Today in books and publishing: Only 2,000 copies of Pippa Middleton's party planning book were sold; a bookish beef comes to a close; National Book Awards are in full swing.
No one bought Pippa Middleton's Celebrate. In its first week on shelves, Pippa Middleton's widely mocked, dearly purchased party planning guide Celebrate only pushed 2,000 units. So we're guessing only British royals and maybe a few of their servants bought copies. In the UK, it's currently way down at No. 177 on the Amazon best-sellers list, and American readers are even less interested (the book holds Amazon's No. 303 position stateside). Apparently not too many readers think tips like "Because of their size, turkeys are perfect for feeding larger gatherings" are worth £25 ($40 in Yank money). [Business Insider]
John le Carré and Salman Rushdie quit beefing. The literary world's Biggie/Tupac-level feud has at last come to a peaceful end. Fifteen years ago, Salman Rushdie called British spy novelist John le Carré a "pompous ass," to which le Carré flung the accusation that Rushdie was guilty of "self-canonisation." The bickering goes back to 1997, when le Carré wrote of Rushdie's controversial, fatwa-inciting novel The Satanic Verses, "My position was that there is no law in life or nature that says great religions may be insulted with impunity." Rushdie fired back, and Christopher Hitchens had his back. Petty insults continued to fly for a long while, until just recently. Rushdie said at a talk last month that le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is "one of the great novels of postwar Britain," and le Carré said in an interview, "I admire Salman for his work and his courage, and I respect his stand." Looks like they've finally hugged it out. [The Guardian]
National Books Awards pull out all the stops. American letters is gearing up for one of its biggest award nights, with the National Book Awards being held this Wednesday night at Cipriani Wall Street. Authors that can lay claim to celebrity status may be few and far between, but the organizers of this year's ceremony are going for glitz, according to The New York Times' Leslie Kaufman. In the words of SNL's Weekend Update city correspondent Stefon, this party will have everything: Molly Ringwald, DJ Rabbi Darkside, and "an Oscar-style red carpet." Kaufman writes, "The goal is to add more sex appeal to an industry that’s not exactly known for it." Does this mean we'll start seeing Junot Diaz and Dave Eggers gracing the covers of People and Us Weekly soon? Spoiler: no. [The New York Times]
Book piracy stymies Zimbabwe's textbook publishers. It's not every day we hear reports from the Zimbabwean publishing industry, but when we do, they're fascinating. Education is on the rise in the country, and the demand for textbooks and childrens' titles remains high. But because of widespread piracy, many buyers get bootleg copies from street vendors for pennies while publishers fail to turn a profit. Many publishers are wondering whether it makes sense to throw in the towel, which could hinder the country's educational progress and growing economy. And while law enforcement has been getting strict on music and film piracy, book copyright infringement isn't combatted very much. "If this is not stopped, many of us will be forced to close shop," says Emmanuel Makadho, director of Book Love Publishers. "There is a proliferation of people who have invested in massive colour copiers and printers for the purpose of reproducing books published by other companies." [AFP]
Authors protest drastic UK library cutbacks. Finances are strapped in Europe, but do 18 libraries in Newcastle, England really need to be closed or taken out of public hands? A group of authors including Philip Pullman, Julia Donaldson, and Malorie Blackman think not, and they're protesting the cuts. They've all cosigned a letter:
We are ... appalled to hear that council leaders are planning draconian cuts to the city’s libraries. The UK is 25th in the PISA international reading rankings. This is no time to cut libraries. It is the young and the elderly who disproportionately depend on branch libraries. The cost in educational underachievement would far outweigh any savings made by cuts.
It is not the role of a Labour council to act as a conduit for the coalition government’s 'austerity’ cuts which disproportionately hit the poorest and most vulnerable. We call on Newcastle’s councillors to reconsider this wrong and immoral course.
R.I.P. Valerie Eliot. The widow of towering modernist poet T.S. Eliot has died. His second wife, she met Eliot as a secretary at his London-based publisher, Faber & Faber. Though the couple had four decades between their respective ages, they both enjoyed eating cheese over a game of Scrabble and going to the theater. She took over the role of estate executor following Eliot's death in 1965. [The Washington Post]