Europe's Slow E-Reader Revolution; The Staggering Sales of Nora Roberts

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Today in publishing and literature: Martin Scorsese will direct another book based on an intricately plotted detective story, Europe's e-book pricing woes, and Neil Gaiman is a good sport on The Simpsons.

  • The e-reader price war is on in America, but the devices have struggled to penetrate markets in Europe, largely because of restrictions on how much retailers can discount their titles. In Germany, for example, retailers can't cut the publisher's list price at all, while in France the maximum discount is 5%. These "fixed-price agreements" were established for print book pricing, and publishers have extended them to their e-book pricing, a policy that's currently being reviewed by the European Union's competition committee. [The Wall Street Journal]
  • Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbo and Working Title Films confirmed the rumors that Martin Scorsese will direct the film version of Nesbo's very scary, very Norwegian serial killer thriller The Snowman. Nesbo, who had director approval, told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that he won't make Scorsese and screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan retain the book's Oslo setting, which is bad news for people who want to hear Leonardo DiCaprio try an unconvincing Scandinavian accent. [Dagens Nyheter via The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Nora Roberts sold 10 million books last year. That means 34 copies of her books are sold every minute. She's not exactly ashamed of the fact that it takes her 45 days to write one of her romance titles. "Every book read for pleasure should be celebrated," she says in a  new profile. "And novels that celebrate love, commitment, relationships, making relationships work, why isn't that something to be respected?" Especially when they can do it quickly. [The  Guardian]
  • Guardian columnist Zoe Williams writes that her interest in reading fiction has "fallen off a cliff" during the global recession and apparently she's not alone. A glimpse at Penguin's catalogue for next year reveals 2012 may go down as the year of the economics book. "Every second [title]," writes Williams, "is about money, how it works, how it doesn't work and how soon it will end." Why? Well, people are interested in the global economy. But Williams alsomakes the point the retreat from novels is a response to fiction's "continuing fear of saying anything useful, for fear of not sounding literary enough." The result is fiction unconnected to recent history.
  • Fantasy author Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods and Coraline, was a good sport playing himself on The Simpsons last night, even though he had to go pick up pizza, make tuna salad, and fend off knife attacks. In the pantheon of Simpsons literary guest stars, Gaiman's performance ranks somewhere between John Updike, who was the ghostwriter on Krusty the Klown's memoir back in a 2000 episode, and Tom Wolfe, who played a shouting, petulant version of himself in 2006. [io9]

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