Back When Critics Were Critics

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“Back then, the best reviewers – and the best magazines – were all Scotch; you couldn’t throw a stone in Edinburgh without hitting one of these slippery, multi-authored, self-reflexive, pugnacious, parodic, super-opinionated periodicals.”

Ursula LeGuin: My Beef With Amazon

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“If you think Amazon is a great place to self-publish your book, I may have a question or two in mind, but still, it’s fine with me, and none of my business anyhow. My only quarrel with Amazon is when it comes to how they market books and how they use their success in marketing to control not only bookselling, but book publication: what we write and what we read.”

Amazon Data: America’s Most Well-Read Cities

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Seattle tops the list. “Not so surprising, really. Several factors help boost our reading status, including our highly educated population, bookish community that includes fantastic public libraries and local bookstores that support authors and events, and long, dark months of dreary weather that lend themselves to, well, reading. It also helps that we have one of the world’s most famous book fans in town.”

Head Of Boston Public Library Resigns After Distovery Of $600,000 In Missing Art

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“The library said last month it was bringing in an independent firm to review security protocols and that before any items were reported missing it was already working with an outside consultant to “organize, catalogue, inventory, and recommend processes to allow better security and control over” its more than 1.3 million Print Department holdings.”

The Poet On His Island: The Final Interview With 2011 Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer

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“The stroke Tranströmer suffered in 1990 paralyzed him on one side, stealing most of his speech. … Over the afternoon I ask questions that Monica translates into Swedish, and then he responds, to which she seeks greater clarification, and on it goes. In between, Tranströmer steers her questions and extrapolations with his face, his few words, gestures, and the tone of his voice. They touch and regard each other constantly throughout this process. It is hard to tell, watching the two of them, who is the conductor, and who is the symphony.”

Why America Is Obsessed With Spelling Bees

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Over the years the Scripps Spelling Bee has become a greater part of the nation’s pop culture. Much of this can be attributed to ESPN’s quasi-sporting-event coverage of the competition, which this year began with the slam poet J.Ivy delivering a spoken-word presentation about the allure of the bee.

Using Rap To Get Ten-Year-Olds To Like Studying Latin

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“British musician Jonathan Goddard is attempting to inspire primary schoolchildren to learn Latin. He ‘approaches each lesson like a concert’ in his work for the Latin Programme charity which combines the teaching of classical Latin with modern English grammar and vocabulary.” (audio)

Judy Blume’s New Novel Might Be Her Final Book

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“Blume’s career spans more than 40 years of writing groundbreaking YA novels that delved deep into the minds of women, tackling intimate subjects such as teenage sex, menstruation and masturbation. But with her new novel, In the Unlikely Event, Blume has tackled a new frontier – this is her first crack at historical fiction.”

How A Twitter Campaign Changed (This Year’s) BookCon

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“There were some instances where, when we were planning panels — Who’s available? Who fits with kind of the theme of this panel? — where we would definitely stop and say, ‘We need diversity included here. We have three white people; the fourth cannot be that way.'”

Margaret Atwood Is First Author To Write For A Library That Won’t Be Read For 100 Years

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“The Toronto-based Man Booker Prize winner is the first author to hand over an unpublished piece to the Future Library in Oslo. The international project will see one writer contribute a new, unread text to the collection every year for the next 100 years. The pieces will be kept locked up until 2114, when 1,000 trees planted for the project in a forest just outside Oslo will be cut down to provide paper for their publication.”

Report: Writers’ Incomes Are Falling (Precipitously)

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“Over all, the writers’ incomes from writing have dropped 27 per cent since the last time they were surveyed, in 1998. Their average annual income from writing is now less than $13,000 and half report they are working harder than before to make the money. American and British surveys have reported similar drops.”

91 Percent Of Wikipedia’s Editors Are Male. Is That A Problem?

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“When it comes to how it is made, Wikipedia is a colossal failure. Only a tiny proportion of users now edit articles and the overwhelming majority of those editors are male. The most recent survey by the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity that supports but does not control Wikipedia, found that 91 per cent of the editors are men.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.”