J.K. Rowling Is A Rich Lady; Decoding Shakespeare's Scrawl

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Today in books and publishing: A possible settlement between some of the Big Six publishers and the Department of Justice, Pottermore sold an estimated $1.5 million in e-books in its first three days, and a depressing look at an Amazon fulfillment center.

Talks about a possible settlement between publishers and the government stemming from the Department of Justice's e-book price-fixing probe are reportedly "quicken[ing]." Under the terms of the proposed settlement, existing contracts between publishers and e-book vendors would be cancelled, and Amazon would be allowed to discount their prices further, which is good news for people who like cheap books. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple still isn't on-board with the possible settlement, and Macmillan and Penguin are also disinclined to settle. [The Wall Street Journal]

J.K. Rowling -- already a very rich lady -- has become considerably richer since Pottermore went live. Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne (great Harry Potter name) says that the site sold more than £1 million worth of e-books in its first three days. Since the first three books in the series are selling for $7.99 in the Pottermore shop, with the final four installments going for $9.99, Paid Content notes that if you assume "an average price of $9.13, that means around 164,000 copies were sold in the first three days." Which means Rowling and Co. raked in close to $1.5 million in 72 hours. Not bad for an oft-delayed project built around selling people books that they almost certainly already own. [Paid Content]

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This is pretty devastating: the Seattle Times has a big, long look at the inner-workings of one of Amazon's 70 warehouses, or "fulfillment centers" in company-speak. Initially informative and kind of neat, the story takes a turns towards the cataclysmically depressing when we find out that Connie Milby, one of the Amazon "pickers" featured prominently two weeks ago, was fired because her productivity numbers were low. Amazon, we want to keep loving you, but it's hard, what with our favorite authors (and Scott Turow) saying mean things about you, and these stories about how you fire nice ladies in Kentucky.  [The Seattle Times]

The Lazarus Project -- which is both the name of a Paul Walker thriller, and a super-scientific handwriting recognition study being conducted at Ole Miss -- is trying to determine if the chicken scratch pictured above is in fact the signature of William Shakespeare. Why? Lots of reasons. First, to set the historical record straight. Also, to bust all these phony Shakespeare types who have been signing baseballs and making a pretty penny off them at memorabilia shows. Must protect consumers against those unsavory types. [Page Views]

If the (potential) Big Six settlement with the Department of Justice is good news for people like cheap books this, this most certainly is not. Google is going to discontinue its reseller program, which let independent bookstores sell odd and occasionally interesting texts via the Internet behemoth. Starting January 1, the only way to buy books through Google will be by using the balky and confusing Google Play function. [GalleyCat]

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.