Is all publicity good publicity? Are all reviews—even bad ones—good for books? The answer, according to a new study [pdf] by the journal Marketing Science, depends on whether the writer is well known or unknown. The study examined the impact of a New York Times review on the sales of more than 200 hardcover titles. For books by established writers, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales. For unknown authors, a negative review increased sales by a healthy 45%.
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.)
One of the most exciting new books of 2013 hits shelves today: Tenth of December by George Saunders. Also out are Will Self’s Booker shortlisted Umbrella, Rage Is Back by Adam Mansbach, Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, Scenes from Early Life by Philip Hensher, The River Swimmer: Novellas by Jim Harrison, Y by Marjorie Celona, Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman Love is a Canoe by Ben Schrank, Driver’s Education by Grant Ginder, and new from NYRB Classics is Testing the Current by William McPherson, with an introduction by D.T. Max. New in paperback are Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru and The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan. There are many more new books to explore, of course, in our huge 2013 books preview, published this week.
Twenty U.S. publishers have teamed up with Netherlands-based platform Blendle to launch a beta version of the app in the U.S., which allows users to purchase individual articles instead of subscriptions to magazines and newspapers. Many are questioning what the future of journalism may hold in light of this new user model. If you’re wondering about the future of the book, check out our column on it.
Noam Chomsky, in conversation at the University of Arizona, derides the rising cost of university tuition. He goes on to say student fees are “a general form of indoctrination and control, which goes down to kindergarten. I mean, that’s what No Child Left Behind is about. It’s training for the Marine Corps.”
“The more you take, the more you have to give back — the better the work has to be.” The New York Times features Year in Reading alum Rivka Galchen in dialogue with Anna Holmes (“You can’t always prove appropriation, but you usually know it when you see it”) on the distinction between artistic license and cultural theft. Pair with our review of Galchen’s Little Labors.