10 Book Related Things We Find Interesting…This Week (03/10/2012)

10_Book_Related_ThingsWe admit it. We’re still a little behind when it comes to keeping up on all the latest book news, but we are getting back into the swing of things. This past week, specifically Thursday, seemed to be a busy day for award nominees to be announced. There were so many in fact that we didn’t even get a chance to mention the PEN/Faulker prize. Don’t worry, something tells me we’ll be talking more about that one in the coming weeks.

So here they are, presented for your approval, the 10 Book Related Things We Find Interesting…This Week. The Brooklyn Public Library got its very own printing press, three people died so that Chabon, Franzen, and Lahiri could be inducted into a very special club, the government is toying with the idea of suing the big six, the Alex Awards got things very wrong, and as always, more.

  1. We’re still playing catch-up in the literary news department thanks in large part thanks to our dedication to covering Oscars season, so it’s only appropriate that we lead off this week’s 10 Things with a horrible tidbit that snuck right by us. At the end of January the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA) handed out its Alex Award to ten books that were specifically written for adults, yet contain special appeal for folks ages 12-18. Ready Player One and The Night Circus both made the list. We really can’t speak to the other eight titles that also won the award, but if we really want to instill a love of reading in our children then at a very minimum shouldn’t we be getting books that are well written into their hands?
  2. Unless you’ve been living under your rather gigantic to-read stack for the past week, you’ve heard the news that the Department of Justice is getting ready to sue Apple and at least five of the big six publishing houses for e-book price fixing. In an interesting twist, Penguin claims that they can’t be sued because owners of devices such as the Kindle and the nook agreed not to do so the very second they turned on their e-readers. They claim that the terms of service attached to the devices state that any grievances must go to an arbitrator instead of a courtroom. That’s all well and good for class action lawsuits brought against them by a throng of unhappy consumers, but can it stop the government? We’d like to think the answer is no.
  3. Speaking of the potential for a government antitrust lawsuit, The Authors Guild, which is the nation’s leading advocate for writers when it comes sticky issues like copyright protection, thinks that it’s a horrible idea, and American author, practicing lawyer, and president of the association Scott Turow does an extremely compelling job of explaining why on their website.
  4. And speaking of e-books, PayPal wants distributors to ban obscene books. They apparently don’t want anyone reading titles that contain references to rape, incest or bestiality. What year is this, 1960? Who is PayPal to decide what is or is not obscene? We guess no one should read Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Beloved then (see parents in the Plymouth-Canton area of Michigan, someone DOES agree with you!) PayPal has sent letters (yes, people still do that) to the account holders in question threatening to limit access to their funds unless the companies remove the “questionable” titles from their sites completely. They claim that their hands are tied on the matter and that their banking partners, credit cards like American Express, MasterCard and Visa are really to blame.
  5. Congratulations are in order for National Book Critics Circle award winner for fiction Edith Pearlman. Her collection of short stories titled Binocular Vision which was also nominated for The National Book Award this past year took home top honors this past Thursday night. Truth be told we weren’t the biggest fans of the collection, but Pearlman is most certainly a talented writer whose work deserves far more attention than it currently receives.
  6. Also this past Thursday, the long list for the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction was announced. If you’re not familiar with the award it highlights and celebrates excellence in women’s writing. Past winners include Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, and Anne Patchett. Half Blood Blues (yay!), The Forgotten Waltz (eh), The Night Circus (WTF), and State of Wonder (worthy) all made the cut. You can check out the complete long list here.
  7. And yet again on Thursday (busiest day of the week in the book world apparently!) the West Coast Book Prize Society announced the finalist for the 28th annual BC Book Prizes. The nominees for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize include Half Blood Blues (yay!) and Michael Christie’s The Beggar’s Garden (which we’ve been dying to read) along with titles from Steven Price, D.W. Wilson, and Frances Greenslade.
  8. Speaking of awards, the CBC announced the titles that are nominated in their second annual people’s choice Bookie Awards. We have no idea when they did this, perhaps Thursday? On the literary fiction side Half Blood Blues (yay!) and The Sisters Brothers (decent enough) made the list as well as titles from Elizabeth Hay, Timothy Taylor, and Brian Francis.
  9. On Friday (what the heck, one day late much?) authors Michael Chabon (Wonder Boys), Jonathan Franzen (Freedom), and Jhumpa Lahiri (The Namesake) were told that they will be voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters this May. Apparently membership in this exclusive club expires when you do, which is sort of strange. Another words, new openings in the society become available when current members die. So your contributions are only valuable as long as you’re breathing and mean nothing to future generations? Strange and creepy. What we really want to know is who called it a day in order to make way for these three to get in?
  10. The Brooklyn Public Library wants to give you the opportunity to print your masterpiece. On Wednesday they unveiled a new made to order printing press at the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza. According to the library, anyone can walk in with their book in digital format and walk out with a paperback copy in less than five minutes. We think one of the coolest things about the machine is that you can watch it in action as it prints, trims, and glues your masterpiece together. Not only can the machine publish your written work, but it also has access to a catalog of more than seven million titles that it will also allow you to print. Been searching for years for that obscure title no one seems to have? Just ask the library’s latest contraption to manufacture you one!

Did we miss something? Got the inside scoop on some book related news that your dying to share with us? Leave a comment below or drop us a line using the email link in the header above.

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.