Geeky Friday: Hobbit Ebooks, Harry Potter Exhibition in NYC, Jamie Foxx as Electro in Spidey 2, Toy Story 3 Writer Penning Next Star Wars

Tolkien heads are counting down on fingers and furry, little toes the number of days left before the first three-hour beast in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy opens in theaters (Dec. 14). Houghton Mifflin’s Megan Wilson tells GF that the five tie-in titles (I’ve got advanced copies, and they are sweet!) also will be available as ebooks using the unique iBooks® Author tool from Apple®. Here’s the gen from Houghton:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today announced the release of a range of cutting-edge interactive ebooks to tie in with the forthcoming release of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

“Readers can find out all they need to know about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with the official film tie-in books: The World of Hobbits; The Movie Storybook; The Activity Book; The Official Movie Guide and the Visual Companion. These multitouch editions are among the first iBooks® Author ebooks to include embedded custom fonts, scrolling sidebars, pop-over widgets and retina-display enhancements, creating a unique and truly immersive ebook experience. Features include:

  • Interactive maps allowing users to explore Hobbiton, Rivendell and beyond
  • Touch-responsive puzzles and activities
  • High resolution pinch-to-zoom images and scrollable galleries
  • A height chart feature, showing how Bilbo matches up to the goblins

The ebooks are available now. Alongside the Apple® editions, parallel products will also be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google and Kobo.”

Note that The Activity Book is more for kids. A few of the others are borderline. (I’ll try to write up something in more detail once getting permission from the publisher to use some of the art, which is what everyone wants.)

Pottermania in Manhattan
If you are a Harry Potter fan in the tri-state area or will be visiting that vicinity for the holidays, be sure to hump it into Manhattan for Harry Potter: The Exhibition being held at Discovery Times Square (226 W. 44th St.). Here’s the intel:

“Marvel at over 200 authentic props and costumes from the Harry Potter™ films, including some newly added never-before-seen artifacts from the epic series finale! Step inside the famous wizard’s magical world as you make your way through the dramatic displays inspired by the films’ sets—including the Great Hall, Hagrid’s hut and the Gryffindor™ common room. While touring through the exhibition space, discover iconic items such as Harry’s original wand and eyeglasses, the Marauder’s Map, Gryffindor school uniforms as well as costumes worn at the Yule Ball. Enter the Quidditch™ area and toss a Quaffle, pull your own Mandrake in the Herbology vignette, encounter Buckbeak™ the Hippogriff and even a giant Acromantula spider.”

I’m not a Potter geek at all, but that sounds and looks wonderful. If you are a diehard Harry head, it’s probably orgasmic (bring a change of undies along with scarves, robes, and brooms!). Tickets are $20 kids/$25 adults and group rates are available. The show runs through April 7, so there’s plenty of time. Don’t miss it!

See what I mean?

Foxx Powers Up for Amazing Spidey 2
Jamie Foxx has joined the cast of The Amazing Spider Man sequel as villain, Electro. While Electro isn’t the most electrifying villain in the Spideysphere (pun definitely intended), Foxx is a terrific actor who can bring something to it if the script has some meat. One of electro’s drawbacks is the ridiculous costume (what works in print isn’t necessarily what flies on screen—think Wolverine). A guy in a green and yellow jumpsuit with lightning bolts coming out of his face isn’t very threatening, so it’s safe—hopefully—to assume that the outfit will undergo some significant modifications to be more visually palatable on screen.

Star Wars Lucky 7?
Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt has been tapped to write the next installment in the Star Wars franchise, which will be the first film under new bosses, Disney Studios. Arndt snagged an Oscar in 2006 for his Little Miss Sunshine script and received a nomination for his Toy Story 3 screenplay. There were loads of SW references in TS2, so there’s already a connection between the two franchises. Fingers crossed that seven will be a lucky number for Star Wars fans.

“To Tatooine and beyond!” It’s Buzz Lightsaber to the rescue!

Call Me…Old!
Happy belated anniversary to Moby Dick, which was released in the United States on November 14, 1851 (it debuted earlier in England). It’s still the great American novel. If you’ve never read it, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s also a great audiobook edition from Naxos, which is narrated by the late William Hootkins, the actor who played Porkins in Star Wars. He’s also one of the feds who comes to see Indy about Hitler searching for the Lost Ark and suspecting Abner Ravenwood of collaborating with the Nazis in Raiders.

On this day in 1919, American Sylvia Beach and her French girlfriend, Adrienne Monnier, opened the Shakespeare & Company bookstore in Paris, which included James Joyce, crazy-ass Ezra Pound, Ford Maddox Ford, the young Ernest Hemingway, and every domestic and expatriate artist worth a damn among its clientele. Beach also was the first to publish Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses, when other English-language publishers wouldn’t touch it. Even Hemingway, who eventually crapped on everyone who ever helped him, always recalled Beach with great respect and love. Viva la Sylvia!

James Joyce and Sylvia Beach outside Shakespeare and Company, Paris, 1920s

That’s a wrap for this week, kids. As always, thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend, and get your geek on, baby! Twilight fans, enjoy the Breaking Dawn conclusion.


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Michael Rogers ( is Media Editor, Library Journal and Managing Editor of LJ Reviews.