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December 4, 2013
New Bill In U.S. Congress Could Make College Textbooks Free
December 3, 2013
"[That] is the idea behind the Affordable College Textbook Act, a bill recently introduced in Congress by Senators Dick Durbin and Al Franken. The bill would create a grant program that would support the creation and use of so-called 'open textbooks,' meaning textbooks that are licensed under terms that allow them to be accessed and distributed for free."
Melville House 12/04/13
Why Are Lists The Crack Cocaine Of Journalism?
"Despite the growing derision of listicles exemplified by the comic, numbered lists--a venerable media format--have become one of the most ubiquitous ways to package content on the Web."
The New Yorker 12/02/13
Rare Biblical Texts From Bodleian And Vatican Libraries Digitized
December 2, 2013
"A Gutenberg Bible, a dazzlingly illuminated 15th-century Hebrew Bible from Spain and a copy of Maimonides's 12th-century commentary on the Mishnah written in the philosopher's own hand are among the rare bibles and biblical commentaries from the Vatican Library and the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford that have been digitized and posted online."
The New York Times 12/02/13
Will Ebooks Build An African Book Culture?
December 1, 2013
"More than 160 million people are now connected throughout the continent, mostly on mobile phones. With internet access surging and connectivity increasing, the doors are being thrown open to digital publishing."
Don't Look To E-Books For Reinventing The Experience Of Reading
"Even as the universe of printed matter continues to shrivel, the book -- or at least some of its best-known features -- is showing remarkable staying power online. The idea is apparently embedded so deeply in the collective unconsciousness that no one can bear to leave it behind."
The New York Times 12/02/13
Is Science Fiction A Genre In Crisis?
Its problem "comprises the generic-ness from which the label genre stems: in this case, the outdated stylistic tics and aesthetics of a marginal pulp-modernist medium, the clichés, the well-worn assumptions and comfortable call-backs, and the outdated institutional values in which they were nurtured and framed."
Los Angeles Review of Books 12/01/13
Novelist Error Messages
"Cannot proceed with this manuscript because the plot cannot be found in the first third of the text."
Maggie Stiefvater 11/30/13
How Modern Is Charles Dickens? Look To The Bestseller Lists
"Writers as different as Martin Amis and Chicago's Scott Turow have spoken to me of the tidal pull of Dickens on their imaginations; so, more recently, have Elizabeth Gilbert and Donna Tartt, whose current best-sellers ('The Signature of All Things' and 'The Goldfinch,' respectively) display their Dickensian affinities like badges of honor."
Chicago Tribune 11/27/13
Lighting Up The Mysterious Process Of Writing (And Reading)
November 29, 2013
The Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg is writing a novella "while a battery of sensors and cameras track his brain waves, heart rate, galvanic skin response ... and facial expressions." Fifty readers will also get hooked up to sensors when the book comes out - and then let the data crunching begin.
The New York Times 11/30/13
Rare Book Thefts In Naples (And Where's The Librarian?)
November 27, 2013
"The very man charged with protecting these treasures, Marino Massimo De Caro, a politically connected former director of the library, is accused of being at the center of a network of middlemen, book dealers and possibly crooked conservators -- all part of what prosecutors say is a sometimes corrupt market for rare books in which much is spent and few questions are asked."
The New York Times 11/29/13
Optimistic: A Rise In The Number Of Independent Bookstores
"With Amazon.com's ever increasing presence, it may be surprise to hear that there are more independent bookstores now than there were four years ago. Among the likely reasons: the closure of hundreds of Borders stores and the buy local movement."
America's Oldest Book Is Now Most Expensive Printed Volume Ever
The Bay Psalm Book, a new translation from the Hebrew of the Biblical Psalms printed in Massachusetts in 1640 for the use of Puritan worshipers, was sold by Boston's Old South Church at a Sotheby's auction for $14.6 million.
CNN 11/26/13 (includes slide show)
Barnes & Noble Posts Profit Despite Falling Sales
"Barnes & Noble Inc, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, on Tuesday reported a higher than expected quarterly profit as it cut store workers' hours scaled back its money losing Nook business, helping it offset sharp sales declines ... [of] 8 percent."
Why Arendt's Eichmann In Jerusalem Is Still Contentious After 50 Years
Adam Kirsch: "What made, and still makes, [the book] so inflammatory to some readers is in large part Arendt's tone; but tone, in this case, is closely connected to substance." Rivka Galchen: "Many of the objections to her work are based on arguments [she] never made."
The New York Times 12/01/13
William Tell, Cyborg Comic Book Superhero
November 26, 2013
"In the comic Tell
, the legendary nationalist has returned as a towering cyborg who protects a crumbling future Switzerland from villains sowing anarchy in once-pristine Zurich. Tell's digital eyes identify foes, and his trademark crossbow shoots radiation-tipped arrows."
The Wall Street Journal 11/26/13
Vladimir Putin's Dead Poets Society
November 25, 2013
"Putin apparently decided recently that it was time for him to take over literature, and he reached for the only kind of literary legitimacy he understands: the great names." Masha Gessen visits the University of the Friendship of the Peoples in Moscow for the All-Russian Literary Gathering, packed with namesakes and relations of Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Solzhentsyn, etc.
The New York Times 11/25/13
Is Fan Fiction The Next Great Genre?
November 24, 2013
"Fan fiction in its current form was born in the late 1960s, in the pages of mimeographed science-fiction fanzines. But it has flourished in the Internet age."
