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Tuesday News: Bitcoin, Amazon in Japan, the Light Novel, and the...

Part of the draw of opening up bitcoin payments internationally is the cost savings. Instead of dealing with the hassle of foreign currencies and high processing fees, bitcoin coming from Albania costs the same to process as a bitcoin from Alabama. It also helps minimize cases of fraud, which can be higher among international customers, thanks to the technology behind blockchain confirmations.

For Overstock, there was no “deep strategy” to roll it out to international consumers, said CEO Patrick Byrne. Instead, it was about the distribution of resources needed to implement it. Bitcoin payments currently account for one quarter of one percent of Overstock’s daily transactions, Byrne said, so the company was limited by how many resources it could dedicate to the project during its development cycle. –GigaOM

Additionally, eBooks from publishers ranked higher are given more prominence on the website. Many publishers, including high-profile publishing houses, have protested the move, calling it a form of “blackmail” that exploits the company’s considerable dominance in the book retailing industry. –The Digital Reader

Light novels are Japanese prose works illustrated with manga-style drawings and are often adapted into manga and anime properties. While a few U.S. manga publishers dabbled in the books in the early 2000s, the category never quite took off. Now, Yen Press, Hachette Book Group’s graphic novel and manga line, has launched Yen On, a light novel imprint that will release at least 24 titles in 2015, and has plans to publish many more. Yen Press has already released several light novels, according to its publishing director Kurt Hassler, and, while its prose push is still young, he reported that results are promising.

Yet we know we can teach biology, we know we can teach chemistry. Or, at the very least, we teach those subjects every day, in every school system and at every level without finding ourselves in sinusoidal crisis about the subjects’ transmissibility. Somehow, with the sciences — with most every subject — we don’t think that the measure of teaching is its production of masters. I remember learning about RNA transcriptase and about the peppered moth that turned black in adapting to the soot of the Industrial Revolution, and although I never found in myself the inner calling or natural talent that would make me a professional biologist, I didn’t think, What’s the point and to hell with the whole project. And even as these were college-level courses, I didn’t get the sense that my teachers were agonized as to why they were teaching this not-a-prodigy-in-biology person. It was as if interest and pleasure were reason enough. –New York Times

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!


  1. Isobel Carr
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 09:25:42

    As someone who has been in many writing programs (from specialty tracks in high school to creative writing programs in college and finally an MFA program) I would say that writing can be mentored, but not taught. I think this is true of most (if not all) forms of art/craft. The student can be offered tools and insights, but beyond the basic forms, the only way they “learn” to be a writer is by writing, reading, and studying the works of other writers (the 10K hours theory). And even if you put in the 10K hours, I don’t know that the spark that makes someone a great writer will ignite (anymore than every musician who practices for years and years becomes a virtuoso).

  2. Karen McCullough
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 12:06:15

    I think teaching writing is like teaching any of the arts. You can get most people to a certain level of competency, just as you can instruct someone in playing an instrument or drawing a picture. You impart the basics of how to use the tools, combine elements, etc. The skills of writing, like playing a piano or doing a dance, are available to everyone with adequate teaching and practice. But the artistic part requires talent and commitment to refine and hone the basic skills. Almost anyone can learn how to write a competent business letter or even a readable story. Not everyone has the sensitivity to the nuance of word meanings, the feel for the rhythm of language, the imagination to see below the surface, and the gift of finding the perfect metaphors that take writing beyond competency. That part of it can be fostered but I don’t believe it can be taught if the talent isn’t already there.

  3. Meg
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 14:29:51

    I enjoy Japanese light novels. I’m a bit biased as I met my husband through the fandom for one, a fantasy series called Slayers. It’s interesting to see some of the titles they’re bringing over.

    My current favorite other than Slayers is a fantasy called Spice and Wolf. Yen Press has been translating it the past few years and is nearly finished. A traveling merchant meets a wolf god who’s taken the guise of a young woman. He’s trying to earn enough to open his own shop. She wants to go back to her homeland and see how the world has changed, so he agrees to take her. There’s a lot of weighty issues in the books, very steeped in economics along with political and religious issues. There’s romantic tension between the leads throughout.

    While the light novel lines do have plenty of the typical high school tropes, gems like Slayers and Spice and Wolf slip through and really stick with you.

    That being said, I would love for Yen Press to license rescue Slayers. TOKYOPOP released the first eight novels a few years ago, but failed to secure the license to the final seven. That’s the big risk with these licenses is that some may never be completed. At least with Slayers, they translated the first story arc before stopping.

  4. Katie
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 18:05:28

    @Meg: You clearly have amazing taste. Those are both great series and I share your hope about Slayers. It’s not particularly well-known in the States anymore, but a release like that could give it a bit of a resurgence.

    Hachette has also released the Haruhi Suzumiya series, which is another wonderful one. From what I’ve seen, they even did a great job preserving the distinctiveness of the narrator’s voice. Other than that, I’ve only really seen June releasing usually mediocre BL (m/m) light novels, where the target market does seem to buy them.

  5. hapax
    Sep 02, 2014 @ 19:59:13

    @Katie: Another fan of the Haruhi Suzumiya series here!

  6. Estara Swanberg
    Sep 04, 2014 @ 02:33:16

    I really, really would like a license rescue of the Twelve Kingdoms light novels, so we get all the available ones, since Tokyopop has shut down in the US (it’s going strong in Germany as a manga publisher :P – I think they only shared the name, though).

    However, since the anime was released but didn’t get an avid following, the likelihood of that happening is slim. Ah well.

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