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Wednesday News: Ebook settlement rebates, a reunited Hindu epic, Lego –...

Amazon Customers Win Big In Ebook Settlement – So many of you may have noticed refunds from the great ebook settlement, at least from Amazon and Apple. Barnes & Noble, along with smaller online retailers, do not appear to have released their customer rebates yet. However, this is good timing, considering the fact that many of us are paying our taxes within the next month. Also, as this article pointed out, Amazon really ended up ahead of other publishers here, because not being a party to the investigation and legal case means that they won’t face the kind of pricing scrutiny Apple and the Big 5 likely will.

Now that all five publishers have settled, it’s good news for Amazon Kindle shoppers. If you got an Amazon credit today, there’s no need to take any action. It’s already been added to your account, so all you need to do is spend it. The credit will only be available on purchases of Kindle or print books (not other items available through Amazon) through any publisher. –ReadWrite

Making a digital masterpiece: British Library gathers antique Ramayana into one virtual location – In light of the story yesterday about the Vatican Library digitizing its archives, here’s another interesting digital project, this time related to one sprawling work that, until now, has been split among multiple locations, from Mumbai to London. This seven-book version of Ramayana was commissioned in the mid-17th century by Maharana Jagat Singh I, ruler of Mewar, who died before the work was completed (it only took four years, which given the size, scope, and intricacy of the text, seems amazingly rapid to me). The Hindu epic, in which a prince must rescue his wife from a demon king, took three years to bring back together, almost as much time as it took to create the folios more than 350 years ago.

“What makes this version of the Ramayana so special is that it’s the most heavily illustrated,” she explains. “There are more than 450 paintings in this manuscript, so Jagat Singh had three artists [one of whom, Sahibdin, was a Muslim] and every episode in the book has a pictorial representation. “The Sanskrit text was important, but it was there as an accompaniment – it was the paintings which told the story. So you don’t have to know any Sanskrit to enjoy the Ramayana.”

The digital Ramayana is much more than a lavish online picture book – Chellini has overseen clickable data, interpretive text and audio related to each page. She’s particularly happy with the English narration, performed by Sudha Bhuchar of Tamasha theatre company. “The Book of War, for example, is told with great fervour,” she says. “There are other places where the Ramayana is quite funny – for example, Lakshmana is hit by an arrow and asks the monkey Hanuman to go and find some magic herbs on the Himalayas. But Hanuman doesn’t know which herbs to take – so he rips off the whole mountain peak and is depicted carrying it back to Lakshmana! So I hope we’ve got across that this is a very rich, very human book. It’s a religious text, but there’s great fun to be had with it, too. –The National

Lego Goes to Hollywood – This is a pretty interesting story about how a toy brand was able to transform itself into an incredibly successful and well-reviewed film. Even titling the movie “The Lego Movie” seems like an obvious brand ploy, and yet, as many reviewers pointed out, the film built on the architectural creativity and intelligence that Legos represent and appealed to a large and diverse audience.

At a time when Hollywood filmmakers are increasingly reliant on money from overseas audiences for survival, a movie based on a toy with such broad, cross-cultural appeal would seem like a no-brainer. “I can’t tell you how many people come up to me now and say, ‘Oh, a Lego movie? No duh. It’s so obvious,’” says Lin, whose job it was to persuade Lego to seize this opportunity. “It was absolutely not obvious five years ago.” –Business Week

One Foot in Each of Two Worlds, and a Pen at Home in Both – As I read this article, I had in the back of my mind the discussion on Tuesday’s news post about how to define fiction that isn’t historically accurate, but is still focused on a different historical era. In genre fiction, especially, we like the clarity that (ostensibly) comes with categorization, and yet, so many books defy our attempts to universally define them. Leila Aboulela is an author who shares this, well, dilemma or opportunity, depending on how you’re looking at it. A really interesting contemplation on the complexity of personal identity and artistic expression, especially when viewed through the lens of culture and nationality. In fact, her first book is aptly titled The Translator.

Born in Egypt to a Sudanese father and an Egyptian mother, Ms. Aboulela was raised in Sudan, where she attended the Khartoum American School and Sisters School, a Catholic girls’ school, as a child. She grew up reading many Western classics. “I was very much into the diary of Anne Frank, which was unusual for an Arab at that time,” she said in an interview at the book fair. But instead of studying literature, she pursued economics at the University of Khartoum.

