Some news about books and ebooks from around the web:
- What’s the purpose of libraries in the 21st century? Salon says the new main branch of the Cambridge Public Library (just blocks from C4 HQ) isn’t practical. The Guardian says libraries still matter in a digital age, and so does an Australian librarian (via). And Ars Technica reveals how libraries help America’s poor. We already know Macmillan hates libraries. I don’t enjoy this line of discussion.
- What’s the last great book you read? John Crace in the Guardian discusses how difficult it is to find a great a novel these days, because there are far too many books and publishers will tell you each and every one of them is mind-blowingly fantastic. I couldn’t agree more. Crace recommends genre fiction; meanwhile, on the Guardian’s books blog, a post about how shorter can be better for fiction. And then, crime novelist Ian Rankin discusses/defends crime fiction (via). I’m inclined to agree with all this, the only problem is that I’ve been reading all the Edgar award nominees—supposedly the best of the year in a genre that’s right up my alley—and not a single one of them has been great. It’s a nice theory, though.
- Piracy is still a hot topic, though now people are complaining that “piracy” is such a sexy word it makes people want to pirate. The ethicist at the NYT says you can steal a copy of an ebook you previously bought—counterpoint. Despite the ethicist, IsoHunt will essentially be shut down has essentially been shut down. Finally, Big Content wants the U.S.’s new intellectual property enforcer to eliminate peer-to-peer file-sharing. Good luck with that.
- Here is an article from the NYT about literature and cognitive science. Basically, it’s about how empathy relates to reading fiction, and how readers process interrelated or overlapping points of view. Or “what the scholars call levels of intentionality.” Read it.
Obligatory iPad and Amazon news—and lots of other stuff—after the break.
- Some obligatory iPad news— Farhad Manjoo says resisting the iPad is futile, and on the day of its release 300,000 people didn’t even try. Also, a quarter million ebooks have already been downloaded, which seems like a lot. The big iPad question, from an ebook standpoint, is whether it will replace E-Ink ereaders. The answer is an overwhelming yes. Umm, or no. Or kind of. So probably not, in other words. That wasn’t too confusing, right? Anyway, the comics app looks pretty outstanding. Here are some more reviews of the iPad, and that’s just about enough of it. Wait, one more, for haters: will it blend?
- The obligatory Amazon v. agency model news— After Amazon finally capitulated to the agency book-pricing model (and a transition that was anything but seamless), they made sure everybody knew who was raising prices. Random House doesn’t want an agency deal, though, possibly because they hate authors. More likely because it doesn’t make any sense to make less money on each ebook and also sell fewer books. Meanwhile, HarperCollins gave away so many ebooks that it seemed simply too good to be true. Finally, between agency models and Apple iPads, what would you do today if you were Jeff Bezos? (I would cackle and cackle, simply because I could.)
- A few weeks ago novelist Carrie Vaughn left Grand Central Publishing, and wrote this post about why she did it (via). It’s an interesting piece, and it’s mostly about a non-compete clause. Coincidentally, Grand Central is responsible for this travesty of literature, which is very bad.
- Quick takes: the Guardian on the “lost Booker”; David Mamet on drama; Elmore Leonard and sons on writing; a terrific essay on Maoists in India by Arundhati Roy, part one and part two; what constitutes fair use?; how not to title a novel.
- Random of the week: A pair of brothers spent several months “squatting” on the side of a wall in Rio de Janeiro as part of an art installation. Here are some more pictures.