Best-Selling Authors Stage Wrestling Match for Charity

Suzanne Collins vs Stephenie Meyer - Hunger Games-Twilight battle

Suzanne Collins is the all-time best-selling author on the Kindle. But can she defeat Stephenie Meyer – the author of the Twilight series – in a mixed martial arts cage match?

“Suzanne Collins is #1 in the hearts of fans — and in the sales of her books through Amazon’s Kindle store,” WWE chairman Vince McMahon said in a statement from Florida. “So we’re issuing a formal challenge to her on behalf of her rival author, Stephenie Meyer. And to Miss Meyer we say, come and listen to the cheers from a real crowd. Leave your desk behind, taste the springtime air here in Miami Gardens, and come to defend your title out here in the real world.”

“And you can bring along as many of your vampire friends as you want.”

In a promotional video segment, “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson” was photographed holding printed copies of all the Twilight-series books, and also copies of each of Collins’ Hunger Games books, which he smashed together to pump up the anticipation. “We professional wrestlers all know how to read,” Johnson said in a pre-taped segment. “But do you have what it takes to wrestle? There’s a ring with your name on it at Sun Life Stadium, Stephenie Meyer.”

The World Wrestling Entertainment issued their formal invitation this morning as part of an ambitious ongoing campaign to improve the image of professional wrestling, They’re offering to fund the entirety of the special event “with the two heavy-weight authors” as a prominent part of WrestleMania XXXI. It may not be a fight to the death — like the staged tournaments in Collins’ Hunger Games books — but McMahon alluded to that excitement while urging both authors to accept the challenge by using a quote from the newly-released movie.

“They just want a good show, that’s all they want,” McMahon said, standing near a mock-up of a promotional poster for the event in the back of his broadcasting booth in Florida. But then he looked directly at the camera, and added ominously, “But only one comes out.”

It’s not clear whether the massive popularity of the Kindle can translate into bigger ticket sales for a staged wrestling event between the authors of two popular ebooks. But it’s not the first time that the WWE has tried to attract celebrities into carefully-prepared professional wrestling matches. (Famously in 2004, Vince McMahon successfully lured Lucy Lawless — the original Xena the Warrior Princess — into a staged wrestling match against Sarah Michelle Gellar, who’d played Buffy the Vampire Slayer). McMahon gamely joked that if there’s enough interest in this year’s “War of the Writers,” they might even duplicate the event in 2016.

“Maybe we’ll get J. K. Rowling to wrestle Anne Rice!”

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UPDATE: Okay, while it turns out that WrestleMania 31 is a real event, apparently it is not going to feature an appearance this year by Suzanne Collins in a mixed-martial-arts, cage-match fight to the death with rival author Stephenie Meyer. I’d actually be a little embarrassed if you hadn’t already guest that I made this whole thing up, because I wanted to be part of all the fun of April Fool’s Day!

I promise that I’ve never, ever made up a blog post before, and that I’ll never, ever do it again.

Er, except maybe for April Fool’s Day of 2016. :D

April Fool’s Day and the Kindle

Funny men laughing cartoon - you want it when

I thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke. But instead I got caught disbelieving three strange stories that were actually true!. It just goes to show you how wonderfully unpredictible our world has become since the invention of the Kindle. The first unusual story even involved the President of the United States.

A friend sent me a link to a video on YouTube, saying that if I clicked on it, I’d hear the president of the United States reading a book called Chicka-chicka boom boom. This seemed really unlikely, especially since it was April Fool’s Day, but when I clicked on the link, there he was. Barack Obama was reading the children’s picture book to entertain kids who’d come to the White House yesterday for the traditional Easter Egg Roll. The president even described it as one of his favorite books!

“A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree,” the story begins. (“Clearly the alphabet is full of a bunch of trouble-makers,” the president ad libs later, as the rest of the letters crowd into the tree, eventually causing them all to come toppling down.) “Skit skat scootle doot, flip flop flee,” the story continues. But of course, the real message of the day was that it’s important for children to read. “If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you,” the president tells the children. “So I want everybody to read hard, okay? Read as many books as you can…”
And sure enough, it turns out that book is available as a Kindle ebook.

