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From the Sunday Times UK: (subscription required after third paragraph, but there's enough there to get the gist of this opinion piece by historian and author Amanda Foreman).
"One of the greatest monopolies in history was the medieval Catholic Church. Its religious and temporal power was absolute until confronted by an even more potent rival: the printed book. Today, print is once more at the centre of a cultural revolution. Only this time it is not the challenger to a global monopoly but its most successful weapon.
Amazon, founded and controlled by Jeff Bezos, used the humble book to leverage itself into becoming the world’s largest online retailer. It took 20 years for Amazon to emerge as a monopolistic power. Last week, by creating an effective blacklist of authors for use as a bargaining tool against Hachette Book Group, the company showed us how far it would go in its abuse of that power."
"Amazon's real attitude to the book industry was revealed in its public statement last Tuesday. This referred to books as 'demand-weighted units.' They are not. A customer looking for Tolstoy's War and Peace won't buy Talshoy's Peace and War because it is cheaper. Despite what Amazon would like us to believe, Tolstoy's book has value, the other simply a price."
For years, the Iowa City Public Library has provided computers in its Children's Room where youngsters can put on headphones and play video games.
Now, they can stand around an interactive touch table that looks like a giant iPad and play games together.
The Ideum PLATFORM 55 is the final piece of the Children's Room technology upgrade, said Susan Craig, director of the Iowa City Public Library. The 55-inch table, which cost about $15,000, made its debut Monday.
A plan to offer $100 million in tax dollars to lure Barack Obama's presidential library to Illinois is on the shelf, as lawmakers wrapped up their spring session without advancing the idea.
Democrats in the president's home state pushed the proposal to compete against rival bids from Hawaii and New York. But it faced opposition from Republicans wary of an expensive and precedent-setting gift — with no immediately identified funding source — for a mostly private endeavor when the state faces serious financial difficulties.
Not all Democrats were on board either. Both the Democratic-controlled House and Senate adjourned without calling for any final votes on the measure.
The Hachette/Amazon story is well played but the following Teleread piece discusses and links to several articles and brings together some interesting ideas.
* Independent booksellers appear to be opening more stores than closing them
* From an independent publisher’s point of view, Amazon is a forest in which a thousand flowers bloom
Full article here.
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust says: “We are very excited to be bringing a collection of BookBenches to London this summer to spread the love of reading across the capital. From Conan Doyle’s Sherlock to Cressida’s dragons, there will be plenty in store for visitors to celebrate reading for enjoyment and the UK’s rich literary culture.”
Lovely to think about Londoners having lunch and a read on one of these. Better than those silly cows & sheep.
Children's author Judy Blume, whose own books have been banned in the past, says children 'self-censor' reading material they don't understand
Well, all right, that’s not a literal quote, but it might as well be. Salon has never made any pretense of its anti-Amazon leanings (as we saw recently with Laura Miller’s piece claiming she was swearing off Amazon), but lately it seems to have gone a little round the bend. Over the last couple of days, it’s started coming up with whatever Amazon hit pieces it possibly could. I’m talking serious scraping of the bottom of the barrel here.
Full article at Teleread
From Shelf-Awareness a report on author James Patterson's address to conference participants:
"Amazon seems out to control shopping in this country. This ultimately will have an effect on every grocery and department store chain and every big box store and ultimately put thousands of mom and pop stores out of business. It sounds like a monopoly to me. Amazon also wants to control bookselling, the book business and book publishing. That's a national tragedy. If this is the new American way, it has to be changed by law if necessary."
The Passive Voice linked the other day to yet another Amazon-punisher: Jack Shafer, posting at Reuters, writes about the many ways Amazon has enmeshed their hooks into his life—Prime membership, Kindle ownership, magazine subscriptions and so on, all of which he used and enjoyed quite happily. And then! Amazon is Evil Overlording Hachette! You can’t get Malcolm Gladwell anymore! He’s quitting Amazon forever!
There is no emoticon big enough to properly convey my eye roll here. I have read dozens of articles on this Hachette and Amazon feud, including several by my fellow Teleread contributors. And I don’t get it. Articles like Shafer’s rant are presupposing a lot of things which I don’t feel we can accept as given and true:
Full blog post at Teleread
Growing up moving from farm to farm, Storm Reyes had to pack light. That meant no books. She felt hopeless about the future, until a bookmobile appeared in the fields and changed her life.
storycorps piece at NPR
Publishing consulatant Mike Shatzkin discusses ebook subscription services.
Excerpt: My long-held conviction that broad-based subscriptions for ebooks were not likely to work is partly based on facts that are now changing. It is still by no means a slam dunk that ebooks must go where Spotify has taken digital music and Netflix has taken the digital distribution of TV and movies, but it looks more likely today than it did six months ago. Still, looks could be deceiving.
The core of subscription economics is to pay less to the content supplier than they earn other ways to give you some headroom to create a value proposition for consumers. That’s how Spotify and Netflix work. That’s how Book-of-the-Month Club works.
Staffers at the Library of Congress have been looking for 250 books that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. He gave these books and several thousand more to start the library more than 200 years ago.
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) May 29, 2014
Cites & Insights 14:6 (June 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i6.pdf
American author and poet Maya Angelou, who is best known for her groundbreaking autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," has died at age 86 in North Carolina, her publisher confirmed on Wednesday.
The prolific African-American writer penned more than 30 books, won numerous awards, and was honored last year by the National Book Awards for her service to the literary community.
...and from NPR:
Poet, performer and political activist Maya Angelou has died after a long illness at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. She was 86. Born in St. Louis in 1928, Angelou grew up in a segregated society that she worked to change during the civil rights era. Angelou, who refused to speak for much of her childhood, revealed the scars of her past in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of a series of memoirs.
For the study, researchers identified the "10 costliest conditions in terms of public and private expenditure" -- which included diabetes, back pain, lung cancer and major depressive disorder -- and compared the content of Wikipedia articles about those conditions to peer-reviewed medical literature. Two randomly assigned investigators found that 90 percent of the articles contained false information, which could affect the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
Now for those of you who are saying that it's not the doctors themselves checking Wikipedia, you'd be wrong. According to a pair of studies from 2009 and 2010, "70% of junior physicians use Wikipedia in a given week, while nearly 50% to 70% of practicing physicians use it as an information source in providing medical care."
Publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin discusses the public battle over trading terms taking place between Hachette Book Group and Amazon.
Via Reuters: A Russian court demanded on Thursday that the U.S. Library of Congress hand back seven precious Jewish texts to Moscow - and, in a tit-for-tat ruling, said it should pay a massive fine for every day it delays.
The so-called Schneerson collection, claimed by both Russia and the New York-based Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch group, has become a bone of contention in Russia-U.S. ties, at their lowest for decades due to the Ukraine crisis.
The Library of Congress has seven books of the collection, Interfax reported. Russia has 4,425 texts, including editions of the Torah and the Talmud, some of them dating back to to the 16th century. A Moscow arbitration court ruled that the Library of Congress should pay $50,000 in fines for every day the seven books are not handed over.
Sam Greenlee, a novelist and poet who was one of the first black Americans go to abroad with the Foreign Service, died Monday, according to The Associated Press. He was 83. In his most famous book, 1969's The Spook Who Sat by the Door, a disillusioned black CIA officer quits his job and begins training street gangs as "Freedom Fighters" to overthrow the government.