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Archives: July 2009

AAP Chair Urges Authors to Join Google Settlement

aaplogo.jpgAs the September 4 deadline nears for authors to opt out of the Google Books settlement, the chairman of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) urged authors not to resist the settlement.

Yesterday BayNewser covered a special webinar about the Google Books settlement, getting the thoughts of industry leaders about the impending deadline. Earlier this year, federal judge Denny Chin granted four-month extension in the Google and the Authors Guild settlement, but the fate of the case still is unclear until the deadline.

Here’s a quote from AAP Chairman Richard Sarnoff, from the report: “Unless there’s someone who’s anxious to sue Google on the same basis we sued Google and pursue that to some sort of result for their books … it makes far more sense to essentially do nothing, which means you’re part of the class, and then to decide how if at all you want your books to be displayed via this Google facility.”

BayNewser Sits In on Google Book Settlement Chat

E.B. Boyd, the coeditor of mediabistro.com’s BayNewser, listened in yesterday as Publishers Weekly hosted a webinar on the Google Library Project Settlement, where various experts (including some of the settlement’s architects) weighed in on whether authors whose copyright is still in force but whose books are out of print should opt out of the deal before the September deadline. The general consensus being: No.

“Opting out is something that an author should do if he or she first of all wants to sue Google,” said science journalist James Gleick, “and second of all doesn’t want his or her book ever to turn up in a Google search. If you want your book to be invisible to the community of people who search in Google, then you would want to opt out. I don’t believe that that author exists.” Richard Sarnoff of Bertelsmann concurred: “It makes far more sense to essentially do nothing… and then to decide how if at all you want your books to be displayed via this Google facility.”

Opening for the Pogues: George Pelecanos

Earlier this year, when the Pogues played Washington, D.C., bestselling novelist and writer/producer on The Wire George Pelecanos was in the audience, and he went backstage after the show: “The band were fans of The Wire (we had used several of their songs, memorably, on the show),” he recalls, “and we were all fans of their music going back to the 80s, when I was buying their vinyl imports at records stores like Phantasmagoria in Wheaton, Maryland.” A few weeks later, when band member Spider Stacey came through town, they met again:

” Over a meal in Chinatown, on H Street, (Full Kee, my spot for Chinese) I told Spider that I would like to do a pub event in London when I came over in July, and asked him if he would be interested in playing a set after I did a reading. He agreed and through Gaby Young hooked it up at Boogaloo on Archway Road in Highgate, run by a fellow named Richard who used to book the old Filthy McNasty’s. The gig was set for Thursday, July 23. To my surprise, it wasn’t just Spider and a couple of friends on the bill, as I had understood it would be. It was The Pogues, who had come to play their first pub date since 1983. In other words, it was history.”

The video pretty much speaks for itself (note: George Pelecanos does not write about nice people having a nice time, so consider your officemates), but there are more highlights from the show online. We haven’t had a chance to sift through all the footage yet to see if it includes the Pogues’ version of “Down in the Hole,” but we’re certainly having fun looking.

Reed Business Information Looks to Sell Publishers Weekly

pubweekly.jpgReed Business Information (RBI) will try to sell the trade magazines Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and School Library Journal, according to a PW report.

The article also notes that RBI CEO Tad Smith just resigned, and acting CEO John Poulin will supervise the operation. Bloomberg reported this morning that parent company Reed Elsevier’s “first-half profits” had plunged by 48 percent.

Here’s more from the article: “The sale of the group is part of RBI’s strategy to divest most of its trade magazines in the U.S. Last year, Reed Elsevier, parent company of RBI, tried to sell all of RBI but dropped the sale when it couldn’t get the price it wanted in a depressed market for media properties.”

Afghan Women Writing Online

afghanwomen.jpgFollowing a trip to Afghanistan, novelist Masha Hamilton built the Afghan Women’s Writing Project–a project that gives them “a direct voice in the world, not filtered through male relatives or members of the media.”

At Well-Read Donkey, Hamilton explained how the project uses volunteer women authors and teachers in the United States who work with Afghan women writers in online classrooms. To keep the writers safe, only first names of the individual authors are used on the site, and all place-specific references are removed. Interested readers and writers can donate to the project here.

