The Last Few Weeks in Books 6/8/12

by | Jun 8, 2012 | Uncategorized | 21 comments

Whew! Lots and lots of links to share with you from the last few weeks, so let’s get straight to it. 

Very sad news as one of my very very favorite writers as a child, and then one of my very very favorite writers I had the privilege of working with in the publishing industry, passed away recently. Jean Craighead George was the author of Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain, and a seriously wonderful person. She will be very very missed.

Some serious news from a publisher as Houghton Mifflin, saddled with debts and liabilities of over $1 billion, filed for bankruptcy.

You may remember a few months back when I featured a video by a web travel show I had come across by Sonia Gil. Well, we can now say we knew her when because she just won a Webby Award for Best Web Personality/Host. Congrats, Sonia!

Have a self-published novel and want it to get stocked by a bookstore? Might be helpful to see how things look from the other side. Here’s a guide to stocking self-published novels… for booksellers (via The Millions).

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has sold 10 million copies in 6 weeks. Holy. Crap.

Industry sage Mike Shatzkin wrote an open letter to the DOJ about the collusion lawsuit and settlement, raising some objections on technical grounds. I feel like there’s been a whole lot of mud flung against people who are opposed to the lawsuit, and everyone would do themselves a favor by absorbing this letter and seeing that, agree or disagree, there are very intelligent reasons why some people are opposing the lawsuit and settlement.

Several different articles lately have tried to get to the bottom of why literary fame is so unpredictable. The New Yorker sums it up.

My former client Jennifer Hubbard wrote an awesome guest post for Cynthia Leitich Smith on the power of the walking writer.

Self-published author seeks agent. What is an agent looking for? Rachelle Gardner breaks it down.

Author Barry Eisler has been a bit of a lightning rod lately with his decision to go to Amazon to publish his next book and his outspoken opinions on traditional publishing. Editor Alan Rinzler has a comprehensive post on what writers can learn from him.

Remember how Google scanned all the books in the world and there has been a lawsuit against them that has been pending for like seven thousand years? Well, a judge has paved the way for authors to sue Google for infringement.

Hilarious: Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator.

CNET (where I am employed) had a hands-on with Sony’s Wonderbook, which J.K. Rowling has a hand in, and which uses augmented reality to play with spells and such. CNET’s conclusion: it’s really more of a toy than a book.

This week in the Forums: Tumblr vs. Blogger, weird Google phrases that got people to your blog, Ray Bradbury passed away, the guilt of being a non-published writer, and how to identify the plot point.

And finally, The Great Gatsby is one of my absolute favorite novels and one I’ve written about in the past. The movie is coming out soon….. what do we think of the trailer??

Have a great weekend!!


  1. Mary

    The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books as well, so I'm a bit skeptical. But the trailer looks interesting, and it's difficult to go wrong with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. 😀

  2. Ken Lindsey

    The trailer looks amazing, I can't wait to see it. I have loved this story since I read the book (way back when) and I think the casting is spot-on.

  3. Chila

    Enjoy your blog, Nathan. As a small press owner, I regularly experience the "lightning rod" feeling that Barry E. is feeling right now. Especially when I speak out about such beauts as the stunning mediocrity of much "Christian Fiction," and such. Wow. You've not seen a firestorm until you've wrangled with the religious. Dave Barry said something along those lines, but he mentioned machetes. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

  4. Matthew MacNish

    I used to tell my daughter (a few years ago, when she was just getting started as a writer) that fanfiction was fun for practice, but she should write original stories and characters if she ever wanted to be a professional writer.

    And then of course Fifty Shades of Grey came along, and proved I had no idea what I was talking about.

    I know a lot of people say it's terrible, and I haven't read it, but I have to echo something Nathan often says: she must have been doing something right.

  5. D.G. Hudson

    It just proves there really is NO accounting for taste. It's demographics – which portion of the reading public is doing the most buying of the '50 Shades of…"? Women, men, certain age groups??

    Fan fiction builds off the original creator's idea. Has any fan fiction been as good as the original?

  6. gesher

    The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has sold 10 million copies in 6 weeks. Holy. Crap.

    Did you get your copy/ies?

  7. gesher

    The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has sold 10 million copies in 6 weeks. Holy. Crap.

    Did you get your copy/ies?

  8. Neurotic Workaholic

    I really like Carey Mulligan, so I'm interested in seeing how she plays Daisy. I'm also interested in seeing how her performance compares to Mia Farrow's performance as Daisy in the 70s.

