Late Night Library

Dog-Eared and Dispatched: October 20, 2013

Dog-Eared and Dispatched

It’s been a week of surprising revelations in the wild world of book culture, ladies and gentlemen. The Man Booker committee kicked us off by announcing 28-year-old Eleanor Catton as this year’s grand prize winner. Then, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote earned the continued ire of Apple proponents with her appointment of former U.S. prosecutor Michael Bromwich as the government’s two-year antitrust watchdog. Meanwhile, Macmillan and the Big Five seek to mend relationships with librarians by introducing expanded e-book loan services. Finally, a New Mexico high school puts Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere up for review following one parent’s complaint over “inappropriate content.” 

Photo by Olivia Harris of Reuters

On Tuesday, October 15, Canadian-born Eleanor Catton, a New Zealand resident, was awarded the 2013 Man Booker Prize for her novel, The Luminaries, a historical and psychological murder mystery set in 19th century New Zealand. At 28 years old, Catton is the youngest author to ever receive this prestigious literary honor. Conversely, at 848 pages, her novel is the longest book to take home the prize. “I feel very honored and proud to be living in a world where the facts of somebody’s biography doesn’t affect how people read the book,” Catton told The Telegraph. “I think that’s true of age and also ethnicity and all sorts of features of being human. When people can look beyond that and consider the work in itself, it’s always a good thing.” Of Catton’s work in relation to her age, Man Booker Prize Chairman Robert Macfarlane stated, “Maturity is evident in every sentence, in the rhythms and balances. It is a novel of astonishing control.” In addition to Catton’s Luminaries, the Man Booker shortlist comprised NoViolet Buawayo’s debut novel We Need New Names, Jim Crace’s Harvest (which, as recently as Monday, had been the favored bet among gamblers), Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland, and Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary. A free excerpt of The Luminaries—courtesy of Granta Books—can be found here. [Shelf Awareness, The New York Times, The Telegraph, GalleyCat, Granta Books]

Photo by Scott Eells of Bloomberg

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote has appointed former U.S. prosecutor Michael Bromwich as the monitor for Apple, Inc. following the company’s loss in the Apple vs. DOJ antitrust lawsuit this past summer. Critics of this decision—and perhaps of Cote’s final judgment as a whole—have noted that while Bromwich does have reform management experience, his background in antitrust matters is slim to none. This is likely the impetus behind Cote’s added decision to call on the assistance of Barry Nigro, the chair of the antitrust department at the Fried Frank law firm;  for the next two years, Bromwich and Nigro will partner to review Apple’s antitrust policies and procedures and verify that the company is in compliance with the court’s ruling. Although Apple has yet to make a public statement regarding this choice in monitor, the company did file for appeal in early October with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. [Shelf Awareness, All Thing Digital, The Los Angeles Times]


Graphic courtesy of Macmillan Publishers

Last January, Macmillan began an e-book lending program via its imprint, Minotaur Books. At the time of its inception, the company offered over 1.200 of its backlisted e-books to libraries through OverDrive, 3M and Baker & Taylor, and Recorded Books. The program is structured such that titles purchased are available to libraries to lend over either a two year period or 52 lends—whichever occurs first. On Thursday. October 17, Macmillan announced the expansion of this program, with libraries now gaining purchasing power over MacMillan’s entire backlist of more than 11,000 e-books. This decision may help alleviate some of the tension that has grown between publishers and libraries regarding e-books, with Penguin, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster all making similar digital lending choices within the past year.  In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, 3M global business manager Matt Tempelis stated, “3M has been involved in multiple pilots expanding publisher access and reach to librar[ies]. For 3M and our customers, this is more confirmation that the library digital lending business is accretive to publisher sales and margins.” [Publisher’s Weekly, Appnewser]

Photo by Graeme Robertson of
The Guardian

A public outcry occurred this week over the withdrawal of Neil Gaiman’s Young Adult novel, Neverwhere, from the Alamogordo High School (AHS) reading list in New Mexico. This urban fantasy novel was temporarily removed from the 10th grade curriculum following one parent’s complaint over “inappropriate content.” According to the Alamogordo News, such content consists of a “four-paragraph passage graphically describ[ing] an adulterous sexual encounter between a married man and a single woman in which the F-word is used three times, along with a brief description of groping of one’s anatomy.”  Superintendent Dr. George Straface followed up on this complaint by reviewing the book himself, later stating, “I can see where it could be considered offensive. The F-word is used. There is a description of a sexual encounter that is pretty descriptive, and it’s between a married man and a single woman. Although kids can probably see that on TV anytime they want, we are a public school using taxpayer dollars. On that basis, we have decided to temporarily remove the book until we can review it with our panels and make a decision.” Upon hearing the news, Gaiman, a notorious Twitterphile, sent a message to the world asking, “Is anyone fighting back?”—a tweet which, as of this posting, has received 154 retweets and 30 favorites. Neverwhere, which has been part of the AHS reading list since 2004, is scheduled for review next week by an undetermined panel of constituents. To AHS English teacher Pam Thorp, however, the issue is already clear: “The implication that we are careless or irresponsible simply is not true. Presenting challenging material of merit that may contain some foul language or mature situations, in a sensitive and academic manner, is part of our responsibility to our students in order to engage them in evaluating the human condition. I take that responsibility very seriously and strive every day to encourage my students to think … about the world, about their community, about their friends and about themselves. Censorship is the opposite of that.” [The Guardian, GalleyCat, Alamogordo News]

Posted on: October 20, 2013 · Blog, Dog-Eared & Dispatched, Homepage ·Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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