Friday, March 16, 2012

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

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