The Economist gives a succinct explanation of “why books come out in hardback before paperback,” but their answer feels almost too simple. For a fuller understanding of the paperback / hardback question, pair The Economist‘s article with Nichole Bernier‘s Millions piece on “The Point of the Paperback.”
Pacific Standards profiles Ken Layne who quietly started the popular quarterly literary magazine, Desert Oracle for a town of 8,000 people. Now it has gained far more readers than that as it highlights works related to the American desert. “The reason that the Oracle works is that it’s always trying to elicit that feeling, the awe and wonder that the desert reveals to you when you listen hard enough. Layne believes it’s not an accident that religious awakenings, UFO sightings, walkabouts, and other revelations occur in the desert. It’s a consequence of solitude, stark beauty, and the tenacious life that only the desert has.”
W.W. Norton puts together a project similar to our Year in Reading (and with some participants in common): Writers Recommend.Another clever batch of recommendations: Village Voice asks several notables to recommend their favorite “obscure” books.Three Percent reveals its 25-book longlist for the “Best Translated Book of 2008” (Bonus Link: The Prizewinners: International Edition)A conversation with South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Breyten BreytenbachTodd Zuniga’s (of Opium Magazine and Literary Death Match) “favorite writers we haven’t heard of yet.”Best book cover designs of the year. (via 3% and kottke)Maud reproduces the memo behind the huge reorganization at Random House (which itself is just one part of the belt tightening hitting the publishing industry in recent weeks.)
Those of you with brothers or sisters will not be surprised to learn that siblings who are both writers tend to be a wee bit competitive. In a piece for the Poetry Foundation, Casey N. Cep runs through a few famous examples, among them the Bröntes, the Wordsworths and Charles and Mary Lamb. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
We already knew that Haruki Murakami was a writer and runner but a former jazz club owner, too? Aaron Gilbreath visited Murakami’s 1970s jazz club, Peter Cat, and found “a drab three-story cement building. Outside, a first-floor, a restaurant had set up a sampuru display of plastic foods.” For more Murakami, read our review of 1Q84.