Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference. - Elie Wiesel

From Wikipedia:

Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE (play /ˈɛli vɨˈzɛl/Hungarian: Wiesel Lázár; born September 30, 1928)[1] is a Romanian-born Jewish-American[1]writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and Buchenwald concentration camps.[2] Wiesel is also the Advisory Board chairman of the Algemeiner Journal newspaper.
When Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a "messenger to mankind," stating that through his struggle to come to terms with "his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler's death camps", as well as his "practical work in the cause of peace", Wiesel had delivered a powerful message "of peace, atonement and human dignity" to humanity.[3]

Friday, March 16, 2012

Interesting News in the Book World: Paypal & Erotica, a dead book thief, no more Encyclopedia Britanica, and more Big Bad amazon.com news

Thanks to Sheppard's Confidential, for their regular reporting on important news in the book world!

UK: Shakespeare folio dealer found dead in cell
Raymond Scott, who was jailed in 2010 for handling a stolen book, was found unconscious in Northumberland prison on Wednesday. He was cleared of stealing the book from Durham University Library but found guilty of handling stolen property and taking it abroad. Scott took advantage of lax security at the library in 1998 to take the 1623 folio from a special exhibition without being detected.Read more

USA: Amazon's Assault on Intellectual Freedom
It is quite natural as corporations and large businesses grow, that critics in the media grow more voluble in their criticism. One publisher and author, Bryce Milligan, has written a lengthy account of the present situation - and he does not hold his punches!
  'There is an undeclared war going on in the United States that threatens the lynchpins of American intellectual freedom. In a statement worthy of Cassandra, Noah Davis wrote in Business Insider last October, "Amazon is coming for the book publishing industry. And not just the e-book world, either." When titans battle, it is tempting to think that there will be no local impact. In this case, that's dead wrong.' Read more
  And the well-known author and President of The Authors Guild, Scott Turow gives his considered view of Amazon's current situation.

International: PayPal backtracks on censorship
PayPal, the online payment service owned by eBay Inc., is backtracking on its policy to of prohibiting the processing of sales of e-books containing themes of rape, bestiality or incest after protests from authors and anti-censorship activist groups. Read more
  Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords, wrote to their customers this week: 'This is a big, bold move by PayPal. It represents a watershed decision that protects the rights of writers to write, publish and distribute legal fiction. It also protects the rights of readers to purchase and enjoy all fiction in the privacy of their own imagination. It clarifies and rationalizes the role of financial services providers and pulls them out of the business of censoring legal fiction... This is a bright day for indie publishing. In the old world, traditional publishers were the arbiters of literary merit. Today, thanks to the rise of indie ebooks, the world is moving toward a broader, more inclusive definition of literary merit. Smashwords gives writers the power and freedom to publish. Merit is decided by your readers. Just as it should be.'

International: Encyclopedia Britannica - end of an era
Encyclopedia Britannica has ceased to print its 32-volume print edition after 244 years to concentrate on its digital model. The company said the move was the latest in a trend of making more digital products available and expanding its range of educational products, after its president Jorge Cauz said the company had forseen "the end of the print set" for some time. Read more

UK: Amazon v Publishers
The launch of an antitrust probe against book publishers, which the US Department of Justice has threatened, couldn't have come at a weirder time. In the two previous Monday Notes, we explained how Amazon is manoeuvring itself into a position to dominate the entire book industry. The Seattle giant keeps moving up the food chain, from controlling e-book distribution (in addition to selling print books), to competing against publishers and even agents by luring bestselling authors. No one would bet a dime on the printed book as it reaches its peak while e-book sales keep exceeding expectations. Read more

