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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You Say

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  • Andrija F.: And don't forget to add Elfriede Jelinek, my favorite among
  • Richard: If you search for this Chris Roberts, God being on Amazon (y
  • Seamus Duggan: READ MARILYNNE ROBINSON!!!!! No encouragement needed, althou

Group Reads

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

New Books
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.


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

Why Be An Amazon Affiliate?

Max runs down some reasons why he uses Amazon for his book links on The Millions. I don't want to rehash all his points, but I agree with all of them, and if this is something you think about, you should see what he says. Basically, this is the heart of the matter:

When it is suggested that we link to an "indie" when we link to books, the implication is that The Millions is a shopping site and that we can by our linking policy direct people where to shop. But the reality is that The Millions,
like many sites that affiliate with Amazon, has an editorial rather
than an "advertorial" mission, and one reason we link to Amazon is
because it offers the most information about the books we write about,
whether we recommend them or deplore them them. As long-time blogger Matthew Cheney put it recently, "I want a link to give you the most information and options with the fewest clicks."

To his list of reasons, I'll also add one more: reporting. Hands down, Amazon gives me the most information about how I'm doing as an affiliate. With Amazon I can get up-to-the-day sales info and also track it historically. I can know which links are working, how many people clicked what, how they got to the page (although everything is kept completely anonymous). This is a great source of info: for one thing, it has absolutely helped me fine-tune how I use links on this site. For another, I've discovered many new books this way. And it also lets me know when I've discussed books that people are excited about and when I've bored them.

By contrast, Powell's only gives me sales info, which in my opinion is the bare minimum that anyone offering an affiliate program should think of giving. Any less than that, however, and we have a problem. If you're leaving your affiliates in the dark as to something so basic as how much they're earning off your program, you're failing.

Unfortunately, by that measure IndieBound is failing. I recently added an IndieBound searchbox to give readers the alternative to buy books through IndieBound and still support this site and The Quarterly Conversation, but I am disappointed to say that I have completely no idea if 1 or 10 or 100,000 of you have bought a book through my searchbox. IndieBound offers no way to tell whatsoever. (If Amazon did this I can only imagine the consipracy theories of affiliate-cheating that would be on the Internet right now.)

I will grant IndieBound the fact that it's a new site and will possibly improve this in the future, but I sincerely hope that this functionality is in the works.

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  1. Kindle Sales? After I noted Citi’s suspicious 500,000 sales figure for the Kindle, some commenters from major cities (NYC, Chicago) registered the copious non-presence of Kindles in...
  2. Amazon Fail: The Aftermath Vroman's echoes a point I made about this earlier in the week: Do you want that much power in the hands of one company? Even...
  3. Amazon Can “Wipe Out” Publishers Binky Urban, the agent responsible for a few people you might have heard of (Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, Bret Easton Ellis, etc) is profiled at...
  4. Amazon Purchases Seems like it would be fun and perhaps a bit revealing to check in every so often and see what readers are buying through the...
  5. Amazon Fail: The Online Giant Censors Content? Apropos of my interview with Ted Striphas, I want to discuss the weekend's news that Amazon is/was censoring books with "questionable" content–"questionable" in this case...

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4 comments to Why Be An Amazon Affiliate?

  • Wow did not know IndieBound doesn’t provide that information. My merchant who sells health and beauty products would never allow that to happen because you are basically hiding from your affiliates.

  • I’ve stuck with Amazon for the same reasons. I’d much rather support Powell’s or IndieBound or even LibraryThing, but none of them works nearly as well as Amazon. Another reason is the easy integration with TypePad for creating book list widgets.
    There’s a company called Adaptive Blue that has some sort of book link code that on mouse-over pops up a choice of what store to go to. I looked into it a while back as an alternative but decided it was too heavyweight/obtrusive. Otherwise it’s a nice concept that could help with some of these issues, I think.

  • Kevin,
    Max makes the good point that a lot of indie stores do make money off of Amazon through used and new sales, so helping Amazon does occasionally help them.
    However, how cool would it be if IndieBound could set up a similar interface that indies could use to do the same, but on better terms?
    I think this is the issue: A lot of us sympathize with indies more, and in fact we want a counterweight to Amazon, but the problem is that no one has yet stepped up to offer a service that works nearly as well. Amazonfail revealed a lot of pent up anger, and a Barnes & Noble, or a consortium of indies, could definitely take advantage of that sentiment if they created a service that could seriously compete with Amazon.

  • Thanks for addressing this. I responded to Max’s post so I won’t repeat it here, but since you raised some additional concerns I wanted to respond to those as well.
    About two weeks ago we made some updates to our affiliate program and let everyone know that online sales tracking is coming soon. Previously a report was sent along with payment. Now we’re undergoing a huge migration for all ABA IndieCommerce sites to an open-source platform, and online options for tracking and reporting will be available once enough sites have transitioned. We’re also working on widgets for affiliate links, and hope to work with WordPress and TypePad on integrating that code into their templates.
    Regarding used book sellers: some indies sell used books through AbeBooks; that’s their choice. Many sell through Alibris, an alternative site. We couldn’t provide an avenue for ABA member stores to compete with each other on price, which is the nature of those sites. IndieBound is for new books only, and that won’t change.
    Thanks for including us as an alternative search. Like I wrote to Max, independents aren’t asking for exclusivity, only to be included as a choice. IndieBound.org is a huge, ongoing project that we’re constantly working on, so feedback is helpful.

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