JAMES FRANCO TO STAR IN STEPHEN KING SERIES

James Franco, who got his start on 1999’s cult-favorite TV show Freaks and Geeks, is set to return to the small screen. He’ll star as Jake Epping in the Hulu original series 11/22/63, based on Stephen King’s 2011 novel.

Described as “part thriller, part love story,” the series follows the life of a high school English teacher enlisted in a time travel plot to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Franco shouldn’t have trouble finding inspiration for his teacher role – the actor is currently teaching courses at UCLA, CAL ARTS and USC.

J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions is producing the nine-hour series. Craig Erwich, Hulu’s Senior Vice President, Head of Content, wrote on the site’s blog: “This direct-to-series order marks a monumental deal for Hulu as we partner with J.J. Abrams and Stephen King, two of the most celebrated storytellers of our time.

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A Sense of Place ~ Show Feb 28 and March 1

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“Love and Treasure” by Ayelet Waldman
“Sweetland” by Michael Crummey
“Leaving Before the Rains Come” by Alexandra Fuller
“The Leaving of Things” by Jay Antani
“The Amber Keeper” by Freda Lightfoot
“The Moonlight Palace” by Liz Rosenberg
“Three Daughters” by Consuelo Saah Baehr

INTERVIEW
Francine Prose, Author

TUNE IN TO THE PROGRAM FOR
A spotlight on books where the setting comes alive – creating a sense of place as central to the story as the main characters. Today Elaine speaks with Francine Prose, whose “Lovers at the Chameleon Club” conjures up Paris, 1932.

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Amazon To Take Over The Campus Bookstore At UMASS

The campus bookstore, a seeming anachronism in the digital age, will soon become history at the University of Massachusetts. Starting next fall, students at the flagship Amherst campus will buy almost all textbooks from Amazon.com. The online retail giant has struck a deal with UMass to replace an on-campus “textbook annex.” UMass officials hope the arrangement will save students money.

“We really recognize that textbooks and course materials are a major expense for students, and those have continued to go up over time,” said Ed Blaguszewski, UMass spokesman. “This is about convenience and saving money for students.” Amazon told UMass that it could save students an average of 31 percent, or $380 annually, compared with prices at the old store. The Amazon system will offer students access to digital textbooks and, for old-fashioned ink-and-paper texts, free one-day delivery to addresses on campus and apartments in nearby towns. Students can also pick up texts, ordered online, at an Amazon-staffed storefront in the campus center that’s set to open in June. The Amazon system will also be integrated into the school’s course-selection software, letting students see exactly which books they need to buy for each class they are registered to take.

Under terms of the five-year deal, the online retailer will pay UMass Amherst a 2.5 percent commission on most sales to students through the school’s dedicated Amazon storefront. The company has agreed to pay at least $375,000, $465,000, and $610,000 in the first three years, respectively. This isn’t Amazon’s first foray onto campus. In 2013, the company launched its first textbook partnership with the University of California Davis, followed by Purdue University in 2014. The company said it is negotiating similar contracts with a number of other universities and colleges.

“Many schools are feeling pressure to control the cost of education, and textbooks contribute to that,” said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s director of student programs. “Many are also seeing revenues in their bookstores flat at best, or even going backward, so they’re looking at ways to stem that trend. We’re trying to reinvent the bookstore experience.” Blaguszewski said Amazon was chosen over five other companies bidding to replace the textbook annex because of its low prices and familiar interface. “Clearly, they’re renowned for their ability to manage technology and deliver prompt customer service,” he said. “We think it’s a great match.”

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Bestselling Books Of 2014

We’ve all seen the critics’ lists for their top picks of 2014, but which books actually sold the most? Here is the Nielsen BookScan list of 2014’s Adult Top Bestselling Titles:
FICTION:
1. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
2. “Gray Mountain” by John Grisham
3. “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline
4. “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt
5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
6. “Sycamore Row” by John Grisham
7. “Revival” by Stephen King
8. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James
9. “Inferno” by Dan Brown
10. “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd
NON-FICTION
1. “Killing Patton” by O’Reilly/Dugard
2. “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young
3. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand
4. “Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath
5. “Make it Ahead” by Ina Garten
6. “A Portrait of My Father” by George W. Bush
7. “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo
8. “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown
9. “Guinness World Records 2015”
10. “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman

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Oprah Makes Her Next Pick

For her Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, Winfrey has selected Cynthia Bond’s novel “Ruby.” The first new selection in over a year, Ruby is also the club’s first paperback selection.

Harpo Films also announced it has optioned the film and television rights to Ruby. The previous selections were “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd, “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie” by Ayana Mathis, and “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.

Who Will Miss Jon Stewart The Most?

“Getting an author booked on ‘The Daily Show’ was often the Holy Grail for book publicists,” says Kate Lloyd, Scribner’s associate director of publicity. Her authors loved Stewart, she says, because “his audience is made up of smart, book-buying readers who respond to the thoughtful treatment and authentic passion he customarily expresses for the books he features.”

Oprah used to tower over the world of publishing, but her Book Club 2.0 hasn’t created the cultural buzz of her old TV book club. Elizabeth Riley, senior director of publicity at W.W. Norton, calls Stewart “the intellectual author’s Oprah.” Riley says being on “The Daily Show” is “the dream interview every serious nonfiction writer mentions during that first strategy meeting.

Indeed, Stewart’s eclectic taste often provided a boost to titles that wouldn’t ordinarily receive a lot of media attention. For instance, after his interview with David Mitchell, who translated Naoki Higashida’s memoir from the Japanese, sales of “The Reason I Jump” exploded.

Paul Bogaards, executive vice president of Knopf Doubleday, notes that Stewart’s influence has been more significant than the raw sales numbers suggest. “Publishers don’t have a lot of substantive broadcast booking options for authors,” he says. “The value of Jon Stewart welcoming writers on his show, giving them a platform and making them a part of the conversational mix was quantifiable in this sense: He elevated the work of authors, made books relevant to a younger demographic.

Kathleen Schmidt, publicity director at Weinstein Books, notes that the timing of Stewart’s departure is particularly bad. “Heading into what will surely be an interesting election season full of political books, publishers are losing a very important piece to the publicity puzzle,” she says. “Books about politics, public policy, biographies, that otherwise would be difficult to promote on a network morning show found their audience through Jon Stewart.”

“We were lucky to have the show with Stewart at its helm as long as we did,” says Peter Miller, director of publicity at Liveright. “When they started to book authors — the wonkier and untelegenic the better — it was an unexpected gift to publishers of serious nonfiction, like a bizarro C-SPAN. This is probably a sad, sad day for university presses.”

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Presidents and Politics ~ Show Feb 21 and 22

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“The Return of George Washington, 1783 – 1789″ by Edward Larson
“Founders’ Son” by Richard Brookhiser
“Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson” by S C Gwynne
“The Burglary” by Betty Medsger
“Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace” by Leon Panetta
“13 Hours” by Mitchell Zuckoff
“Believer: My Forty Years in Politics” by David Axelrod

INTERVIEW
Nathan Dorn, curator of the Law Library at the Library of Congress

TUNE IN TO THE PROGRAM FOR
New titles with fresh perspectives on the founding fathers, memoirs from politicians on the scene as history was being written, and discoveries of dirty dealing politicos. Elaine speaks with Nathan Dorn, curator of the Law Library at the Library of Congress.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows