Monthly Archives: June 2013

New York Public Library’s Plan to Remove Books Draws Protests

In New York, activists, including some prominent authors, are fighting to stop a plan they say would gut the amount of research material readily available to the public.

The “Central Library Plan” calls for the sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Science, Industry and Business Library. Their operations would be absorbed into Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue branch after it is renovated, a project that includes opening up seating space and desk space by removing research stacks, displacing millions of books that will be moved offsite.

The New York Times reports that about 50 people spoke at a legislative hearing on the project Thursday, including noted presidential biographer Edmund Morris, who said that because of the plan, he has decided not to leave his research archive to the library.

“An exquisite repository is now going to be turned into a populist hangout, and have its former stack space stuffed with more and more and more and more miles of computer cable,” he said in prepared remarks. “That’s O.K. for scholars whose attention span extends back no farther than the early 1980s. But those of us cognizant of what happened to civilization after the great library in Alexandria burned down can only think with trepidation of what the Central Plan is going to do to the historical memory of New York.”

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Swift Action After Blogger Calls Out Plagiarism

An author caught selling a book that plagiarizes from works by romance writers Tammara Webber and Jamie McGuire is blaming a rogue ghostwriter for the copying and has removed the book from all sales outlets.

The author, Jordin Williams, tweeted: “I am officially letting all funds go. I’m sadden by this that a ghostwriter did this through guru. Thankfully I never received any money.”

Jane Litte of the Dear Author blog noticed the plagiarism and posted screen shots of Williams’ Amazingly Broken alongside strikingly similar passages from Webber and McGuire Wednesday. The book was pulled within hours of the Dear Author post, after readers complained directly to Amazon and to Williams via social media.

In a Twitter conversation posted by Jason Boog on the GalleyCat blog, Williams apologized directly to Webber and McGuire. She said she hired the writer who copied their work through the online freelancer marketplace odesk.com (she earlier thought she’d used Guru.com). Williams tweeted, ”I take the blame. Just saying how it happened. I do wish someone would give me a website to check plagiarism of ‘books’. Others don’t work.”

Bulletin Board

This week’s batch of contests includes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction with deadlines ranging from July 15-July 31.

The Glimmer Train Very Short Fiction Award is open to all writers. Stories cannot have appeared in print before. Submissions cannot exceed 3,000 words. The winner receives $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue. Second place wins $500 and third place wins $300. Entry fee: $15 per story. Please do not submit more than three stories. Deadline: July 31, 2013. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.

Narrative Magazine is currently seeking submissions for its fifth annual Poetry Contest. The contest is open to all poets but submissions must be unpublished (and cannot have previously been chosen as a winner or honorable mention by other contests). Each entry may contain up to five poems. The winner will receive $1,500, second place receives $750, third place receives $300, and ten finalists will receive $75 each. Entry fee: $22 per entry. Deadline: July 19, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The 2013 Northwind Story Contest is now open to all fiction and narrative nonfiction writers. Entries must be previously unpublished and should be between 1,500 and 8,000 words. The winner receives $1,000, second place receives $250, and third place receives $100. All three receive publication in the Fall 2013 issue as well. Entry fee: $15. Deadline: July 31, 2013. For more information, please visit the website.

The Santa Fe Writers Project is currently seeking submissions for its Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Awards Programs. All genres, forms, and lengths accepted including full length manuscripts, short collections, and excerpts. Self-published authors, small press authors who receive little marketing support, and international authors are eligible. The winner in each category receives $1,000 while two runners up per category will receive $650 each. Entry fee: $30. Deadline: July 15, 2013. For complete guidelines and eligibility requirements, please visit the website.

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

Neil Gaiman is sensitive.  He doesn’t want anyone to refer to his books as fantasies. They are tales in which magic things happen. Titles include Sandman and The Graveyard Book. Among his long list of awards are the Newbery and Carnegie medals, the Hugo and the Nebula. He also dabbles in screenplays for movies and TV and just about everything else. The British-born writer lives in Cambridge, Mass.

His latest bestseller, with a June 18 pub date, is The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  It’s a short novel of less than 200 pages, but it was the excuse for a major spread in Time magazine.

Gaiman told Time that this new book is “an accidental novel. I don’t know how I did it.” Thanks to magic, impossible things happen. He said, “I love writing stuff where I get to set the rules.”

The Guardian asked Gaiman about his politics. He said, “In British terms I am somewhere in the fuzzy middle of ‘Why can’t we all be nice to each other?,’ and ‘I really don’t like people exploiting other people’—yet in American terms, that puts me so far to the left of any political party that my politics out there are considered irrelevant.’”

