Nobody Writes Dry Spy Novels Quite Like the British

Plus: The Huffington Post publishes its first ebook

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Today in books: E-book pioneer is dead at 64, The Huffington Post publishes its first digital book, and a list of British thrillers that should hold you until the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy movie comes out in November.

  • Michael S. Hart, the founder of digital book archive Project Gutenberg, died Tuesday at his home in Illinois. He was 64. Hart started Project Gutenberg--and secured a legacy as the "inventor of the e-book"--in 1971 when he entered the Declaration of Independence into the University of Illinois' Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer on a whim. [Jacket Copy]
  • If a movie can soar to the top of the box office after getting nominated for Best Picture and a politician can enjoy a double-digit spike in the polls following a convention speech, surely Julian Barnes can expect some kind of Man Booker Prize shortlist bounce for his novel The Sense of an Ending. Publisher Knopf hopes so. They've bumped up the novel's U.S. publication date three months to October 11, a week before the winner of England's top fiction award is announced. Barnes, who is making his fourth appearance on the shortlist, is the favorite to win among British oddsmakers. [Arts Beat]
  • The Huffington Post is breaking into the digital publishing game with the publication of A People's History of the Great Recession by Arthur Delaney, a politics reporter for the site. If the site's excerpt from the text, which praises Delaney's ability to "[p]ut flesh and blood on the statistics" is any indication of the new unit's ability to give readers a vivid (if a tad garbled) sense of the text, they might do well at this. [The Bookseller and The Huffington Post
  • Asking for a list of the nine best dry, clubbable British spy novels is akin to asking for the nine best Bruce Springsteen songs about home towns or the nine best Martin Scorsese movies about crushing guilt and soaring pop music, so Guardian blogger Robert McCrum deserves credit for even trying. He puts Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel in the top spot, because hero Sir Percy Blakeney "remains the archetypal British overseas agent, not least for his admirable dedication to confounding the Frogs." And really, isn't that what spy novels are really all about? [The Guardian]
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.