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Today in publishing and literature: The bidding for a rare copy of John James Audubon's Birds of North America is expected to top $10 million, National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward signs a deal for a new novel, and director Chris Columbus is getting into the young adult literature game.

Back in December, The Guardian reported that aales of celebrity memoirs -- nee "arts autobiographies" -- were down for the third straight year, and off 60% from where they were in 2010. For reasons that are unclear to Salon senior writer Laura Miller, many of her commenters seemed to think this was good news. Celebrity memoirs, she points out, have been around for 100 years and aren't going after the same readership as Big Important Books. Memoir-bashing, in the end, is for people who "enjoy their theatrical disgust with the state of American culture and society." Everyone else, Miller writes, should feel free "frown vaguely, shrug and keep walking toward the shelves with the real books." [Salon]

A copy of John James Audubon's Birds of North America is expected to sell for somewhere in the $7 million to $10 million range when it goes up for auction at Christie's in New York City later this month. Back in 2010, a copy sold for  £7.3 million (roughly $11.25 million) at Sotheby's in London, setting a new price record for a single book. Why is it so desired? Because it's rare and beautiful. Audubon only produced 120 copies of the book -- which is three-feet tall and two-feet wide and features 435 hand-drawn illustrations -- exist. [The Guardian]

Director Chris Columbus has signed a deal with HarperCollins to co-author a three--book young adult fantasy series called House of Secrets.  Columbus made a fine hash out of the first two Harry Potter films, but he did direct Adventures in Babysitting and write the screenplay for Young Sherlock Holmes, two of the better kid-based adventure movies to comes out of the 1980s. We'll admit  the set-up for the series-- a bunch of plucky kids move into a haunted mansion in San Francisco with a reclusive horror novelist and Things Start Happening  -- has our inner 11-year-old cautiously intrigued. The first installment is slated to be published next spring.   [HarperCollins]

Jesmyn Ward, who emerged from relative obscurity last year to win the National Book Award for fiction for her novel Salvage the Bones, has reached a deal with Bloomsbury to write a follow-up. Like Salvage the Bones, the untitled novel will be set in the not-real town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, which looks like it's going to be Ward's Yoknapatawpha County. [The New York Observer]

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