Words

Fears About Investment In Canadian Literature After Mega-Merger

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Laments about neoliberalism, globalization, Americanization and the need for the great revolution that will destroy “late capitalism” itself are lazy and unproductive, for they provide no practical way forward. “It’s society’s fault, man,” is no coherent cultural plan. It actually would be very bad for all of us if any one of these giant publishers were to fail. And a purely government-funded system would end up giving us a carefully inoffensive and good-for-you national literature.

“The Necessary, Inevitable Thing” – Adam Gopnik On Love Lyrics, From Shakespeare To Taylor Swift

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“The love song, whether from Shakespeare or his lessers, is to the currency of our feelings what the dollar bill is to our economy, the dining-room table to our family life – the necessary, inevitable thing. Exactly because everything is a love song, we sigh at another one, even as we prepare to sing it.”

Ten Great Writers Nobody Reads

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Stephen Sparks: “I haven’t come closer to understanding the vicissitudes of literary fortune (the moment I do, I’ll open my own publishing house), but in studying these writers, I’ve come up with a set of categories into which many fall.”

Why Summer Isn’t For Reading

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It’s for re-reading instead: “I pull this or that beat-up, food-spattered volume off a shelf, whimsically hopeful that this time around it will be a different story: Anna Karenina will skip the train tracks and Sydney Carton will avoid the guillotine. Nothing has changed. But of course everything has changed.”

Thank You, Robots, For Preserving Print Newspapers

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“In the dark void of the National Newspaper Building, the robots are afoot. Towering 20 metres high and stretching far into the distance is an imposing expanse of racks, heaving with trays bearing volume upon volume of newspapers, laid flat and strapped between metal sheets. Suddenly, an enormous autonomous crane zooms forwards, stops abruptly and, with a hydraulic gasp, shoots out an arm. Lifting a large metal tray off the scaffold, it deposits it on a conveyor belt and races into the dark.”

What’s Going To Happen To Canadian Books?

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“In reality, writers find that a belief in an author, as opposed to a particular book – an author as a long-term investment – tends to exist less and less. There is little loyalty. I know a half-dozen respected Canadian authors who have been breezily dumped in recent years by major publishers because their sales were just too low.”

Why Do We Use Four-Letter Words?

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“The use of offensive, obscene or taboo language is a linguistic feature in most human cultures, from the English “f**k off” to the French merde (sh**), and from the Indian sala (brother-in-law) to the Arabic yil’an abu ommak (curse your grandfather). While people tend to think of the “four-letter words” as modern phenomena, the reality is that the earliest recorded uses of these words date from 1,000 years ago (“f**k” is one of the most recent, from 1503).”

Amazon’s New Pay-Per-Page Scheme Offers Shockingly Tiny Share To Authors

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“In other words, for an author to make $1.30 on an ebook rental, he or she would have to write at least 220 pages, and the reader would have to flip through every page. As a literary editor told The Guardian, this could hit nonfiction writers and children’s book authors particularly hard, since their books tend to fall on the shorter side.”

Book Subscription Service Stops Offering Romance And Erotica Titles Because Its Readers Read Them Too Much

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“Scribd appears to have slightly underestimated just how much can be consumed at their all-you-can-eat literary buffet – especially by fans of romance. Because Scribd has to pay the authors of the books they make available on their site, it is now shelling out more money than it can make back in subscriptions, thanks to the voracious appetites of romance and erotica readers.”

The World’s First “Metaphor Map”

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“Over the past 30 years, it has become clear that metaphor is not simply a literary phenomenon; metaphorical thinking underlies the way we make sense of the world conceptually. It governs how we think and how we talk about our day-to-day lives.”

Authors React To Amazon’s Plan To Pay By The Numbers

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“A look at the numbers, though, recalls the joke that the difference between a writer and a pizza is that a pizza can feed a family. The average payout barely cracks $1 a book. Only the first reading of a page counts. Books that are reread, on this scheme, are of no greater value. And the unread novel, which has been an important part of the publishing industry if not literature, will be worthless.”

How Did The New York Public Library Lose Its Way?

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“What went wrong at one of the world’s eminent research libraries? NYPL, as it is often known, has been under intermittent financial pressure for most of its history, but in the last few years it has been enveloped by a controversy that has exposed the institution to unprecedented public scrutiny. What stands revealed is a library that is abandoning its core mission of research and is losing its way in the digital age.”

Book Publishers Are Finally Starting To Invest In Real Fact-Checking

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“By tradition and by default, books aren’t verified to anything near the standard of a magazine piece. Publishers don’t even consider verification their business. … In fact, the practice of checking books is fairly common, though it’s also expensive. This fall, for the first time, one publisher is even promising to pay for it. Which is a pretty radical departure.”

Panned By Critics, “50 Shades Of Grey” Sequel Sells Million Copies In UK In First Week, Breaks Sales Records

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“Released last Thursday, Grey tells the story of the S&M-focused relationship between businessman Christian Grey and shy student Anastasia Steele from the perspective of Christian – something its British author James writes in her dedication that fans had “asked … and asked … and asked … and asked” for.”

Claim: Is UK’s Creative Writing Program Actually Making Students’ Writing Worse?

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The authors, a growing group that already numbers 35, say that national curriculum assessment criteria have become a “prescription for how to teach children to write (to pass the tests), with quite adverse effects on their writing skills”. This means, they say, that children are taught “not to use simple words such as ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘small’ or ‘big’ but to always find other more ‘interesting’ words to replace them – such as ‘wonderful’, ‘terrible’, ‘minuscule’ or ‘enormous’”.

Wikipedia Is Dying. Can It Be Saved?

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“In 2005, during Wikipedia’s peak years, there were months when more than 60 editors were made administrator — a position with special privileges in editing the English-language edition. For the past year, it has sometimes struggled to promote even one per month. The pool of potential Wikipedia editors could dry up as the number of mobile users keeps growing; it’s simply too hard to manipulate complex code on a tiny screen.”

Amazon Will Pay Writers Based On How Many Pages Readers Read. Is This Fair?

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The move has dismayed some authors, who believe it sets a dangerous precedent and could spread across the industry. It has also raised concerns about the amount of data Amazon is able to mine from its customers. “We’re making this switch in response to great feedback we received from authors who asked us to better align payout with the length of books and how much customers read,” the company said.