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I used to do more reporting on cool news related to publishing, writing, book retail, etc., but I’ve moved away from that in the last year or two because time didn’t allow it. I’m not that much less busy than I have been, but I’ve decided to make a more concerted effort to share some interesting articles and tidbits I come across. The tentative goal is to do a short weekly post that provides some links and commentary. This weekly round-up is not intended to be comprehensive — that would never be possible without having a full-time staff and this is a one-man, unpaid show — and will necessarily be idiosyncratic. Here are some of the interesting book-related things I’ve come across in the last week or so:

SCANDINAVIAN CRIME FICTION: It’s all the rage now. Of course, English-language publishers are trying desperately to find the next GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO, just like they did with HARRY POTTER-esque themed books a few years back. But I’ve read some of the Scandinavian neo-noir, and I like what I’ve seen of it. But it’s hard to know where to begin, because in several of the major series, they have been published out of publication or chronological order in the English-language markets. Here’s a lengthy summary of the major Scandinavian crime novels available in English, along with booklists, original publication orders, and pronunciation guides.

HOW TO WRITE A PULP WESTERN: This is a piece from February 2012, but I just happened upon it, so here you go: a guide to writing pulp western novels by prolific author Ben Haas. I must admit that I have not yet caught the Western bug — the genre has just never resonated with me, and it’s one of the few genres that I can say that about (romance would be another). But a lot of what Haas suggests here resonated with me as a writer, so I wanted to share it. There are many interesting comparisons we could probably make with Lester Dent’s classic pulp novel writing guide. (If you haven’t seen that, you owe it to yourself to at least take a look.) Both Haas and Dent offer very particular formulas for writing pulp fiction. Sure, many consider authors like this “hacks,” a charge I find to be unfair, but say what you will, these guys knew how to churn out books. “Hack” writing doesn’t have to be bad writing.

BAEN EBOOKS TO BE SOLD BY AMAZON: I don’t nearly read as much of Baen Books’ output as I used to — they publish a great deal of fun, military SF — but I was always impressed by their dedication to eBooks. They were one of the first major publishers (and maybe the very first) to embrace eBooks in a serious way. They always emphasized eBooks as a low-cost option, with no annoying DRM that doesn’t deter pirates and just irritates legitimate customers. They always offered lots of free books as well, something we can all appreciate, as well as low-cost book bundles. They are now going to allow Amazon to sell their eBooks. Baen has taken down many of their free offerings as a result of the deal, though they promise to add some new ones in the future. Further evidence of Amazon’s growing monopoly on the sale of eBooks. They’ve practically cornered the market. Should be interesting to see what the eBook market shares are like in a couple years.

NEW LIMITED EDITION STEPHEN KIND PRE-ORDER: Stephen King has a new project that will be releasing this year in a very special limited edition. It’s titled GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY and sounds very interesting. It will be sold as a slipcover, leather-bound hardcover bundled with two CDs and a DVD for $50 from Cemetery Dance. Their Stephen King stuff always increases in value, plus it’s a neat item for completists (I admit that I am a Stephen King completist myself, despite my preference for vintage over recent King).

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