Story #2 also seemed unlikely. Last week someone claimed that Amazon had thrown around its huge budget, and purchased a book-recommendation web site called I’ve used the site — it lets you tell your friends what books you’re reading, and you also suggest books or start discussions about them. Author John Locke even identified it as one of the sites where he promoted his thriller novels — and Locke ultimately became the first self-published author to sell a million books in the Kindle store. (At the time, he was only the 8th author ever to sell one million Kindle ebooks).

I was skeptical that Amazon even knew the site existed — but again, it turns out that I was fooling myself by not believing it. In fact, Amazon had even put out a press release announcing the news just four days before. “Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading…” Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle Content said in the announcement. “Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”

I was also dubious of one more story that later turned out to be true — and surprisingly, it came from a site that was actually called I knew that Amazon was rumored to be working on a combination Kindle/smartphone, but it was their headline that really threw me, warning that Amazon might be working on a “Kindle Phablet.” If this were a movie, I would’ve spit coffee all over my screen, blurting out that “Phablet” was the most ridiculous name ever for a new line of products. I know tablets are popular, so every company wants to invent the next generation of tablets, but surely no one would ever merge the words Phone and Tablet, just to imply that a new class of device was absolutely fab-ulous. But it turns out people have been using that term since at least 2012, according to Wikipedia, which even has a whole section with links where technology columnists debate the appropriateness of the word.

Fortunately, I didn’t get them all wrong. When I visited Google today, I noticed they had links not only to Google News, but also to Google NOSE!. (“Google Nose BETA leverages new and existing technologies to offer the sharpest olfactory experience available…”) But don’t worry. My friends assure me that if you fall for an April Fool’s story that turns out to be true, it means that spring will come six weeks earlier this year. Or something like that.

Happy April Fool’s Day, everybody!

Amazon’s “Kindle Girl” plays a new joke!

Amy Rutberg, the girl in Amazon's Kindle vs printed book TV commercial

Remember this blonde actress from Amazon’s TV commercial? (She the one who insists that she prefers folding down pages in a real book to reading on a Kindle…) In real life, she’s actress Amy Rutberg, and I’ve been reading the funny messages that she sometimes posts on Twitter. But Sunday she shared a link to a very unusual news story about the Kindle!

There’d already been some strange news reports last month about a Broadway theatre offering “Tweet seats” for a performance of the musical Godspell. Eighteen theatre-goers were selected to send Twitter updates about the performance, and a woman named Caryn Savitz was one of the people who “live-tweeted the Biblical action,” according to an article in Macleans. And apparently there’s also other theatres around the country which are arranging for some audience members to send live “status updates” about the shows to Twitter from their seats.

But will live theatrical performances eventually start offering “Kindle seats”?

That’s what Broadway World reported on Sunday, noting that the success of “Tweet seats” had inspired the producer of Godspell to announce Broadway’s first Kindle Night. “Our Tweet Seat night proved that we can expand the Broadway audience to include those who lack the attention span to watch a full act of a musical…” he’s quoted as saying. “So we’re using this knowledge to see if we can attract the kind of people who would rather read a book than attend a Broadway musical.

“Our research shows there is a significant potential audience that would be more willing to buy tickets to Broadway shows if they knew that they could just take out their Kindles and catch up on their reading if they got bored. We’ve also noticed a great interest in the idea among Broadway fans looking for a date night option when their partners have no interest in seeing the show. We’re even making up special Godspell reading lights and ear plugs for them!”

There was a stunned look on my face as I read the article — until I remembered what day it was. And then it dawned on me: the actress from Amazon’s Kindle TV ad had actually played an April Fool’s Day prank on anyone reading her posts on Twitter! She’d posted an enthusiastic response to the article, writing “I like it!”, and after the headline and the URL, adding ” #kindle girl approves!” And in another message on Twitter, she took the joke even further, asking, “Any book tips for the show?”

The truth is, Amy Rutberg is a dedicated stage actress. (Before appearing in the Kindle commercial, she’d starred in a New York theatre comedy called The Divine Sister, and even did a special video for the theatre magazine Backstage.) So I’m sure she appreciated the very real message of support that came through in the fake article about “Kindle Night”. “[W]hat is extremely important,” the producer says at one point, “is that we can do it without disturbing the enjoyment of those who wish to give their undivided attention to the artists who work so hard at creating the magic of live theatre at every performance.”

But I was just happy to see the Kindle being used as part of the joke!