Ursula K. Le Guin on the State of Publishing

Nov 26 2014 Published by under Literature, Science Fiction

In accepting the National Book Awards 2014 Distinguished Contribution award last week, author Ursula K. Le Guin blew the room away with a stunning and inspiring speech. [Via]

The speech is transcribed here, and the YouTube video embedded below. Short and succinct, yet profound.

What’s wrong with publishing these days? In a nutshell, capitalism. Same thing that’s wrong with everything else. What does one of our greatest future-thinking minds think needs to be done to save publishing?

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Obama Speak With Forked Tongue

Jul 31 2013 Published by under politics

The Audacity of Doublespeak.

Not-My-President Obama’s speech at an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee on Tuesday is the most glaring example in recent memory of a sitting President flaunting a lie, flaunting a crime, and flaunting an agenda, all at the same time. At least Nixon thought enough to attempt to cover up his criminality while in office. Obama feels no such pressure.

Prior to the speech, The White House had said “Tuesday’s speech will focus on manufacturing and high wage jobs for durable economic growth” and that “the President will discuss proposals he has laid out to jump-start private sector job growth and make America more competitive, and will also talk about new ideas to create American jobs.” [Thank you, Shelf Awareness]

Reception to the speech has been negative. Some of the responses, and the White House’s lack of response to the negative responses, are captured here at Publisher’s Weekly. Shelf Awareness details several publishing industry letters to the President here, though negative responses have come from many non-publishing sources.

These are not manufacturing jobs. These are jobs packing boxes with goods manufactured in other countries. When Obama talks about jump-starting private sector growth, he is saying that the American people are going to need to rely on the charity of multinational corporate bullies. That would be a different approach from the public-works and citizen-centric approach President Roosevelt undertook attempting to mitigate the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Obama’s speech is just one glaring example of his disdain for the American middle class.

Once you get past the fact that these are jobs that require no higher education, offer no health benefits, entail long hours of physical labor and substandard salary, as a middle class American you can only say “what the fuck is he talking about?!?”

There is nothing about these retail warehouse jobs that could be construed as beneficial for middle class Americans. And why would Obama advocate for a corporation who has spent billions lobbying state governments for exemption from payment of sales tax? How does corporate tax avoidance help the middle class?

Then you look back at the antitrust case the Department of Justice pursued against the leading book publishers and Apple, led by Stooge General Eric Holder. The DOJ had one of the weakest cases in the history of antitrust cases. The DOJ only triumphed because the publishers folded and settled rather than sink money into exorbitant legal fees. Even though Apple put up a good fight, and witnesses from B&N and Google showed the DOJ had no case, the court found in favor of the DOJ anyway, treating the outcome as a foregone conclusion of the accusation. So what was the motivation behind the DOJ’s case?

The agency-model pricing of the publishing companies was to ensure competition in the retail sphere. Amazon is mounting an aggressive war to destroy all competition for retail book sales, and is striving toward a monopoly. We have not seen such a powerful monopoly as that since the days of Standard Oil, the ‘gold standard’ of monopolies. If Amazon succeeds in creating a monopoly, they will raise prices to any absurdly high level. That is what monopolies do – history, Wall Street, and common sense all tell us this. Amazon has already begun.

It is somewhat tawdry that the publishing industry had to get into bed with Apple in order to fight Amazon, but preventing Amazon from becoming the only book retailer in America would ensure multiple retail sales channels continue to exist for the book-buying public – not just Apple and B&N, but also the thousands of independent booksellers located throughout the country.

The DOJ case handed Amazon the keys to their monopoly. Why would they do that? Shouldn’t they oppose monopolies and all such attempts at stifling competition? And why would Wall Street continue to allow Amazon’s stock to trade at absurdly high prices, despite the fact they are not yet profitable? The answer to both is that these entities want to see Amazon become a monopoly. And not just for books. For all retail.

All this, combined with that infamous no-bid contract for Kindles for the Government that was strangely canceled even though the government somehow felt a DRM-only-walled-garden e-reader was somehow best for public use, seem to point to Obama getting payola from Amazon.

Still another peanut for this pile of hot steaming shit: Obama is giving Amazon an interview for its Kindle Singles line, handing them an interview with a sitting President.

The goal of an Amazon total-monopoly-of-everything would ultimately be to move us to neo-feudalism – Everyone working for one company, purchasing for one company, one company to rule them all – Feudalism with e-ink screens, tablets and always-trackable smartphones. There’s no middle class in feudalism, so ultimately Obama’s speech is one of the most bald-faced examples of publicly disseminated unadulterated bullshit in the history of the United States.

Let me know what you think of White House collusion with Amazon and Wall Street – Comment as you see fit.

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Crappy First Drafts of Great Books

Apr 28 2012 Published by under Literature, tweets

Crappy First Drafts of Great Books: http://t.co/wu7PqlTV

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Snoop Dogg Publishes A Smokable Book

Apr 09 2012 Published by under Literature, media

We have now found the one thing you cannot do with an e-book.

Snoop Dogg’s new book is smokable. Each page is a sheet of rolling paper. And there’s a matchbook on the spine. [via Creativity Online]

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If graphic novels are novels,

Dec 07 2011 Published by under tweets

If graphic novels are novels, then comic books are graphic short stories. Scratch that – graphic serials.

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Authors Trashing Authors

Jun 22 2011 Published by under Literature

The 30 Harshest Author-on-Author Insults in History. [Flavorwire, via Shelf Awareness]

Nothing so poetic as an author choosing the perfect words with which to criticize another. My personal favorite? Number 12, Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope:

“There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to dislike it, the other is to read Pope.”

Some I agree with, others I don’t. I think the fun here is in the insults themselves, not the merits of the affronted.

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Which is Mightier, the Pen or the Paw?

May 14 2011 Published by under Literature

Writers and Kitties. ‘Nuff said.

Thanks to the GalleyCat blog for surfacing this photo blog on Tumblr that combines two of my favorite things – writers and kitties.

Does this say something about writers, and why so many of them like cats, or something about cats, and why writers are drawn to them? Or does it say something about why people who are into literature tend to also be into cats?

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Jewcy’s 50 Most Essential Works of Jewish Fiction: Some Brief Thoughts

Feb 12 2011 Published by under Literature

Recently, Jewcy published its list of The 50 Most Essential Works of Jewish Fiction of the Last 100 Years.

I have not read all of these, though I have read many on the list. A few thoughts:

1. Major omission: The Chosen by Chaim Potok.

2. What the frag is Updike doing here? Updike doesn’t belong on any list.

3. James Joyce’s Ulysses is both the quintessential Irish novel and the quintessential Jewish novel at the same time. It belongs on this list.

4. Some of the ones I haven’t read have piqued my curiosity. Making some additions to Nook wish list.

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97 William S. Burroughs factoids

Feb 08 2011 Published by under tweets

97 William S. Burroughs factoids at flavorwire: http://tinyurl.com/6zxt7jp

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