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Amazon offering e-book match

Good news for avid readers who love to get that Amazon box on your doorstep.  The company is now going to offer you the chance to download the e-book version of the hard copy you have already purchased for free or low cost for the Kindle e-reader. 

There is a catch as usual, the publisher has to register the books with the MatchBooks program and it works with books purchased since 1995.

The new service will have 10,000 titles when it launches in October.  

Coffee-table books feed pop culture obsessions

If you’re stumped for a gift-giving idea, the solution may be found in the pop culture obsessions of those on your naughty or not list. Chances are there is a corresponding book on the market to feed their fascination.

Fifty is such a nice, round number, and it is the peg on which two new books are hung. “The Rolling Stones 50” (Hyperion Books, $60) celebrates the 50th year of the world’s oldest rock band with a hernia-inducing tome filled with more than 1,000 photographs from the stage, studio and behind the scenes. Stitching the images together are bits of commentary from band members, including this observation from Keith Richards about a fire at his Redlands mansion in 1973: “I’ve had two or three houses burn down.”

“50 Years of James Bond” (Life Books, $27.95) is something of a misnomer because while the Bond movies have been around for a half century, Ian Fleming’s books date back 59 years. Rightly so, the book devotes the opening chapters to Fleming, his books and the intricacies of the British military intelligence agencies, which inspired many of Bond’s storylines. The rest of the book focuses on the movies and the actors who played the tuxedo-clad hero.

Just in time for the Jan. 6 debut of Season 3, “The Chronicles of Downton Abbey” (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) offers a deeper dive into the PBS series about the inhabitants and employees of the Crawley estate. Each chapter is devoted to a key character and includes recaps of the story thus far, photos from the set and close-ups of the authentic props. For instance, you can get a gander at Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen bible, a 1913 edition of “All About Cookery,” featuring recipes for such delicacies as “Mayonnaise of Salmon.”

Four pop icons are memorialized with worshipful photography books that will appeal to devoted fans. Cindy De La Hoz’s “Elizabeth Taylor: A Shining Legacy on Film” (Running Press, $30) is chock-full of cast lists, plot summaries and snippets of reviews from all of Taylor’s movies from “There’s One Born Every Minute” (1942) to “These Old Broads” (2001). Except for a brief introduction by record executive Clive Davis and an equally brief afterword by manager Pat Houston, “Whitney: Tribute to an Icon” (Atria Books, $39.99) is just picture after picture of singing star Whitney Houston. It Books supplements its slick photos in “Marilyn Monroe: Metamorphosis” and “Audrey: The 60s” (as in Hepburn; $40 each) with short quotes from the actresses and people who worked with them.

For an entree into what makes a Hollywood movie star tick, “Fragments” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17) compiles poems, notes, lists, letters and diary entries by Marilyn Monroe. Each entry appears in the actress’s own handwriting and is accompanied by a neatly typed copy that’s easier to read. As one would expect, her writings run the gamut from saucy (“On Hospital Gowns: My bare derriere is out in the air when I’m not aware.) to despondent (“Alone!!!!!! I am alone — I am always alone no matter what.”). Appropriate to the material, most of the photos capture the beauty in the act of reading.

Recommended books for the bibliophile on your holiday list

There’s no getting around it, tablets and e-readers are here to stay — at least until some new technology renders them obsolete. But most likely there will always be those book lovers among us who hold dear the weight of a hefty hardback book in their hands, who relish the scent of freshly printed paper, the whish of a turned page.

There will always be that bibliophile eager to reveal something about themselves to a new friend through the loan of a favorite dog-eared volume, not to mention the pencil-wielding reader who underlines passages, scrawls notes in the margins and reads in the bathtub.

At least for the time being, there will be those people for whom virtual books just will not do, and it’s with those readers in mind that these three books are recommended for the holiday gift-giving season.

‘The Books They Gave Me’

Freelance writer Jen Adams struck a nerve when she created a blog inviting readers to write short essays about books they received as gifts and the people who gave them. And, as successful blogs are wont to do, it has spawned a book: “The Books They Gave Me” (Free Press, $19.99).

Most of the 200 or so featured titles were bestowed upon the recipients by past lovers and, based on the essays, the ability of each volume to engage the recipient — or not — seems to be an indicator (in hindsight) of the relationship’s ultimate success or failure. On the gift of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita,” one recipient says: “I was nineteen. He was thirty. I’m not sure he thought this gift through.”

Many of the titles are penned by literary heavyweights — Salinger, Neruda, Bukowski, Du Bois, Vonnegut. But sprinkled throughout are children’s books, cookbooks and a surprising number of books by Augusten Burroughs. The short essays that accompany each title alternate between ironic observations on how a particular book speaks to some deeper truth between the giver and the recipient, or bittersweet reminiscences of love affairs so fleeting that the only reminders are the books left behind.

Essays aside, “The Books They Gave Me” serves as an excellent source of recommended titles when the stack of books on your bedside table has dwindled.

‘My Ideal Bookshelf’

Another good resource for reading recommendations is “My Ideal Bookshelf” (Little, Brown and Co., $24.99). Edited by Thessaly La Force and illustrated by Jane Mount, it reveals a peek into the personal libraries of more than 100 contemporary cultural figures.

Each contributor was asked to select a handful of titles that represent his or her current favorites and to write a short essay about them. Among the contributors are local luminaries chef Hugh Acheson (“The Taste of Country Cooking” by Edna Lewis) and architects Merrill Elam and Mack Scogin (Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”). There are musicians: Rosanne Cash (“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and Patti Smith (“Collected Poems” by Allen Ginsberg). And filmmakers: Judd Apatow (“Seize the Day” by Saul Bellow) and Mira Nair (“Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie).

But the real thrill is seeing what books your favorite writers treasure most, like discovering that you and Mary Karr both cherish Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” That Dave Eggers draws inspiration from Joan Didion’s “Slouching Toward Bethlehem.” That Junot Diaz has a soft spot for Richard Adams’ “Watership Down.”

Mount’s colorful illustrations of book spines add a whimsical touch that makes the volume worthy of coffee-table display.

‘My Bookstore’

If bookstores are “the physical manifestation of the wide world’s longest, best, most thrilling conversation,” as novelist Richard Russo says in the introduction, then “My Bookstore” (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, $23.95) is a series of monologues on a single theme: affection for the independent bookseller.

In this collection of essays, established authors from Dave Eggers to Louise Erdrich and John Grisham to Henry Louis Gates Jr. opine on their favorite bookstores and, by extension, their unbridled love of all things books related. A local entry features Atlanta novelist David Fulmer espousing the joys of Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, but Ann Patchett’s love letter to McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich., is so inspired, she makes the reader feel as though being anywhere but there is a tragic mistake. And that’s some endorsement considering she has a bookstore of her own in Nashville.

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