Google took the wraps off its long-awaited ebookstore today. Google ebooks can be bought at Google Books and are also available at Powells and indie bookstore portal IndieBound (both of which are missing out on some serious publicity by not having info about this on their front page today). The ebooks are readable on a variety of platforms, but not on the Kindle (at least not without some tweaking).
New this week is Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes (reviewed here) along with new story collections from E.L. Doctorow (All the Time in the World) and Jim Shepard (You Think That’s Bad). Also new this week is Kate Atkinson’s latest Jackson Brodie mystery Started Early, Took My Dog and Paul McEuen’s debut mixing “science and suspense” Spiral. Out in paperback is Millions Hall of Famer A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.
The story of how a publishing house began is the definition of literary inside baseball, but this piece by Jonathan Galassi — in which the FSG president responds to an upcoming book on the heyday of his company — does a pretty nice job of spurring a general reader’s interest. Among other things, it reveals that First Wife Dorothea Straus once called the company’s office “a sexual sewer.”
A new study out of Stony Brook University employs a complex statistical model to figure out what makes a book successful. Judging books on the basis of Amazon sales, awards won and Project Gutenberg downloads, the scientists determined that successful books have a higher-than-average ratio of self-references, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions. Unsuccessful books, on the other hand? A high ratio of adverbs and location markers.
“We find ourselves in a swarm of fellow starstruck souls outside the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, churning, squirming.” 25 years after the publication of Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe returns to the subject of Wall Street. You can also check out my review of his most recent novel, Back to Blood, over here.
“It was spring. Byron was leaving England forever, a cloud of infamy hanging over him. (He is one of the few people you can write something like that about and have it be true; that is part of why he’s so satisfying.)” Via The Awl: the adventures of John Polidori, literary vampire and doctor to Lord Byron.