In this week’s edition: New York Times columnist Pamela Paul accuses the publishing industry of self-censorship; the new Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction announces its first shortlist; the Department of Justice’s lawsuit to stop the proposed Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster merger begins August 1; after 20 years the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA) gets a new Director; and more.

There’s More Than One Way to Ban a Book
The New York Times
Pamela Paul argues that the publishing industry’s efforts to preempt criticism are a form of self-censorship and that publishers should be more willing to take a chance on “controversial” books.

Announcing the Shortlist for the Inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction
Electric Literature
The Ursula K. Le Guin Trust unveiled its shortlist for the newly-created Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction, which will award $25,000 to the author of a full-length work of imaginative fiction. The shortlist nominees are Cynthia Zhang’s After the Dragons, Matt Bell’s Appleseed, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Elder Race, Olga Ravn’s The Employees, and Khadija Abdalla Bajaber’s The House of Rust. The winner will be announced on October 21, which is Le Guin’s birthday.

Showdown: DOJ’s Bid to Block PRH Acquisition of S&S Is Heading to Trial
Publishers Weekly
Oral arguments in the Department of Justice’s suit to stop Penguin Random House’s acquisition of Simon & Schuster begin August 1.

AALA Names Weltz Director of the Board
Publishers Weekly
Gail Hochman is stepping down as the director of the Association of American Literary Agents after 20 years. Jennifer Weltz of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency has been named the new director and board president. AALA represents more than 400 literary agencies.

Hip, Woke, Cool: It’s All Fodder For the Oxford Dictionary of African American English
The New York Times
Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is spearheading the creation of a new dictionary collecting the definitions and origins of words arising from African American culture.

‘MAGA Teen’ Nick Sandmann’s Defamation Suits Dismissed
San Jose Mercury News
The U.S. District Court in eastern Kentucky ruled in favor of The New York Times, CBS News, ABC News, Gannett, and Rolling Stone in a $1 billion defamation case brought by Nick Sandmann, a Kentucky high school student who claimed that news reports falsely depicted him physically blocking a Native American tribal elder during a 2019 Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C. The court ruled that the news outlets were entitled to include quotes from the tribal leader describing what happened from his perspective, as they were expressions of opinion protected under the First Amendment.