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Reinventing the bookstore

A man in a book shop

(Photo: Corbis)

The best arts and literature reads, including a bold proposal for the future of bookselling, the man behind an elaborate Dickens hoax and Clive James on Dan Brown.

Reinventing the bookstore
Virginia Postrel | Bloomberg View | 15 July 2013
People still want to browse, so monetise that. “Separate the discovery and atmospheric value from the book-warehousing function. Make them smaller, with the inventory limited to curated examination copies — one copy per title. Charge for memberships that entitle customers to hang out, browse the shelves, buy snacks and use the Wi-Fi. Give members an easy way to order books online.”

An interview with David Mitchell
Dolan Morgan, Florian Duijsens & Lee Yew Leong | Asymptote | 15 July 2013
Novelist explains why he and his wife have translated from Japanese the memoir of an autistic boy; because they themselves have an autistic son, and this book, The Reason I Jump, does a good job of explaining autism from the inside. “People who don’t have autism know so little about life with autism, because this knowledge is so hard to communicate. If it wasn’t so hard, it wouldn’t be autism.”

Lunch with Cory Doctorow
Tim Harford | Financial Times | 12 July 2013
Conversation with sci-fi writer and Boing-Boing blogger. Self-recommending, as Tyler Cowen might say. “I arrive at Hawksmoor 10 minutes early, he’s there already, sipping sparkling water at the bar and reading a book. He’s wearing thick-rimmed spectacles worthy of Eric Morecambe, a Disney ‘Haunted Mansion’ T-shirt, and a jacket; he’s 41 but looks younger. Did I mention that I have a tiny crush on Cory Doctorow?” (Metered paywall)

Summertime
Charles Simic | New York Review of Books | 12 July 2013
Poet’s notebook. Every paragraph alive and beautiful. “Tonight, it looks like they are celebrating someone’s golden wedding anniversary in one of the constellations in the sky. I can tell because the ladies up there are wearing a lot of expensive jewelry.”

The heroic absurdity of Dan Brown
Clive James | Prospect | 11 July 2013
Review of Inferno. “As a believer in the enjoyably awful, I would recommend this book wholeheartedly if I could. But it is mainly just awful. In the publishing world they have a term, ‘pull line’, which means the few words of apparent praise that you can sometimes pull out of a review however hostile. Let me supply that pull line straight away, ready furnished with quotation marks: ‘The author of The Da Vinci Code has done it again’.”

A job of work
Luc Santé | New York Review of Books | 10 July 2013
Another, irresistible, 50th-anniversary staff reminiscence. “The scale of the office was intimate and I sat right in the middle of it, generally invisible to the great and the good who passed by. I imagined an early scene in some novel, maybe by Dreiser: the young clerk at his desk, his pen suspended in midair as he observes this or that eminence on parade: Isaiah Berlin, Lincoln Kirstein, Joan Didion, the debonair Murray Kempton, V. S. Pritchett.”   

The man behind the Dickens hoax
Stephen Moss | Guardian | 10 July 2013
Conversation with an embittered north London writer called Arnold Harvey, who fooled Dickens scholars and biographers for a decade by confecting a meeting between Dickens and Dostoyevsky in 1862. He also claims credit for fabricating a host of published academic writers, and a Latvian poet called Janis Blodnieks.

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