The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- The planned acquisition of Perseus Books Group by Hachette and Ingram has collapsed. The deal, which was announced in June, would have seen Perseus' publishing imprints go to Hachette and its distribution business go to Ingram. Hachette, currently entangled in a long and very public battle with Amazon, relies heavily on fiction bestsellers. Perseus would have added a strong nonfiction backlist. In a letter to employees that was quoted in Publishers Weekly, Perseus CEO David Steinberger wrote that the three companies "could not reach an agreement on everything necessary to close the transaction." Steinberger, who had planned to leave the company, will now stay on.
- Jim Frederick, journalist and author of the 2010 book Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death, died last week. He was 42. Black Hearts describes the events surrounding the brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murder of her family by four U.S. soldiers. Fredrick's wife told The New York Times that he died of cardiac arrhythmia and arrest.
- More than 900 writers have signed an open letter to Amazon arguing that the online retailer's tactics are hurting authors. The group Authors United plans to run the letter as a full-page ad in Sunday's New York Times. "As writers — most of us not published by Hachette — we feel strongly that no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want," the letter reads. "It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation."
- Lev Grossman explains how not to write your first novel (mostly, don't move by yourself to rural Maine): "I'm not even sure I understood how lonely I was. I had friends back in the real world, but I never asked anyone to visit me. On some level I still didn't believe that I could be lonely, even though it was staring me in the face, all day and all night. I genuinely thought that because I wanted to be a writer, that made me different from other people: mysterious, self-contained, a lone wolf, Han Solo."
- In a slightly weird essay for CNN.com, James Patterson imagines what he would do if he were Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: "I, Jeff Bezos, am not so carried away with this success that I am going to lose sight of scale or sanity. Sure, I have ushered in the age of Internet commerce, but, no, I am not now hanging around just to collect my financial reward, or even to bask in the public recognition. You see, I, Jeff Bezos, am actually trying to make this a better world."
- "I collect novels about heroic collies who rescue their owners, rescues that may involve ocean voyages or changing planes in Chicago." — Garrison Keillor talks to The New York Times about the contents of his bookshelves.
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