In the last major U.S. literacy survey conducted in 1992, almost one-quarter of adults fell into the lowest reading level.
In an effort to make literacy statistics a little less scary, the Horror Writers Association is hosting an eBay auction to benefit ProLiteracy Worldwide (formerly known as Literacy Volunteers of America).
Among the items up for auction: a rare softcover advance copy (bound galley) of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs issued by St. Martin’s Press in 1988, the first U.S. hardcover edition of Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game, and a bundle of limited-edition prints depicting scenes from Stephen King novels such as Carrie and The Shining.
Literature buffs can also bid to win a custom poem by 2001 Bram Stoker award winner Linda Addison. Novelist Gerard Houarner and illustrator GAK will write and illustrate an original “Dead Cat” story for the highest bidder.
Matt Schwartz, who runs online horror-genre bookstore Shocklines, is running the auction.
The benefit auction runs through Oct. 2.
Wanted: a few good homes: One pet-loving author has come up with a way to help save homeless pets. She’s inviting readers to help – and they barely have to lift a paw.
Lisa Rogak – author of PerPETual Care: Who Will Look After Your Pets If You’re Not Around? – runs a website and affiliate program that is at the heart of the fund-raising effort. For every book sold through the affiliate program, Rogak will donate 33 percent of the cover price to a nonprofit humane organization.
Rogak, who has written 25 books, said she learned firsthand why pet owners need to make plans for their furry loved ones when she got involved in pet rescue and fostering.
“I saw the countless well-cared-for pets that ended up in shelters because their owners died, entered nursing homes or became too ill to care for them,” she said.
The book details the pros and cons of setting up a pet trust, and offers advice on selecting a permanent caretaker and planning for the pets’ care in the event that owners can no longer care for them.
Digital slush pile: Self-published romance novels printed on demand at iUniverse could find wider audiences – if they catch the eye of editors at Kensington Publishing.
The iUniverse editorial board will review print-on-demand titles that sell more than 500 copies in six months. The board will then send the most promising to Kensington’s Zebra Books romance imprint for consideration. (IUniverse will receive an undisclosed percentage of proceeds if Zebra picks up rights.)
“It’s not a press release agreement,” iUniverse CEO Kim Hawley told Publisher’s Weekly. “If it doesn’t work, it just wastes everyone’s time.” If it does work, Hawley added, the print-on-demand company may consider making similar deals with other traditional publishers.
Kensington has picked up several iUniverse books in the past, including Ruby Ann’s Down Home Trailer Park Cookbook by Ruby Ann Boxcar.
Seeing stars: The University of Pittsburgh Digital Research Library has put six decades of astronomy research into a new digital archive called the Parallax Project.
The archive digitized 10 volumes of star parallax data and calculations collected and produced by researchers at the university’s Allegheny Observatory between 1910 and 1969. Astronomers use parallaxes to calculate and predict the movement of the stars.
Digitization has two key benefits: It will make the information more accessible, and it helps preserve the original paper reports, which are in very bad physical condition.
*M.J. Rose is the author of *Flesh Tones.