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  • SITWELL FRIENDS: Fifty years ago, Osbert Sitwell's autobiography was widely acclaimed "as one of the masterpieces of 20th-century writing in English. Today most of Sitwell's works, including the autobiography, remain in print, but only in expensive library editions available on special order, and it is doubtful whether many people read them." Now a new biography. Boston Globe 12/30/99
  • MEGA MOGUL: Giant book retailer Chapters has rewritten the Canadian bookselling industry. Founder Larry Stevenson had a profound impact on Canadian culture this year. Toronto Globe and Mail 12/27/99
  • A UNIVERSAL STANDARD for e-book technology is being hailed as a milestone in electronic publishing. Wired 12/27/99
  • WHERE'S THE LITERATURE IN LITERARY STUDIES? Even the current economic boom can't accommodate the best of our new humanities Ph.Ds. "Some assume that we humanists have a clear sense of what the humanities do and what makes them valuable – that we simply need to convince those crass others, whether within the university or outside its walls, that they really need us. But that assumption is untrue. No one’s even angry with us now, just bored." Boston Review 12/99
  • TWO OLD PILES OF BONES: On a Canadian TV show John Irving attacks Tom Wolfe: "I can't read him because he's such a bad writer," and dismissed Wolfe's novels as "yak" and "journalistic hyperbole described as fiction." Wolfe fires back: "Irving needs to get up off his bottom and leave that farm in Vermont or wherever it is he stays and start living again. It wouldn't be that hard. Salon 12/21/99
  • CUTTING THROUGH THE HYPE about electronic publishing. Publisher's Weekly 12/21/99
    • THE UN-E-BOOK: Call them software companies, content-managers or digital distributors, but they all want the same thing: "to fundamentally disrupt the business of book publishing and bookselling -- not the writing or editing of books, but everything that happens afterward, or, in New Media- speak, the way it is distributed to, and consumed by, the end-user." Publisher's Weekly 12/21/99
  • BETWEEN POETRY AND FICTION: Getting inside the two. New York Times 12/20/99 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE MOST POPULAR POET IN AMERICA?: His very popularity has provoked one of the odder publishing battles of recent memory. Improbably, a large commercial publisher is battling a small academic press over a literary poet. "It is an argument about money, with a distinct David-and-Goliath plot, but it is also about publishing ethics and the right of an author to determine the direction of his own career." New York Times 12/19/99 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE FRENCH CENSORS: "It has taken five years for Eric Hobsbawm's world-acclaimed Age of Extremes to appear in French - even though it has been translated into more than 20 languages. By November, one month after publication, the book was on all the best-selling lists, with 40,000 copies printed. The whole affair has revealed the disquiet and ambiguities that surround intellectual life in France. No-one denied the quality of the work. Nor was it a question of financial considerations. It was Hobsbawm's ideas that were in question, in particular his unrepentant position on the left." Le Monde Diplomatique 12/15/99
  • THE BIRTHDAY BOOK: The Library of Congress is 200 years old this year. A year of celebrations is planned. Washington Post 12/13/99
  • HYPE GOETH BEFORE A FALL: The reviews are in: "Talk" magazine is Exhibit A. Chicago Tribune 12/12/99
  • HEMMINGWAY AND FITZGERALD: A most improbable relationship, chronicled in new book. Boston Globe 12/12/99
  • READING CHINA: China has been loosening controls on its publishing industry. More to read and greater variety. Financial Times 12/10/99 
  • WRITE AGAINST THE MACHINE: A writer/academic is wistful for pen and ink and wonders if we haven't given up something as writers by being tied to computers. Chronicle of Higher Education 12/10/99
  • E-SURPRISE: Library circulation is down at the University of Texas at Austin. But newly-acquired e-books are flying through readers at a stunning pace. Maybe the public is more ready to "cuddle up with a good byte" than many think. New York Times 12/9/99 (one-time registration required)
  • TAKING IT TO THE STREETS: Just who are these people who sit at card tables on the streets of Manhattan trying to sell books to passersby? And what does this micro-industry say about the reshaping of the city? Village Voice 12/99
  • A THING FOR TWENTIES: Bay Area librarian arrested after failing to turn in money for overdue fines she collected. She kept all the $20s - 6,500 of them over four years -- averaging between $130 and $140 a day. San Francisco Chronicle 12/9/99
  • E-BOOK BREAKTHROUGH: Three-quarters of the 3,000 e-books published are romances. Now the most popular has sold 6,000 copies. The Romance Writers of America requires that an electronic book sell more than 5,000 copies before it will recognize the author or publisher. Thus for the first time is legitimacy conferred. Wired 12/8/99
  • A NEW GOVERNMENT INQUIRY on the state of Canada's bookselling industry will investigate disappearance of independent booksellers. CBC 12/8/99
  • BEST BOOKS OF 99: A bumpy year that got better. Washington Post
  • A LESSON TO BE LEARNED? Amazon bans selling "Mein Kampf" to customers with addresses in Germany. German Minister of Justice Herta Däubler-Gmelin sent letters urging both Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com to refrain from shipping the book to Germany. Amazon.com banned such sales, and Barnesandnoble.com asked for a complete list of restricted books. Wired 12/3/99


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