Monday, March 12, 2012

Book News Courtesy of Sheppard's Confidential

Another week, another 'big-brother' news item. Readers will remember how Amazon arbitrarily removed copies of 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindle users - only later to return the titles and compensate users. Then Apple had an issue with German newspapers over nudity and later backtracked.  Then there is the ongoing conflict in the USA where Amazon is in dispute over collecting state taxes.
  We have publishers withdrawing e-books from Amazon, and there's an internecine row where author Seth Godin‘s new book Stop Selling Dreams is not available in the iBookstore because the bibliography contains links to books on Amazon. Read more. There have also been other examples leading up to last week's news.
  This week, we learn that card companies and banks are putting pressure on PayPal - widely used by our readers - to cease allowing transactions by publishers when the book being sold contains 'erotic' material.  These sales are quite legal even if many do not want to read them. PayPal is contesting the issue but the move is a 'slippery slope' towards widespread censorship. 
  But the over-riding issue is that we are witnessing, for whatever reasons, pan-national companies attempting to dictate their own rules over national laws. Should we be fearing these companies more than nation states?  What can national governments do to combat this trend?

The news that Firefox has developed a programme to expose the 'watchers' - businesses and websites that send cookies to your PC when you access their websites is good news.  They may be harmless but the user should have the right to see when they are present.  If it is illegal for a commercial company to listen in on your private telephone conversation, or for someone to open another person's mail, surely such practices on the Internet should come under the same laws?


International: PayPal and Censorship
News of another 'big-brother' incident has come to our attention. It is certainly troubling sellers and the central companies involved - PayPal and Smashwords [a USA-based company which specialises in selling e-publications for publishers). But it is not PayPal that is driving this censorship - it is a group of banks and credit card companies which are placing pressure on PayPal.
  Two weeks ago, PayPal contacted Smashwords and gave the company a surprise ultimatum: Remove all titles containing bestiality, rape or incest, otherwise the company's PayPal account would be deactivated. Discussions have taken place since this was instruction was issued and at the moment, a reprieve has been give until a suitable solution can be reached.
  As Smashwords see the problem - 'PayPal is asking us to censor legal fiction. Regardless of how one views topics of rape, bestiality and incest, these topics are pervasive in mainstream fiction. We believe this crackdown is really targeting erotica writers. This is unfair, and it marks a slippery slope. We don't want credit card companies or financial institutions telling our authors what they can write and what readers can read. Fiction is fantasy. It's not real. It's legal.' Also read

International: Firefox outs the watchers
Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has unveiled a new add-on for the popular web browser that gives web users an instant view of which companies are 'watching' them as they browse. The news broke soon after Google pushed ahead with its controversial new privacy policy, which we reported on last week.
  The add-on, called Collusion, is likely to be warmly welcomed by users everywhere. As anyone knows who owns and runs anti-malware programmes there are always numerous hidden links left on your PC after visiting websites most of which are harmless. Read more 
[Harmless they may be, but many Internet users object to be monitored and watched. The Internet has so much to offer yet it is also allowing organisations and individuals to eavesdrop and spy on unsuspecting citizens.  Firefox's new add-on could be a very useful tool to help block unsolicited communications. Do you have a view or an opinion?  Ed.]

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Is the Personal Library Doomed?

This editor/bookseller/reader/writer doesn't think so. Good article, go to the link 'cause the comments are worth a gander as well, thanks PW:
Is the Personal Library Doomed?
by Elizabeth Bluemle

