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Wednesday News: To Kill a Mockingbird goes digital, BookCon fails to...

Harper Lee OKs e-book version of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – On Harper Lee’s 88th birthday, her publisher, Harper Collins, announced that To Kill a Mockingbird would be released in digital on July 8, 2014, which is also the 54th anniversary of the book’s original publication. Lee prefers paper books and has resisted digital publication of the book for years now. Although TKAM is Lee’s only professionally published work of fiction, she has remained fiercely protective of her intellectual property rights over it, and has gone to what some might see as extreme lengths to protect her name and brand.

In 2013, the Alabama native sued her hometown of Monroe County Heritage Museum for trademark infringement, saying it was illegally using her fame for its own gain.

“Historical facts belong to the world,” the suit argued “but fiction and trademarks are protected by law.” –CNN

Readers Deserve Better Than BookCon – A couple of weeks ago I reported on ReedPop’s massive failure in diversifying the new Star Wars fan event. And despite other complaints leveled at them, and despite ReedPop’s previous apologies for not paying adequate attention to the diversity of its events, this year’s BookCon line up, for which ReedPop is responsible, once again includes not one person of color. Book Riot’s reaction is below, and not surprisingly, ReedPop did issue yet another public apology, in which they claim diversity is important to them and they will be trying to “fix this” imminently. Yeah, sure.

So what happens now? Book Expo will likely respond with another apology and promise to do better. But it’s too late. The damage is done. “We’re sorry” is no longer acceptable. It is clear that diversity is not a priority for ReedPop and BEA. Either they are not thinking about it at all, or they are actively choosing against diversity because they believe they can make more money with an all-white line-up. These are not our values at Book Riot, and so we will not be supporting, promoting, participating in, covering, or encouraging our community to attend BookCon. We can’t control ReedPop and BEA’s choices, but we can control this. No diversity = no support. –Book Riot

James Strauss and his Fake Writing Credits – So in addition to all the other shady crap that’s floating through the author community, here’s an interesting story: apparently this guy named James Strauss, who claims screenwriting credits for “Deadwood” and “House,” among other television shows and movies. gets invited to major conferences as an expert, when, in fact, he hasn’t actually accumulated the writing credits he claims. And even though his misdeeds are known by some, he’s still getting invited to conferences to speak. Christine Merrill has a blog post up about being on a conference panel with Strauss, as well.

Love is Murder invited James Strauss back again this year to talk about TV writing …even after being alerted by me and the WGA that he was a fraud. But James wisely was a last-minute no-show. The WGA sent him another cease-and-desist letter, and copied the conference. There’s nothing wrong with him teaching screenwriting. What is wrong is claiming credits and experience that he doesn’t have. –Lee Goldberg’s blog

11 Book Burning Stories That Will Break Your Heart – Although yesterday’s story about book banning in Idaho ended on a somewhat triumphant note, censorship via book banning and book burning can have devastating consequences. And in some cases, the people who wrote the works were burned along with their books. –Mental Floss

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!

29 Comments

  1. mari
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 10:08:43

    The argument of “you’re racist because your panel is not diverse” (and the people who decide what is “diverse”, who are they? How does one go about being a diversity decider?) is insulting. I really don’t care about diversity bean counting or what Book Riot thinks. How many “people of color,” “transgendered women,, etc., would there have to be, to make them happy? If we are saying skin color, sexuality, gender, etc, is no determination of quality, then….it isn’t. For anybody. And I think you’d have a hard time convincing any of those horrible, priveleged white men of their so-called white privelege. Can’t wait to go to Book Con and here these exvellent authors.

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  2. Ridley
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 10:22:36

    Sometimes it’s seeing who defends something that really drives home how wrong that thing is.

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  3. CG
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 10:35:09

    @Ridley: Word

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  4. wikkidsexycool
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 10:41:53

    Mari,

    There you go again with your hit and run comments. “I really don’t care about diversity bean counting or what Book Riot thinks.” Well I do care, especially since diverse voices are under-represented and not valued as they should be, a mindset that your post clearly demonstrates.

    As someone who buys books not just for myself but for a vast age range of others, inclusion shouldn’t be an afterthought. And while those who will be sitting on the panels are excellent authors, there are others just as noteworthy. James McBride won the National Book Award this year. Was he even invited? Perhaps he had a previous commitment, I don’t know. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won the 2014 US National Critics Book Prize. Was she invited? Did a previous commitment prevent her from attending?

    And who is this “them?” you speak of? Those who enjoy reading works by authors who populate their works with people who are disabled, LGTB, or minorities? Perhaps expanding your reading choices will help you better appreciate more than one color.

