Monday, 28 April 2014

News: Johor Frees Libraries, Etc

Last week, Johor announced that it will abolish public library fees:

"[Johor's Chief Minister] Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin hoped that the new initative would help to increase the membership currently at 350,000. The libraries recorded some one million visitors.

...From today, those registering as new members no longer have to pay RM5 for children and senior citizens, RM10 for teenagers and RM20 for adults aged between 18 and 50 years old.

Good news, I suppose, but like the Chief Minister says, the challenge is "how to attract and encourage youngsters to read books and other materials".


  • The producer of a Taiwanese TV drama called The Palace: The Lost Daughter is alleged to have ripped off the storyline from Taiwanese novelist Qiong Yao's Plum Blossom Scar. Qiong's works also include Princess Pearl (Huan Xu Ge Ge), Six Dreams (Liu Ge Meng), and Green Green Grass by the River (Qing Qing He Bian Cao).
  • Mali librarian Abdel Kader Haidara, "The Brave Sage of Timbuktu" who fought to save priceless manuscripts from rampaging Islamists.
  • George Psalmanazar, the fake Formosan who fooled 18th-century London. Like the story of Pedro Carolino's hilarious English-language guide, I also read about Psalmanazar in one of those Reader's Digest Amazing Tales books, though I can't recall if both were in the same publication. These days, invented personalities boost TV ratings.
  • Q&A with big-data literary critic Franco Moretti, who wants to study bad books, preferably without reading them. So it sounds like he wants to run all these books through an algorithm that determines whether a book is good or bad. Would the output be better than human-written reviews (or hatchet jobs) and fun to read?
  • Elizabeth Minkel went to the London Book Fair where the biggest takeaway were the free tote bags. "There are pens, too," she adds, "but the totes are where it’s at."

    But no solid, long-term solutions to what ails traditional publishing. "With books," Minkel says, "the endless debate about the medium, the cheap and dirty ebook versus the august printed page, always seemed to obscure the book publishing industry’s somewhat shaky revenue models to begin with: attempts at changing the industry, the bare-minimum embrace of technology, look like weak computerized bandages on older, deeper wounds."
  • OMG OMG OMG, one half of this duo went on a trip and wrote a book about it. Guess what I'm going to get next.


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