     My nephews are both avid readers, a happy coincidence that brings their book aunties much joy. Their house in Burlington is rich in bookcases. They spend summers at the lake, where more bookcases sport ragged, well-loved mysteries and fantasies, Mythbusters and Star Wars books, copies of comics collections like The Order of the StickCalvin and Hobbes, all of the Harry Potters. You know, summer staples. When their friends come over, books are readily shared and shown off, shelves pored over, volumes handed between kids like candy bars. Recently, I was lounging on the dock near my nephew Jake and his friend Riley, who were both reading ARCs I’d brought (Super Diaper Baby 2 andSquish). Utterly lost in the companionable habit of reading, they finished their books at exactly the same time and, without a word between them, exchanged books and started reading once again. It was a classic moment and one that made me think, yet again, about the way the reading experience changes with Kindles and Nooks and iPads.
Jake, Harry Potter, and a cozy blanket: perfect afternoon.
Children, both experienced bookavores and those just learning to read, are SO PROUD of their libraries. “Want to see my books?” they exclaim, leading you by the hand over to the shelves to marvel, especially proud of the sheer number of volumes they have read. There’s something about the physical mounting up of books, the scale of stacks, that cannot be replicated with a gadget. And the thickness of books! Everyone who knows kids knows how Extremely Important a book’s length is, how proud kids are of having waded successfully through all the pages of Inkheart or Harry Potter V.Waving around a Kindle saying, “Look at all the books I’ve … downloaded!” just doesn’t have the same impact as twelve feet of worn spines and pages softened by lingering fingers.
The same is true for adults. When new romances are blooming, bookavores spend a lot of time surreptitiously checking out their dates’ bookcases (and, let’s face it, assessing at least their literary compatibility). At dinner parties among new acquaintances, conversations are often sparked by titles—intriguing or familiar—spotted on nearby shelves. It’s the best kind of snooping, poking around other people’s libraries. Our book choices are intimate, revealing, our discoveries meaningful and serendipitous.
Looking over someone’s Kindle contents tells me something, but not much. Was this title even read? Has it been re-read, loved, slept with? Read in the bath and therefore slightly waterlogged? Where are the dog-eared pages, the satisfying kinesthetic memory inherent in heft, shape, size? And don’t forget about bookmarks: those tell their own stories. In my own books, I re-discover bookmarks from long-defunct bookshops I loved, receipts and restaurant napkins I used to mark my place that now serve as travel diary entries, photos and other random flat paper items I grabbed to use as placeholders and then left there, giving me sudden bright glimpses of my own forgotten past. And there are items in the pages of books that were left there by other readers, little messages in bottles from across mysterious seas. My sister gave me a beautiful old King James Bible, an ornate leather-bound version from the 1800s, with illustration plates protected by onion skin. Pressed into the heart of the book, between onion skin and paper, was a four-leaf clover. I love this so much I can hardly stand it. A person of faith, perhaps, who owned this book before me, hedged his or her bets with a little piece of pagan luck! Show me an e-reader that can provide that kind of wacky archaeology.
The convenience of e-readers is handy, but libraries are treasure troves. I have so many friends and acquaintances who have shifted the bulk of their book buying to e-readers that I am starting to think about more than the usual anxiety about the future of publishing and bookselling. Book fanatics will always be here, and our libraries will survive. But I am starting to wonder whether the casual personal library is in danger.
This idea of the empty library haunted me enough that I asked phenom New Yorker cartoonist and children’s book illustrator (and Vermont neighbor) Harry Bliss if he’d like to draw it up. This is what I sent him:
A guy leading a tour of his home to guests in a room full of emptied built-in bookshelves. On the tabletop of one of the bookcases is a stand with a Kindle on it. Guy is gesturing proudly toward Kindle. Caption: And THIS is my library.
Sad. True. Sob.
Here’s what he sent back (with a note saying, “The Kindle or ipad, I thought was too difficult to read, so I made it a laptop….“)

And that vision, people, is my nightmare.
By the way, how amazingly, unutterably COOL is it to have talented artist pals who can actually take an idea and DRAW it up?! For those of us without the art gene, pretty darned cool. And, um, Harry BLISS. Whee! (Public service announcement: If you don’t already subscribe to his daily cartoons, which are hilarious, you can do so on his website.)
So, what do you think? Is the casual personal library doomed? And what impact will that have on kids, not to mention our ability to judge potential mates? Inquiring minds (don’t) want to know….

