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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fox News joust boosts book sales

Posted: 08/24/2013 3:17 AM | Comments: 0

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Did Fox News accidentally make itself the new Oprah?

Millions of Facebook and other social media users have watched a clip of University of California creative writing professor Reza Aslan wiping the floor with Fox host Lauren Green when she started a typical attack interview by asking how a Muslim could write a book about Jesus.

Within a week of the interview, Aslan's book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, had shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list.

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Publishers and booksellers reacted with a mixture of shock and despair last week when President Barack Obama visited an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee to celebrate the company for "investing in American workers and creating good, high-wage jobs."

The book industry blog Shelf Awareness collected responses from booksellers urging the president to speak out against Amazon's business practices, which have used deep discounts and poor working conditions in warehouses to dominate the industry.

Dennis Johnson, founder of the publishing house Melville House, used his blog to accuse the U.S. government of cosying up to a monopoly and concluded that Obama's Amazon visit was proof that "the good guys have lost."

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Another mid-sized Canadian publisher is gone, but this time there's a silver lining for the Canadian literary community.

Thomas Allen Publishers was sold to Dundurn Press, effective Aug. 1. Dundurn, founded in 1971, is a Canadian company that publishes fiction in a variety of genres and a wide range of books on historical, public policy and other subjects.

Thomas Allen Publishers was established in 2000, and published a variety of Canadian writers including last year's Rogers Writers Trust winner Tomas Dobozy, poet-novelist Priscilla Uppal and military historian Ted Barris. Thomas Allen and Son will continue its book distribution business.

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It took a procrastinating husband and a dedicated publisher, but a 14-year-old mystery novel by Winnipeg author Karen Dudley is finally available as an ebook.

Dudley writes on her blog about receiving a desperate plea from an Illinois woman whose husband needed to read Dudley's mystery novel Hoot to Kill for an upcoming course. The husband was late picking up his books, no nearby bookstores had the novel, and there was no ebook available for download.

Dudley passed the message on to Jamis Paulson, her publisher at Winnipeg's Turnstone Press, who solved the procrastinator's dilemma by working until 2:30 a.m. to turn old production files of the novel into an ebook that could be downloaded from Amazon.

"I honestly don't know of any larger house that would have done what Janis did this past week," Dudley wrote afterwards.

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Hurry up and get your summer reading finished. It looks like a busy literary autumn.

A preview of the fall literary offerings on the American literary website The Millions contains plenty of tantalizing offerings, including a new work by Thomas Pynchon, set in New York's Silicon Alley at the time of the dot-com crash; the first non-Botswana novel by the slow-writing American genius Norman Rush; a 65-year-old journal of meditations by Flannery O'Connor being published for the first time; Stephen King's sequel to The Shining; a return to fiction by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love; and, of course, Margaret Atwood's third in her series of apocalyptic speculative fiction novels.

booknewsbob@gmail.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2013 A1

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