Words

Do We Still Need Libraries In The Internet Age? Yes, But…

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“A government report showed that while the nation’s public libraries served 298 million people in 2010 (that’s 96 percent of the U.S. population), states had cut funding by 38 percent and the federal government by 19 percent between 2000 and 2010. “It seems extraordinary that a public service with such reach should be, in effect, punished despite its success.”

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Connecticut Teacher Fired For Teaching Ginsburg Poem

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“The unceremonious dismissal of a beloved teacher has thrown the town of South Windsor, population 25,000, halfway between Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., into tumult. The local newspaper denounced him in editorials. Alumni, town residents, and Olio’s current students crammed into Board of Education hearings to testify on his behalf.”

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Do We Truly Believe In Freedom Of Expression? Trying To Make Sense Of The PEN Protests Of Charlie Hebdo

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“It was no small thing to observe a couple of survivors of the Charlie massacre make their way to New York, a mere four months after the slaughter, and be greeted with jeers and a boycott. A supremely chilly heart is needed to mount such a protest. And yet, a couple of hundred warm-hearted American writers lent their names to the chilly protest.”

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The Hardy Boys And Nancy Drew Industry – Keep Costs Down, Use Freelancers And Formularize Creativity

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“The secret behind the longevity of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys is simple. They’re still here because their creators found a way to minimize cost, maximize output, and standardize creativity. The solution was an assembly line that made millions by turning writers into anonymous freelancers—a business model that is central to the Internet age.”

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Librarian: Here’s Why Libraries Will Outlive The Internet

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“Our commercial partners in the information delivery space do wonderful things and we couldn’t live our lives without them. But the time frame we think on, centuries back and centuries into the future, allows us to think about trust in its highest sense, and authentication and provenance of information, and digital information in particular. Those are hard-won privileges and values and they’re worth defending.”

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Boom Times For Independent Bookstores?

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“Core membership of the American Booksellers Association grew from 1,664 companies last spring to 1,712 this year, the trade group told The Associated Press on Tuesday, the day before the BookExpo America publishing convention and trade show begins in Manhattan. The association also benefited from the recent trend of sellers opening new branches, with ABA members now in 2,227 locations compared with 2,094 in 2014 and 1,651 in 2009.”

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Poetry As Essential Medicine

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“Indeed, he used his writing to keep himself alive, to soothe himself when spinning out of control, and even to fuel his psychosis when he drifted into madness. Most of all, however, poetry kept him connected to others.”

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Raymond Carver’s Work Finally Makes The Leap To Ebooks

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“Vintage, a paperback imprint under Penguin Random House, has a catalog of almost 6,000 backlisted books. Nearly 4,900 of those have been converted into e-books. The publisher held off on publishing digital editions of Mr. Carver’s books because early e-book technology often mangled lines of poetry, mashing it into undifferentiated blocks of text.”

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Mary Renault And The Drug-Fueled Sensuality Of The Ancient World

06 Aug 1946 --- Original caption: New York, New York. Mary Renault, English author, graduate of Oxford and a trained-nurse, has captured top honors in MGM's $200,000 third annual prize novel contest with her latest book, "Return to Night". Miss Renault published three previous novels. This one will probably go into film production at the MGM studio in 1947. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

“Cutting-edge science now tells us ancient warriors would indeed consume vast vats of liquid opiates and a ferocious honey-mead, retsina and wine cocktail. There was cannibalism. Girls and boys did oil one another with rose and saffron-scented olive oil. Renault heard and smelt the ancient world many millennia after it had died and decades before it was resurrected by contemporary technology.”

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How 19th Century Newspapers Were Like Today’s Internet

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“Many 19th-century newspapers are comprised primarily of content from other newspapers,” he said. “They were more aggregators than producers of original content. And often they were created by very small staffs, and scholars such as Ellen Gruber Garvey have shown that this aggregation is what allowed newspapers to spread as rapidly as they did in the 19th century, because you didn’t have to produce the whole thing.”

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Time For Lit Magazines To Rethink How They Choose What To Publish?

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“Let’s be honest about the situation at lit mags: most are funded out of the editors’ pockets or else given a small budget from a university, most have unpaid editors (often MFA students getting a year’s experience), and most receive far more submissions than the editors could ever read. And if we are being really, really honest, most magazines don’t even have much of a readership, so no real way to raise money by charging readers.”

