Monthly Archives: March 2011

Paul Brodeur: A Breach of Trust at The New York Public Library

This article ran in our most recent bulletin as a contribution from a member, Paul Brodeur, a staff writer at The New Yorker for nearly 40 years.

In 1992, at the recommendation of Philip Hamburger, a colleague at The New Yorker, I donated papers relating to my 38-year career as a staff writer at the magazine to The New York Public Library. Among the papers were those connected to my investigations of the asbestos health hazard and its cover-up by the asbestos industry; the health risks posed by flesh-eating enzymes that had been introduced into household detergents; the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer by man-made chemicals; the dangers of exposure to microwave radiation; the ills caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted by power lines, and the land claims of the Native People of New England. The Charles J. Liebman Curator of Manuscripts when I made my donation was Ms. Mimi Bowling. Five years later, Ms. Bowling conducted my wife and me on a tour of the Library’s Bryant Park Stack Extension, a vast underground vault beneath the park containing 42 miles of movable shelving units, where she showed us my papers, which had been processed and stored. She told us at the time that the documents we viewed constituted the permanent collection of my papers.

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Scott Turow on Google Ruling

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“Although this Alexandria of out-of-print books appears lost at the moment,” said Authors Guild President Scott Turow, “we’ll be studying Judge Chin’s decision and plan on talking to the publishers and Google with the hope that we can arrive at a settlement within the court’s parameters that makes sense for all parties.”

“Regardless of the outcome of our discussions with publishers and Google, opening up far greater access to out-of-print books through new technologies that create new markets is an idea whose time has come,” said Mr.Turow. “Readers want access to these unavailable works, and authors need every market they can get.  There has to be a way to make this happen.  It’s a top priority for the Authors Guild.”

Judge Chin’s decision on the proposed settlement of the Google litigation, released earlier this afternoon, is here.

Court Rejects Google Settlement. Noting benefits, Judge Chin Urges Revision

We’ve just learned that Judge Chin has rejected our proposed settlement in our lawsuit against Google. In a 48-page opinion that lauds the many benefits of the settlement, the court has left the door open for a revised agreement. In his conclusion, Judge Chin says that “many of the concerns raised in the objections would be ameliorated if the ASA [the Amended Settlement Agreement] were converted from an ‘opt-out’ settlement to an ‘opt-in’ settlement. I urge the parties to consider revising the ASA accordingly.”

We will have more on this for you soon.

Scott Turow on Random House: Local Booksellers May Be the Big Winners

Random House, the largest trade book publisher in the U.S., announced last week that it is adopting the agency model for selling e-books. For readers and authors concerned about a diverse literary marketplace, this is welcome news, a chance for online bookselling to avoid the winner-take-all trap. Random House’s move gives brick-and-mortar bookstores, many of which are now selling e-books but cannot afford to lose money on those sales, a fighting chance in the new print + digital landscape.

“Book retailers have faced extraordinary challenges in recent years,” said Authors Guild President Scott Turow, “a double whammy of recession and a shift to digital books that had cut many stores out. For anyone who loves bookstores, this is the best news out of the publishing industry in a long time. Random House’s move may prove to be a lifeline for some bookstores.”

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