Barnes & Noble's Shrinking Shelves

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Today in publishing and literature: Barnes & Noble floorplan changes will lead to fewer books in its bookstores, the upside to botching the words to poems, and James Garner's memoir is catty, grouchy, and surprisingly drug-filled.

  • The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Barnes & Noble will "double the size of its Nook boutiques in 40 of its most productive stores nationwide over the next few weeks" to move more of the readers during the holiday shopping rush. Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson wonders where all that space is coming from. The company insists the retail space is being taken away from DVD and music displays, but Johnson notes the company is also planning to expand the space given to "non-book" items across the chain, as well as the company's plan to beef up its "toy and game offering." The loser almost has to be the printed book. That's troubling he says, because without Borders in the mix, the nation's leading bookstore chain is on the road to stores that look like large, empty warehouses full of tablets, with the occasional boardgame scattered around as a homey touch.  [Melville House]
  • Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu was one of 23 people arrested last Friday as part of a nation-wide crackdown on separatist Kurdish political parties. Zarakolu is the head of Belge Publishing, which has challenged Turkey's restrictive publishing restrictions for more than three decades, publishing books by Armenian, Greek and Kurdish authors, along with books dealing with the Armenian genocide. The company's provocative titles led to Zarakolu's office being "firebombed by a right-wing extremist group in 1995" and he was "banned from leaving Turkey between 1971 and 1991," according to The Guardian. The new charges will likely lead to him being held in prison for at least a year if his appeal is rejected. Publishing associations from around the world have quick to condemn the action. The American Association of Publishers released a statement saying the arrest  "flies in the face of Turkey’s obligations under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights." Bjørn Smith-Simonsen of the International Publishers Association was more direct, proclaiming Zarakolu "the pride of publishing" and saying he "does not belong to prison, he deserves a Nobel prize."  [The Guardian]
  • The World Series ended five days ago, but the first quickie book documenting the Cardinals win hits shelves this weekend. Called Wild Cards, it was written by Rob Rains, the team's former beat reporter from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. More fascinating than the grueling pace required of such a project is the uncertainty about whether it would even see the light of day. "The only way [Triumph Books] were going to publish the book was [if] they won (the World Series)," says Rains. Since the series went the full seven games, he didn't know until late Friday if he had a book. When the Cardinals won, he sprinted to finish the last of his 20,000-word text, eventually completing it at "about 4 a.m. Saturday." [Springfield News-Leader]
  • If you buy one cranky celebrity memoir this fall, might we suggest James Garner's The Garner Files? Garner upholds he time-honored memoir tradition of picking fights with his deceased contemporaries. He calls Steve McQueen an "insecure poseur and not much of an actor," Charles Bronson a "bitter and beligerrent SOB," and compares the old Hollywood studio system to "being in business with the Mafia, only Universal didn't need a gun, just a pencil," and makes a reasonable case for his decision to punch out costar Tony Franciosa on the set of A Man Could Get Killed, because Franciosa wouldn't stop punching the stunt men for real during the fight scenes. If this all sounds very James Garner-esque, there are also unexpected revelations, like how he smoked marijuana nearly every day of his adult life, and once did cocaine with John Belushi. He also compares Barack Obama to Adlai Stevenson and means it as a compliment of the highest order. (Inexplicably, Garner isn't the reader on the audiobook edition.) [Los Angeles Times]
  • Is there something to be gained by incorrectly reciting poems? Yes, says former United States Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. Misquoting a poem, he argues, can serve as "a form of analysis, as, for example, in sports or music, when getting something a little bit wrong leads to improvement in technique or understanding." He recalls how a single misremembered word from Wordsworth's "On Being Asked for a War Poem” ('striving' rather than meddling') changed the entire tone of the poem. In an age of passwords that must include one numeric and one special character, it's always nice to have something where specificity need not always count. [Slate]
  • Stephen King's son Owen has sold his first novel to Scribner, which also publishes his father's books. (Brother Joe Hill is with HarperCollins.) The book is called Reenactment, and the press release promises it's an "epic, comic novel" about a would-be moviemaker named Sam Dolan "struggl[ing] to escape the trappings of professional disaster, difficult family, and questionable relationships” in his first years out of college. In other words, more coming-of-age, less coming of demonic cars. [GalleyCat]

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