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Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tiny Book

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is mostly an actor, really an Internet enthusiast, but also kind of an author. Confused yet? Well the Hollywood actor — best known for his work in 500 Days of Summer and Inception — has recently released a book, based on a collection of short stories developed on his web site.

Gordon-Levitt started the online production company hitRECord within the last few years. The company is collection of people’s thoughts and personal works of art meshed together. It’s made up of a movies, stories, art, and music. And now Gordon-Levitt has combined the works of his production company into one tiny book, The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1.

Entertainment Weekly recently sat down with Gordon-Levitt to talk about the new book. From the conversation, one can tell Gordon-Levitt is a dreamer, who both loves all forms of art and has a special appreciation for physical books. Go ahead and read the entire interview. I don’t know about you, but it certainly makes me want to grab a copy of this clever, little book.

Get The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories in hardcover for only $9.

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Nasty Amazon Review Has Author Suing

Every once in a while, I come across a story that makes me think “REALLY?!” This is one of those stories.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, a British author is suing someone over a negative book review they wrote on Amazon. Yes, really. Apparently, British libel laws are completely different from those of the United States, and this lawsuit is somewhat warranted there.

Author Chris McGrath is suing Vaughn Jones for writing a review — which has since been removed — of his book The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know. He’s also suing Amazon, Richard Dawkins, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation — for whom Jones also wrote an article.

The article also mentions that Jones could not afford representation. That, and the fact that Britain’s dafamation laws generally work in the favor of the claimant make it seem like McGrath is the likely winner here.

To me, the fact that an author could sue over a bad review is ludicrous. Freedom of speech is an obvious right in the United States, and critical reviews are a daily occurrence. The fact that this could cause an uproar in modern times just blows my mind. What do you guys think?

 

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Bill Gates: Book Critic

Bill Gates is best known for his computer work. But now he’s entering another field: book reviews.

According to this article by the L.A. Times, Gates has been reviewing books on his personal web site, The Gates Notes, since March of this year. It seems that the majority of the books he’s read and reviewed are nonfiction and align with his philanthropic interests, like healthcare, education, and technology. Just a few of the books he’s read include Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools by Steven Brill, Global Warming: The Complete Briefing by John Houghton, and The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa by Deborah Brautigam.

When I first read this article about Gates’ new venture into book reviews, I thought “What does he know? I thought he only knows computers.” But he is a Harvard dropout, and his worldly interests and opportunities have given him a real-life perspective into many of the topics he’s reading about and reviewing. That being said, his reviews are pretty good and eloquently written.

So if you ever get sick of me, just know you can always go to The Gates Notes and see what Bill Gates has to say about the latest nonfiction reads on prevalent social issues.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Author to Pen More Science Nonfiction

When Rebecca Skloot wrote The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, there was no doubt Crown Publishers would have some concerns. After all, science nonfiction is not your typical bestselling genre. But Skloot proved them wrong.

Now almost two years later, Henrietta Lacks has become an award-winning, critically-acclaimed national bestseller. And according to this press release posted on the author’s web site, it seems she has another one on the way.

Skloot announced last month that she’s working on a new science nonfiction book about the “human-animal” bond, as explained in the release.

She will explore, among many other subjects, the neurology of human-animal relationships, human nature and responsibility, and the unexamined ethics of our relationship with animals. A publication date has not yet been set.

With the popularity of Henrietta Lacks to build upon, Skloot is guaranteed to have another bestseller on her hands whenever it’s published — especially since it has to do with animals. As softcore as it sounds, stories about animals sell. And learning about the scientific connection between people and pets or animals not only targets a specific audience, but likely broadens the one Skloot already has.

Get The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks now for just $8.

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Harry Potter E-Books Delayed

There’s been so much attention on J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore web site that we’ve almost forgotten what its true purpose is: selling e-book versions of the Harry Potter series. That’s because the books still aren’t available yet.

And now the Associated Press is reporting they won’t be until 2012. The e-books have been delayed.

The AP says the e-books were supposed to be available come October, but it’s taking management longer than they had anticipated to perfect it.

In a blog posting on the site, “Pottermore” management said registration would be open to everyone from the end of October, and the online store would open in “the first half of 2012.”

The posting said use of the site so far had been “phenomenal,” and the delay would “allow us to focus on our first priority: opening ‘Pottermore’ to as many people as possible and making the experience as good as it can be.”

I’m sure with the issues they’ve had so far on the site, they thought it was simply in their best interest to take their time with the new addition. What do you guys think?

