Amazon announced that on Christmas day it sold more Kindle ebooks than regular books (and that the Kindle is not the site’s most popular gift ever). Chadwick Matlin outlines at The Big Money the reasons why the Christmas day surge in ebook sales don’t matter. The New York Times suggests each new version of the Kindle may be getting worse, and separately dubs 2010 the “Year of the Tablet.”
“What do these two books have in common?…Open each cover and you will only find similarities: They are the same book.” For The Globe and Mail, our own Claire Cameron writes about one book being marketed with two different covers and titles to appeal to different audiences. Pair with: an essay about book covers featuring headless, backless women, and another on the beauty of typewritten book covers.
Roger Boylan at the Boston Review writes about the flourishing posthumous career of Mark Twain: “…more than 5,000 previously unknown letters of Twain’s have surfaced in the last 50 years. This represents an average of two new letters per week, but still only about one-tenth of the 50,000 or so he is believed to have written.” And at Slate, Craig Fehrman discusses the “brilliant brand management” behind the handling of Twain’s autobiography.
Is “the two-person collaboration… the essential creative act”? Joshua Wolf Shenk thinks so, and he’s written a book defending his position, aptly titled The Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. While John Lennon and Paul McCartney are his primary examples and the root of his argument, famous author duos are also referenced – C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, for one. Shenk even “works to transform even famously lonely figures — Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Martin Luther King Jr. — into one side of a duet.” Consider us skeptical but intrigued.
Book Riot has compiled a list of Roxane Gay’s recommended reads via Twitter. Some of her choices include Citizen by Claudia Rankine, God Help the Child by Toni Morrison, and City on Fire by our own Garth Risk Hallberg. See more books Gay recommends in our Year in Reading column.
What is the price of diversity? Colleen Muir asks this question at The Rumpus in relation to the hefty cost of writers’ conferences. A piece of her essay: “I’m not claiming that Breadloaf [sic] lacks for talent, or that its writers don’t have interesting things to say. But it certainly lacks for diversity in at least one significant way, because most attendees share a privileged experience of the world.” Pair with Gail Gauthier’s essay on working in the kitchen crew at Bread Loaf.
The Virginia Quarterly Review‘s Fall 2011 issue, “The Soviet Ghost“, is now available online. Not to be missed is Ed Ou’s heartbreaking essay and slideshow on how the Soviet government performed nuclear weapons tests on innocent Kazakh citizens. Dimiter Kenarov’s essay on Belarusian tractors is simultaneously a personal journey, an impressive work of history, and a good ol’ fashioned KGB crime story.