Slate's New Book Review; Japan's Impossible E-Book Quota

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Today in publishing and literature: Slate's new book review section goes live, The Day of the Triffids is getting the Sam Raimi treatment, and Japan's publishers set a lofty and impractical goal for e-book production.

Slate posted a preview of its new book review section on Friday. The section will go up on the first Saturday of the month, and they're not going light on the content. The first issue contains 13 pieces, and The New York Times says the endeavor will "nearly triple the number of book-related articles that Slate publishes." It's always nice to have more writing about books available online, and the decision to publish monthly seems like a shrewd one. When reading newspapers and blogs that devote daily coverage to literature, it's not uncommon to see the same essay about how digital readers are turning us into erotic science-fiction enthusiasts, because nobody on the bus can tell what you're reading, prominently featured on a site for days for several days. [The New York Times]

The Day of the Triffids, author John Wyndham's hugely scary 1951 novel about giant three-legged plants taking over the world -- which for some reason this bloghand's father thought would be a terrific bedtime story to read to an 8-year-old -- is going to be Sam Raimi-shepherded movie. We won't be able to see it, because we still have nightmares about giant plants whipping us with vines when we eat too much ice cream before bed, but best of luck to Raimi and whoever he gets to direct. One word of advice: don't make the blinding scenes too gross. [The Guardian]

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James Atlas -- the president of independent publishing house Atlas & Company and creator and editor of the well-regarded Penguin Lives series -- is said to be joining up with Amazon Publishing. Sources say Atlas & Co. has "stopped releasing frontlist titles" and that as part of his deal with Amazon, Atlas will "publish a series of short biographies" similar to the Penguin Lives line, which was brilliant (Roy Blount, Jr. on Robert E. LeeLarry McMurtry on Crazy Horse!) but discontinued after only 22 volumes. Atlas wasn't around to confirm the news, but a W.W. Norton spokesperson said that the company, which has distributed Atlas titles since 2002, will continue distributing the Atlas backlist but that “he’s not publishing new titles with us" [Publishers Weekly]

180 Japanese book publishers are banding together to create 1 million e-books. Sales of digital readers in Japan have been notably sluggish, so maybe this will help bolster national interest in digital books. But 1 million books -- that's a lot. Robin Birtle, founder of the Tokyo-based Sakkam Press admits the plan, if successful, "would "revolutionize the market here," but notes that it is "difficult to take that number seriously given that it has taken the Japanese publishers nine years to reach their current total of well under 100,000 mainstream books." [The Bookseller via Teleread]

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