It seems that Amazon is running into a lot of problems lately, and their fight with Hachette is not helping the situation.  Independent book stores, and chains such as Barnes & Noble are taking advantage of the situation, and some people – including both customers and authors – are even calling for a boycott of the retailing giant.  To make things worse, Amazon lost more money last quarter than expected with the result that its stock fell by ten percent the day the second quarter results were released.  Another problem is that the big five book publishing houses – Penguin Random House Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schusster – are absent from Amazon’s new e-book service, Kindle Unlimited, so some or asking if the service is worth the monthly fee.  NPR recently ran a story about this particular issue.

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The tumblr My Public Lands is a great place to view photos of some of the most beautiful nature sites in the entire United States.  The photos were taken by employees of the Bureau of Land Management unless otherwise credited.  Also, don’t miss the Washington Post’s photo gallery entitled 19 Photos That Will Make You Appreciate America.

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The Blazing World

As I reported in a recent post, the Man Booker Prize, the U.K.s premier literary award, is now open to novelists from around the world so long as their works are written in English.  The longlist of nominated novelists is now out, and five of the thirteen novels in the running were written by American authors.  They are: Joshua Ferris, Karen Joy Fowler, Siri Hustvedt, Richard Powers and Irish-American writer Joseph O’Neill.

Here is the complete list of nominees:

  • To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (Viking)
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)
  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail)
  • The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)
  • J,  Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)
  • The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)
  • The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
  • The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)
  • Us, David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • The Dog, Joseph O’Neill (Fourth Estate)
  • Orfeo, Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)
  • How to be Both, Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)
  • History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)

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Bill Hillman, who wrote a book about how to keep from being gored by a bull, was gored by a bull in the most recent “running of the bulls” in Pamplona, Spain.  He was later interviewed by NPR.

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My Life and Hard Times

Need a few good laughs?  The staffers at Publisher’s Weekly have chosen their favorite humorous books, and the list, which includes both Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh, is quite diverse.

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The Crossword Century

Washington Post book reviewer, Jonathan Yardley recently reviewed The Crossword Century: 100 Years of Witty Wordplay, Ingenious Puzzles, and Linguistic Mischief by Alan Connor.  Concerning British crossword puzzles Yardley has this to say: “This review has emphasized the American aspects of the puzzle, but Connor goes on at some length about the cryptic puzzles so beloved of British solvers. He does acknowledge that ‘the clues in a British crossword [can] appear to be the kind of gobbledegook from which only a masochist could derive the slightest pleasure,’ but he insists that anyone can solve a British cryptic puzzle if only she or he will just try. Believe me, I have tried, and I can’t, and I won’t try again. Life is too short.”  If you doubt what Yardley says, try the British crossword puzzles at The Guardian and The Mirror.  Good luck.

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The Road

I am intrigued by authors who can write a complete novel (or even a short story) without ever giving the name of one of the main characters.  How many works like that can you name?  Flavorwire has created a list of ten compelling works of literature with unnamed protagonists.

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The next edition of the live author interview program In-Depth on Book TV (C-SPAN2) will air Sunday, August 3, 2014 from noon to 3:00 p.m. ET.  The featured guest will be former presidential candidate and U.S. congressman Ron Paul.  His books include Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom, End the Fed, and The Case for Gold.

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