Anthony Bourdain Wants to Make George Orwell Famous

Plus: Ebooks are now moving in on author signing sessions

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Today in publishing: Bloomsbury launches a new digital imprint to resurrect out-of-print titles, Anthony Bourdain loves Joan Didion almost as much as he loves George Orwell, and the future of author signings will substitute a stylus for a pen.

  • When the news broke earlier this month that Anthony Bourdain would be acquiring three-to-five books per year for HarperCollins' Ecco imprint, the No Reservations host made a point of noting in the press release that he was looking for "chefs, enthusiasts, fighters, musicians and dead essayists." In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he cited three essayists--two deceased and one very much alive--he'd like to publish work from. "I'm a huge Joan Didion fan," he told the Times. "I'm a huge [Michel de] Montaigne fan. It might be unlikely in the extreme that I'll be able to reprint Orwell, but given the opportunity, I sure would. " Montaigne died almost 450 years ago and the rights to his work are in the public domain, so if HarperCollins says no, all Bourdain has do is go on Project Gutenberg and tweet out links to his 566,000-odd Twitter followers. [The Los Angeles Times]
  • Last week at the Boucheron Mystery Conference in St. Louis, novelist Jonathon King became the first writer to conduct a book signing using Autography, one of several Ebook signing applications competing to make print-and-ink author signatures a thing of the past. It went well, but one wonders if the prospect of an author, who doesn't even need to be on the same continent as the autograph seeker, using a stylus to add a digital note of recognition to a downloaded file might rob the whole experience of its thrill. [ereads]
  • Middlesex author Jeffrey Eugenides says that if his new novel The Marriage Plot, which comes out Friday, reads like autobiography, a satire of modern literary theory, and/or an examination of the American attitude towards marriage, it will be an accident. He tells Newsweek that all he wanted to do was "write a novel about three young characters, one of whom happens to be obsessed by the 19th-century novel.” [Newsweek]
  • Bourdain is the target audience for Bloomsbury Publishing's new digital imprint Bloomsbury Reader, which launched today with an admirable and scary-sounding promise to bring forgotten authors and out-of-print text "back from the dead." Along with the enormous effort of finding and converting such texts, Bloomsbury digital media director Stephanie Duncan admits there's a question about who, besides Anthony Bourdain, will make the venture financially feasible. "The challenge," says Duncan, "is how do you get a book that's maybe 50, 80 years old and find it [an] audience?" Apparently by focusing heavily on the crime and romance genres, which Duncan notes are the "types of books that are selling very well" in Ebook form. [Reuters]
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