Dog-Eared and Dispatched
In this week’s rundown of the wild world of book culture, we investigate the University of Central Lancashire’s newest degree option: an MA in Self-Publishing. Next, we delve into a little book-related pop culture as we recap J.K. Rowling’s confession that star-crossed lovers Hermione and Ron would have most likely been in for a lifetime of couples’ therapy. Meanwhile, on the business side of things, we take a look at Simon and Schuster’s new industry-related website, 250 Words. Lastly, we give the latest details on the infamous e-book antitrust case as Apple moves one step closer to its damages trial and what is likely to be a bitter close to a long-drawn-out battle.
The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is in the process of launching the U.K.’s first degree in self-publishing. Commencing in September 2014, this MA program is said to have been sparked by the increased success of self-published authors, with the university citing E.L. James as one such example. As outlined on the university’s webpage, the program has been designed to “equip you with all of the necessary skills you will need to be a self-published author, including how to edit your book, how to lay it out, how to monitor sales, how to manage yourself and your finances, marketing yourself and your book, and how to create an eBook. The final part of the course will give you the opportunity to complete a finished copy of your book.” The course outline goes on to state that classes will be taught by industry experts, with frequent guest visits from well-known self-published authors. According to course leader Debbie Williams, “In the last two years, self-publishing has stopped being a dirty word and is a legitimate option for authors . . . Everyone has a book in them—and many of us have a manuscript sitting in the drawer, unsure what to do with it. Think of all the literary treasures that have never had the chance to see the light of day because their authors were put off by the traditional publishing model. Our new MA will help guide these individuals through the process to help them realise the dream of seeing their book in print.” Despite these claims, however, not everyone is feeling the love for this new degree or the sentiments professed by its proponents: “As a reality TV superfan/apologist, it’s tempting to visualize applicants to the University of Central Lancashire’s new MA program for self-publishing as reality TV contestants—the logical successors to wannabe singers, models, and hairstylists who don’t realize they’re taking the worst possible route to a dream that won’t come true,” stated MobyLives! contributor Martin Rouse. “Indeed, the program does not guarantee publishing success by any stretch of the imagination, or even a fun waste of time, but it does guarantee practice—practice in the skills required to get your book into the world, and, at the very least, practice investing money in a venture that will not bear fruit.” [GalleyCat, University of Central Lancashire, The Guardian, MobyLives!]
Despite the final book’s 2007 publication date and the last movie debuting in 2011, Harry Potter has managed to make headlines again this week thanks to J.K. Rowling’s latest disclosure, in which the British author indicated her regret for pairing Hermione Granger with Ron Weasley. In an interview with Wonderland magazine, Rowling stated, “I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.” As if channeling her audience, Rowling went on to say, “I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. [Pairing Ron and Hermione] was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility.” Both Rowling and Hermione actress Emma Watson indicated the couple would have likely faced relationship counseling in their future, with Watson telling The Sunday Times, “I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.” While some readers gleeful claim, “I told you so,” and others wonder whether Rowling shouldn’t have kept her doubts to herself, The Guardian takes this opportunity to compile their candidates for the 10 worst couples in literature. [GalleyCat, The Guardian, The Sunday Times]
A sign proclaiming they’re “open for business” is the homepage image patrons are greeted with on Simon and Schuster’s newly launched news site, 250 Words. Focusing on book business books, the website will not only include original essays, but interviews, reviews, and commentary on the publishing industry sourced from a variety of publishers. According to the site’s welcoming committee, new essays will be uploaded daily and, as you likely guessed, at a length of 250 words. “These pieces are not summaries or reviews but intended to excavate useful anecdotes and interesting ideas from books on management, leadership, investing, finance, marketing, psychology, and any other topic that touches on business—no matter how tangentially,” the press release explains. “The emphasis is on wisdom and practical advice. We want to provide ideas that will help you rethink the world and your work within it.” According to S&S president and CEO Carolyn K. Reidy, the idea is to establish 250 Words as a “publisher-agnostic site,” thereby “bringing attention to the books that are of the most interest to [readers], regardless of the source.” S&S has partnered with Fortune magazine on this project as well, with select articles from 250 Words to be featured on Fortune.com. [250words.com, GalleyCat, Shelf Awareness]
Class plaintiffs are pushing for damage charges against Apple in the neighborhood of $231-280 million, with the potential for these figures to be tripled to between $693-840 million based on the Treble Damages statute. The plaintiffs’ estimate is based on the before-and-after damages model created by Stanford Economics Professor Roger G. Noll, whose mathematical configurations put Apple’s charges at $308 million (or $924 with trebling). Currently, Apple’s attorneys are working to bar Noll’s testimony entirely, claiming that Noll’s model “assumes away important individual variances,” thereby indicating harm where none actually exists. Meanwhile, Apple continues to fight for the dismissal of their antitrust monitor, Michael Bromwich, with Apple attorneys appearing before a New York appeals court on Tuesday, February 4. Contesting the amount of power currently given to Bromwich, Apple lawyer Theodore Boutrous Jr. argued that “if the monitor’s activities are found improper by the federal appeals court later, Apple will have spent time and money it can’t get back.” According to the Wall Street Journal, the judges remained largely “unmoved” by the attorney’s speech, with Fortune‘s Philip Elmer-Dewitt noting that none of them were “particularly sympathetic to the idea that Apple—one of the richest companies in the world—might suffer ‘irreparable harm’ from paying the monitor’s fees, no matter how excessive they might seem.” Still, Dewitt added that the judges “were clearly troubled by the language of a Judge Cote ruling that seemed to give Bromwich the power to ask for ‘any’ document and interview ‘any’ Apple executive he saw fit,” with Judge Gerald Lynch inquiring if Apple would object “if the appeals court granted a partial stay that allowed Bromwich to proceed, but under new rules—drafted by the higher court—that made explicit what he could and couldn’t do?” Opposition briefs from Apple are due by February 21, with a reply brief due by March 7. Should no Summary Judgement be found, the case will continue to move toward the scheduled damages trial in May. [Publisher’s Weekly, MobyLives!, Wall Street Journal, Fortune]