Here’s a heartbreaking memory from a writer named Zaralasht: “Our parents carried us in their arms and ran barefoot from our home. We were not the only family running away without knowing where we were going. The street was filled with people just like us who were trying to flee the fighting and killing … Our parents tried to not let us see the dead people who were lying along our path.”

Random House in Wall Street Bull Suit

randombull.jpgAn artist has sued Random House Inc. for using a picture of the famous Wall Street bull on the cover of the new book, “A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers.”

The book
–written by Lawrence G. McDonald–uses a photo of the raging bull statue that adorns a busy Manhattan strip near Wall Street. According to the Wall Street Journal, artist Arturo Di Modica claims the cover picture was unauthorized. The article also recounts the strange story of how the 17,000-pound statue ended up there in the first place.

Here’s a comment from the publisher: “‘Random House has not yet been served and we do not comment on pending litigation,’ said David Drake, a Random House spokesman.” (Via MobyLives)

Digital Publishing Acrobatics

Publishers shouldn’t struggle into the e-book future alone. They can learn from the journalists, software developers, and other media workers who are building the online architecture for a digital world.

Last month at the Mediabistro Circus, PCMag.com executive editor Dan Costa grilled three digital experts about the future of print: Blurb.com CEO Eileen Gittins, Six Apart’s Anil Dash, and New York TimesRob Samuels. Discussion ranged from open source publishing to the future of books to the distribution of content.

That video offers a sample of the longer conversation. The complete Mediabistro On Demand video answers these questions: “What does it mean when books are no longer printed, but are distributed as software, and magazines kill print editions in favor of online-only content? Journalists are considered brands, and consumers can get content any way they want it — via eReader, iPhone app, or print on demand. What can writers and editors, marketing execs, and anyone associated with publishing do to stay relevant, and where is it all headed?”

Nicholson Baker’s Live Kindle Debate

baker.jpgSince 3pm ET today, the novelist Nicholson Baker has been answering questions from Kindle critics and fans in a live chat at The New Yorker‘s website.

Earlier this week Baker dissected the Amazon.com, Inc.’s Kindle reader in a long essay–compiling an obsessive bibliophile’s list of holes in the Kindle Library. Read the essay at this link.

Here’s a sample answer from the author: “Holy caramba. That’s a comment. I certainly did detect a huge enthusiasm and pioneer spirit on the part of Kindle owners. I liked that enthusiasm. The odd thing though is that we already have gone down this path. We have LCD screens that do a better job than the Kindle does now.” (Photo via Simon & Schuster, link via Caitlin Shamberg)

Cartoonist Confidential

bobeckstein.jpgThe recession has hobbled media outlets, freelance writers, and publishers, but it has hurt another, less-publicized group of creators–the professional cartoon industry.

Today’s guest on Morning Media Menu was Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman, and cartoonist for publications like the NY Times and Reader’s Digest, and popular blogger. He discussed the life of a freelance cartoonist and author in this difficult economy.

Click here to listen to the whole show. Around the 2:15 mark, Eckstein revealed the cartoon submission process at a major literary magazine: “At the New Yorker you’re expected to turn in 10 cartoons a week, and hopefully you can sell one. It’s a grueling process, and it’s not practical on any level. In the last two to three years, I produced about 500 cartoons.”

GalleyCat’s Pynchon Party Program

pynchonvice.jpgAs the August 4, 2009 release date for Thomas Pynchon‘s new novel nears, GalleyCat will collect news of all the midnight parties to celebrate the release of “Inherent Vice.”

A Cappella Books in Atlanta, Georgia will stay open all night on August 3rd; in addition, St. Mark’s Bookstore in Manhattan will stay open past midnight that evening. If you are an owner, worker, or fan of a bookstore celebrating the Pynchon release at midnight on August 3rd, email GalleyCat. We’ll add your party to the Pynchon Party Program next week alongside our own Pynchon-inspired content.

Here’s more from A Cappella Books: “[Inherent Vice's] contents are a closely-guarded secret. Advance copies are kept to a minimum, and there are unspeakable punishments in store for anybody in possession of one sharing it with someone not authorized. Likewise, for selling a copy before its on-sale date … we’ll be open all night Monday, August 3rd, with still-to-be-determined Pynchon-inspired mayhem.” (Via MobyLives)

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