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Why Translating Literature Is Torture

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Breaking the Bulgarian structure out of the sentences and turning it into an equally strong and evocative phrase in English is a lot like doing 50 pushups. It’s painful and exalting. And one day, you get better. But sometimes you cry and swear, becoming haunted by Nabokov’s seminal, merciless essay, “The Art of Translation.”

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Why We Need Poetry Now More Than Ever

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“Conventional public discourse is boring, too familiar and brittle: the spray-on-tan blather of pundits on CNN, the coo of commerce, the drained, template-like rhetoric of political speech. That’s where poetry, that oft-forgotten form, comes in, a specific kind of verse called “civic poetry.” Civic poetry is public poetry. It is political poetry. It is about the hard stuff of life: money, crime, gender, corporate excess, racial injustice.”

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Rant: Time To Stop Being Snobbish About Book Genres

CORRECTS NAME - American writer, Jonathan Franzen, left, shows his award, the Budapest Grand Prix, which he received from President of the Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers Association, MKKE, Andras Sandor Kocsis, during the opening of the 22nd Budapest International Book Festival on stage of the Millenaris Theatre in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, April 23, 2015. (Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP)

“I’m tired of cultural pompousness passing as a form of intelligence and moral superiority, whether we’re talking about television, book, movie or music preferences. I record “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” while my boyfriend records “Nova”—does that make him a better person? Is that really what we want to pass down to the next generation—a way of one-upping ourselves over something that should be entertaining?”

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Who Was It Who Declared That This Is The Year Of The REALLY Long Novels?

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“I don’t fear the long novel as much as pine for good editors. A book can be any length, if the words earn their keep on the page. I rarely see the point in huge chunks of prose that don’t serve the story: writing has to be mesmerisingly good before that doesn’t feel self-indulgent to me. I also worry that we might be overlooking short novels.”

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László Krasznahorkai Wins Man Booker International Prize

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“The Hungarian author, whose sentences roll out over paragraphs in what his translator George Szirtes has called a ‘slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type’, has won the Man Booker International prize for his ‘achievement in fiction on the world stage’.”

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Which Large World City Has The Most Bookstores Per Capita? (It’s Not Paris, London, New York, Or Moscow)

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“With a population of 2.8 million people within the city limits, there are 25 bookstores for every 100,000 people … The closest [competitor] is Hong Kong, which has 22 bookstores per 100,000 people.” Says one bookstore manager, “Books represent us like [big hint redacted]. We have a culture very rooted in print.”

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Is This The Year Of The Very Long Novel? Or Does It Only Seem Like It?

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“Maybe it was ever thus? ‘I don’t think the long novel ever went away,’ says Jennifer Brehl, who edited Neal Stephenson’s forthcoming 880-page sci-fi story Seveneves. … But the notable thing about these books isn’t that their heft is unprecedented; it’s that all the forces Hallberg alluded to in 2010″ – basically, culture-wide gadget-induced ADD – “are exponentially stronger today.”

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Why Hong Kong Is Down On Creative Writing Programs

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“In its abrupt closure of a small programme, City University has chosen to make the act of writing a political battle. For five years, we occupied a small and unique place: a learning environment in which there were no hard and fast dicta, but in which we cultivated the awareness that language is thinking. Language can diminish and language can enlarge. For our young people, to read and to be read matters.”

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Writers’ Organization Boots Controversial Poet Off Planning Committee

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“The association, which represents more than 500 campus-based writing programs, as well as thousands of writers, acted after many members pushed for Place’s removal. They object to her Twitter account (below right), on which she is posting, line by line, the text of the novel Gone With the Wind. The Twitter feed also features a photograph of Hattie McDaniel as the profile picture. McDaniel was the actress who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Mammy in the film version of the novel.”

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The New York Times Book Review Hires Friends Of Writers To Review Books Sometimes, But Is That OK?

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“A personal connection with the author, or well-known strong feelings on the book’s subject, may actually be considered a positive, or at least not a disqualifier, Ms. Paul told me. … Landing an accomplished reviewer who will write a provocative, well-informed piece ‘is what gets us excited,’ she said.”

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