Today in books and publishing: Meet the oddball authority on poetry; e-book prices aren't falling for libraries; not-so-young adults; Anne Carson's new book.
Fatal literary attraction. Literary agents have to pass on manuscripts all the time, and most authors get accustomed to rejection. But some get vengeful instead. That seems to be the case in the recent assault Pam van Hylckama Vlieg sustained in San Francisco. Vlieg is an agent at the Larsen Pomada Literary Agency who maintains an active presence on social media sites, including geolocation site Foursquare. She was in her car when a stranger approached her, wrecking her side mirror, then grabbing and slamming her into the steering wheel. Her dog scared the attacker off, but Vlieg was rattled. After getting in touch with the police, Vlieg recalled a particularly nasty email she received from an author she'd rejected. The cops used this information to trace the assailant who, sure enough, turned out to be the spurned author. Who knew working as a literary agent could be so risky! [Los Angeles Times]
Libraries will pay more for e-books. E-book prices may be falling sharply for consumers after the big settlement three publishers made with the DoJ over alleged e-book price collusion, but libraries are losing out. Hachette has announced that it will raise e-book prices on thousands of its titles by a whopping 220 percent on OverDrive, the service many libraries use to obtain the right to distribute e-books. In February, Random House went even further when they spiked e-book prices by up to 300 percent for libraries. Explaining the increase, a Hachette representative writes, "We believe these terms fairly reflect the value to the library customer, that the ebooks will not need periodic replacement as do print copies, and there is no limit on amount of borrowing activity per ebook copy." Libraries who want to get e-books at current price levels have to act before October 1, when these huge hikes kick in. [Digital Book World]
Stephen Burt, the unusual authority on poetry. When you think about leading voices in the field of poetry, you might call to mind a stern pedant like Harold Bloom, or maybe an amiable but perhaps stuffy professor like Helen Vendler. But why not a cross-dressing WNBA expert who's also fluent in science fiction and indie fandom? That's an apt description of Stephen Burt, a 41-year-old Harvard English professor seen as one of today's leading poetry critics. In his New York Times profile of Burt, Mark Oppenheimer writes, "That Burt sometimes wears a dress and talks hyperkinetically about obscure indie bands like Sarge or the graphic novels of Posy Simmonds has not diminished his influence but enhanced it." In the field of poetry criticism, which skews toward more advanced ages, Burt unpacks poetry's place in the present and "flourishes amid the hipsters and the sonneteers," according to Southwest Review editor Willard Spiegelman. [The New York Times]
Over half of Y.A. books bought by adults. A new study from Bowker Market Research backs up what we knew all along—adults remain the most significant driving factor in the popularity of young adult fiction. The research shows that 55 percent of young adult book buyers are over 18. Twenty-eight percent are over 30. And more often than not they're buying the books for their own enjoyment, not as a gift for a young 'un: 78 percent of surveyed adult Y.A. buyers say they intend to read the books they've purchased themselves. Discussing the biannual report, Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age, Bowker VP Kelly Gallagher says the high number of Y.A. books being consumed on e-readers tipped her off to the fact that a high percentage of teen-lit readers aren't teens. "The investigation into who is reading Y.A. books began when we noticed a disparity between the number of Y.A. e-books being purchased and the relatively low number of kids who claim to read e-books," she says. The Hunger Games series plays a large role in attracting adult readers to Y.A., but Gallagher believes, "our data shows it’s a much larger phenomenon than readership of this single series." [Publishers Weekly]
Anne Carson follows up on Autobiography of Red. Anne Carson's 1998 offering Autobiography of Red was that most rare of books: a best-seller written in verse. Random House has announced that Carson will soon release a sequel, Red Doc, which "takes its mythic boy-hero into the twenty-first century to tell a story all its own of love, loss, and the power of memory." [Poetry Foundation]
DFW endnote generator. Looking for some meticulously researched factoids on absurdly silly topics? This randomized generator of David Foster Wallace endnotes should do the trick. [Hudson Hongo]
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.