Books are a serious business, but the publishing industry had a little fun on April 1, to commemorate April Fools' Day. We rounded up the best bookish gags from around the world, perpetrated by publishing houses and booksellers alike.
Baby Geniuses: The Paris Review announced the launch of The Paris Review for Young Readers, "the first magazine that writes up to children." The post was complete with a photo of the publication's editor Lorin Stein reading to young children, while smoking; and a table of contents, listing entries such as a poem from Frederick Seidel entitled "Don’t Be Afraid, Children—It’s Just Me, Frederick Seidel."
Smashwords Unveils Kindle Author: Smashwords CEO Mark Coker penned a blog post outlining a new Amazon program called "Kindle Author," which "generates high-quality fiction using complex software algorithms." Coker continued, "It’s like Build-A-Bear for ebooks. The reader tells Kindle Author what they want in a story, and then Kindle Author automatically generates the book." He ended his post with the quip, "The final thing I find difficult to believe is that I chose April 1 to share this unbelievable news with you."
Amazon Throws Back: The retailer went retro on its homepage, listing April Fools' Day by Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew as the top selling book.
Beyonce, the Poet: British poet, editor and publisher Tom Chivers reported that he would be publishing the first book of poems from Beyoncé Knowles. "Working with Beyoncé has been a dream," said Chivers. "She knows her sonnets from her spondeees. She is, in many ways, the Emily Dickinson of her generation."
Eat Your Words: Earth conscientious publisher Chelsea Green posted on its site that, in advance of Earth Day 2015, it would be introducing an "entirely new type of book – the completely biodegradable, and in certain instances edible, book."
Penguin Teen Australia Teases Green Fans: The imprint down under tricked fans with a tweet about a new book called, Not In Our Stars, to Hold Our Destiny, the story of The Fault in Our Stars characters Augustus Waters and Caroline Mathers. The trick fooled readers, and industry insiders. Green later tweeted, "My American publisher and several of my international publishers fell for @PenguinTeenAus's April Fools Day joke."
Algorithmic Author: Digital distributor and developer Trajectory came up with a hoax claiming to have distributed the first book authored by an algorithm named D3W3Y, whose (its?) book, 7R345UR3 15L4ND, was apparently self-published and released digitally in China, Malaysia and Canada among other places. D3W3Y’s prose looks like a variation on “leetspeak,” the alternative tech language that substitutes numbers for letters. The gag is based on Trajectory’s proprietary Natural Language Processing Engine, an algorithm it designed to analyse books and provide book recommendations. Trajectory even released an “author’s note” from D3W3Y, “the world’s first sentient algorithm,” that discussed its new book, whether it dreams, and offered a promotional statement about its day job.
Update: Added Trajectory's gag.