Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Book Marks: Malaysia's Not-So-Small Press Scene, Plagiarism, Etc.

"The small press scene in Malaysia is, as it turns out, not so small after all," says TimeOut KL, which has a good write-up of the current state of KL's local publishing scene. Thank you, Ng Su Ann and TimeOut KL.

On a related note: Sandakan-based author Sahidzan Salleh, author of the mystery thriller novel Delirium talks about the book, his writing career and the difficulties of getting published in Sabah.


  • A piece on Iran's "lawless" publishing sector, where foreign books are apparently being translated and published without permission. This stood out because sometime ago, the company received a request to publish what looked like English workbooks from a Middle Eastern author. Turns out they were "adaptations" of stuff by Longman, who we notified and they informed us that this fellow isn't authorised to republish these books. I hope they found him and shut him down.
  • In Europe, there's a court case going on which might determine if it's legal to resell e-books and, by extension, software and other digital material.
  • It seems there's an audiobook boom happening. According to Digital Book World, "Publishers submitting to the Audio Publishers Association (APA) Sales Survey reported a production increase from 7,237 titles in 2011 to 35,574 titles in 2015—a nearly 500-percent increase. Sales revenue of audio has been continuously gaining as well, with nearly 21 percent growth reported for 2015 over the prior year."
  • At the Kuala Lumpur Trade and Copyright Centre (KLTCC) fair, Anna Katarina Rodriguez, the deputy executive director of the Philippines' National Book Development Board (NBDB) reportedly said that in her country, "It's expensive to love books." Here are some of the reasons.
  • "In the world of self-publishing, where anyone can put a document on Amazon and call it a book, many writers are seeing their work being appropriated without their permission." Joy Lanzendorfer's story in The Atlantic dives into the issue of plagiarism in online book publishing, which she argues is mostly driven by profit. Lanzendorfer cites one alleged plagiarist who says she was inspired by Amanda Hocking, one-time poster girl for e-publishing success. I'm pretty sure Hocking wrote her own books, at least. There's also the recently reported case of B. Mitchell Cator, who was also accused of plagiarism.
  • "Startups can't explain what they do because they're addicted to meaningless jargon", blares a headline in Quartz. "These words sound technical and informed," the writer, Josh Horwitz, states. "But they mean nothing, and they make it difficult for ordinary people to understand what a company actually does. In an effort to either sound smart and attract investors, or to simply dress up an otherwise boring product, startups that rely too much on jargon end up alienating the users they want to attract."
  • In Lucky Peach, Andrea Nguyen's beautiful and detailed long read about the history of pho. Seems I was not alone in wondering if Malaysians can write just as much about our own dishes.
  • "Dystopian themes are not entirely new in Arabic fiction," according to Alexandra Alter in The New York Times. "But they have become much more prominent in recent years, publishers and translators say. The genre has proliferated in part because it captures the sense of despair that many writers say they feel in the face of cyclical violence and repression. At the same time, futuristic settings may give writers some measure of cover to explore charged political ideas without being labeled dissidents."
  • A journalist's book on the 2002 Gujarat riots was trolled (and probably still is) on Amazon India, likely by the country's nationalist types. Another attempt to kill a book by a thousand one-star reviews.
  • A short story about a cow and chewing gum by an Indian academic beat 4,000 other contestants to the £5,000 Commonwealth short story prize. Yes, I can see how it could.


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