Harper Lee’s estate will no longer allow publication of the mass-market paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, which was popular with schools. Over at The New Republic, Alex Shephard writes that “Without a mass-market option, schools will likely be forced to pay higher prices for bulk orders of the trade paperback edition—and given the perilous state of many school budgets, that could very easily lead to it being assigned in fewer schools.” For more about the author’s legacy, read Robert Rea’s Millions essay on his travels to her home.
Chances are you’ve bragged about the size of your library. The number of books you own is a point of pride for many readers. But at what point does collecting books — which few people would say is a bad thing– turn into a problem? At what point, in other words, does it become hoarding? Pair with: Rebecca Rego-Barry on hunting for rare books at college library book sales.
Version 2 of McSweeney’s quirky iPhone app includes an ebookstore with custom-designed ebooks. “Whereas most ebooks have weird line breaks, stretched type and clunky fonts, ours are actually designed so they look just as they do in print – clean and beautiful.”
John McWhorter, linguist and author of What Language is (And What it Isn’t and What it Could Be), takes a look at the history of spoken and written language in an effort to understand how text messaging, IMs, and other informal forms of written language impact literacy.
A few weeks ago, Meghan Daum released an essay collection, The Unspeakable, which our own Hannah Gersen described as “unputdownable” in her Millions review. At Slate, Katy Waldman offers her own praise, writing that “these essays do what essays often set out to do: trace the outlines of a self.”
“He was a glutton for books who treated each text as a plate he was required to clean.” Author and critic William Gass died this week at 93, reports The Washington Post. The recipient of three National Book Critics Circle awards for criticism and four Pushcart prizes, Gass was awarded the PEN/Nabakov Award for lifetime achievement in 2000. See our reviews of Middle C, a novel that took Gass almost 20 years to finish, and his most recent essay collection Life Sentences, which amply demonstrated his background as “a former philosophy professor, but more appropriately a philosopher of the word and an esthete.” We were also lucky enough to have him pen a Year in Reading entry for us back in 2009: “I miss the leisure that let me read just for fun, not to critique, or pronounce, or even to put on a list, but simply to savor,” Gass lamented. Nonetheless, he continued,“I do, from time to time, pick up old friends who never disappoint but will promise me a page or two of pleasure between art and ordinary life.”
The New York Public Library has named five finalists for its inaugural Harriet Tubman prize, which recognizes non-fiction books that explore the topic of slavery. You may also want to revisit our own Edan Lepucki‘s essay from a few years back on slavery in fiction.