    ***edited a couple of words. Could someone at DA delete my original post and leave this one up? Thanks

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  5. SAO
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 11:07:11

    @Mari

    Your comment resonated with me, because I don’t like the bean counter approach either. But I thought before I commented, I should be a little more informed. So, I looked up ReedPop, which, in their own words “is the largest producer of pop culture events in the world. . . {they} deliver influential consumers to cutting edge brands looking to stay ahead of the next big trend.”

    So, who’s an “influential consumer?”

    The thing is, I often feel like my (pretty vanilla, actually) tastes are ignored or disdained. Romance, as a genre, is sneered at far more than other genres with no smaller number of cliche-filled, poorly-written, unimaginative books. Luke saves the world, while Leia wore a bikini and Jabba-the-Hutt’s chain and was Darth Vader’s prisoner. Books written by or set in the Urban New York world of publishing get far more highly rated than books by or about outsiders.

    So when I look at events designed to attract “influential consumers” with the no diversity, I think this is why the opinions, books, and movies all seem pretty much the same.

    If you want fresh ideas, you can’t be listening to the same old people. Diversity isn’t just about skin color. It’s about about new ideas, new stories, new opinions.

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  6. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 11:10:14

    It’s kinda telling when even authors who are headlining at the event SEE a problem and speak about the lack of diversity at BookCon.

    Rick Riordan did just that on twitter… https://twitter.com/camphalfblood/statuses/454638370787180545 Seems he might even be aware of white privilege.

    John Green also participated. You can read about both of them here. http://www.dailydot.com/geek/book-con-white-male-ya-panel-john-green-effect/ Two very WHITE, very MALE authors who seem to be aware of white male privilege and who spoke up about the problems they saw with BookCon. So, no…I’m not sure it would be a problem convincing either Riordan or Green.

    It’s only complicated to those who don’t get it. Or don’t care to.

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  7. Liviania
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 11:18:31

    It can be hard to determine true diversity. Is it all groups represented in equal proportion, or all groups represented in proportion to their percentage of the population, et al. But I think we can all agree that an all-male, all-white, all-heterosexual panel (the center of the BookCon controversy) doesn’t even offer a token spot. (And it’s all hugely successful authors, which is reasonable for this event, but which also eliminates class diversity.)

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  8. Janine
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:20:56

    I confess I feel a little sorry for Harper Lee. To have written such a well-regarded work at a young age, and then nothing, for years and years! Unless like J.D Salinger, she has a secret manuscript stashed somewhere?

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  9. MrsJoseph
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:25:18

    I love how Mari seems to fly in – be the first commenter – troll us all and then flies out.

    I don’t even understand WHY Mari comes here or bothers to comment. Obviously she has no interest in what we have to say,

    Or…someone protests a bit too much.

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  10. Janine
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:26:04

    @mari:

    And I think you’d have a hard time convincing any of those horrible, priveleged white men of their so-called white privelege.

    Privilege doesn’t make them horrible. It would only make them horrible if they were indeed unaware of it (or knew and did nothing about it).

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  11. Ros
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 12:47:07

    @Janine: I don’t know. I think some people just have one story to tell, and when they’ve done it, they’re done. But I’m glad she’s agreed to the ebook version. People still need to read that book.

    @Mari:

    How many “people of color,” “transgendered women,, etc., would there have to be, to make them happy?

    Dunno. But I bet it’s more than NONE.

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  12. Erin Satie
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 13:47:34

    @Ros — one of my pet theories is that we all only write one book, but some people get it all out at once and others circle around their one book like a donut hole, producing one thing after another but never quite hitting that blank empty center.

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  13. P. J. Dean
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 14:08:42

    @Mari

    Privilege-one mother of an intoxicant. And you need to stop huffing it.

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  14. Lucy Woodhull
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 14:18:55

    @Ros: Dunno. But I bet it’s more than NONE.

    Ha! Oh, you with the common sense.

    Whenever I read an “I don’t care about diversity!” comment I wonder…why bother commenting then? I don’t care about dog food, as I don’t have a dog. But in an article about dog food, I don’t leap to my keyboard and scream, “I don’t care about dog food! Stop talking about dog food!!” Methinks the commenter doth protest too much.

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  15. MaryK
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 14:19:52

    @MrsJoseph: I imagine she comes here for book related reasons like we all do. I think Mari knows she holds unpopular opinions; she wants to register her difference of opinion but doesn’t care to debate it. She’s braver than I am. When I disagree with the majority opinion, I usually just don’t say anything.

