. [Herald Sun]
Stars of screen and page. The Millions has a nifty roundup about famous authors who've tried have tried their hands at film acting. Salman Rushdie played Helen Hunt's doctor in 2007's Then She Found Me. Norman Mailer was an architect in Ragtime and played Harry Houdini in Matthew Barney's trippy Cremaster 2. Jerzy Kosinski plays an icy Soviet bureaucrat in Reds. Perhaps the most unfortunate instance of this phenomenon is Maya Angelou's oh-so-thinly veiled performance as "May" in Madea’s Family Reunion. [The Millions]
Will same-day delivery edge out local bookstores? Amazon is expanding its shipping centers to be closer to consumers, according to Slate's Farhad Manjoo. Their goal: next-day, or even same-day delivery. It's worrying to think about what this might mean for brick-and-mortar bookstores. After all, instant gratification is one of the biggest reasons to shell out a few more dollars at your local bookstore instead of turning to Amazon a deep discount on that new release. If Amazon can deliver almost immediately, will local stores lose even more customers? [Slate]
It's not all bad for the little guy. Lest you fear that Amazon is poised to swallow the book economy whole, take comfort in this story: One publishing company is actually doing better business after deciding to abandon Amazon. Since Educational Development Corp. pulled its titles from the site, its sales have gone up 5% and net earnings increased by 17%. [Publishers Weekly]
Drones are scary, in fiction and real life. Daniel Suarez's techno-thriller novels Daemon, Freedom(TM), and the soon-to-be-released Kill Decision depict a world of pre-programmed, automated, devastating warfare. Before becoming a novelist, Suarez worked as an IT consultant in the defense industry, so he knows a thing or two about technology and war. Some of the quotes from his fascinating interview with Wired are kind of terrifying. "Terrorists and governments could use weaponized swarming drones to carry out deadly covert operations with little or no risk of being identified afterward," Suarez says. "I think the specter of truly anonymous warfare—where one can’t be sure who launched an attack—is nearly upon us, and autonomous drones will help make that happen." [Wired]