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The Authors Guild

Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

“Writers are starting to realize that in predicting the future, they have actually helped shape it,” wrote Nick Bilton in The New York Times. He suggested that some sci-fi writers may have contributed “to dark advances in technology.”

H. G. Wells first wrote about atomic bombs in 1914. George Orwell predicted an N.S.A.-like surveillance state. “And writers have been envisioning incredibly destructive weapons of all shapes and sizes, for centuries,” Bilton said.

Back in 2011, Arizona State University president Michael Crow challenged Neal Stephenson, the author of several sci-fi novels, to stop writing dystopian stories and offer ideas with a brighter outlook.

Last week, the university released Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future. There are no dark stories. Co-editor Kathryn Cramer told the Times, “We’re hoping to show that there are a lot of things we can do better.”

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by David A. Adler, Kathy Caple, Doreen Cronin, Lisa Doan, G. Brian Karas, Michelle Knudsen, Jacqueline Briggs Martin, Laurel Neme, Jon Scieszka, Marilyn Singer, R.L. Stine, and Dianne White. Titles below the jump.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch of contests is a mixed bag of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Deadlines range from October 15-31.

The American Poetry Review is currently accepting submissions for the Honickman First Book Prize, open to U.S. citizens who have not published a book-length collection of poems. Poems previously published in periodicals or limited-edition chapbooks may be included in the manuscript, but the manuscript itself must not have been published as a book-length work. Manuscripts must be at least 48 pages. The winner will receive $3,000, publication, and distribution by Copper Canyon Press through Consortium. Entry fee: $25. Deadline: October 31, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.

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AG’s President Stands Up For Writers as Authors United Prepares Second Amazon Letter

The Amazon-Hachette conflict returned to the news this week, with two Authors Guild members playing prominent roles. Monday brought news that Authors United, the grassroots group formed this summer to support writers caught in the middle of the Amazon-Hachette dispute, unveiled its second initiative: an open letter to Amazon’s board of directors. The group, founded by Authors Guild Council Member Douglas Preston, but unaffiliated with the Guild, has grown to 1,100 authors.

Following this announcement, on Tuesday morning Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson appeared on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” to discuss the potential effects of the letter and whether Amazon’s poor treatment of authors has endangered its reputation with consumers. Robinson argued that Amazon’s “targeting” of writers during its dust-up with Hachette threatens to erode the public’s confidence that Amazon is a author- and reader-friendly company. “People who buy books often tend to be people of conscience, and they recognize what Amazon is doing and they don’t like it,” Robinson said. “It’s very easy to find another source of books.”

The broadcast became heated over the question of whether books are products like any other in the marketplace. Robinson’s tablemate on the program, Bloomberg Contributing Editor Paul Kedrosky, took issue with Robinson’s claim that “a book is not like a brick.” He proceeded to mock authors’ conceptions of themselves as “special snowflakes.” Robinson took issue with the demeaning phrase, and then defended writers as “creators of serious intellectual property that support our culture and have done so for thousands of years.”

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel is Station Eleven. She is 35 years old, has published three earlier novels, and lives in Brooklyn.

Mandel told The New York Times, “When I started writing, there were a few post-apocalyptic novels, but not quite the incredible glut there is now. I was afraid the market might be saturated.”

It wasn’t. Knopf bought Station Eleven with a six-figure advance. That was more than Mandel earned for all three earlier novels.

Times interviewer Alexandra Alter said, “Some trace the current literary fascination with the end of civilization to The Road, Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel, which became a bestseller and won the Pulitzer.”

Mandel said, “It’s almost as if The Road gave more literary writers permission to approach the subject.”

In the September 14 Times Book Review, the reviewer of Station Eleven, Sigrid Nunez, wrote that the book “offers comfort and hope to those who believe or want to believe that doomsday can be survived, that in spite of everything, that people will remain good at heart, and that when they start building a new world they will want what was best about the old.”

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by Carolyne Aarsen, David A. Adler, Robin Overby Cox, Nancy Raines Day, Kate Flora, Joe Gannon, Wayne Everett Goins, Katherine Howe, Susan Morse, Paula E. Morton, Walter Mosley, Dennis Palumbo, Charles Sheehan-Miles, and Gail Sheehy. Titles below the jump.

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Bulletin Board

This week’s batch includes a prize for experimental fiction as well as a fellowship for writers in the middle of their careers. Deadlines range from Oct 1-15.

The Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship is an annual scholarship of approximately $54,000 established to support travel abroad for gifted American-born poets. There is no age requirement, and there is no requirement that applicants be enrolled in a university or other education program. While many recent winners have been published poets, there is no requirement that applicants have previously published their work. Applicants should submit a representative sample of their poetry. The sample must not exceed either one printed volume plus no more than 20 typed pages of your most recent work, or if you do not have a printed volume you may send up to 40 typed pages of your poetry. Deadline: October 15, 2014. For more information, please visit the website.

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Microsoft Blinks in Dispute with Getty, Takes Down Image Portal

Last week in federal court, the stock-photo licensing company Getty Images filed a massive copyright infringement suit against Microsoft that could potentially shed light on the issues being litigated in our historic copyright case, Authors Guild v. Google. But unlike Google, which has never so much as interrupted the practices we dispute, Microsoft responded by at least temporarily removing the software at the heart of Getty’s complaint.

On Thursday, Getty accused Microsoft of infringement and asked the court to compel the tech company to stop offering its Bing Image Widget, which allows web publishers to display and arrange unlicensed images from Bing Image Search on their websites. Microsoft responded on Friday afternoon by removing the beta version of the offending image portal.

Getty’s entire business consists of the licensing of stock photos, both offline and on. If Microsoft is allowed to freely provide copyrighted images to web publishers, Getty contends, its Internet revenue streams will dry up, and the injury will be “incalculable.” “In effect,” Getty’s court filing states, Microsoft “has turned the entirety of the world’s online images into little more than a vast, unlicensed ‘clip art’ collection . . . all without seeking permission from the owners of copyrights in those images.”

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Along Publishers Row

by Campbell Geeslin

There’s no better way to start things off than by quoting from E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel (1927).

He wrote that a character (referred to here as “it”) in a book “is real when the novelist knows everything about it. He may not choose to tell us all he knows—many of the facts, even of the kind we call obvious, may be hidden. But he will give us the feeling that though the character has not been explained, it is explicable, and we get from this a reality of a kind we can never get in daily life.”

Forster ends his chapter on “People” by writing: “And that is why novels, even when they are about wicked people, can solace us; they suggest a more comprehensible and thus a more manageable human race, they give us the illusion of perspicacity and of power.”

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New Books by Members

This week’s recent and upcoming books by our members include titles by Diane Ackerman, Philip Appleman, Lisa M. Bakos, David Bezmozgis, Nina Wolff Feld, Paul Fleischman, Rebecca Jackson and Robert Pressman, Albert Russo, Pat Schories, Laurie Ann Thompson, Geoffrey C. Ward, and Ronna Wineberg. Titles below the jump.

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