Court dismisses 'implausible' price-fixing suits against Amazon, Big Five publishers

(Fri, 30 Sep 2022 10:59:08 -0500)

A federal judge in New York has officially dismissed price-fixing claims against Amazon and the Big Five publishers following a magistrate judge's finding that the cases lacked sufficient evidence to continue. But in dismissing the suits without prejudice, Judge Gregory Woods left open the slim chance that one or both of the potential class action complaints could be amended and re-filed.

Today, the indomitable Ukrainian Library Association celebrate All-Ukrainian Library Day

(Fri, 30 Sep 2022 09:54:57 -0500)

Today in Moscow, Vladimir Putin is pretending he can annex four chunks of his western neighbor, but nothing can deflate the spirit of All-Ukrainian Library Day. The national holiday on Sept. 30 started in 1998 as a way to celebrate librarians and the crucial role libraries play in expanding access to cultural and intellectual resources.

The indomitable Ukrainian Library Association is determined to keep this annual tradition alive, even while bombs are falling. "In 2022, All-Ukrainian Library Day has a bitter aftertaste because we celebrate it in conditions of a large-scale, brutal and genocidal war," ULA executive director Yaroslava Soshynska tells me via email. "But these terrible losses have only strengthened our nation, the desire to be free and to choose our own path independently and democratically." ...

(from Ron Charles' weekly Washington Post Book Club newsletter)

James Patterson donates $2m to help PEN America raise its reach, voice, and influence

(Thu, 29 Sep 2022 09:26:26 -0500)

James Patterson, the best-selling author, has donated $2 million to PEN America to build communications capacity and help the premier writers' organization speak louder in defense of free expression against evolving threats in the United States, online, and around the world.

The gift to PEN America from the Patterson Family Foundation marks a milestone in the prolific author's philanthropy with a total of $100 million donated to literacy causes. Patterson has long been an advocate for writers and reading, donating more than one million books to schools across the United States, cultivating the careers of thousands of teachers and young writers, fortifying classroom libraries around the country, and backing independent booksellers who needed money to keep operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They tried to shut down Drag Story Hour. A Montana bookstore fought back

(Wed, 28 Sep 2022 10:16:07 -0500)

The Guardian explores the phenomena of Drag Queen Story Hour, by focusing on an event at a bookstore in Helena, Montana, and then broadening out to look at the wider picture:

The premise of Drag Queen Story Hour is simple: to have drag performers dressed as queens, mermaids, mythical goddesses and other larger-than-life characters hosting children's story hours, much to the delight of young people and their parents. The events have proved so popular, they've spread through urban and rural communities like an explosion of glitter.

Drag Queen Story Hour was created in 2015 by queer writer Michelle Tea and Radar, a Bay Area queer literary arts group. Since then, the original concept has solidified into a non-profit with more than 50 chapters around the US and abroad. Some drag story hours, like the July event in Helena, are unaffiliated with the organization but produce similar events. The founding organization says the events are perfectly calibrated for young people who are learning about the world around them. Drag Queen Story Hour, the website says, "captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood", while giving kids "glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models".

The group's mission has drawn polarized responses. Supporters have welcomed bedazzled performers to libraries, bookstores and schools, celebrating drag performance as an art form and antidote to normative gender roles. Opponents have demonstrated with signs and bullhorns, framing the events as depraved and dangerous for children...

Tom Hanks' publisher announces 'wildly ambitious' first novel

(Wed, 28 Sep 2022 10:10:34 -0500)

Oscar winner Tom Hanks's debut novel has been announced, and is due out next year. The book, Hanks's second foray into fiction has been described by its publisher as a "wildly ambitious" story about the making of a film.

The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece spans 80 years, and culminates in the opening of the titular movie, which is a "colossal, star-studded, multimillion-dollar superhero action film" inspired by a comic book.

Ailah Ahmed, publishing director at Hutchinson Heinemann, the imprint of PRH that is publishing Hanks' book in the UK, said working on the actor's debut was "a publisher's dream come true".

"The fact that he has written an epic about ordinary people in a rather extraordinary world, and one that is thoughtful, poignant and hugely entertaining is icing on the cake," she added.

Uncommon Type, Hanks's short story collection, focused on his collection of vintage typewriters. The book has sold 234,000 copies in the UK to date, according to PRH.

Hilary Mantel, prize-winning Author of Historical Fiction, Dies at 70

(Fri, 23 Sep 2022 10:01:51 -0500)

The Booker prize-winning author of the Wolf Hall trilogy, Dame Hilary Mantel, has died aged 70 of a stroke, her publisher HarperCollins has confirmed.

Mantel was regarded as one of the greatest English-language novelists of this century, winning the Booker Prize twice, for Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, which also won the 2012 Costa book of the year.

The conclusion to her groundbreaking Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror & the Light, was published in 2020 to huge critical acclaim, became an instant Sunday Times bestseller and was longlisted for the Booker prize.

HarperCollins confirmed she had died on Thursday "suddenly yet peacefully", surrounded by close family and friends.

How to beat a book ban: students, parents and librarians fight back

(Wed, 21 Sep 2022 06:00:00 -0500)

The censorship of books in the US has reached crisis level.

More than 2,500 different book bans were enacted in schools across 32 US states during the 2021-2022 school year, according to a new report by Pen America. And attempts to ban books from libraries are on track to exceed 2021's already record-setting figures, the American Library Association said on Friday.

But still, there is cause for hope.

Across the country, parents, students, teachers, librarians and community groups have successfully fought back against attempted bans, defeating well-funded, rightwing attempts to remove books that address issues of race, sexuality and gender.

Their experiences provide a model for others who may want to stand up and defend free speech, racial equity and the rights of gay and trans youth...

Longest single-volume book in the world goes on sale – and is impossible to read

(Wed, 21 Sep 2022 06:00:00 -0500)

A limited edition single volume of the long-running manga One Piece is being billed as the longest book in existence.

At 21,450 pages, it is physically impossible to read, making it less of a book and more of a sculpture.

Priced at €1,900 (£1,640), the book isn't credited to Eiichiro Oda, the writer and artist behind One Piece, which has been serialised in Japanese magazine Shonen Jump every week since 1997. It is being sold instead as the work of Ilan Manouach, the multidisciplinary artist who has designed the limited edition volume, which is titled ONEPIECE.

Manouach printed out the Japanese digital edition of One Piece and bound it together, treating the comic not as a book but as "sculptural material", according to the book/ artwork's French publisher JBE.

On eve of Banned Books Week 2022, ALA says challenges are rising

(Fri, 16 Sep 2022 06:00:00 -0500)

This year's Banned Books Week, the American Library Association's annual celebration of the freedom to read, is set to run from September 18-24 under the theme "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us." And there is no question that it comes at a critical time.

In a release today, ALA officials reported 681 documented attempts to ban or restrict library resources in schools, universities, and public libraries through the first eight months of 2022, on pace to shatter the 729 challenges ALA tracked in 2021. The challenges thus far in 2022 have targeted some 1,651 different titles—already more than during all of 2021—with some 70% of this year's challenges targeting multiple titles. In past years, most challenges sought to remove or restrict a single title.

Spanish novelist Javier Marías dies in Madrid hospital aged 70

(Tue, 13 Sep 2022 17:17:18 -0500)

The Spanish novelist Javier Marías, author of All Souls, A Heart so White, and the epic, three-part Your Face Tomorrow – and a writer regularly touted as a candidate for the Nobel prize for literature – has died of pneumonia in hospital in Madrid at the age of 70.