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A strange little copyright story
September 17, 2014 | 12:25 pm

copyrightTechdirt has a great write-up about one of the strangest little copyright stories I've read this week. The story involves an anti-litter campaign launched in my own fair city recently, which cleverly used the letters on brand-name packages to spell out messages. From the article: "The campaign slogan was, “Littering says a lot about you.” The ads featured discarded candy boxes, plastic bottles and other packaging arranged to spell the unflattering message that littering conveys. The combinations included a bag of Lay’s potato chips and a Krazy Glue package arranged to spell “Lazy”; Reese’s Pieces and a bottle of Gatorade put together...

Styluses in the cheap seats
September 17, 2014 | 10:25 am

IMG_20140916_180514As I reported a while ago, premium brand pen manufacturers are at last catching on to the message that styluses are an increasingly popular, and stylish, commodity. Luckily for those of us not in the One Percent, though, they also seem to be improving at the bottom end of the market, with increasingly cheaper and better choices available for the normal user. I'm not getting paid anything for endorsing these, because who would do that for such cheap items? Rather, they're just stylus options that I found outclassed the opposition as anything other than status symbols. One option is the Bic...

Morning Roundup: Estate asks SCOTUS to put Holmes back under copyright. Mourning B&N?
September 17, 2014 | 9:00 am

sherlock holmesOn Mourning the Passing of Barnes & Noble (An American Editor) After this week’s news that Barnes & Noble has lost money yet again, I decided that perhaps I should begin thinking about writing B&N’s obituary. After all, I am a B&N member and I buy a lot of books from B&N and I will miss it when the last store and website is finally shuttered. *** Conan Doyle Estate Asks Supreme Court to Put Sherlock Holmes Back Under Copyright (Techdirt) Back in June the 7th Circuit appeals court ruled that Holmes was in the public domain, followed up by a more thorough slamming...

Two month with Kindle Unlimited. It rocks for readers
September 16, 2014 | 2:25 pm

kindle unlimitedMy Kindle Unlimited subscription expires tomorrow, and I'm going to let it lapse, for now. I'm not letting it lapse because I don't like it or don't think it's a great value. I'm letting it lapse because I still have eight months on my free-for-being-a-Smashwords-author Scribd subscription. Right now it doesn't make sense to pay twice for comparable services. However, if you know how much I love Scribd, you'll understand that I don't say it lightly when I note that come May of next year, however, I'll be revisiting which service I'm using. If you don't have the advantage of a...

Tablets, books and readers, oh my! Reflections on the first week of school
September 16, 2014 | 12:25 pm

technology in schoolI just finished my first full week of teaching for the new school year, and it's been so interesting to watch my students react to some of the changes I have implemented this year. In no particular order, here are some points of interest from my first teaching week. 1) God Bless the Internet Like many teachers, I use the internet heavily---be it Google Images clipart to illustrate a worksheet or Google Translate to double-check my grammar when I am writing notes or instructions in French. Two websites my school seems to be particularly relying on this year: Reading A-z.com, a scubscription...

Are Books Really Like Any Other Consumer Good?
September 16, 2014 | 10:25 am

booksIn today's Morning Links, I highlighted a GigaOM writeup on the latest Authors United tomfoolery: a letter to Amazon where they assert, among other things, that while Amazon does have the perfect right to refuse to stock or carry any 'commercial good' they want, they should not exercise this right on books because books are a special snowflake and not just a regular consumer good. Their letter says this: "Amazon has every right to refuse to sell consumer goods in response to a pricing disagreement with a wholesaler. We all appreciate discounted razor blades and cheaper shoes. But books are not...

Morning Roundup: Yes, books are consumer goods. Amazon accounts hacked through Kindle books
September 16, 2014 | 9:00 am

amazonYour Amazon Account Can be Hacked Via a Kindle Book (The Digital Reader) Amazon might not have a security issue at Audible but they do have one on their main website. *** Free Samples of NBA's Young People's Literature Longlist (GalleyCat) The National Book Foundation has revealed its first ever Young People’s Literature Longlist for the National Book Award (NBA). *** HarperCollins Adds Security Layer to eBook Files (Digital Book World) The anti-piracy solution embeds unique, imperceptible and traceable digital watermarks into e-books, enabling distributors and publishers to track where their content is appearing online and identify the sources of leakage and unauthorized distribution. *** Authors United May...

The 2014 Forbes sick list – or, why shit pays
September 15, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Let's kick this off with one comment from a writer - a fairly successful and well-respected one. As H.L. Mencken said: "No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people." And if you needed proof, here it is: The 2014 Forbes list of the World's Top-Earning Authors. "The top-earning authors list is perhaps the world’s most exclusive book club, with very few paths to entry," writes Forbes staffer Natalie Robehmed. Oops, silly me: There was I thinking the Nobel Prize in Literature was...

Movies work their magic with cli fi
September 15, 2014 | 2:27 pm

cli fiWith films like "Noah" and "Into the Storm" and "Snowpiercer" – and "Interstellar" coming in the late fall -- Hollywood has seen the handwriting on the wall and embraced climate themes in full technicolor. Call the movies ''cli fi'' or disaster thrillers, whatever. There's more to come in the film world. But while Hollywood and studio marketing people (and online social media reporters covering new film releases) have welcomed ''cli fi'' into the fold, the book world seems to be aloof to all this and show little interest in the rise of the cli fi genre term. I am not sure why,...

Shock, horror: Techology doesn’t destroy reading habits, younger generation not cabbages
September 15, 2014 | 12:25 pm

reading habitsIn news that will come as no comfort to Jonathan Franzen and other Luddite technophobes, the Pew Research Internet Project has found that if anything, younger Americans are more likely to read books than their immediate seniors, have more respect for offline/dead-tree sources of knowledge, and are at least as involved with their local libraries as their elders. "Over three-quarters (77%) of younger Americans have a smartphone, and many also have a tablet (38%) or e-reader (24%)," says the Pew Research summary. "Despite their embrace of technology, 62% of Americans under age 30 agree there is 'a lot of useful, important...

Planet Agent’s guide to UK agents already in firing line
September 15, 2014 | 10:25 am

agent hunter transparency-index-graphic1The UK "database of all UK literary agents, their agencies and publishers" Agent Hunter has released research, summarized in the form of the infographic included here, on the state of the UK agenting environment that has already attracted complaints and objections. As quoted by The Bookseller, the president of the Association of Authors Agents, Sam Edenborough, has protested that Agent Hunter is making “shrill criticisms.” Agent Hunter's claim is that "We’ve taken the massive amount of data on our site and produced the first ever comprehensive analysis of Planet Agent." The negative comments in the analysis focus on the exclusivity, lack...

Morning Roundup: Ninja librarians? Does book touring still matter
September 15, 2014 | 9:00 am

book touringReading After Grad School (Book Riot) Grad school changed reading for me in ways I both appreciate and regret. My reading life has a depth to it that maybe wasn’t there before, but not the ease it once possessed. *** Radical Librarianship: How Ninja Librarians are Ensuring Patron's Privacy (Boing Boing) Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. *** Five Best Language Translation Tools (Lifehacker) When you need to translate one language to another, either just to communicate or because you're trying to read something, you have tons of options—they're just not all that great at...