Today in publishing and literature: The hastily written Whitney Houston e-books aren't racing up the Kindle bestseller charts, a former Politico reporter signs a deal to write the year's least subtle roman à clef, and a Valentine's Day reading compromise, courtesy of W. Somerset Maugham.
It's been three days since the death of Whitney Houston, but already there are 14 new Kindle e-books about the singer available for purchase. The content varies wildly from book to book. There are "unauthorized biographies, hastily stitched together." (One is comprised solely of Wikipedia pages and costs $3.99.) Another is "comprised of fan tributes," while others include "a 10-page handwriting analysis, a German edition of a gossipy book about Houston and ex-husband Bobby Brown, and a book of new poems about her." So far, none of the quickie texts has cracked the Amazon Top 100, though one -- Whitney Houston We Love You Forever -- hit number 16 in the music biographies subcategory yesterday, but has since plummeted to number 42. [Jacket Copy]
Slate staff writer Farhad Manjoo has reached a deal to write a book called Masters of Our Universe, based on "The Great Tech War of 2012," an article he wrote for Fast Company last year. Apparently, Simon & Schuster will pay Manjoo a figure in the "mid-200s" -- that would be hundreds of thousands of dollars -- for the book, which according to Publisher's Lunch is all about Facebook, Apple, Google, and Amazon "battling for dominance of our lives." At The New York Observer, Foster Kamer points out the irony in Manjoo's soon-to-be imminent book tour since, in December, Manjoo wrote a piece for Slate demolishing the entire concept of a neighborhood bookstore, calling them "the least efficient, least user-friendly, and most mistakenly mythologized local establishments you can find." Hopefully, independent booksellers will forgive him. [The New York Observer]