April Fools’ in the book world

The International Space Station will be the site of a new bookstore, according to an April Fools' Day report in the Bookseller.
The International Space Station will be the site of a new bookstore, according to an April Fools’ Day report in the Bookseller.
(NASA / Associated Press)

April Fools’ Day is always busy on the Internet. And for some reason, it’s a day that seems especially fertile for the British comic sensibility.

Amazon, the massive online retailer, is opening its first brick-and-mortar bookstore. Only it won’t be made of brick and mortar. It will be housed inside a tube of certain space-friendly metals. If you are up on certain moonless nights, you might see it floating overhead.

That historic news comes to us, on this momentous April 1, courtesy of the British trade publication the Bookseller.


“It will be the first time that the company has opened a physical bookstore,” the Bookseller writes. Some 2,000 books, in hardcover and paperback, will be shipped to the International Space Station with Amazon working alongside NASA’s Mission Control in Houston. The usually staid publication delivers the news in a breathless report that quotes Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as saying, “I am awed by the prospect. If you’ll forgive me, this will be one small step for a bookseller; one giant leap for bookselling.”

Over at Penguin in the U.K., they’ve chosen this day to announce the launch of a new imprint.

“Penguin are pleased to announce the launch of imprint Penguin Now!, a ground-breaking new series re-packaging classic novels for a new generation,” the august publisher announced on its website today.

Inspired by the proliferation of exclamation points in tweets and texts, Penguin says it will reissue books such as Thomas Hardy’s “Jude the Obscure,” and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” with all the periods, or “full stops,” replaced by exclamation points.

Penguin editor Mae Dappersonne said: “Today’s generation have become used to the immediacy provided by smartphones, Netflix and game consoles. In order for older literature to remain relevant we felt it was important to break free of some of the more outmoded grammatical constraints of the past. … By using exclamation marks over and over again, the reader is reminded of the urgency of the story at the end of every sentence.”

Thus, the famous opening to Albert Camus’ “The Stranger,” will now read: “Mother died today! Or yesterday, I don’t know!”


The Guardian is honoring April Fool’s Day with a quiz about literary hoaxes. The questions include: Which writer and inventor of many hoaxes said, “We are living in the epoch of the hoax”?

And in the fictional British town of Scarfolk, “It’s always April Fool’s Day,” the “Scarfolk Council” tweeted Tuesday morning, with a picture of covers of three time-worn “Penguin Guides,” including “Children and Hallucinogens: The Future of Discipline” and “Foreigners & How to Spot Them.”


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