The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- A library belonging to a Greek Orthodox priest was torched in Tripoli, Lebanon, last week, according to Agence France-Press. Around two-thirds of the 80,000 books reportedly were destroyed. An unnamed "security source" told the news agency that the fire was started the day after "a pamphlet was discovered inside one of the books at the library that was insulting to Islam and the Prophet Mohammad [PBUH]." The priest, Father Ibrahim Sarouj, told a Lebanese newspaper that he forgives the arsonists, saying, "I am looking for them to tell them that I love them."
- For The New Yorker, Rebecca Mead profiles author Jennifer Weiner, who is also known in literary circles for her kamikaze approach to promoting gender equality: "Jennifer Weiner has two audiences. One consists of the devoted consumers of her books, which have sold more than four and a half million copies. ... Her other audience is made up of writers, editors, and critics. Through her blog and her Twitter account, Weiner has stoked a lively public discussion about the reception and consumption of fiction written by women. This audience is smaller than the one that buys her books, and barely intersects with it. Yet social media have given Weiner a parallel notoriety, as an unlikely feminist enforcer."
- E-book retailer Zola Books has bought Bookish, the book-recommendation site started by publishers Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Penguin. Bookish, which in news reports is rarely divorced from the word "struggling," went through several CEOs in a matter of months before it launched in 2013. Zola CEO Joe Regal told Publisher's Weekly that he would keep on about half of Bookish's staff.
- The five category winners of the 2013 Costa book awards are Kate Atkinson's Life After Life for Best Novel, Nathan Filer's The Shock of the Fall for First Novel, Michael Symmons Roberts' Drysalter for Poetry, Chris Riddell's Goth Girl And The Ghost Of A Mouse for Children's Literature, and Lucy Hughes-Hallett's The Pike for Biography. Each category winner will receive £5,000 (about $8,200). The books will now compete for the Book of the Year prize, which carries a further £30,000 prize (about $49,000).
- Author Gary Shteyngart goes on a walking tour of Queens, N.Y., for The Wall Street Journal: "New York has changed," he says. "It's horrible, it's all Duane Reade and Chase. It gets so dull some days I have to mug myself."