Monday, 11 November 2013

News: Amazon, Book-Review Rules, And An Editor's Firing

Amazon offers independent bookstores a cut of Kindle sales through some kind of scheme. The indies, however, don't seem to be biting.

Meanwhile, somebody made a list of forty-five indie bookstores in the US (sorry, rest of the world) to visit this holiday season. For some reason, Ann Patchett's Parnassus Books leads the list.

The editor-in-chief of Guns & Ammo magazine hoped for a "healthy exchange of ideas" in the gun control debate looks set to fall on his sword after a "mild" pro-gun control column got brickbats from readers. From some of the knuckledraggers' reactions to the "mild" column, he seems to have forgotten who comprises his core audience.

The Washington Post responds to Buzzfeed Book's decision to only publish positive reviews (and not the "scathing" takedowns seen in "so many old media-type places"), with a list of ten 'edited' mean book reviews.

Meanwhile, this was what apparently happened when Publisher's Weekly bans the words "compelling", "poignant", and "unique" from its reviews. Wordsmiths can be such smartasses. Well, maybe PW might want to consider 'new' book review formats such as animated GIFs, memes and liveblogs.

Other interesting titbits:

  • In the 18th and 19th centuries, some Indians went west - waaay west: An excerpt from Gaiutra Bahadur's new book, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture about an ancestor's journey as an indentured labourer in the Caribbean.
  • Steven Poole defends the use of "basically". "...if something like 'basically' becomes a sort of reflexively used communal tic, then it can perturb those who value linguistic variety as much as any other excessively used word," he writes in The Guardian. "Too often, though, such usages – especially when they have been made popular by young people – are denounced by others who haven't thought hard enough about their semantic and social function, and who instead dismiss them as impoverished and degenerate forms of speech."
  • In Newsweek, William T Vollmann's "lush life". This is the guy that Anis Shivani thought was among the 15 most overrated contemporary American writers. Read the Newsweek piece and judge for yourself.
  • Why new species are being named after pop-culture figures: For hits, from the sound of it.
  • Kamus Dewan to be available online via Oxford University Press next year?
  • Feeling trapped by ideas of what a novel should be? It might just be you. At least that's what I got from Sam Sacks's piece in The New Yorker, which cites passages from Tim Parks's article (among others) about how unhappy Parks is over "traditional novels" where everything about it seems manufactured and how it enforces only one way of looking at the world. Maybe, Sacks suggests, Parks is too wrapped up in the novel's structure to take note of what the novel is trying to say.
  • Pakistani education officials reportedly banned "tool of the west" Malala Yousafzai's memoir, I Am Malala, from private schools across the country for such things as not respecting Islam and speaking "favourably" of author Salman Rushdie and Ahmadis.
  • If you're wondering why you can't seem to find copies of The Embassy House by Dylan Davies: Simon & Schuster has recalled it after it got wind of some information. Davies was the source of the flawed 60 Minutes Benghazi report that Republicans in the US have been annoying Hillary Clinton with.
  • Robert Pattinson has a role in silver-screen adaptation of David Grann's Lost City of Z? It's only been a short while since I talked about this book and the city.
  • Ooh, PKR's Rafizi Ramli to write a book on the National Feedlot Centre scandal to inspire people to fight graft? According to The Malay Mail, "The Pandan MP said the book would reveal what happened behind the scenes of the high-profile cattle farming project, which he had linked to former Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's family." Don't lah drop this right after people agree to drop a defamation suit against you....
  • This Land Was Made for You and Me (but Mostly Me), David Letterman's "selfish" endeavour with Bruce McCall.
  • Gene Luen Yang speaks to The New Yorker about Boxers and Saints, which looks like an interesting graphic novel.
  • Some stuff from Salon about: the fish we don't eat (by "we", I'm guessing Yankees); how Michael Pollan and other foodies don't get the meat business (says Maureen Ogle, author of In Meat We Trust); and The Heart of Everything That Is, a "vibrant new biography" of Sioux chieftain Red Cloud.
  • Nominees for the Bad Sex Award 2013 are here. Take cover!


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