Between the Covers 03/03/2013

Your weekly guide to what's really going on in the world of books

While Matt Stone and Trey Parker have switched genres from smartarse cartoons to musical theatre (their The Book of Mormon opened in the West End last week), the writer of Beavis and Butt-Head is also celebrating success in a different format. Geoff Rodkey is one of the authors shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Book Prize – in his case in the five- to 12-year-old category, for his debut novel, Deadweather and Sunrise. The prize is a prestigious one, which can transform the fortunes of a writer. Huh huh huh huh – that rules.

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EL James's next novel "won't be nearly so raunchy – and I will probably write it under another name," she said at the Vanity Fair Oscars party. Never mind: each week Between the Covers receives at least one blatant rip-off of her Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. We won't name names, but we do admire EL James for having not just one original idea, but potentially two. In the meantime, the only Shades of Grey spin-off worth reading is Fifty Shelves of Grey: A Selection of Great Books Erotically Remastered, by Vanessa Parody (Constable & Robinson, £8.99). Unlike the cringe-inducing saucified Jane Eyres etc, whose authors one wants to beat with a paddle, but not in a good way, it adds some wit to the currently fashionable mix of classic literature and bad soft porn. For instance, one story begins: "Big Brother is watching you … Big Brother likes to watch." Also, one of its pseudonymous co-authors plays Brenda Tucker in The Archers.

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Another point to books in the ongoing battle between paper and electronic reading. Last week Amazon announced a new update for its Kindle e-Reader device, and promptly asked users not to install it because it erases the Kindle's entire library of ebooks. Provided the paid-for books are backed up in cloud storage, they can be reinstalled. But there is nothing we can think of that pops into your house and deletes an entire library of real books, unless it is a fire or a particularly literate burglar.

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Thanks to mentalfloss.com for collecting the top "9 Very Specific Rules From Real Libraries" from around the world. "Keep the door closed due to bats" and "No balloons in the library" are self-evident, of course. "No bathing" seems a strange rule, and "No re-shelving, even by library majors" is clearly the result of some fraught discussions between professional librarians and enthusiastic amateurs. But "No unzipped clothes"? We know that literature is sexy (NOT in a Fifty Shades of Grey way!) but what do these people think a library is for?

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Thanks also to buzzfeed.com for its beautiful collection of photographs of beautiful book collections in libraries, book shops, and real people's homes. Between the Covers would be happy to move into the Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice, but is relieved not to be the first to comment on the gorgeous bookshelves arranged around somebody's bathtub. They're beautiful, but won't all the paper get damp?

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