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  16. pooks
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 15:10:07

    @maryK

    I don’t consider it brave to post comments without linking to anything. Anybody can show up and say something unpopular if they figure they can’t be traced and we’ll never know who they are.

    ~shrug~

    Her right to say it, but I sure don’t see it as brave.

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  17. wikkidsexycool
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 15:37:57

    @MaryK:

    Respectfully, there’s nothing brave about habitually posting pointed comments about minorities and others as Mari has done.

    Imo she’s not just giving an opinion. She’s spouting an ideology I’ve heard far too many times from those who are set in their ways and who tend to separate people into “us” and “them.”

    I’ve got relatives like that and I wonder if somethings in the water.

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  18. Ridley
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 15:38:44

    Ah yes. There’s little braver than proudly standing for the status quo and marginalization of those unlike you.

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  19. batgrl
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 15:42:04

    On that James Strauss not-really-a-screenwriter story – turns out that he may have been involved in other kinds of fraud – Lee Goldberg posted several follow ups, like this post:
    http://www.leegoldberg.com/fake-tv-writer-james-strauss-advisors/

    It’s really odd that multiple conference organizers (not to mention wherever Strauss has been teaching) haven’t done basic background checks. Especially since there are very few screenwriters that don’t have updated entries on IMDB.

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  20. Ros
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 17:38:43

    @Erin Satie: I think that’s probably true of quite a lot of writers, but I don’t know if it holds for everyone.

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  21. MrsJoseph
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 18:12:39

    @MaryK:
    That’s your opinion.

    I think Mari is trolling since she seems to dislike everything discussed here. Personally, I avoid sites that consistently talk about things I deride. It’s not like DA got brand new.

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  22. Mzcue
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 18:22:14

    No need to challenge whether anyone is entitled to express a point of view. However when a pattern emerges over time, it may seem less like contributing a unique perspective and more like the marking behavior of a neighborhood pooch.

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  23. shiloh walker
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 18:49:48

    @Erin Satie:

    I’d have to agree with Ros.

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  24. Jane
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 19:33:02

    I think it often makes sense to not engage certain people.

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  25. Emily
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 22:00:10

    @MrsJoseph
    My hero! Thank you for your comments. I often want to say something and don’t. Thank you!

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  26. De
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 22:43:57

    I was looking for a way to send this in that wasn’t a comment and not seeing one.

    Sequential Tart (comics site for women by women) did an article on Romance is a Feminist Genre: http://www.sequentialtart.com/article.php?id=2567

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  27. Willaful
    May 01, 2014 @ 02:02:12

    I think it’s interesting that the assumption is that all these authors were chosen because they’re the *best* and it’s sheer coincidence they’re all white men. And that if an effort were made to get a diverse group of authors, we’d be letting in lesser quality writers!

    After reading about the blatant discrimination shown against Rachel Renee Russell, I picked up one of her books for my son. He’s a big fan of two of the authors on the children’s book panel, Kinney and Patterson. Russell’s book looked like the same sort of thing they write, and he’s happily reading it now. I’m assuming her books are reasonably well known, because I’ve seen them in the local bookstore and the library before this. Why Patterson and not her? Can this possibly really be a quality issue?

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  28. Estara
    May 01, 2014 @ 10:31:56

    Don’t feed the troll (i.e. ignore them, don’t engage their opinion) only works as advice if the person who says it is a person of privilege themselves, so they can ignore all the trolls coming their way.

    Because what it does first and foremost is tell others how they’re allowed to react (much like Scalzi to my mind showed his not so enlightened side in his post on how to deal with the upset on the recent Hugo nominations, which he was called out on).

    The more I read widely, the more I think that “not feeding the trolls” becomes silent acceptance of the status quo – and while I don’t always have the nerve to discuss it out myself, I want to try supporting the voices who do, because the status quo of many social conventions is not acceptable to me any longer.

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  29. azteclady
    May 02, 2014 @ 15:25:45

    @Mzcue:

    No need to challenge whether anyone is entitled to express a point of view. However when a pattern emerges over time, it may seem less like contributing a unique perspective and more like the marking behavior of a neighborhood pooch.

    This, obviously, applies to both kinds of thinking, but it’s particularly apt on mari’s case. I’m pretty sure she’s announced more than once that there’s nothing for her to read here, since the reviews and the books chosen for review, reflect the general views and beliefs that so disgust her.

    I first read about the BookCon fiasco over at Nephele Tempest’s blog, and of course the “why sacrifice quality for diversity” bit was trotted out. That comment always tells me more about the commenter than about the quality of the writing s/he’s defending.

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