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Book News: Amazon’s Kindle MatchBook Is Out — Will Publishers Opt In?

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
October 30, 2013

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Amazon launched Kindle MatchBook, a service that lets customers buy steeply discounted ebook versions of books they’ve already bought in print (from Amazon, of course) on Tuesday. Publishers must opt-in, and as of Wednesday morning, some 75,000 ebooks were available for $2.99 or less. Of course, it may prove difficult to persuade publishers to sell popular ebooks at such sharp discounts. NBC News’ Helen A.S. Popkin called the selection “70,000 shades of blah,” pointing out the lack of bestsellers by authors such as Stephen King, E.L. James and Dan Brown along with classics by the likes of Mark Twain, Maya Angelou and others.

Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble is releasing a $119 black-and-white version of the Nook e-reading device. Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey tells The New York Times that consumers may be wary of the new Nook because of B&N’s corporate struggles: “[W]ill people perceive that Barnes & Noble as a company will be around to fulfill the promises that that device makes? It’s a shadow that hangs over the entire Nook enterprise right now.”

“Hyperbole and a Half” creator Allie Brosh spoke to NPR about dealing with depression: “Depression can be such an isolating experience, and it’s deceptive, you know, you think, ‘Surely I’m the only one that’s ever gone through this, or felt this depth of misery.’ I spent a lot of time, just because it was so difficult to get the balance between looking at the subject with a little bit of levity and also treating it with enough respect. But I really felt that it was important to talk about it. It was cathartic for me, and cathartic — I hope — for other people.”

Over at NPR’s Monkey See blog, Linda Holmes says one of the reasons Brosh’s work is so moving is its immediacy: “In the conversations surrounding her book, Brosh has made it clear that she is not looking at depression in the rearview mirror in some sort of ‘let me tell you about this thing that happened to me once’ kind of way. She’s in it, and she lives with it, and sometimes it’s better, and sometimes it’s worse. It means you don’t see her for a while, because she’s a real person and it’s a real thing.”

We Need to Talk About Kevin author Lionel Shriver describes the daily life of a writer in The New Republic: “I have grown perversely nostalgic for my previous commercial failure — when my focus was pure, and the books were still fun to write, even if nobody read them.”

Anna Holmes writes about the value of Twitter in literary criticism: “It may not be a coincidence that in contrast to the shameful gender ratio endemic to so many literary publications, some of the most widely read critics on Twitter are women. One might argue that many critics’ outright dismissal of the technology is directly related to their feelings of privilege. ‘Some of these people don’t need to be on Twitter because they already have all the access they need,’ the fiction writer and critic Roxane Gay told me.”

[Copyright 2013 NPR]

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