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Wednesday News: To Kill a Mockingbird goes digital, BookCon fails to diversify, “expert” writer fakes credits, and book burning through history

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

Tuesday News: Book banning backfires, Spain searches for Cervantes, Vikings are revealed, and 1920′s Fairy Tales illustrated

Tuesday News: Book banning backfires, Spain searches for Cervantes, Vikings are...

Parents call cops on teen for giving away banned book; it backfires predictably – This is both sad and amusing. Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winner, 2007 YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian had been banned from an Idaho junior high school curriculum. In concert with a petition to reinstate the book, a local bookstore (Rediscovered Books – perfect name), worked with students to distribute copies of the book on World Book Night, “an initiative to turn reluctant young readers onto reading with free, super-readable books.” Until, that is, some parents call the police because they were concerned that the students receiving books did not have their parents’ permission. Even though the cops could do nothing, and the whole thing simply raised the profile of the idiotic ban.

Not only did [the giveaway] go as planned, but when Alexie’s publisher Hachette got word of the incident, they sent Rediscovered an additional 350 copies on the house. So while the book may still be banned in the school curriculum, it’s available free of cost for any kid who wants to stop into Rediscovered and pick one up. –Death and Taxes

Spain to search for author Miguel de Cervantes’ remains – Although Miguel de Cervantes is now considered one of the most important literary figures in Western history, the author of Don Quixote died in 1616, penniless and without fanfare. Records indicate the general location of his burial, but there is no extant gravesite, so forensic scientists are going to use radar devices to search for the body. The enterprise will cost about 100,000 euros ($138,000 US; £82,352) and is expected to take a few months to complete.

“The radar cannot tell you whether it is the body of the writer, but it can indicate the place of burial,” the expert leading the search, Luis Avial, told reporters on Friday.

“The geo-radar can tell us that location… then comes the delicate work,” he added, referring to the exhumation and identification process. –BBC News

Every Viking ‘Fact’ Is Wrong – I have to admit that the way the Anglo Saxon period is portrayed in Romance drives me up the freaking wall. And it doesn’t help that stereotypes abound inside and outside fiction. So I’m pretty excited about this new exhibit at British Museum of artifacts from the Viking Age, which is challenging many of the stereotypes and myths that prevail about that era. Although we generally accept that history is written by the victors, in this case it’s the opposite, and the upshot of that has been that the Vikings have been presented as bloodthirsty, uncivilized brutes, rather than successful traders who were pretty much on par with other groups for sheer awfulness and violence. Which is not to say that they were total peace-seeking people, and their involvement in the slave trade was certainly despicable. However, they were a far more varied and complex people than has generally been portrayed, as were so many of the groups that represent the roughly 600 years of Anglo-Saxon history.

It seems this was a rare era in which history was not written by the victors; mostly because the victors couldn’t write. It was left to monks and Christian churchmen to craft the only contemporary accounts of many of the Vikings’ raids, and Vikings did attack churches, which held no sacred mystique for them. They were simply seen as easy, wealthy targets, confounding local conventions of the time.

“These accounts are dressed up in the language of religious polemic,” Williams said. “Many [of the stories] were borrowed from earlier accounts—from classical antiquity. The violent reputation and particularly the reputation for atrocities was created then, but the Vikings were probably no worse than anyone else.” –The Daily Beast

15 Breathtaking Illustrations Of Fairy Tales From The 1920s – From Cinderella to Puss in Boots and Sleeping Beauty, these illustrations are really lovely.  –Buzzfeed