Today in books: Buzz Bissinger's plan to do something nice for a Friday Night Lights character was derailed by Apple and Amazon, a Duke alum vows to expose the "toxic culture" of Wall Street, and Books-A-Million may be going private.
When Buzz Bissinger decided to write a 12,000 word e-book, After Friday Night Lights, for Byliner.com the idea was that one-third of the proceeds generated by sales of the $2.99 title would go to Boobie Miles, the running back whose college football dreams evaporated following a gruesome knee injury documented in Bissinger's original book. Then the vendors screwed it up. In the process, After Friday Night Lights also became much harder -- read: impossible -- for Kindle users to download. The problem, according to David Carr, started when Apple "decided to include e-books in a promotion that it does with Starbucks" and selected Bissinger's title "as a Pick of the Week, giving customers a code they could redeem online for the book." Things managed to get worse when Amazon somehow "interpreted the promotion as a price drop and lowered its price for After Friday Night Lights to exactly zero." This prompted Byliner to "withdraw the book from Amazon’s shelves, saying it did so to 'protect our authors’ interest.'" Byliner's been very careful not to suggest any real, human person at Amazon is to blame for the pricing snafu (Byliner cofounder Mark Bryant blames it on a presumably malfunctioning Amazon "price bot"), but it's a sign, Carr observers, of how Amazon's "tactical aggression lands hard on the people who supply it." Byliner doesn't want to offend Amazon, because they want to continue their working relationship. Bissinger doesn't want to rock the boat because he's got a real book, a big book -- Father's Day -- coming out in a few weeks and there's no upside in antagonizing your biggest vendor. [The New York Times]
It turns out you don't even need to have worked in a morally iffy investment bank to shop a book deal about the horrible corporate culture of a morally iffy investment bank. You just have to intern for one and be horrified -- horrified! -- by what you see. Like Laura Newland. She graduated from Duke in 2010 and is writing a book -- or would like to be writing a book -- about how investment banks confuse impressionable Dukies to "mistake our desire to win the race with a desire for what it is we’re chasing." She also says she "navigated a salacious recruiting process" (like the ancient mariner!) and adds that while she "landed a coveted offer, then turned it down because I had grown disillusioned by a toxic culture." Laura Newland: hero! Sample chapters of her book -- which really should be called Profiles in Courage, even if somebody else already wrote something with that title -- can be found on her personal website. [Deal Book]