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Books

Rebirth of the bookplate?
July 3, 2014 | 6:25 pm

AeonPressHARThe bookplate or ex-libris, that personalized printed badge of ownership, is one of the most attractive hangovers from the great days of private libraries and book collections that sadly seems to be dying a slow death with the advent of mass publishing and ebooks - albeit enjoying an afterlife as highly prized collectibles. Paul Biba ran a short TeleRead article four years ago on the "Death of the bookplate." However, it now appears that news of its demise may have been exaggerated. A whole new realm of digital bookplates is arising, particularly in the context of academic and other libraries that...

Communist China ‘gags’ Hillary Clinton’s new book, Hard Choices
July 1, 2014 | 6:25 pm

hard choicesAlthough "Hard Choices" by Hillary Clinton has been published already in a Chinese translation in the free and democratic nation of Taiwan, complete with front page newspaper coverage, communist Chinese publishers in Beijing have nixed publishing the account of Clinton's four years as U.S. secretary of state. No English edition will be available in China. "Hard Choices" has also been removed from the communist country's Amazon site. "It's outrageous and unfortunate," Clinton's American editor Jonathan Karp said in a statement. "And it's a pretty clear indication of the low level of intellectual freedom in China right now." Well, what did anyone expect?...

Authors lost the book war long before Amazon vs. Hachette
June 19, 2014 | 12:28 pm

publishersI meant to cover this piece from The Weeklings when it popped up on The Passive Voice the other day. To my surprise, it’s reprinted on the normally rabid pro-publisher/anti-Amazon Salon Magazine this morning, so I guess I have no excuse now. In this article, J.E. Fishman traces authorial woes all the way back to the 1930s when Penguin began to flood the market with cheap paperbacks. This kicked off a paperback revolution among US publishers. Through all of this disruption no one asked authors what they thought. When it came to business, authors were...

The scent of books: Your Kindle will need a lot of incense
June 13, 2014 | 10:31 am

infographic on the scent of booksFor all the moaners who complain that ebooks will never approximate the smell of the real thing, here's some solid proof for you - and a setback for the makers of book perfume. Because, as the site Compound Interest explains in its infographic, the scent of books is a very complex and multi-layered thing ... The accompanying article is full of deep and detailed information on the chemistry of book smells. Dive in, and just speculate along the way on how hard the accessory designers who developed odorific peripherals for iPhones might have to go to do something similar for the...

NPR champions Taiwanese eco fantasy novel
June 11, 2014 | 4:25 pm

eco fantasyWu Ming-yi's [easyazon-link asin="0099575620" locale="us"]The Man with the Compound Eyes[/easyazon-link], an eco fantasy is putting Taiwan on the international map in a novel way, with overseas editions appearing in London, New York and Paris. A recent NPR review by Jason Sheehan on the radio network's website gave the novel high marks and praised the author for his powerful imagery. Sheehan started off by telling reading: "It is so rare to find yourself at home in any book." Sheehan told me in an email after his review appeared that he has been freelancing for NPR for sometime now -- ''mostly sci fi (as I...

C.S. Lewis: Reading children’s literature is anything but ‘childish’
June 7, 2014 | 3:24 pm

So, someone else has come out with the whole stupid “you shouldn’t read young adult books because they’re beneath you” argument. Earlier this year, we saw that kind of thing with Lynn Shepherd blowing off J.K. Rowling’s children’s books and declaring Rowling should stop writing to leave some success for everyone else. The latest idiocy to come down the pike is Ruth Graham in Slate, telling people “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.” She claims children’s fiction is too simplistic and maudlin, and only stuff written for adults...

Cory Doctorow fights high school censorship with 200 copies of Little Brother
June 6, 2014 | 1:16 pm

littlebrotherOn BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow writes about a high school in Pensacola, Florida that had been scheduled to have his novel Little Brother in its summer reading program until the principal put his foot down. In an email conversation with Ms Griffith, the principal cited reviews that emphasized the book's positive view of questioning authority, lauding "hacker culture", and discussing sex and sexuality in passing. He mentioned that a parent had complained about profanity (there's no profanity in the book, though there's a reference to a swear word). In short, he made it clear that the...

New theme song for Reading Rainbow offers an even better reason to read books
June 5, 2014 | 8:27 pm

LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow Kickstarter is running up a fairly godlike funding tally. In case you’re wondering what his secret is, he reveals it in this “new version” of the Reading Rainbow theme via humor site Funny or Die. Reading Rainbow's New Theme Song with LeVar Burton from LeVar Burton ...

European Commission inquires into Amazon/Hachette dispute
June 5, 2014 | 1:58 pm

European Commission anti-trust officials are looking into the ongoing contract negotiations between Amazon and Hachette, Reuters reports. EU’s Competition Commissioner told reporters that they are “trying to understand what’s going on there.” Given that one of the affected books is UK author Joanne Rowling’s latest titles, it’s easy to see why there might be more than a little concern. That being said, experts doubt the European Commission will actually get involved in what amounts to a business dispute. Nonetheless, I imagine it might put pressure on Amazon and Hachette to show some progress. As Nate points out at...

Robinson-Patman, Amazon, the publishers, and the ABA: Where’s the lawsuit? (Updated)
June 3, 2014 | 3:16 pm

Two different op-eds have popped up on CNN and Al Jazeera suggesting that Amazon, big bully that it is in the Hachette negotiation, needs to be taken down a peg under the Robinson-Patman Act. (If you didn’t hear a raspy voice say “I’m Patman” when I mentioned the name of that law, I’m pretty sure you did just now.) Robinson-Patman is an anti-predatory-pricing regulation that’s on the books dating back to the ‘30s, intended to prevent businesses from charging different prices in different towns to undercut local competition, or from using their size to bully suppliers into giving...

Publishers, Amazon, and competition: Three points of view
June 1, 2014 | 11:00 am

There’s a theme in the triad of Amazon/Hachette articles I found this morning, and the theme is…competition. First of all, here’s a rare op ed in favor of Amazon that originally appeared in CNN’s “Fortune” section. (Though it seems to have vanished from there; the link no longer works and the author reposted it on his own blog.) Len Sherman rebuts an earlier anti-Amazon piece by Adam Lashinsky and argues that Hachette’s background as an illegal colluder suggests it is more interested in keeping prices high, whereas Amazon wants to keep them lower for consumers. ...

Not everyone has a local bookstore, nor should they have to
May 30, 2014 | 12:14 pm

img_1118 People like to talk about the importance of buying books in a local independent bookstore to help keep local independent bookstore culture alive—especially now that the mud is flying around about Amazon and Hachette squabbling with each other. Rather than support a bully, the thinking goes, you should buy books from a local instead. But as Kelly Jensen notes in BookRiot, that’s often not possible. It may even smack of “privilege.” Not all readers have access to brick and mortar stores. Not all readers have the capability to walk to their local indie...