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The Line Between Print Books and E-Books Just Got Cloudy

As e-books continue to become more accessible and convenient, the Amazon Kindle reveals its latest development: the Kindle Cloud Reader.

Much like Apple’s iCloud — which weaves together your Apple products in a way that you can access your apps from whichever platform you choose — the Kindle Cloud Reader will allow readers to access their downloaded books on multiple platforms.

According to the L.A. Times, it will work with Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari. So whatever book you’ve downloaded onto your Kindle may be accessed via desktop or iPad.

That being said, the Kindle Cloud Reader solidifies a friendship between Amazon’s Kindle and Apple. With the app, those who own Kindles and  use Apple products will be able to directly access the Kindle store, instead of the current in-app purchase option, which is subject to additional Apple fees.

To be honest, it sounds a little confusing to me. But the idea of accessing already downloaded Kindle books online or through other platforms is intriguing. What do you guys think?

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Positive Reviews for Pottermore!

If you’re still waiting for the email saying you’ve been chosen to enter the wonderful wizarding world of Pottermore, then you’re wasting your time.

It seems the Sorting Hat has already picked the special few who get an early look at the Harry Potter-infused web site. And so far it’s getting good reviews.

Writers from Huffington Post and Entertainment Weekly got first looks (I’m not sure if that was purely by chance or because they’re writers for Huffington Post and Entertainment Weekly), and it seems they had few bad things to say about it.

The cons: moments of slow connectivity, glitches in hidden content, trouble stirring potions, not much to do upon first entering the site.

The pros: character backgrounds, location histories, excluded plot lines, fun facts (like Hermoine’s last name was originally going to be Puckle), having a wand choose you (and match your personality traits), few ads, House points, House Cup, surprise video clips from J.K. Rowling herself, etc, etc, more fabulousness, etc.

It’s clear that the pros outweigh the cons here. But probably the most interesting thing I learned upon reading the reviews is that only Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone content is available at this point. I suppose content related to the other books will come in due time, but that’s kind of a downer. The good news is…October is just around the corner, and Pottermore will be free to all of us Muggles!

For more, here’s my take on the web site, the Huffington Post review, the Entertainment Weekly review, and more photos from Entertainment Weekly.

**Edit: It has come to my attention that all those who have signed up for Pottermore WILL gain full access to the site prior to October. The site is operating on a rolling admission. Please see comments below.

Get the entire Harry Potter box set in paperback for only $50 — a total savings of 43%.

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Pottermore Challenge is Up and Running

After a month of anticipation, J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore web site is finally underway. Yes, it’s been accessible since June, but now the fun begins.

As I explained last month, Rowling’s Pottermore web site is designed to offer not only e-book versions of the entire Harry Potter series, but also inside information and exclusive details about the world of Harry Potter from the creator herself.

The site does not launch publicly until October, but a number of people will be able to log on sooner. Today through Saturday, people may register on the site for a chance to gain early access. But you must decode Rowling’s clues. New clues will be posted each day, as Rowling explains.

Those of you who would like the chance to gain early access to Pottermore must find The Magical Quill and then submit their registration details. Each day, from 31 July to 6 August, a clue will be revealed here. Solve the clue and you will be taken to The Magical Quill. Be quick, The Magical Quill won’t be there for long and registration will only be open while spaces are still available each day.

Leave it to Rowling to make her web site as suspenseful as the Deathly Hallows.

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Who’s Ready for More Potter?

Oh Harry Potter, how we love you.

After 7 books and (almost) 8 movies, we still want more. And though J.K. Rowling has repeatedly said she won’t be writing anymore Harry Potter books, we’re still getting more Potter, thanks to Pottermore.

Rowling officially announced a new web site Thursday — Pottermore — which would not only allow people to purchase Harry Potter e-books, but also let readers into the mind of Rowling herself. Pottermore will offer never-before-read text about the characters and stories in the books. It will also feature games, wand fights, and what appears to be some sort of virtual map.

Needless to say, it sounds awesome. It debuts July 31st –Harry’s birthday, of course– but only for a select few. Those who want early access must register now and compete for it. For the rest of the universe, the site will go public in October.

Pottermore will be the only place for people to purchase e-book versions of the successful series. (Though they will be compatible with Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader, and Apple’s iPad.) Understandably, bookstores and other e-book retailers (ie Amazon) are upset to not have been included in what will surely be one helluva money-maker for Rowling. But retailers hope, and I agree, that it will probably once again boost paper copies of the series.

The true beauty of the Harry Potter series is that it sparked an interest in reading for children and adults. Who’s to say that it can’t continue to do that 14 years later?

For ALL the information about Pottermore, click here.

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