J.K. Rowling Is Writing a Potter Encyclopedia; The Pulitzer Blame Game

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Today in books and publishing: J.K. Rowling isn't done with Harry Potter completely, the jurors for the Pulitzer's fiction prize explain why they're not to blame for the lack of a winner, and what DOJ's settlements with three publishers means for the way you buy e-books in the coming months.

J.K. Rowling next book may be a decidedly unmagical look at parish politics in rural England, but she's not forgetting fans of the Harry Potter books altogether. In an announcement posted to Pottermore, Rowling says she has begun work on "an encyclopaedia of Harry’s world." Rowling predicted that canonizing all magical knowledge would "be a time-consuming job," and added that all the royalties generated by the book -- whenever it does arrive -- will be donated to charity.  [Pottermore via Arts Beat]

Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed the cover image from his upcoming autobiography Total Recall on Twitter Monday. The black-and-white says "I used to be governor and this is serious business," but the open-collar black shirt and title lifted from one of his former movies -- the one in which a three-breasted Martian prostitute features prominently -- says "This is Arnold the actor's memoir." Hm, mixed signals. The book, cowritten by Fortune magazine editor Peter Petre, comes out in October.   [Jacket Copy]

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Nobody was more surprised by the decision not to award a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction than NPR Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan, one of three jurors for the books prize, along with author Michael Cunningham and Susan Larson, former books editor of the The Times-Picayune. After reading about 300 novels each over the course of six months," the judges picked three finalists: David Foster Wallace's The Pale King, Karen Russell's Swamplania!, and Denis Johnson's Train Dreams. This list was then submitted to the Pulitzer board, made up of 20 journalists and academics. The 18 voting members must "come to a majority vote on the winner." That didn't happen this year, for the first time since 1977. Sig Gissler, administrator of the Pulitzer prizes, points out this happened 11 times prior to 1977, so the judges shouldn't feel as if they failed, but Corrigan is still hopping mad about the entire situation. "The obvious answer is to let the [jury] pick," she argues. "We’re the people who have gone through the 300 novels. All the board is asked to do is to read three top novels that we’ve given to them." [Book Beast]

What should the book-buying public expect now that three publishers -- Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster -- sued by the Department of Justice for allegedly colluding to fix the price of e-books have settled? Plummeting e-book prices, but not until June, because if Justice's settlement is approved, it will be followed by a 60 day "comment period." When that's over, the settling publishers seven days to terminate existing deals with Apple and any contracts with the likes of Barnes & Noble or Amazon that have language limiting "an e-book retailer’s ability to set the retail price of any e-book.” Once new contracts are in place with retailers, the discounting can start. There's disagreement as to just how steeply Amazon will discount titles from Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins, though Paid Content's Laura Hazard Owen predicts "shockingly cheap bestsellers from those publishers — think massive summer promotions where big titles by authors like James Patterson, Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks are $1.99." Another big change on the horizon: you may soon see e-books used in all kinds of sales promotions, like "bundles or buy-one-get-one-free promotions." DOJ argued the agency pricing model made these kinds of special deals unfeasible for retailers. Under the terms of the settlement, Owen suggests retailers "could bundle frontlist and backlist titles from those publishers for a flat fee. or "offer a free e-book with the purchase of a print book" or "offer, say, romance or mystery bundles with titles from multiple publishers."   [Paid Content]

Poet Michael Tolkien --  "the eldest grandson of [J.R.R. Tolkien]" -- have signed a deal with London's Thames River Press to write two novels "based on classic children's stories." The audiobook version will be read by Gerald Dickens -- "the great-great grandson of Charles Dickens." That's right: Dickens and Tolkien—together at last! (Kind of!) The first story, Wish, is based on Flourence Bone's 1923 story "The Rose-Coloured Wish." The second, Rainbow, is based on a 1910 novel The Other Side of the Rainbow. Both books will come out in the fall. [The Bookseller]

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