The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and direct from this site:


Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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The Tunnel

Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

A group read of the book that either "engenders awe and despair" or "[goads] the reader with obscenity and bigotry," or both. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Naked Singularity

Summer Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Life Perec

Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Last Samurai

Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

A group read of one of the '00s most-lauded postmodern novels. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Tale of Genji

The Summer of Genji

Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

Your Face Tomorrow

Your Face This Spring

A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

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Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

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Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


  • A Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

Ebooks: Catastrophe or Opportunity?

While I was at Blue Met last week, Chad had some interesting things to say about how Amazon selling ebooks at $9.99 was something that publishers could definitely make a profit off. He was making a lot of sense—basically that at 70% of $9.99, publishers would be earning more per ebook than they’re currently getting per print book.

But now Jason Epstein says this at the NYR Blog. So, would be interested in seeing Chad’s rebuttal.

The problem began when Amazon set out to charge $9.99 per e-book download, considerably less than it was paying publishers for their e-book inventory. Since Amazon’s competitors could not afford such a costly strategy, Amazon hoped to dominate (or even monopolize) the e-book market and dictate future e-book pricing. Should Amazon’s $9.99 price become the industry standard—a reasonable assumption since e-books like iTunes are merely disembodied electronic information—publishers might then be obliged to sell e-book content to Amazon for perhaps as little as $6.00, too little to contribute their share of pre-digital legacy costs for warehousing, inventory and traditional marketing. Publishers, unable to support these residual costs by physical book sales alone, might eventually submit to the digital imperative and market their books directly to the web to be read on digital screens or printed on demand one copy at a time at diverse locations. Though Amazon’s strategy, if successful, might force publishers to shrink or even abandon their old infrastructure, demand for physical books, printed and bound, will not disappear. Publishers might thus find it necessary to subcontract their physical inventory to specialized distributors.

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  1. The Hidden Costs of eBooks The Harper Studio Blog makes the case for why ebooks shouldn’t be dirt cheap: There seems to be a common refrain in many discussions of...
  2. Cheap eBooks: Good or Bad? As I idly requested last week, Chad has more fully explained his thoughts on pricing Open Letter's new ebooks at $4.99 for a limited time....
  3. Audiobook Trends Thanks to MP3s, audiobooks are upping their share of the book market. Digital downloads of Naxos’s talking books account for about 12 per cent of...
  4. What Ebooks Can't Do "Are we writing books or producing content that can be reproduced in any form?" asked Ander Monson, a poet and essayist whose "Vanishing Point: Not...
  5. HarperCollins Switches to All-Digital Catalogs MobyLives follows up Rachel Deahl's report in Publishers Weekly with the news that HarperCollins is switching to all-digital catalogs. One of the big publishers —...

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1 comment to Ebooks: Catastrophe or Opportunity?

  • asli secil

    i work for a turkish publishing company, and in 2011 we have rolled out a new series of books that we publish only in the e-book format, without the printed version. the cost of production for an e-book is as follows: usd 3 per page (covering editing, proofreading, and design) + usd 200 usd for cover design. for an average 250-page book, that makes usd 950. we sell all e-books at usd 3. the turkish version of amazon.com sells our books, and charges 45% for that – also discounting 18% vat, our net revenue is usd 1.4 per copy. 30% of that goes to the author. this puts our break-even point at approximately 950 copies. for printed books, when we print 2000 copies, charge usd 9 and pay the author 10%, we get the same breakeven point – 950 copies. so for us it’s a win-win-win situation – the readers are better off (way cheaper books), authors are better off (because even though the price of the e-book is 3 times cheaper than that of the printed book, this is more than compensated for by the 3 times higher royalty percentage and the greater number of e-books sold compared to printed books), and we as the publishers are also better off by the same token. also, once we start selling our own books, the share of books for which we’ll pay 45% to the distributor will decrease, thus lowering our breakeven point drastically.

    this, of course, will be the case in about four or five years, because e-book titles don’t yet sell all that many in turkey. we are footing the bill because we want to have a strong backlist when that time comes.

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