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Book review: The Black Spider, by Jeremias Gotthelf, New York Review Books
April 22, 2015 | 6:25 pm

One of the more interesting recent translated titles from New York Review Books, The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf, translated by Susan Bernofsky, resurrects a classic tale of horror from a Swiss pastor and sometime author who in his lifetime was one of the most popular German-language novelists of the Biedermeier period. The story concerns a village in a Swiss valley once ruled by the Teutonic Knights, which (literally) houses mementos of an unearthly plague centuries ago, when a Satanic black spider persecuted and poisoned most of the inhabitants. The story is renowned as one of the scariest and most horrific...

Android Wear update offers Wi-fi, new capabilities
April 22, 2015 | 4:25 pm

An announcement on the Google Official Blog has signaled the arrival of an update to Google's Android Wear smartwatch platform, which addresses some notable shortcomings of the series, particularly Wi-Fi support. "Now Android Wear supports watches with built-in Wi-Fi," states the blog. "As long as your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, and your phone has a data connection (wherever it is), you’ll be able to get notifications, send messages, and use all your favorite apps." Other improvements in the update include always-on screen apps, gesture control (wrist flicks to scroll through alerts), and emojis. The Wi-Fi update means that for...

One crumb of comfort from the ALCS survey: Greater gender income equality
April 22, 2015 | 2:25 pm

ALCS gender gapThe latest survey from the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) has already painted its depressing conclusions about the overall state of UK authors' incomes in 2014, but there is one slightly more positive result from its poll of some 2,454 writers - the apparent closing of the gender gap in writer renumeration over the period of the survey. The situation is, sadly, still worse than in the broader working environment in the UK for professional authors, but it has improved substantially. "In the 2006 Study there was found to be a significant gender gap in the earnings of professional authors," says...

OnePlus One phone available to all, OnePlus Two to follow
April 22, 2015 | 1:25 pm

The OnePlus initiative, previously covered in Teleread, was a bid to create a smarter, better Android-based smartphone that has achieved some success and quite a few fans, with some commentators claiming that its debut OnePlus One model put Google's own Nexus phones completely in the shade. Now, the company has upped the price of the OnePlus One in Europe, in response to the sliding value of the Euro, to a basic EUR299 ($320) for the smaller 16GB model. However, it's also thrown this open for general purchase - previously the OnePlus One could only be bought by invitation. Furthermore, the company...

Progress, Innovation and Regulation
April 22, 2015 | 12:25 pm

uberOne of the threats every emerging innovation seems to face this days is...well, it's being a threat. The status quo can be a comfortable place for those who are within its bubble, and when something comes along to challenge it, there is a trend to try and regulate it away. Whether it's Old-School Authors vs Amazon, Cable Television vs Netflix or Old-School Music vs iTunes, every time a new technology, app, business model or idea comes along, someone tries to squash it. Today's exhibit: Uber. The lift-sharing service is currently facing a lawsuit asserting that is violated the Americans with Disabilities...

New ALCS survey finds UK authors’ incomes have only gotten worse
April 22, 2015 | 10:25 am

ALCSFollowing its previous survey of the income and work prospects of UK professional authors, entitled "What Are Words Worth?", the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS), Britain’s central clearing house for authors’ rights and payments, has released a fresh study based on 2014 data for writers' earnings and contractual terms, rather than 2013 data. The survey, "The Business of Being an Author: A Survey of Author’s Earnings and Contracts," found, as the BBC highlighted, that UK author incomes are "at breaking point." The survey, conducted with Queen Mary College in the University of London, which as the ALCS correctly states, "is one of...

Morning Links: Cheerios ebook code. Goodreads spam?
April 22, 2015 | 9:00 am

ebook codePublishers Finally Taking the Reins on Web Marketing (Digital Book World) I’ve noticed that for the first time there is nearly universal agreement on the following five things... *** Cheerios Box Prize: An eBook Code (GalleyCat) General Mills is bringing the cereal box prize into the 21st century by giving away eBooks through breakfast cereal packaging. *** Goodreads Now Filling Your Update Feed With Spam, Er “Sponsored Posts” (Ink, Bits & Pixels) When Goodreads restructured their social network late last month I predicted that they would shortly use author pages for marketing purposes, and now it looks like I was about half right. *** Tory Chairman Accused of Smearing...

Hugo Gernsback: The man who put the Hugo – and the bad karma – in the Hugos
April 21, 2015 | 4:25 pm

The sad Sad Puppies saga in the Hugo Awards casts an unflattering light - in fact, two lights - on the man whose name they bear: Hugo Gernsback, "who founded the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories and who is considered one of the "fathers" of the science fiction genre," as the Hugo Awards Wikipedia page says. In fact, in 1960 he received a special Hugo Award as "The Father of Magazine Science Fiction." And the two lights are: first, Gernsback's personal ethics when dealing with his stable of pioneering science fiction authors, which according to quite a few sources,...

Book review: A Mirror of Shalott, by R.H. Benson, Archive.org
April 21, 2015 | 2:25 pm

English Catholic priest and author Robert Hugh Benson was one of the more eccentric and gifted scions of the family that also produced E.F. Benson (of ghost story and Mapp and Lucia fame) and A.C. Benson (author of "Land of Hope and Glory"). Son of an Archbishop of Canterbury, he left the Anglican priesthood to become a Catholic in 1903, and was appointed a supernumerary private chamberlain to the Pope in 1911. A prolific author, he published numerous novels and devotional works after his conversion, including the early dystopian science fiction/horror novel Lord of the World. He also produced ghost...

Your new literary competitor: IBM Watson
April 21, 2015 | 12:25 pm

As if competition from the giant online slushpile wasn't enough, seriously writerly folk now have an even more alarming threat: computer-generated works. And if you're a cookery writer, this is now a genuine and serious prospect. Because IBM's artificial intelligence/cognitive computing system IBM Skynet ... oops, I mean IBM Watson ... has now been set to work on human gastronomy, in partnership with the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), and has whipped up "a new book...introduced on April 14, 2015 – Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson. It features more than 65 original recipes exploding with irresistible new flavors developed by Watson...

Templates on way for Google Docs editing
April 21, 2015 | 10:25 am

Google Docs may not be the first choice of writing and editing software for all authors, especially compared to venerable Microsoft Word, but Google's free text productivity solution has a lot going for it - not least integration with Google Drive for cloud-based backups, and its privileged position on the ever-more-popular Chrome OS devices. Now thanks to a scoop on Android Police, it looks like we could have a headsup on template solutions in the offing for Google Docs. These speculations are based on teardowns - essentially forensic decompiling of a particular piece of software - of the APK packages for...

Morning Links: eBook production tools. Amazon adds audiobooks to KU in Germany
April 21, 2015 | 9:00 am

kuTen Great eBook Production Tools (Digital Book World) So while this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, it’s a quick guide to some of the best tools for four key pieces of the development process that ebook designers confront day in and day out. *** Library of Congress Releases Digital Audio of 75 Years of Recordings (GoodeReader) Google’s ambitious digitization project has started on that path to preservation, but the initial release yesterday from the Library of Congress has added even more highly valuable content: digital audio of famous recordings. *** Amazon Adds 2,000 Audiobooks to Kindle Unlimited in Germany (Ink, Bits & Pixels) Audiobooks have...