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“Anyway,” I said, when we were finished, “Nathaniel Hawthorne once wrote an ornery letter to his editor complaining about popular fiction. He went on and on about all the ‘scribbling’ women who sold hundreds of thousands of copies while he sold none. He thought they were dumb simply by virtue of being popular. Don’t you understand?” I scooped a lock of hair behind her ear in a way that said I would support her if she decided to have our baby. “You don’t gain credibility by being widely read, Ruth, you gain credibility by being accepted by rich, white, men.”
"I'm curious whether there are good prospects for 'time capsule encryption,' one of several ways of storing information that renders it inaccessible to anyone until certain conditions — such as the passage of time — are met? Libraries and archives could offer such technology as part of accepting papers and manuscripts, especially in the wake of the 'Belfast Project' situation, where a library promised confidentiality for accounts of the Troubles in North Ireland, and then found itself amidst subpoenas from law enforcement looking to solve long-cold cases. But the principle could apply to any person or company thinking that there's a choice between leaving information exposed to leakage, or destroying it entirely. Some suggested solutions are very much out of the box."
Indeed, Academia.edu, PLOS, and Arxiv.org are doing something remarkable: They’re mounting a full-frontal assault on a multi-billion-dollar industry and replacing it with something that makes much, much less money.
They’re far more efficient and fairer, and they vastly increase the openness and availability of research information. I believe this will be nothing but good for the human race in the long run. But I’m sure the executives of Elsevier, Springer, and others are weeping into their lattes as they watch this industry evaporate.
Maybe they can get together with newspaper executives to commiserate.
Despite having dozens of best-selling titles to his name, author James Patterson is very worried about the present and future of books in America, as the publishing world continues to grapple with the rise of ebooks and their major distributor, Amazon.
A look at BookExpo, just held in New York.
Post at BoingBoing: Why I'm sending 200 copies of Little Brother to a high-school in Pensacola, FL
The Greensboro (NC) News Record reports that the 16 year old shop will be closing down due to lack of staffing and management.
The Friends of the Greensboro Public Library runs the shop, and like many nonprofit groups, it is struggling to remain relevant in a fast-changing world of information. Lea Williams, the group’s new president, says the decision to close the Booklovers Shop had nothing to do with money. The shop has been struggling for years, but it was making a tiny profit, no more than $1,300 in its last fiscal year. The shop’s shutdown had everything to do with managing the place, she says. It was too time-consuming, and after a year of discussion, Williams says, Friends’ board of directors felt the group had steered away from its role of supporting and funding the library’s programs and recruiting new members.
Members of the friends organized a meeting last month with other supporters of the shop, and they came together to vent and talk to Brigitte Blanton, a 27-year library employee and its new director. They also came together to figure out a way to keep the shop from becoming a canteen. They want to find a way to keep the shop open and viable.
“What this shop first started was magic,’’ says book lover Prudence Strong. “Why destroy something so perfect?’’
The three-finger salute from the Hollywood movie "The Hunger Games" is being used as a real symbol of resistance in Thailand. Protesters against the military coup are flashing the gesture as a silent act of rebellion, and they're being threatened with arrest if they ignore warnings to stop.
Commentary on the Amazon-Hachette fight by publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin.
Shatzkin says - My “position” on all this is that it reveals an imbalance that only the government can fix.
Another point he makes: Amazon, at great expense and with great vision, made the ebook business happen. Before the Kindle, the ebook marketplace was small and unambitious. The biggest player in terms of sales was Palm, which wasn’t really interested. The most interested party was Sony, which repeatedly tried over more than a decade to establish some sort of ebook device and ecosystem. But Amazon made a significant corporate commitment — creating the Kindle device, pressuring the publishers to make much more of their catalog available as ebooks, and investing heavily in discounted sales and screen real estate to build the consumer market. When B&N with Nook in late 2009 and Apple with iPad and iBookstore in early 2010 entered the market, they were attempting to capitalize on a product class that Amazon had pretty much single-handledly created.
Last week, we talked about how Amazon was delaying orders of Hachette books as a negotiation tactic in a pricing argument with the publisher. Walmart has now announced that they'll offer customers 40% off on all Hachette books and quick shipping.
Full piece at -- On The Media
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