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%.
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.
Writing for Banned Books Month on the PEN American Center’s blog, our own Lydia Kiesling discusses Judy Blume’s Forever. It’s a book many have “lobbied vigorously to pry … out of the hands of enthralled youth since 1975,” Kiesling writes, which should prove that such lobbyists “weren’t very good readers” in the first place.
Actor and humorist Nick Offerman at "By The Book" on choosing George Saunders to write his hypothetical life story: "I think [Saunders] would embarrass me by telling the justifiable truth, but with such élan that I would have to shrug and say, 'It was worth it.' If anybody could pull it off, I believe Mr. Saunders would have the tools and talent necessary to render the woodshop traumas of sandpaper and spokeshave, the roller coaster dynamics of a character actor’s life in showbiz, and my relentless penchant for filling a room with noxious gases into a palatable narrative. George — if you’re reading this and you’re up for it — before you dive in, I would just like to say that I think you’re very handsome."