Tuesday, 26 June 2012

News: Crossing Borders, Self-Plagiarism and... Aslan Is A What?

Borders cross over employee's arrest
On Tuesday, the store manager of a Borders bookstore chain outlet in The Gardens, Mid Valley City, was charged in the Syariah High Court with selling copies of the recently banned book Allah, Liberty and Love. If convicted, she faces a RM3,000 (US$952) fine or a maximum of two years' jail or both.

As of posting, over 120 people were angered by the news (in Free Malaysia Today). Of course, Canadian news outlets have an interest in the case as well. And... oh look, we're in the New York Times!

But according to other news sources, the manager was charged on 23 May. That was the day officials from the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) raided the premises and seized copies of the book, which was only banned days later.

The COO of the group that owns Borders in Malaysia has issued a strongly titled statement on the affair, saying that the manager is not responsible for what goes on the shelves, and that the seized books were not banned at the time of JAWI's 'visit'. Borders claimed that they were not informed that the book was banned. More serious are allegations of high-handed behaviour by JAWI officials towards several Borders employees, including the manager in question.

Unsurprisingly, some have called this move "childish" or "Gestapo tactics". We've heard this story before: same plot, different books. That this pantomime is being repeated means nothing has been learnt at all. Can anyone confirm if that other book is officially banned?

Some debate whether the religious department was operating outside legal boundaries in the seizure of the books but, apparently, it was not. But one wonders what this would mean for the country's bookstores. Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd, which owns Borders in Malaysia, has since been allowed to challenge the raid and book seizure.

Here's a short history of book banning, which I first encountered on the ARTiculations blog, to read while we wait for the latest developments in the case.

The Witch, The Wardrobe and ... The Giraffe?
'Butter comes from wheat' and other horrors: Food ignorance in the UK. Perhaps, even more horrific: One in 5 UK kids think Long John Silver is from Peter Pan and Aslan of the Chronicles of Narnia series is a giraffe.

Lion facepalm
Says it all, really. Not Aslan - but it could be. Photo from here.

Meanwhile, Tim Waterstone lets us in on what led him to found his bookstore chain. Wonder what he feels about the Aslan thing?

Can you steal from yourself?
Somebody at Slate thinks Jonah Lehrer plagiarised himself when he started spending more time peddling ideas instead of coming up with new ones.

Should writers be allowed to recycle their material? Some believe that, if the material has appeared elsewhere before, readers should be told of its origins should it be re-used.

Other news
  • "There are two things you don't throw out in France — bread and books." Physical books are doing fine in France (because of price fixing and banning of discounts). Not so in Saskatchewan, Canada, where thirty tonnes of books without takers is set to go up in smoke.
  • No siree, e-books are not easy to make at all. A few e-book myths are debunked.
  • The New Republic's book critic Ruth Franklin, among other things, bemoans the 'taming' of book reviews and calls for sharper commentary.
  • "Not everyone can read proof." The story of a millionaire copy editor is amazing, but not because of her money.
  • Alice Walker won't let a publisher print and sell the latest edition of The Color Purple in Israel, citing the state's "apartheid" policies. I don't think it'll accomplish much, like many symbolic gestures.
  • Are book self-publishers wasting time with promos? Depends.
  • Arabic children's book publisher on the challenges facing the industry in the Arab world.


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