Today in publishing and literature: Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography tops the digital and print sales charts, JRR Tolkien's unseen illustrations for The Hobbit will be seen for the first time, and fact-checking Roland Emmerich's new Shakespeare authorship thriller.
- Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography went on sale at midnight and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the book is the top-selling print and digital title for retailers Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Meanwhile in Taiwan, bookstore chain Eslite was offering free gifts to the first 100 people who showed up at select stores wearing black turtlenecks, according to the state-run Central News Agency. [Central News Agency]
- J.R.R. Tolkien created 110 illustrations for The Hobbit that will be published together for the first time when HarperCollins' The Art of the Hobbit is released Thursday. According to publisher David Brawn, two dozen of the drawings, which include maps and "conceptual sketches for the cover design," have never been seen before and were only recently discovered at the author's archive at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The first edition of the book included 20 illustrations by the author. [The Guardian]
- Stephen Marche, an Esquire columnist and former City College of New York English professor, eviscerates the scholarship that drives Roland Emmerich's new Shakespeare-denier film Anonymous. Marche explains that Emmerich's film takes its inspiration from the "Oxfordian theory of authorship, the contention that Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, wrote Shakespeare’s plays." The trouble is, most Shakespeare scholars believe this theory has "the same currency as the faked moon landing does among astronauts." In retrospect, he writes, the doubts about Shakespeare's identity, which first started cropping up during the 19th century, represent "the origins of the willful ignorance and insidious false balance that is now rotting away our capacity to have meaningful discussions" on issues like global warming. [The New York Times Magazine]
- HarperCollins announced in a press release that it has acquired the name and most of the back catalog of independent publisher Newmarket Press, which has carved out a niche publishing official tie-in books for movies like Gladiator and The Matrix. Under the terms of the deal, Newmarket will become part of Harper's It Books imprint and Newmarket founder Esther Margolis will take over as It's executive editor. [Publishers Weekly]
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