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November 04, 2009

The book price war stupidly continues

MOBYLIVES -- Ways to avoid price wars: Live in Europe Wal-Mart and Target and Amazon are wrapped up in a price war over new top-tier hardcover books. They are all trying to lower their prices to out-compete each other. This is good for no one, not even consumers. The stores end up selling the books at below cost or demanding that the publishers give them better deals. The consumers end up with devalued ideas of what a book should cost ("Why would I buy that new hardcover by a fresh author for $25 when I can get the new John Grisham hardcover for $8?"). It's gotten to the point where Wal-Mart is selling the books cheaper than smaller bookstores can get them from the publisher. As a result, bookstores have been cleaning out Wal-Mart who are essentially subsidizing popular fiction. Just this week Wal-Mart has instituted a new rule limiting the number of copies a customer can buy. This doesn't happen in other countries because they have decided that books are awesome and deserve price protections.
Last Monday, a MobyLives commentary suggested American publishers should respond to the Wal-Mart/Amazon/Target price war by emulating European publishers and colluding — legally — to fix prices and end discounting. Friday, the Wall Street Journal ran a story by Vanessa Fuhrmans pointing out that, “In much of Europe, the discount-pricing battle that has erupted among Wal-Mart Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Target Corp. could never happen because most major publishing markets, with the exception of the U.K., are bolstered by laws requiring all bookstores, online retailers included, to sell books at prices set in stone by publishers.” For example, Fuhrmans observes, “Many in German attribute the country’s thriving literary and publishing scene to a system that outlaws the discounting of virtually all new books for 18 months. The system protects independent booksellers and smaller publishers from giant rivals that could discount their way to more market share. Along with 7,000 bookshops, nearly 14,000 German publishers remain in business.” And that’s not all: “Defenders of the 120-year-old fixed-price system argue that prices of older books also are on average cheaper than in many other markets, since publishers and booksellers aren’t forced to make up for money-losing discounts on more popular books.”

November 02, 2009

Literary Developments, NaNoWriMo, and Chocolate Remains

Mojonaut Alecks wonders: I was just wondering if you guys...

Continue reading "Literary Developments, NaNoWriMo, and Chocolate Remains" »

Ayn Rand wrote priase for a rapist, a serial-killer

Two biographies of Ayn Rand. - By Johann Hari - Slate Magazine There are two new biographies out about her. Both play down her atheism, but they seem to be less shy about her rabid anti-democratic, anti-moral leanings.
She headed for Hollywood, where she set out to write stories that expressed her philosophy—a body of thought she said was the polar opposite of communism. She announced that the world was divided between a small minority of Supermen who are productive and "the naked, twisted, mindless figure of the human Incompetent" who, like the Leninists, try to feed off them. He is "mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned." It is evil to show kindness to these "lice": The "only virtue" is "selfishness." She meant it. Her diaries from that time, while she worked as a receptionist and an extra, lay out the Nietzschean mentality that underpins all her later writings. The newspapers were filled for months with stories about serial killer called William Hickman, who kidnapped a 12-year-old girl called Marion Parker from her junior high school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he sent mockingly to the police in pieces. Rand wrote great stretches of praise for him, saying he represented "the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. … Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should." She called him "a brilliant, unusual, exceptional boy," shimmering with "immense, explicit egotism." Rand had only one regret: "A strong man can eventually trample society under its feet. That boy [Hickman] was not strong enough."
*via Dorian Wright*

October 26, 2009

Why Did Scholastic Ban This Book From School Fairs? The Scary Gay Parents

Why Did Scholastic Ban This Book From School Fairs? The Scary Gay Parents / Queerty
If you attended one of America's public schools, then perhaps in elementary school you took part in one of Scholastic's book fairs — the reading company's traveling stab at getting kids to put down the PSP and pick up book of glued pages. But if you're a kid today, one book you won't find is Luv Ya Bunches. It's too gay. Also, it has the terms "crap," "sucks," and "Oh my God" in it. Is there any better a story for kids than one about four young girls with nothing in common, but who form a bond because they're all named after flowers? Lauren Myracle’s Luv Ya Bunches, released Oct. 1, is that type of feel-good tome. But because it's written for kids who are living in 2009, and not, say, 1959, one of the characters — egads! — has gay parents! That's too much for Scholastic, which told publisher Abrams/Amulet it would need to submit a copy of the book with the bad words removed, and give the character Milla a set of hetero parents.
*Thanks again to Dorian, who has become one of my main sources for civil rights news*