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Fire Max 11: Amazon Finally Has a Real iPad Alternative

From CNET: Amazon Fire tablets have always been about being the value alternative to Apple’s iPads, allowing Amazon Prime members and often their kids to tap into the company’s vast library of entertainment content, including “free” movies, ebooks, games and more that are bundled into that membership. The problem is, Amazon didn’t have an option for people who wanted to do more with their tablets. With the new Fire Max 11, Amazon now has a premium iPad alternative.

James Patterson Sells His 100 Millionth Book

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From Publishers Weekly: It’s an exciting time for Hachette Book Group, too, with bestseller of bestsellers James Patterson selling his 100 millionth book.

James Patterson has achieved many milestones in his long and ultra-successful career as an author, and in early April he hit another: he became the first author to sell more than 100 million copies across all print formats since BookScan—now known as Circana BookScan—started recording unit sales of print books in 2004. Patterson easily topped the print sales accrued by Dr. Seuss, whose books have sold 83 million copies since 2004.

Patterson’s top-selling print book as measured by BookScan is Honeymoon, which edged out 3rd Degree for the #1 spot. Like many of his bestsellers, those two are parts of series, and books in the Women’s Murder Club and Alex Cross series have fared particularly well. His top 10 bestselling titles sold just about 12 million copies, meaning that the rest of Patterson’s oeuvre racked up sales of 88 million copies in total.

That kind of sales breadth is a testament to just how well Patterson’s books have sold across the different print formats, as well as to the number of titles out in the market. Patterson’s longtime U.S. publisher, Hachette Book Group, reported that the author has had 100 #1 New York Times bestsellers over his career and that his backlist of adult fiction and nonfiction stands at 179 titles.

Read full post on Publishers Weekly

Prolific biographer Bill Zehme has died at 64

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From The Washington Post: Bill Zehme, who elevated celebrity profiles to an art form, dies at 64.

One day in the 1990s, Bill Zehme lay down naked next to actress Sharon Stone, who was also naked. They were not married. They were not dating. They barely knew each other.

Mr. Zehme, the grand bard of magazine celebrity profiles, was visiting Stone, who was sometimes naked in her starring roles, at her Las Vegas home for a profile in Esquire. She scheduled a massage.

“Take off your clothes and lie down,” Stone told him, as Mr. Zehme wrote in Esquire.

It would be a couple’s massage.

As he disrobed, she said, “Oh look! It’s your butt,” to which Mr. Zehme replied that he had seen hers too — on screen. “Who hasn’t?” she said. “Anybody with seven bucks can see my ass, buddy. What’s your excuse?”

His excuse was, metaphorically, a hallmark of his two-decade career writing for Esquire, Rolling Stone, Playboy and Vanity Fair — to elevate the formulaic celebrity profile with humor, a literary voice and the polish of a short story. That was the only way Mr. Zehme, who died March 26 at age 64, could accept his fate performing what many writers consider one of the lowest forms of journalism.

Read full post on The Washington Post

What happens to your brain when you read books?

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From Iris Reading: What Happens In The Brain While Reading?

Different brain parts get activated when you read, such as the temporal lobe, angular and supramarginal gyrus, and frontal lobe. Consequently, neural responses help you understand, visualize and vocalize words. As you read, your brain’s limbic system also activates emotions.

Brain activity increases in the left hemisphere while reading. Your brain becomes engaged in helping you decode sound, handle speech production, and use and comprehend grammar.

When you understand what happens in the brain while reading, you can improve your reading skills. It will help you learn how to read fast and retain information.

The brain doesn’t use specific parts to read. Instead, reading engages different regions of the brain via multiple processes. Thanks to brain imaging, you can now see pictures of brain activity and anatomy while reading. Brain imaging shows which brain parts activate as you read.

Read full post at Iris Reading

Would you steal hundreds of unpublished manuscripts simply for the pleasure of reading them?

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From New York Times: Why Would Someone Steal Unpublished Manuscripts?

For more than five years, someone was stealing unpublished book manuscripts from editors, agents, authors and literary scouts. The question of who was behind the scheme baffled the publishing industry, but just as perplexing was another question: Why?

Most unpublished manuscripts would be almost impossible to monetize, so it wasn’t clear why somebody would bother to take them. Filippo Bernardini, who has pleaded guilty in a fraud case in which the government said he stole more than 1,000 manuscripts, offered an explanation on Friday in a letter addressed to a federal judge.

Bernardini said he stole the books because he wanted to read them.

Bernardini told Judge Colleen McMahon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that his scheme began after a literary agency where he had interned declined to hire him for an open position. He was applying for jobs without success when he started impersonating publishing professionals over email.

Read full post on the New York Times

Novelist Christopher Fowl has died aged 69

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From The Guardian: Crime writers have paid tribute to the London-born author behind the long-running detective series, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant & May series of detective novels, has died at the age of 69, having been diagnosed with cancer three years ago.

Fowler was best known for his Bryant & May thrillers, featuring the veteran detectives solving unusual crimes in London from the second world war to the present day. The series began with Full Dark House in 2003, and 17 more novels followed, most recently London Bridge Is Falling Down, published in 2021. A further book exploring the London of the characters, Bryant & May’s Peculiar London, came out last year.

Fowler’s death was announced late on Thursday by his husband, Pete, who posted on the writer’s Twitter account:

“Christopher Robert Fowler, 3 score & 10, 1953-2023. His sparkle, joy and humour are gone, but remain in my heart and his work. What a remarkable person we all shared. Goodbye to a beautiful man, a beautiful mind, my partner in crime and soulmate. Pete x Happy #WorldBookDay2023”

Read full post on The Guardian

Penguin Random House, responding to criticism, will publish “classic” versions of Roald Dahl’s children’s novels, alongside altered versions

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From AP News: Penguin to publish ‘classic’ Roald Dahl books after backlash.

Publisher Penguin Random House announced Friday it will publish “classic” unexpurgated versions of Roald Dahl’s children’s novels after it received criticism for cuts and rewrites that were intended to make the books suitable for modern readers.

Along with the new editions, the company said 17 of Dahl’s books would be published in their original form later this year as “The Roald Dahl Classic Collection” so “readers will be free to choose which version of Dahl’s stories they prefer.”

The move comes after criticism of scores of changes made to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and other much-loved classics for recent editions published under the company’s Puffin children’s label, in which passages relating to weight, mental health, gender and race were altered.

Augustus Gloop, Charlie’s gluttonous antagonist in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” — originally published in 1964 — became “enormous” rather than “enormously fat.” In “Witches,” an “old hag” became an “old crow,” and a supernatural female posing as an ordinary woman may be a “top scientist or running a business” instead of a “cashier in a supermarket or typing letters for a businessman.”

Read full post on AP News