• Hachette revenues were down 7.8% in the first half of 2015, compared to the first half of 2014, but mostly because 2014 benefitted from some mega-sellers. Hachette imprints include Grand Central Publishing, Little, Brown & Co., and Orbit, among others.
• College textbook prices have risen 1,041 percent since 1977. We were in college in 1977 and can vouch for this. In fact, we thought textbooks were way too expensive back then.
“College textbook prices are increasing way more than parents’ ability to pay for them,” economics professor Mark Perry said. At the extreme end, one specialized chemistry textbook on his campus costs $400 at the campus bookstore.
• In related news, Barnes & Noble has completed its college textbook spinoff.
• Charlie Hebdo has been doing well financially since the 7 January attack.
This is a ticklish development. A Catholic country that for decades after the war had one of the West’s largest Communist Parties, France tends to find money dirty. It is associated with guilt.
• It’s the era of emergence of lost manuscripts. This time a short story, “Temperature,” by Scott Fitzgerald, missing since he wrote it in 1939, and published for the first time in the current issue of The Strand.
• This weekend a group of writers will hammer out a novel in 75 minutes. We’re intrigued, but let’s face it, the end result will almost certainly languish near the bottom of our reading list.
The idea is simple: the fifty or so attendees of the panel will spend about 45 minutes collaboratively hammering out a plot, characters and structure. Then, for the next half an hour, each of them will be given one chapter to write, and the results will be collected together, lightly edited, and published as a free ebook.
• Print books are flourishing at airport book stores.
• Reading is good for your health. Well, we knew that, didn’t we? But now we have some quantitative data.
Folks who read at least 30 minutes a week are 20 percent more likely to report greater life satisfaction and 11 percent more likely to feel creative. They’re also 28 percent less likely to suffer from depression and 18 percent more likely to report high self-esteem.
• College libraries are ridding themselves of print books. Other kinds of libraries will follow as soon as they can afford to do so. We have lived too long.
• Apparently agents are responding more enthusiastically to male writers. Catherine Nichols sent out her manuscript under the pseudonym “George Leyer” and was shocked by the response.
George sent out 50 queries, and had his manuscript requested 17 times. He is eight and a half times better than me at writing the same book.
• Finally, a publisher is raising money to burn all its books. Srsly. If this stunt works it might start a trend.