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Companies and governments have access to an unprecedented amount of digital information, much of it personal: what we buy, what we search for, what we read online. Kenneth Cukier, co-author of the book Big Data, describes how data-crunching is becoming the new norm.
But with every trend, however modest, you have to wonder, why now? Is it possible that book browsing is already strange and unusual enough to be considered material for art? Everyone agrees that the future of publishing is electronic, with words beamed to us instantaneously. But in that case, what will happen to all of the books beside the book—and the places that store them? When they’re gone, where will we randomly stumble on the knowledge we didn’t even know we wanted to know?
Smash Pictures now has responded to the lawsuit with a counterclaim, and it's quite scintillating.
"On information and belief, as much as 89% of the content of the allegedly copyrighted materials grew out of a multi-part series of fan fiction called Masters of the Universe based on Stephenie Myer's (sic) Twilight novels. On information and belief, this content was published online between 2009 and 2011 in various venues, including fanfiction.net and the person website of Ericka (sic) Leonard. On information and belief, much or all of this material was placed in the public domain."
Publishing houses have a well-worn relish for sweeping change, or at least for plugging it on the covers of the works they put on the bookshelves. Just run a search for “books changed America” or “books changed world.” In 2005, Ben Yagoda wrote a New York Times essay on this lack of originality in book labeling, titled “The Subtitle that Changed America.”
Blind dates can be nerve-wracking, stressful, exciting and fun. Throughout the month of February — and with a focus on the last two emotions — Howard County libraries are helping their patrons go on blind dates of their own: with books.
“This is a way to read something new, that you may not have read otherwise,” said Aimee Zuccarini, a research specialist and instructor with the Howard County Library System, as she stood in front of the display in the East Columbia Branch filled with books, each with their covers and spines wrapped in pink and red paper.
When patrons check the books out, they have no idea what book they're actually getting. But the books try to make their own case: a sign on the display declares “I'm a Keeper — check me out.”
“With the glut of self-published books on the market, the biggest obstacle for authors is discoverability – to rise above the noise and clutter and distinguish one’s work. A Rotten Tomatoes sort of rating system seems inevitable.
I have noticed over the years that every so often magazines (and now blogs) feature beautiful spreads of book-filled rooms, with headlines like “Living With Books” or “The Pages of Our Lives.” Usually the images feature poetic, far-off places where leather volumes fill 15-foot-tall, wood-paneled shelves, or sparse rooms with gauzy curtains have stacks of books on the floor, standing like architectural columns. As a book lover, I find these rooms transporting and inspirational but totally out of touch. A growing number of people, I think, don’t have books. After all, who wants those heavy, clunky volumes when you can store a seemingly endless library on a device that weighs less than a single paperback?
A year ago, Hugh McGuire, the founder of PressBooks, was ready to give up. “If you talked to me last year at this time, I was ready to just quit because it was so frustrating,” he says of his latest startup, which allows people to use a simple blog-like content management system to publish e-books – for free. But a lot has happened in 12 months. “We’ve stuck at it, the market’s moved a little bit, and the product’s a bit better,” says McGuire, who previously founded audiobooks company Librivox. “We’re now on the cusp of really making a difference in the world.”
In the real world, my new floor-to-ceiling shelves are already full and bulging, and lately I wander the house eyeballing the last remaining bits of open wall space, wondering if they might hold additional shelving, as my wife shakes her head.
“For what else,” Benjamin writes of his own books, “is this collection but a disorder to which habit has accommodated itself to such an extent that it can appear as order?” My wife would heartily agree. And yet, the order Benjamin invokes is hardly an illusion, but rather a way to find myself in all those shelves and volumes, an assertion, a means of saying: I am here.