Falling Bookstore Sales, Amazon’s Mystery Device, and More

Evan Smith Rakoff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories:

According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, November 2013 bookstore sales fell 4.2 percent compared to 2012, although general retail sales grew 3.7 percent. (Shelf Awareness)

The Boston Globe reports that Amazon is working on a new product at its lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The new device is a mystery, but is intended to "disrupt the current marketplace."

GalleyCat has gathered free samples of books that were adapted for the big screen and are in the running for best picture at the Academy Awards, including Solomon Northup’s personal narrative, Twelve Years a Slave.

In other Hollywood news, Paramount has purchased film rights to Sabaa Tahir’s first novel, An Ember in the Ashes, for seven figures. Razorbill’s Ben Schrank, who will publish the book, told Publishers Weekly that Tahir’s novel is the type that “knows its reader.”

Jason Diamond rounds up twenty-five long and ambitious novels that are worth the investment of time and attention, including George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

Meanwhile, book critic Kathryn Schulz declares that George Eliot’s use of the em-dash is one of the “five best punctuation marks in literature.” (Vulture)

And on the Tin House blog, Callie Leuck weighs in on the Oxford comma.