As the holiday shopping wars heat up, Amazon has announced a surprise offer of free one-day shipping through December 22 on thousands of items, but not, as best as I can tell, books. Of course, in Amazon’s eyes, all those ebooks already ship instantaneously.
Barnes & Noble's newest device, Nook Tablet, was unveiled yesterday. At $249, it's modestly more expensive than Kindle Fire at $199, but half the price of the iPad, which sells for $499 and up. And from a technological perspective, it may be closer to the iPad. So what will this mean for the last major brick-and-mortar bookseller?
This week, our own Lydia Kiesling took part in The Morning News Tournament of Books, where she adjudicated a showdown between Scott McClanahan’s Hill William and Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Who went on to the next round: the trans-Pacific odyssey, or the tale of West Virginia? (You could also read our own Edan Lepucki’s Tournament contribution from last year, or else read our own Nick Moran’s Year in Reading piece on Scott McClanahan.)
"In 1865, Karl Marx confessed that he considered his chief characteristic 'singleness of purpose,' and that his favorite occupation was 'bookworming.' Five years later, Oscar Wilde wrote in an album called 'Mental Photographs, an Album for Confessions of Tastes, Habits, and Convictions' that his distinguishing feature was 'inordinate self-esteem.'" Over at The New Yorker, take a look at how Marcel Proust's questionnaires inspired a generation of question-by-by-question introspection.
What do you do if you're Leo Tolstoy, 20 years old and being treated in isolation for venereal disease? Start a diary, of course. Because you're Tolstoy, you'll probably use this diary to make a plan of your day, and then comment on how your actual activities line up with your ideals (“not quite," usually). And, to be as Tolstoy-ish as possible, why not rate all your actions on a general moral scale? An example: "Arose somewhat late and read, but did not have time to write. Poiret came, I fenced, and did not send him away (sloth and cowardice). Ivanov came, I spoke with him for too long (cowardice). Koloshin (Sergei) came to drink vodka, I did not escort him out (cowardice)." And so on. For some long-term perspective, pair with The Millions's perennially popular "Tolstoy or Dostoevsky? 8 Experts on Who's Greater."