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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Friday, November 12, 2010 1:30 pm
Weeklings: Kindle Prices Protested, Keith Olberman Suspended, Decision Points Criminalized, James Frey Reinvented (Again), and More!
Posted by: Keir Graff

Two weeks’ worth of weeklings here. Sorry!

On Amazon, readers punish writers for their publishers’ pricing models–again (“Stars fall in Amazon protest about ebook prices,” Benedicte Page, Guardian).

Authors found themselves in the firing line this week as fans furious at sudden rises in Amazon’s Kindle prices protested by giving their books one-star reviews on the retailer’s website.

But, despite the obvious power of the Kindle users’ voting bloc, Wired‘s John C. Abell reports that the most popular way to read an e-book is NOT on Kindle. It’s . . . surprising!

Mere days after Keith Olbermann announced that he would be suspending his “Worst Person in the World” segments, I saw an ad for his new book, which is about, natch, “The Worst of the Worst.” Then comes news that Olbermann himself was suspended from his duties at MSNBC, for making political contributions to Democratic candidates–opening himself up to all sorts of “Worst Person in the World” tweets. I have to suspend my disbelief on this one.

Galleycat reported on a movement among readers to move George W. Bush’s Decision Points to the “crime section” of bookstores. To which I addressed the following query: true crime or crime fiction? And how do crime-fiction and/or true-crime authors feel about their new shelfmate?

The Australian reports that French cultural tastes can be surprising. Not only do they have a fondness for Jerry Lewis, they are also snapping up the For Dummies books (“French Suck Up Books for Dummies“). Oh, wait, I guess that’s only surprising if you subscribe to the whole French-people-are-snobs cliche.

And, as Katherine Rosman and Lauren A. E. Schuker report in the Wall Street Journal, “James Frey’s Next Act” is a surprising one. I’d heard a little bit about this, but the full extent is interesting. Turns out that the disgraced author of A Million Little Pieces, who rebounded somewhat with the novel Bright Shiny Morning, has reinvented himself as the head of a heavily branded multimedia content company, Full Fathom Five. Basically, he pays struggling writers a pittance, pitches their books to publishers and movie studios, and then gives them a decent slice of the profits if things work out well. Frey being Frey, the venture is not without its controversies, which Frey eloquently rebuts:

“I go to work and try to do cool things. I can’t control what people write about me,” says Mr. Frey.

Apparently, his hand as an editor is a bit heavy, but who wouldn’t want notes like these?

“Her parents, they should be dead.”

He’s not above taking notes from screenwriters, either, adding their ideas to books.

The screenwriters introduced several new elements including the glowing plutonium swords that would be wielded by the aliens. “I said, ‘We should put those weapons in the book because they’re bad-ass!’” Mr. Frey says.

The WSJ article notes that Frey is building on the success of packagers like Alloy Entertainment. But another comparison came to my mind while reading the article, leading me to ask the question: is James Frey the next James Patterson? (And, speaking of James Patterson, he’s got another book . . . but that’s hardly news, is it?)

Mr. Frey, it’s good to have you back.

And, finally, save the words! (I adopted “aquabib.”)



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