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Authors’ Orphan Works Reply: The Libraries and Google Have No Right to “Roll the Dice with the World’s Literary Property”

Authors’ groups from Australia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US (including the Authors Guild and the Authors League Fund) and eleven individual authors filed their reply brief in the HathiTrust mass book digitization and orphan works case late on Friday. It’s the final brief to be filed in the appeal of Judge Harold Baer’s ruling last October that questions regarding HathiTrust’s “orphan works” program were moot and that HathiTrust’s other uses of millions of copyrighted books were protected by copyright law’s fair use doctrine.

A summary of the litigation is here. Here’s a six-sentence version for the time pressed: Several university libraries worked with Google to digitize millions of copyright-protected library books. The universities then placed these digital books in an online repository known as HathiTrust and permitted Google to keep a copy of each of the digital books it created. Although HathiTrust does not generally make those ebooks available, in the summer of 2011 it announced an “orphan works” program that would have allowed the downloading of books that the universities deemed “orphans” (books for which the authors cannot be found after diligent search). Authors and authors’ groups sued to stop the program and quickly discovered that many of the so-called orphans were readily findable. HathiTrust suspended the program, promising to restart it after further review. Last October, Judge Baer ruled as above; the plaintiffs appealed the ruling.

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming releases by Authors Guild members include titles by Stacey D’Erasmo, Megan Hart, David L. Herbert, Carl Hiaasen, Charles R. Morris, Karen Robards, Carole Rogers, Elizabeth Rusch, Will Shortz, and Wendy Wax. Titles beneath the jump.

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Apple Awaits Judge’s Ruling As Ebooks Roar On

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote is expected to rule on the Apple ebook price-fixing case later this summer, after hearing three weeks of  testimony that exposed the contentious and occasionally embarrassing backstory of Apple’s entry into the digital book business.

In closing statements Thursday, Justice Department attorney Mark Ryan said “Apple directed and oversaw a conspiracy to raise e-book prices and prevent low-price competition,” according to the Washington Post. Apple’s attorney Orin Snyder warned of the verdict’s potentially far-reaching repercussions “The government is taking perfectly sensible business agreements to infer sinister conduct,”  he said. “If Apple is found liable . . . that precedent will send shudders throughout the business community.”

Regardless of the judge’s ruling, ebooks are transforming the book industry. In 2009 and 2010, the time of the alleged conspiracy, ebooks’ share of the market was in the mid-single digits. In 2012, digital editions accounted for 20 percent of book sales, with growth of the format showing no signs of slowing down.

Michigan Author Walks the Walk with Indie-Only Launch

Many authors love indie bookstores, but  author Loreen Niewenhuis actually shows the love by giving independents preferential treatment.

From Shelf Awareness comes the story of how she sold her latest book, A 1000-Mile Great Lakes Walk (Crickhollow Books) exclusively at 12 Michigan independents for the first two months of its release this spring:

“I think the independents are vital to keeping literature and reading alive,” said Niewenhuis, whose story of walking the entire perimeter of Lake Michigan, A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach, was published in 2011. “Independents embraced it, and made it a bestseller in the heartland. As a thank you to them, and as a way to support them, I decided to get them books two months before Amazon had access.”

When she did eventually put her book up for sale on Amazon earlier this month, she posted this on her page at the site:

 ”I so appreciate you checking out my books on Amazon.com, but I encourage you to purchase my work from your local independent bookstore. I believe that independent bookstores are vital to our communities and to keeping literature rich and varied and alive.

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Testimony Reveals B&N’s Early Agency-ish Plans, Penguin’s Anger at “Selfish” Random House

The Apple price-fixing trial concludes today, after eleven days of testimony that provided a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes maneuvering among major publishers and Apple, Amazon and Google. Yesterday, it was Barnes & Noble’s turn to have its plans and tactics for launching an ebooks business revealed in court.

Apple called Barnes & Noble’s VP of digital content Theresa Horner to the stand, Publishers Marketplace reports, to show the bookseller was considering alternatives to the wholesale model used by Amazon as early as 2009.

As Horner described it, one of those models was a revenue share “where Barnes & Noble was assigning the price to the consumer, but that instead of paying the publisher 50 percent on the digital list price, we would pay them 50 percent on the monies received from the consumer. We also had a floor so that if — and the floor was 30 percent. And if we received less than 30 percent of the digital list price from the consumer, we were guaranteeing to the publisher we would give them 30 percent of the digital list price.”

Horner also confirmed that by late 2009 B&N wanted publishers to operate exclusively on the agency model with all retailers, ensuring a level playing field.

An email brought up during Horner’s testimony shows just how heated negotiations got during this period when publishers and retailers were vying to set themselves up to profit from ebooks.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s contests include both poetry and prose with July 15, 2013 deadlines.

The Literal Latté Poetry Award is currently accepting submissions. Poems must be unpublished and must not exceed 2,000 words. All styles are welcome. The winner receives $1,000, second prize receives $300, and third prize receives $200. Entry fee: $10 per set of up to 6 poems; $15 per set of 10 poems. Deadline: July 15, 2013. For complete guidelines, please visit the website.

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