Dog-Eared and Dispatched: July 27, 2014
In this week’s rundown of the world of book culture, we take a look at the Man Booker Prize longlist (which is a bit of a sausage fest), as well as briefly summing up some of the issues surrounding net neutrality. What round-up of book news would be complete without mention of Amazon, Hachette, and Apple? Yes, we’ve got those too – as well as lots of footnotes to guide your reading ’round the web. Are you ready? Well, good. Get reading.
The 2014 longlist for the Man Booker Prize was announced this week. As you will recall, this is the first time that the prize has been open to all English-speaking writers and, in what some are seeing as a bit of a snub, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch is not on the list. Also, although you are supposed to “hashtag-read-women-2014,” the prize selection committee did not get the memo, as the field is predominantly male, with only three female authors in a list of thirteen. If you need to plan your Booker reading, samples from some of the longlist books are available. If you are waiting for the shortlist, that will be revealed on September 9. [The Man Booker Prize, MobyLives!, Galleycat]
The American Library Association has filed comments supporting Net Neutrality. The ALA website has a good summary of the issue and their reasons for calling for net neutrality: “It is the principle that consumers/citizens should be free to get access to – or to provide – the Internet content and services they wish, and that consumer access should not be regulated based on the nature or source of that content or service. Information providers – which may be websites, online services, etc., and who may be affiliated with traditional commercial enterprises but who also may be individual citizens, libraries, schools, or nonprofit entities – should have essentially the same quality of access to distribute their offerings. ‘Pipe’ owners (carriers) should not be allowed to charge some information providers more money for the same pipes, or establish exclusive deals that relegate everyone else (including small noncommercial or startup entities) to an Internet ‘slow lane.’ This principle should hold true even when a broadband provider is providing Internet carriage to a competitor.” The FCC’s five month open commenting period on the topic ended on Friday and gathered more than one million responses (second only to Janet Jackon’s wardrobe malfunction in terms of public responses to the FCC). If you are wondering why net neutrality is showing up on a website about books, keep in mind that Late Night Library is one of the many content providers who will be shunted into the “slow lane” if the FCC is unable to build a legal support for net neutrality; you can find more information at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and at Wired. [Galleycat, American Library Association, The Guardian, NPR, Electronic Frontier Foundation]
It’s that time of year: companies are posting their quarterly figures and Amazon is no exception. Sales are up 23% to $19,340,000,000 ($19.34 billion), but Amazon is still operating at a loss, and its 2014 Q2 losses of $126,000,000 are more substantial than expected as well as being significantly higher than its 2013 Q2 losses of $7,000,000. Why did I put in all those zeroes? Orneriness, mostly, but also because it is easy to forget the scale Amazon (and many other corporations) are operating on when one reads of losses of $126 million or $7 million, or sales of $19.34 billion – these sorts of figures, while easier to read, makes it sound like the companies are operating on a human scale (and they’re not). Enough crankiness, what are some of the reasons for the losses? Well, Amazon is investing heavily in warehouses to prepare for future growth, but many consumers are also choosing to buy less from the online retailer in response to their handling of the Hachette negotiations. Perhaps the Colbert Bump will snowball… [Publishers Weekly, Galleycat, MobyLives!, Galleycat]
- In what will come as a shock to no one, Judge Denise Cote is not amused by the Apple price-fixing settlement; in particular, “she found ‘most troubling’ a clause requiring Apple to pay only $70 million if an appeals court reversed her finding that the company is liable for antitrust violations and sent it back to her for further proceedings.”
- Does fantasy literature obscure our understanding of medieval history?
- Is the idea that people who speak different languages see the world differently a hoax?
- “Here is a writer we can possibly admire even as we roll our eyes” – Sven Birkerts on Joseph Epstein.
- If you haven’t yet quit your day job to finish your novel, you might know something about the hidden pleasures of the office supply closet.
- What writers can learn from Goodnight, Moon (see also, the power of word of mouth recommendation to sell books).
- Zadie Smith on what to read this summer.
- On the challenges of illustrating Finnegans Wake.
- The Baffler has a new website and its archives are online; go – enjoy!
- Also, free access to The New Yorker archives for the rest of the summer.