Dog-Eared and Dispatched: April 19, 2015
A busy week this week, with crowded headlines for international literature, print sales, and the business of ebooks (pricing and price-fixing). We look first at the literary giants who died this week, take a quick look at how the Apple case is going, and round things off with footnotes on close reading, Amazon reviews, and the art of printing. Ready? Set? Read!
Controversial author and Nobel Laureate Günter Grass died this past Monday at age 87; the Guardian has a photo retrospective of his life. Although known primarily as a novelist, Grass was also a visual artist, and had strong opinions about friendship in the digital age. [NY Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, YouTube]
The Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano also passed away on Monday, at age 74. A writer of both fiction and history, Galeano “spoke for the underground voices of the continent when US-backed military dictatorships crushed democracy in most parts of South America; he spoke for those being tortured, for indigenous people crushed by the dual oppression of empire and creole oligarchs.” You can also listen to NPR’s discussion of his work. [PEN, NY Times, The Guardian, NPR]
Back in 2013, Judge Denise Cote appointed Michael Bromwich to Monitor Apple’s efforts to behave in accordance with antitrust laws; Apple never liked the scrutiny, but lately the relationship has become more “adversarial,” despite Apple’s progress in implementing antitrust trainings and other useful programs. According to Publishers Weekly, Bromwich says Apple “attempts to prescribe and limit how the Monitor should conduct his reviews and write his reports,” and has declined all his requests for interviews with Apple personnel since January. Since Apple never much cared for Bromwich and has long doubted his impartiality as a Monitor, it is perhaps not surprising that the company is declining to be helpful when it looks like the case is not, in the end, going to turn out so badly for them after all, Bromwich or no. [Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, Reuters]
- Scribd adds Penguin Random House audiobooks to its subscription service lineup.
- Western author Ivan Doig died last week.
- Quality control and the art of the Amazon review.
- “But one by one, the props under the regime of close reading have been knocked aside. New critical imperatives—the study of gendered difference, imperialisms, of class, of race construed over time—didn’t just challenge our attitudes towards texts, they changed our very ways of reading them. Close reading became, at best, ‘reading against the grain’ (a formulation adopting Walter Benjamin’s famous injunction to ‘brush history against the grain’); at worst, close reading was seen to crystallize an ahistorical, undialectical, power-reaffirming, aestheticizing academic practice.”
- The most challenged books at public libraries.
- The art of engraving music by hand.
- HarperCollins has come to terms with Amazon.
- Print units are moving again (compared with Q1 2014) – even adult general fiction is up 7% (it was down 8% last year), although print genre fiction sales are still losing ground to ebooks.