Can you believe those...those...those...sons of bitches at Amazon? After launching almost 20 years ago and making virtually every book-new, used, dead-tree, electronic, audio, and I'm guessing any day now, olfactory-available to everyone in America at good-to-great prices, the company's true character now stands revealed. It's not pretty, folks. Despite a huge market share, Amazon apparentlystill wants books, especially the e-books that everyone agrees are the future of the medium, to be cheaper than what publishers and big-name authors want you to pay for them.
Thanks to the internet, it has never been easier to steal other people's work. There's also a high risk you'll be found out. So why do it? Rhodri Marsden goes in search of a little originality.
It's not that hard to think of something totally original. If you don't worry about it being any good, it's easy. "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously," was Noam Chomsky's spirited attempt in his ground-breaking 1957 book on linguistics, Syntactic Structures.
It would run to over a million pages, featuring more than four million articles by 20 million volunteers: an "record-breaking" new project to turn Wikipedia into 1,000 books has just launched on Indiegogo. Conceived by the team who work on the open source book tool for Wikipedia at publisher PediaPress, the Indiegogo fundraiser is looking to raise $50,000 (£30,000) to bring Wikipedia into print. "We all know that Wikipedia is huge. The English version alone consists of more than four million articles. But can you imagine how large Wikipedia really is?
Millions of out-of-print books and historical videoclips, black-and-white movies, nearly forgotten TV shows and pop songs are all available with a credit card or in many cases for free. It used to be that, for economic and technological reasons, this cultural history was locked away. Libraries and corporate archives kept a small subset of it available, but the rest was in storage, out of reach. The reversal has happened in just the past decade.
In a big year for e-books, two behemoths went to court while new services and companies emerged. Apple faced allegations over e-book pricing, calling into question the prices of e-books in general. Amazon went to court over access to e-books but saw its case tossed. New services from Amazon and streaming e-book companies emerged in the market, while Nook still declines. The access of e-books in libraries increased while the Digital Millennium Copyright Act limited access for people with disabilities.
Noted in NPR's Thursday, November 21 report on the National Book Award winners was that "a visibly shocked (James) McBride accepted the fiction prize. Considered the clear underdog, he said he wouldn't have minded if any of the other finalists won because they 'are all fine writers.'"
McBride's novel The Good Lord Bird is about a young slave (delightfully named 'Little Onion') who joins the abolitionist John Brown in his anti-slavery mission.
A book is a book is a book—is it not? Not in the hall at the former Church of Christ, Scientist, now turned into the magnificent home of the Internet Archive on Funston Avenue at the edge of the Presidio in San Francisco. The Archive, established in 1996 with the goal of offering permanent access to records that exist in digital format, is the venue for the annual Books in Browsers conference, which took place on October 24th and 25th. This reporter attended this year for the first time, and had her mind blown.
A few weeks ago the publishing world was aflutter with the latest Kobo tablet launch which introduced the reader-centric Kobo Arcs. Much of the talk centered on whether or not the Kobo Arc would challenge the preeminence of Amazon's Kindle Fire. We wondered the same thing, and reached out to Publishing Business Conference speaker and Kobo VP of Vendor Management, Dave Anderson. Anderson will speak on Tuesday September 24th at "Ebooks Beyond Our Borders," where you can see him discuss issues relating to the global ebook market.
Just over a year ago, I wrote a post for this blog headlined “When Dickens Met Dostoevsky (Maybe).” The headline was a bit cute, perhaps; as I noted in the post, the supposed meeting was highly disputed—though not, at that point, definitively refuted—by scholars, and the essay which prompted the blog post, Christopher Hitchens’ last for Vanity Fair, was itself skeptical of the encounter. Still, it was a terrific story, one that had been recounted in two recent Dickens biographies as well as multiple essays and reviews.
Andy Ward has edited George Saunders’ writing since 2005, first at GQ, and now at Random House. On the occasion of Saunders’ new collection, Tenth of December, Ward and Saunders emailed each other about writing, editing, outtakes, and how over and over again The Novel becomes a story.
Ward: Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s a story in this here collection, “Semplica Girl Diaries,” that you started in 1998 and finished in September of 2012, 14 years later.
Saunders: Yes, and thanks for bringing up that painful subject.