Today in books and publishing: Fifty Shades hits another milestone; Anne Rice's cover revamp is courtesy E.L. James; an Olympics novel; no more books in one school; the joy of boring books.
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There is no stopping it, that erotic trilogy that must not be named. This week, it's expected to sell 20 million copies in the U.S., which means it has become "one of the fastest-selling book series in recent memory," writes Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg of The Wall Street Journal. Of course, it's already been one of the fastest-selling book series in recent memory, outselling paperback editions of Harry Potter and hitting the 15 million milestone with ease. Impressive, yes: More impressive are the 31 million English-language copies sold worldwide, and the U.S. revenue of $145 million for the publisher, Vintage. A humble request, then: Say what you will of the qualities of the books, it's clear they're no longer "on their way to becoming this year's pop-culture phenomenon." They're pretty much there. [The Wall Street Journal]
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Shades of Anne Rice. Anne Rice—remember Anne Rice? From before you had ever heard the name E.L. Whatsername?—in 1980 she published her Sleeping Beauty trilogy using the pen name A. N. Roquelaure. Now that trilogy is being reissued with new covers by Penguin imprint Plume; the books also include a new preface from Rice discussing Fifty Shades and what it has done to help lovers of erotic fiction. Each book jacket reads, handily, "If you liked 50 Shades of Grey, you’ll love the Sleeping Beauty trilogy.” [Media Decoder]
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Gene Simmons will be at Comic-Con this week to promote the second Archie/KISS crossover and also to relaunch his Simmons Comic Group. "Only 200 copies of his new Simmons Comics Anthology book will be sold at Comic-Con, but he'll be on hand to debut exclusive art and talk to fans about the three properties that are the beginning of his comic-book universe." Those three properties are two comics, Zipper and Dominatrix, and an anthology called Gene Simmons House of Horrors. Simmons, a self-professed lover of the genre, writes the origin stories for each of his books. [USA Today]
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Your Olympics novel is here. As you eagerly await the start of the 2012 Olympic Games (July 27!) there's a book to tide you over. Chris Cleave's Gold, about two female bicyclists who compete in the Athens, Beijing, and London Olympics, gets its New York Times review. Janet Maslin, not a fan, calls it manipulative—though in fairness, some of the best stories about the Games tend to be exactly that. [The New York Times]
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Required iPad reading. At least one high school—Cathedral High School in Indianapolis—is requiring its students to buy iPads. The school hopes to go book-free by 2016. [IndyStar.com]
Boring books! "What I am after," writes Bruce Handy of his boring book collection in The New York Times, "are books that are uniquely, exquisitely, profoundly boring — books whose boringness intrigues, if that is not a contradiction in terms." There's something for everyone. [New York Times Book Review]