Between The Covers: 06/03/2011

Your weekly guide to what's really going on inside the world of books
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The Independent Culture

In the world's first "fully immersive reading venue", lovers of David Mitchell's brilliant bestseller The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet are about to be offered a true superfan's experience of a lifetime: total, wraparound, multisensory Mitchell.

David Mitchell's Immersive Reading Room will be situated near the Mulberry Gate at the Old Spitalfield Market, east London, from Tuesday 15 until Saturday 19 March, between 9.30am and 7pm. It combines green tea with Edo Japanese materials and finishes, and there will be a special guest appearance by Mitchell on Wednesday 16 March, it is supposed to be "the ultimate environment in which to experience the novel", which is set on the Japanese island of Dejima in 1799. The room even offers "sounds and smells designed to transport readers to the world of Dejima", though one hopes not the smell of the monkey in the first scene. To mark the paperback launch on 17 March, the publisher, Sceptre, hopes to recruit 1,000 readers – The Thousand Readers of Jacob de Zoet – to review the novel at www.thousand readers.com. They will receive a signed copy of a limited edition paperback. Mitchell hopes visitors will find "the visuals transporting, the sounds intriguing, and the tea (definitely) divine. As for the smells? We'll wait and see."

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One hundred and seventy-five Exceptional Women in Publishing met earlier this month at EWIP's annual conference in San Francisco to talk about publishing, technology and the female brain. The concern among US publishers, apparently, is that women will not embrace ebooks and new technology because "women want tools; men want toys". And, whereas women do relatively well in the publishing world, they are virtually absent from the boards of technology companies. EWIP has a legitimate concern, but before they go any further they should read Delusions of Gender by the psychologist and neuroscientist Dr Cordelia Fine. In it, she argues pretty convincingly that women's brains are absolutely identical to men's. The book is just out in paperback, published by Icon Books (£8.99).

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Thanks to the Technium technology blog for a graph illustrating when the Amazon Kindle will be free. By charting the device's price reductions since February 2009, it predicts that the price will reach zero in November this year. Kevin Kelly, former editor of Wired, claims to have pointed this out to Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who "merely smiled and said, 'Oh, you noticed that!' And then smiled again." A free ebook reader with, say, 10 ebook purchases? Now that's more like it.

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Molly Parkin's memoir, Welcome to Mollywood (Beautiful Books, £18.99), was last year's word-of-mouth success, with this paper's round-up of the year's best celebrity memoirs singling it out for special praise for its rollercoaster of risqué sex scenes, among other treats. Now the same publisher is re-releasing some long lost erotic fiction written by Parkin in the 1970s and 1980s, including Breast Stroke, Purple Passages and Full Up. The books will be released only as ebooks, starting this month, and we're told that publishers are in secret talks to turn them into a TV series, too. "I love technology," says a tickled Parkin. "I may be 80, but I'm always on email and texting on my mobile phone. I'm just thrilled that a whole new online generation will be able to download and read, surreptitiously if necessary, the adventures of Big Brad, Lionel Striving, Ulysses Uphill and Moo Moffat-Paw."

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