  9. Anonymous

    Houghton Mifflin…didn't they reject Julia Child 🙂

    As for the Gatsby film…I'm just having a hard time with LD as the lead. He's short and stocky with legs shaped like the letter X. I always imaged Jay as one of those tall, handsome, well-bred patrician types with strong bone structure. Let's just say LD is no Robert Redford. But he was a great J. Edgar Hoover.

  10. GSMarlene

    My Side of the Mountain was probably one of my three favorite books as a child. If I didn't hate being cold, I would have dreamed even more of following in that boy's footsteps. Now I might have to go dig it out of a box and give it another go.

  11. TL Conway

    I don't think I'll read 50 Shades. It's not my cuppa. On the other hand, I said the same thing about a YA vampire series, so what do I know?

    As for Gatsby, I admitted this to Sommer Leigh and have been waiting for black cloud over my head to start pouring: I don't get The Great Gatsby. I read it and wanted to like it, I really did. But I just didn't connect with any of the characters. I feel like I missed something.

  12. wendy

    Thanks for these awesome links, Nathan. Julie OF The Wolves sounds like a wonderful title. Sorry to hear you lost such a talented friend. So many incredible outcomes in these links: Houghton Mifflin over a bill. in debt?!? How can they ever work their way out of this? The passing of Ray Bradbury is very sad. He was a rare author in whose work I always found profound beauty and amazing imagination. Something Wicked This Way Comes was a favourite.

    Haven't yet had an op. to check out all the links but will make time when I can. All a must read, I think.

    Watched the Great Gatsby trailer. I thought it was intriguing and obviously the movie is going to be epic. I've not read the book, but the premise as shown in the trailer shows a lot of promise. Here in Australia 'Gatsby' is not on many reading lists. When I was studying writing at Uni level, the syllabus consisted of all Australian titles back then – which I loved and could identify with more than titles from other countries and cultures. If a book is in a genre that I love, such as fantasy, then I've no problem with its origins. Fantasy titles usually have their own culture and countries, anyway, which I enjoy.

  13. Chuck H.

    My Side of the Mountain and October Country. So much lost. I read Gatsby once but when I think about it all I get is an empty mansion with filmy curtains blowin' in the wind. Or was that someone else? They had great cars though.

  14. Anonymous

    Wow! The movie looks great!

  15. Darth Lolita

    I won't lie, I groaned out loud when I read how much copies Fifty Shades of Gray sold/

    I'm surprised I hadn't heard about the passing of Jean Craighead George, since this week was the death of the great author Ray Bradbury. I guess I'm also slightly surprised you didn't mention that as well, but I suppose Bradbury has been so well known that we all found out this week one way or another.

    On a lighter note, I am really excited for the Great Gatsby movie.

  16. Nancy Thompson

    50 Shades, huh? Well, there's no accounting for taste, I guess. And the trailer looks pretty good. Baz can either make a film spectacularly successful or a fantastic failure. No in between. let's hope for the former.

  17. James Anderson

    Thanks for all of the great links Nathan.
    It's sad news about Ray Bradbury and Jean Craighead George.
    I almost fell out of my chair reading about 50 Shades.
    The Great Gatsby should be amazing. I can't wait to see it.

  18. Jessica

    My reaction to the 50 Shades news is how a food connoisseur living off foie gras and caviar would react to the news that 10 million people went nuts over McDonalds.

    "Um. Sure, McDonalds can be good… but it's not super great in large doses, and plus, have you TRIED other food?"

  19. Mira

    I took my post down. I always feel so conflicted about arguing with you on your blog, Nathan.

    Anyway, I really thoroughly enjoyed browsing these links.

    And I think Leo was miscast.

    And I'm sorry for the loss of George and Bradbury.

    Thanks for taking the time to put these links up, Nathan!

  20. A. M. Perkins

    I just want to say thank you for the link to the Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator.

    I mean, I read and appreciated the more informative links, too, but that one made me smile 🙂

  21. Anonymous

    Shatzkin says, "In a nutshell, without uniform retail pricing, Amazon can effectively disintermediate the publishers, but the publishers can’t effectively disintermediate Amazon," but fails to explain why disintermediating the publishers is a problem for readers and writers.

    I'm not sure it is. We need new ways of discovering great books and avoiding the stuff that would never have made it out of a publisher's slush pile, but I'm just not convinced that existing publishing industry is worth the price it charges to perform the functions it performs.


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Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

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