Pacific Standard 11/25/13
Why The Google Ruling Is Great For Readers
"The book is becoming more like the web, opened up to web-like forms of inquiry, to searching, excerpting and analysis. In the long term, the possibilities for research, learning and discovery are endless."
The Observer (UK) 11/23/13
The Problem With Book Awards
November 22, 2013
"Some of the best of our writers, even those with international reputations are unknown to the general reader as a result of what we feel is the narrow focus of our reviewers and awards cultures. "
The Wall Street Journal 11/23/13
What Makes Something Canadian Literature?
"Academics have been scrambling to find some kind of official criterion for inclusion in this canon since at least the 1950s - Is it a literature that is made here, or set here, or addresses uniquely Canadian themes? - and they have always been curiously hidebound about it, always trying to find ways to restrict membership in this club rather than to open it up."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/22/13
Why Should Doris Lessing Have Been All Flustered And Grateful About The Nobel Prize?
November 21, 2013
"Winning the Nobel Prize was not the most important moment of Doris Lessing's extraordinary and prolific life, and it seems as though some of her critics won't forgive her for not pretending that it was, just as they won't forgive her for leaving her two young children in the care of their father, in Rhodesia, so that she could pursue a different kind of life."
The New Yorker 11/20/13
Surprise Winner Of National Book Award For Fiction
November 20, 2013
"James McBride won the National Book Award on Wednesday night for The Good Lord Bird
, an irreverent, sharp-eyed novel narrated by an escaped slave. ... In nonfiction, George Packer won for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America
The New York Times 11/21/13
How The Venerable Oxford English Dictionary Is Changing
November 19, 2013
"Behind the updating and revising of the OED is another, much bigger story: the inexorable growth of English itself. At a conservative estimate, 1bn people now speak it as a second or foreign language, while the 375m for whom it is a mother tongue continue to mould their own varieties in ways that the dictionary's original compilers could never have imagined. As such, the OED finds itself in the curious position of being a national institution called upon, almost by default, to assume the role of a global one."
Financial Times 11/18/13
Why I Left Traditional Publishers For EBooks
"After writing more than 20 books, with major publishers behind them, I have found it increasingly difficult to get new ideas accepted. It is also frustrating as a writer to have a non-fiction book that is up-to-the-minute when "completed", only for it to come out maybe nine months later and seem slightly dated."
The Guardian (UK) 11/19/13
Why The Internet Isn't A Distraction For Writers
"Especially in this technical age, the tools a writer has to work with change almost daily -- today the Internet, tomorrow nanobot implants for the brain. But I believe the process stays essentially the same."
The New York Times 11/19/13
If Amazon-The-Book-Publisher Can't Sell In Bookstores Will It Really Succeed?
"Despite the success of sales through Amazon's own outlets, agents said that some authors will remain reluctant to sign with the company because of the belief that they could do better if their books were sold through physical stores, as well as through online retailers such as Amazon."
Publishers Weekly 11/08/13
China's Longest, Raciest Piece Of Classical Pornography Appears In Unexpurgated English
November 18, 2013
Scholar David Tod Roy hs spent four decades translating The Plum in the Golden Vase
, a 3,000-page 16th-century novel with a centuries-old reputation for both social realism and breathtaking raunch. "And Mr. Roy's scholarly colleagues are no less awe-struck at his erudition, which seemingly leaves no literary allusion or cultural detail unannotated."
The New York Times 11/19/13
Publishers Still Have Lots Of Money To Bet On Big Novels
November 17, 2013
"Publishers lament that their margins are razor-thin and literary fiction doesn't sell and the days of big advances are long gone. But guess what? They're rolling in cash. They're splashing it about like it's 1989. What recession? What Twitter? What video games? They are longing, desperately longing, not just for the next sado-eccliasto-vampire pulp, but for a certain kind of old-fashioned sociopolitical Big Novel. And betting on it."
The Globe & Mail (Canada) 11/15/13
How To Write 5000 Words A Day For (Approximately) $20 An Hour
"It isn't particularly hard to write any of this because it's already obvious how the writing should go. This type of writing is like driving a car to the airport; you already know how to get there, you just need to make sure you follow the rules and don't crash along the way."
The Billfold 11/15/13
If You Leave New York, You'd Better Hope You Feel Like Rebecca Wolff
Many writers who leave NY feel wistful nostalgia, but "Rebecca Wolff, a Manhattan native who now lives upstate, delivers an impassioned, highly entertaining diatribe that includes the line 'New York is a giant sinking pile of crap compared to what it used to be.'"
Los Angeles Review of Books 11/17/13
The Math Of Book Advances, And Other Tales From The Inside
"Approximately four out of every five books published lose money. Or five out of six, or six out of seven. Estimates vary, depending on how gloomy the CFO is the day you ask him and what kinds of shell games are being played in Accounting."
Vulture (New York Magazine) 11/16/13
How Did Miami (Yes, Miami) Become A Center For Book Culture?
November 15, 2013
"In 1984, when Eduardo J. Padrón, the president of Miami Dade College, asked Mitchell Kaplan, owner of the fledgling Books & Books shop in Coral Gables, to help him start a book fair in Miami's downtown area, the preferred ZIP code for prostitutes and vagrants, quixotic was a polite term for their vision."
The New York Times 11/15/13
Why The Ruling For Google In The Book-Digitizing Case Is A Good One
"The principle of fair use has come under so much fire in recent years that it's nice to see someone supporting the idea that there is a public benefit to the widespread availability of content. And the ruling doesn't prevent anyone from suing in the future if Google oversteps its bounds."