Ms. Aboulela, 49, now lives in Britain and her background makes it difficult to categorize her fiction: does she write primarily as an African, Arab or British writer who is Muslim? The compound modifier that many readers and critics have settled on to describe Ms. Aboulela’s work is Sudanese-British, which leaves plenty of room for criticism in a world of relentless categorization. “Sudan is not Arab enough for Arabs and not African enough for Africans,” she said, laughing at the thought. –The 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!

17 Comments

  1. Barbara
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 08:41:52

    I have already received my notice of credit from BN. The amount was surprisingly high. I guess I had no idea that there would be that much money distributed per book…..and that I had bought that many books!

  2. Tamar
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 09:00:48

    I also received notice of my BN credit, and also surprised to see just how many books I buy :-) But, it makes for a nice buying spree. Can guarantee it won’t last more than 30 minutes after I find out it’s in my account. lol

  3. Lynn S.
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 09:09:24

    Does anyone know what will happen if you are due a refund from a defunct company such as Books on Board? I have the feeling I’m not going to like the answer, especially as I spent an entire evening filling out the information.

  4. Amanda
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 09:16:06

    @Lynn S.:

    I wondered this to because most of my early book buying were from places like Books on Board and Fictionwise

  5. Lada
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 09:36:00

    I, too, have received my BnN refund (nothing from Amazon, yet) and was surprised at how much it was given BnN has never been my primary buying site. I obviously still spend quite a bit on books even though I thought I was cutting back. Can’t wait to see what Amazon’s 1-click convenience will net me.

  6. cleo
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 09:51:33

    I got notice of my BN credit ($27 for 34 books). The number of NYT best sellers purchased makes a huge difference in the refund. I only bought two NYT best sellers. But I am thrilled to have more money to buy books – just in time to pre-order the new Psy/Changling book.

    I submitted my receipts to ARe whenever we were supposed to do that, so I’m hoping to get that refund soon too. I don’t think I’m getting much from them, but more book money is more book money.

  7. Angela
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 10:48:43

    I got my refund from Amazon – it’s freshly applied to my account and ready for me to spend. And it’s made me realize I might have a book problem, because I was actively NOT buying Agency-priced books (except in special circumstances) and my refund was still nearly $200.00…

    Of course, that’s not going to stop me from buying more books ^_^

  8. Sarah
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 11:25:13

    Have a lot of people received refunds from Apple? I saw a few mentions on Twitter but haven’t received anything. Does that mean I’m not getting a refund? I’m 100% sure I bought agency books through the iBook store. FWIW, I received $72 in credit from Amazon so I can’t complain much, but if I’m due for a refund, I want it!

  9. Sandra
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 13:48:56

    @Angela:

    My refund from Amazon was just over $200.00. Maybe would should start a KA group. (Kindle-holics Anonymous)

  10. Kirstyn
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 15:07:47

    I just received my credit from Apple. It was in my spam. They gave me a code to apply. It ended up being $99.80. My Amazon one was $35. Not too bad when a lot of books are coming out now.

  11. Brian
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 15:08:48

    @Lynn S.: For folks to get refunds for books bought from Google, Books on Board, Diesel and others (IIRC Fictionwise stopped selling eligible pubs when Agency started) besides Amazon, Apple, Sony, Kobo and B&N you had until Oct 22, 2013 to file a claim according to emails the retailers sent out at the time. Checks (posrcards) for those claims are supposed to get mailed out tomorrow.

    Lots of info on the settlement at https://ebooksagsettlements.com

  12. Cim
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 15:46:42

    I think that the apple thing only applies to people in the US. (In case some people were wondering why they haven’t gotten anything)

  13. Lynn S.
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 15:58:07

    @Brian: Thanks for the good news.

  14. Nikki
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 20:44:34

    I am a little perturbed about Apple. I am waiting for them to send me something because I realized I bought a lot of books in that time from both Amazon and Apple. I am feeling a little jealous of people who got $200+. But I will be happy with my refund. It will just buy more books anyway.

  15. Melissa G
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 21:20:37

    Barnes and Noble has issued some refunds. I received an email yesterday with my $12 credit…

  16. Selene
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 02:46:36

    Why don’t they pay money back just because your billing address is abroad? If a price is illegal, it seems odd that it matters where the customer is from–seems to me more logical that it should matter where the company is from. Are they arguing that since we buy the books online, it’s like we’re buying them in our local country, and they haven’t been sued here?

    In any case it’s weird…

  17. Angela
    Mar 27, 2014 @ 06:12:32

    @Sandra: I’m not sure it would do anything but help us spend more money and buy more books though – but I’m all for it ;)

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