Dog-Eared and Dispatched: January 25, 2015
In this week’s venture into the world of book culture, we take a look at the oh-so-special friendship between Amazon and Luxembourg, as well as the sway of Facebook’s book club on sales. We round things off with readathons, book awards, and some writing advice for novice scribbler. Ready? Read on!
Publishers are trying to figure out if there is a “Zuckerberg effect” to match Oprah’s clout or the “Colbert Bump.” The results for Facebook’s first book club pick, The End of Power, suggest that any such impact may be limited: while Oprah could command an extra half million sales, Zuckerberg seems to have managed only about forty-five thousand (one-third as ebooks and two-thirds print). For a backlist book, this is of course quite satisfactory, but doesn’t quite establish Zuckerberg’s reputation as a tastemaker. The second selection for the club, Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, was announced this week – we’ll see if it’s any more of a draw. [Publishers Weekly, Techcrunch, Galleycat]
The National Book Critics Circle’s 2014 Awards Finalists announced this week. Toni Morrison will be awarded the Ivan Sandorf Lifetime achievement award. Phil Klay’s debut short story collection Redeployment, already winner of the National Book Award, adds another prize to the list as “the recipient of the John Leonard Prize, established in 2014 to recognize outstanding first books in any genre. Named to honor the memory of founding NBCC member John Leonard, the prize is uniquely decided by a direct vote of the organization’s 700 members nationwide, whereas the traditional awards are nominated and chosen by the elected 24-member board of directors.” In an interesting twist, Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric has been nominated in both the Poetry and Criticism categories. In other prize news, the Mystery Writers of America have announced the longlist for Edgar Awards for mysteries, which is sadly far too long to include here – but we’ll let you know who won it. [Galleycat, National Book Critics Circle, the Edgars]
Although the US Justice department isn’t ready to consider antitrust investigations into Amazon, the European Union’s antitrust office is not happy with the company’s deal with Luxembourg from 2003. It’s kind of a funny business. As the NY Times notes: “It is not illegal in the European Union to try to lure businesses with low tax rates. But offering special deals to companies that are not available to their competitors can amount to what is known as illegal state aid.” That is what these preliminary reports suggest was going on with Amazon; if further investigation proves this to be the case, Luxembourg will have to go an collect back taxes – to the tune of a tens of millions of euros. Ouch! [NY Times, MobyLives!, Shelf Awareness]
- Medium has published a new story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
- On the difficulty of reading ancient philosophy.
- We Need Diverse Books is holding short story contest. Deadline is May 8, 2015.
- Spoiler: the boy who came back from heaven – didn’t.
- The first ever National Readathon was Jan. 24 – did you read from noon to four? We did.
- Can poetry be therapeutic, or the rise of the medical humanities.
- Neil Gaiman’s advice for writing.