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Today in publishing and literature: Independent bookstores are taking a page out of Amazon's and wading into the world of publishing, a look at Iran's literary prizes, and a very thorough guide to the best books coming out over the next year.

The Millions has compiled a very thorough 2012 book preview that's worth bookmarking, and maybe even printing out for future reference. Heavy-hitters Martin Amis, Michael Chabon, Toni Morrison, Hilary Mantel, Paul Theroux all have new novels slated for release , while Jonathan Franzen has another essay collection and William Gibson is releasing his first collection of non-fiction pieces. Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro, meanwhile, is finally done with the fourth installment of his rapidly expanding chronicle of the 36th president's life. [The Millions]

Amazon is gobbling up big-name authors and self-publishing upstarts at a rapid rate, but more and more independent bookstores are at least trying to punch back by setting up publishing arms. The logic is that  if Amazon is going to offer better prices and more inventory, they have to offer customers something they can't get anywhere else. It's a stopgap measure, but it does allow independent bookstores to again serve as "de facto community centers and literary recommenders," instead of just being the place with very expensive hardback books. [Salon]

Walter Dean Myers has been a National Book Award finalist three times and twice been awarded the Newbery Honors prize, which is probably the most prestigious award there is in children's literature, except for maybe the Caldecott. It makes sense, therefore, that the Library of Congress would choose him to be the country's third-ever Ambassador for Children's Literature. What the job entails of is rather vague: officially, he's supposed to spend his two-year term working to "raise national awareness about the importance of young people's literature in getting young readers off to a good start." As largely ceremonial positions go, that sounds like a tough one. [Publisher's Weekly]

Book prizes are alike all over, even in Iran, which gives out ten literary awards every year. The Jalal award is the big money one, while Gam-e-Aval Award, which was established to give rural writers a chance at recognition, since the Gam-e-Aval award kept going to fancy writers from cities. As usual, everyone's vaguely uneasy about whether pitting authors against each other for money somehow cheapens their work, while also pointing all the authors who have to toil without recognition, because their isn't a prize in their specialty.  [IBNA]


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