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Libraries in crisis and possible related lawsuit

The American Library Association is urging Random House Inc. to reconsider increasing the price of e-books for library wholesalers.
Random House, the country's largest trade publisher, has informed libraries that wholesale charges for e-books would rise by more than 20 percent for new adult releases and more than double for new children's books. Random House noted that e-books can be "repeatedly circulated without limitation," unlike paper books, which eventually become worn or damaged. It also asked that libraries provide more information about patrons' "borrowing patterns."
"Currently absent such information in quantity, it is important to reiterate that our guiding principles in setting these new e-prices are the unrestricted and perpetual availability of our complete frontlist and backlist of Random House, Inc. titles under a model of one-copy, one user," according to a statement issued Friday by Random House.
In related news, the Justice Department has warned Apple Inc. and five of the biggest U.S. publishers that it plans to sue them for allegedly colluding to raise the price of electronic books, according to people familiar with the matter.
Several of the parties have held talks to settle the antitrust case and head off a potentially damaging court battle, these people said. If successful, such a settlement could have wide-ranging repercussions for the industry, potentially leading to cheaper e-books for consumers. However, not every publisher is in settlement discussions.
The five publishers facing a potential suit are CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster Inc.; Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group; Pearson PLC's Penguin Group (USA); Macmillan, a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH; and HarperCollins Publishers Inc., a unit of News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal.
Read On! [FULL STORY] 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Five top hackers arrested... I wonder if this could have been a false flag all along or it's just a traitor...

I'm not sure what to believe now... Though I know our super secret government is quite good at what it does... You decide who to trust. And if there are any elite hackers reading this, thanks for the crucial, dangerous work you are doing in our global village.

It also means that the FBI allowed the recent wiki leaked Stratfor communiques... Now why would they do something like that? Makes me think a bit harder about this article from the Atlantic that Techonoccult turned me onto.

False Flag

Five arrested in high-profile cyberattacks 06 Mar 2012 Top members of the computer hacker group "Anonymous" and its offshoots were arrested and charged Tuesday after a wide-ranging investigation used the help of a group leader who was working as a secret government informant. Five of the suspects, considered by investigators among the "most sophisticated hackers in the world," were arrested in the United States and Europe and charged in a Manhattan federal court over their alleged role in high-profile cyberattacks against government agencies and large companies, according to an indictment. A sixth man, Hector Xavier Monsegur, a notorious hacker known as "Sabu," pleaded guilty in August to computer hacking and other crimes.

LulzSec boss Hector Monsegur was working for us - FBI --Monsegur, aka Sabu, turned by FBI last June --'We're chopping off the head of LulzSec' 07 Mar 2012 Police on two continents swooped on top members of computer hacking group LulzSec early today, and acting largely on evidence gathered by the organisation's leader - who sources say has been secretly working for the government for months - arrested three and charged two more with conspiracy. Charges against four of the five were based on a conspiracy case filed in New York federal court. An indictment charging the suspects, who include two men from Great Britain, two from Ireland and an American from Chicago, is expected to be unsealed today in the Southern District of New York. "This is devastating to the organisation," an FBI official involved with the investigation said. "We're chopping off the head of LulzSec." [We'll see.]

International hacking group LulzSec brought down by own leader --'They caught him and he was secretly arrested and now works for the FBI.' 06 Mar 2012 Law enforcement agents on two continents swooped in on top members of the infamous computer hacking group LulzSec early this morning, and acting largely on evidence gathered by the organization's brazen leader -- who sources say has been secretly working for the government for months -- arrested three and charged two more with conspiracy. The offshoot of the loose network of hackers, Anonymous, believed to have caused billions of dollars in damage to governments, international banks and corporations, was allegedly led by a man FoxNews.com has identified as Hector Xavier Monsegur. After the FBI unmasked Monsegur [working under the Internet alias 'Sabu'] last June, he became a cooperating witness, sources told FoxNews.com. "They caught him and he was secretly arrested and now works for the FBI," a source close to Sabu told FoxNews.com. Monsegur pleaded guilty Aug. 15 to 12 hacking-related charges and information documenting his admissions was unsealed in Southern District Court on Tuesday.