John Updike and Amazon Seek 44 Co-Authors for The Greatest Tale Ever Told

Posted on July 30, 1997

Engaging in what he describes as "sticking my head into the mouth of the electronic lion," Pulitzer-Prize winning author John Updike has written the beginning of an original story titled "Murder Makes the Magazine" exclusively for online bookseller

The first paragraph of "Murder Makes the Magazine" will appear on's Web site on Tuesday, July 29. Over the next 44 days, visitors to may write and submit their own paragraphs to continue John Updike's story, his first murder mystery. On September 12, Updike will write the final paragraph of this collaborative tale.

The writers of paragraphs selected by the editorial staff to continue the story will each receive $1,000. All visitors to the contest site may register to win a grand prize of $100,000. The winner will be announced at the close of the contest.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, announcing "The Greatest Tale Ever Told" from the company's headquarters in Seattle, said, "This is all about fun. We are pleased Mr. Updike decided to make his first foray onto the Internet with We are committed to giving our customers rich and unique experiences. Forty-four talented people will get to collaborate in real-time with John Updike, the greatest living writer. We will all watch this collaboration unfold every day for 46 days."

John Updike, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1982 for "Rabbit Is Rich" and again in 1991 for "Rabbit at Rest" (only the third American to be honored with this prize on two occasions), has his 18th novel scheduled for publication by Knopf this fall. Titled "Toward the End of Time," it is characterized as a thoughtful and audacious novel, set in 2020. Filled with fantasy, scientific exploration, and the connections between past, present, and future -- all filtered through the mind of a 66-year-old man as he meditates on the life around him through the changing seasons of the year. Customers can order this book in advance from, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Earth's Biggest Bookstore, is the leading online retailer of books, offering a catalog of 2.5 million titles, easy-to-use search and browse features, e-mail services, Web-based credit card payment and direct shipping to customers. has virtually unlimited online shelf space and can offer customers a vast selection through an efficient search and retrieval interface.

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