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Book news: Dr. Spock ebook, 'disgusting' blurbs, Gingrich's pandas

February 1, 2012 | 10:59 am

Drspock9thAre you an ultra-modern new parent who wants to raise kids the tried-and-tested mid-century way? "Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care," the bestselling child-rearing bible, will be available as an ebook starting next week, Skyhorse Publishing has announced. Dr. Spock's manual has sold more than 50 million copies and gone through nine editions since its initial publication in 1946; now parents can read it on Kindle, Nook or iPad. Three other Dr. Spock books have already made the ebook leap: "Dr. Spock's The School Years," "Dr. Spock's The First Two Years" and "Dr. Spock's Pregnancy Guide."

The literary website The Millions looks at the practice of book blurbing. Book blurbs, the quotes that appear on the back of a book from other writers, were dubbed "disgusting tripe" by George Orwell. Back in 2005, Nick Tosches tackled the same topic for Book Forum, from the perspective of both a book blurbee and blurber. He confirmed the suspicion that many authors don't actually read the books they blurb. "I like you. I don't need to read it," he told a new friend who'd asked for a blurb for his first book. "Just tell me a little about it and I'll give you the blurb." Tosches writes that his blurb -- "a howl of laughter from the abyss of horror, a comic nightmare from the sick, troubled sleep of this century's desolate end" -- did appear on the book, but doesn't reveal the title. What was it? Jerry Stah's "Permanent Midnight."

The website Book Riot, launched late last year by a roster of experienced book bloggers, has upgraded its design. Instead of looking like a blog, it now looks like a magazine, better showcasing the work of its writers.

Did you know that Newt Gingrich likes pandas? The N.Y. Daily News parsed eight years of the Republican candidate's Amazon reviews -- at one point, Gingrich, who when he's not running for office writes historical fiction, earned the site's "top reviewer" status. Books he commented on included Henry Kissinger's "Does America Need a Foreign Policy," "The Marines of Autumn: A Novel of the Korean War" by James Brady, and Terry L. Maple's "Saving the Giant Panda." Sadly, for Gingrich, there are not many pandas in Florida.

-- Carolyn Kellogg