Monday, 23 April 2012

Apple Trouble, Pulitzer Snub, And Seeing Red At LBF

Apple Lawsuit News Round-up
Are we all sick of "Apple vs DoJ" and "Amazon wins"? I am. I'm following the developments but I can't be bothered to comment at length about each stage or revelation that surfaces. So here's a list of links.

Last week, publishers Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon &Schuster were reportedly seeking a settlement with the US Department of Justice regarding allegations of them colluding with Apple to fix prices of e-books.

What does Apple say about it? "See you in court." But not in Europe, apparently, where it and most of the named publishers have reportedly decided to settle with the EU competition commission. Now, it seems Canada wants to sue Apple for e-book price-fixing, too.

Some others also wonder who's the real price fixer: Apple or Amazon? For one, the indie book publishers feel it's Amazon that's the 800lb gorilla. There's also the opinion that book publishing is staring at a dilemma similar to that faced by the music industry back when music started going digital.

While speculation has begun over what the Apple lawsuit will mean for readers, somebody asks: Who was the stool pigeon in the case?

Meanwhile, in the Amazon jungle...
Jeff Bezos speaks to Amazon's shareholders in a written annual addresss. "...even well-meaning gatekeepers slow innovation," he said at one point. Care to guess who these "gatekeepers" might be?

Amazon also bought the US licensing rights for Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, allowing it to republish the titles. The time limit is ten years.

Pulitzer fiction flap
The decision to not award a Pulitzer for fiction this year outraged the publishing industry, as well as the Prize's jurors who worked hard to pick the finalists.

Peeved over the snub, some publishers offered their 'winning' picks. Said Ann Patchett of the decision, "This was the year we all lost."

It seems that the rules say that a title must obtain a clear majority vote to win. The three shortlisted titles: Denis Johnson's Train Dreams, Karen Russell's Swamplandia! and the unfinished The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace did not get the required number of votes.

The ...kerfuffle? ...has sparked some calls for the rules to be changed. But just how significant are such prizes in the era of the million-dollar fanfic?

Seeing red at the 2012 London Book Fair
Chinese author Ma Jian's protest paints London Book Fair red.

Also at the Fair, a reporter's encounters with China's book censors, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP)... were not pretty. One instance:

At the information desk, staffed by young Chinese women studying in the UK, I asked whether Gao Xingjian, the Nobel Laureate, would be speaking. None had heard of him. I said he lived just over the Channel in Paris. One of the young women said: "Then he's not a Chinese, right?" I said he was indeed, had lived most of his life there, and had resigned from the Party. They looked embarrassed.

...When [a lackey] asked [her boss] in Chinese if they had Gao's books he said, in English, that Gao wasn't a Chinese and that, like all foreigners, "he lied about China." I asked him what sort of lies. He said in Chinese to his young assistant, "Don’t talk to this foreigner." I told him in Chinese I could understand every word he had said, whereupon he told me, in English, "You're a shit." I replied, Bici, bici, ... the feeling is mutual.

Read the whole thing. Online and offline, it looks like the China's censors can't operate without being standoffish.

Other news
  • Our National Library is targetting to have 28,000 new book titles by 2015. Would that number include e-books? If it does, easy-peasy. Will the potential tsunami of local e-books give rise to our own 50 Tona Kelabu?
  • How (some) book publishers decide what to publish. Can be instructional.
  • More writing tips: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do. From the Los Angeles Festival of Books, three pieces of writing advice from "great" non-fiction writers Tom Bissell, Mark Dery and David Bellos.
  • Lauren Myracle responds to being on US library association's list of most frequently challenged books of 2011.
  • The activity that dare not speak its name: a guy's mom's secret writing life.
  • Has Kindle killed the book cover industry? Some may argue "yes". To emphasise the point, Booktango introduces a free feature for designing e-book covers.
  • The story behind Germany's low e-book sales. Maybe it explains the culture that gives the EU competition commission its teeth.
  • "Would you blurb my book, Mr Mansbach?" Adam Mansbach, in short: "Go the f— to sleep."

Ah, and there's the KL International Book Fair 2012 from 27 April to 6 May at PWTC. Going there this Saturday might be a bit tough, though....


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