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Monday News: Amazon’s Campfire, sound technology at new David Bowie exhibition, new reader & author conference, and real-life inspired superhero c

Monday News: Amazon’s Campfire, sound technology at new David Bowie exhibition,...

Mr. Bezos, who built Amazon from its dot-com roots as a bookseller into one of the country’s biggest retailers, knows the psychology of writers, several past attendees said in interviews. “You come to this exclusive event, you are treated fabulously and you get access to the next Steve Jobs, who happens to control how many books you sell,” one said.

Employees at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle have to pay for their perks, down to the treats from vending machines. And the company is famously tough on its suppliers; the Hachette conflict is just one example. At Campfire, however, there is no stinting. –New York Times

The proprietary technology can shape audio zones within a room, so when you enter a gallery you could hear the audio feed of the main exhibit but as you approach smaller installments along the walls the audio switches over to the appropriate feed. Instead of using IP streaming, GuidePort uses the same unlicensed bands designated for Wi-Fi to send a broadcast recording (think FM radio), meaning timing is perfectly synched with any video on display.

I experienced it first hand, and I must say I was impressed. As I meandered into the main gallery, Bowie’s 1973 performance of “Starman” on the BBC’s Top of the Pops started wafting in through my headset before I even rounded the corner to see the main multimedia exhibit. As I walked over to smaller video displays, Starman faded out and the on-screen interviews faded in. –Gigaom

Back to RUDC, unfortunately, not everyone can come. I want to keep it small and intimate. There will be 300 people max. 50 featured authors, 15 featured bloggers, and 235 readers/everyone else. While I would love, love, love to have a million people come, that’s not possible. One, I don’t think I could find a hotel big enough. Two, RT does that and it’s so overwhelming that I barely have time to say hi to my favorite authors, let alone fangirl and stalk them all week. With only 225 readers, you won’t have to ninja fight off other readers for time with your favorite author.  (Just, don’t ask. I’ve done some things…)

But what will make RUDC stand out from every other author/reader conference out there is there will be no panels on writing, editing, agent-getting, nada. I know figuring out what brand of yoga pants you can wear for an entire week without changing/washing (because of deadlines) and not look like a hobo is very important.  Or finding out that your favorite author will cry into a tub of nutella while eating it by the spoonful because she thinks her rough draft is the worst thing ever written in the history of the world. Hearing that will make you realize that she’s just like you and you guys can be soul-mates. But do you have the courage to walk up to that table and tell her so? Yeah, didn’t think so. That table at panels can be somewhat intimidating because it’s a literal and figurative barrier between you and the authors. –Literary Escapism

Recall is almost like an astral projection: While his body lies stricken in a hospital bed, his spirit roams around, dispensing karmic justice by projecting memories into your mind — do good and you get a dose of good memories, do bad and, well, you get the idea. At his side is Given, who’s based on Roz — and she’s called that because her love for Recall is a given. Roz says David approves all the story and art choices, and he relishes his editorial role.

“The one thing that brought him back, was the comic,” she says. “He would wake up, he would do his little finger things, he would make himself known, he would make his voice heard with regard to the comic that would bear his story.” –NPR

Friday News: Controversial new Spider Woman cover, Canadian copyright’s unintended consequences, Arab Noir fiction, and Gretna Green’s marriage business

Friday News: Controversial new Spider Woman cover, Canadian copyright’s unintended consequences,...

“But while diversity on the page has improved, diversity behind the pens really hasn’t,” said Sneddon. “There still just aren’t enough women breaking into the superhero comics industry, and covers like these help illustrate why – they put up a very big ‘no women welcome’ sign, which puts off not only women readers, but the many women creators working on a great variety of other comics.” –The Guardian

I think this is a really tough situation, because in the US, for example, textbook prices are insane, and many students, especially those at community colleges and state public institutions simply cannot afford to pay the exorbitant prices that are charged, especially for textbooks that become more and more expensive with each new edition, as compared to older editions with many less expensive, used copies available. There needs to be some kind of balance between compensating rights holders and upholding the spirit of fair use for educational purposes, which helps to facilitate new scholarship and research, as well as a strong foundation for educational access and learning.

Roanie Levy, the executive director of Access Copyright, explained that in educational institutions’ interpretation of the law, “it is fair for them to use up to 10% of a work or a chapter of a book. And they believe it is fair to copy a chapter, put it on a course management website, and share it with a class of 10 students or a class of 150 students…. It would be fair to take chapters from multiple publications, journal articles, and 10% of a book, compile it all into a course pack, and use that as the readings for a given class, without paying any of the rights holders.”
. . .
That impact is perhaps most apparent in the revenues lost when educational institutions decided not to renew collective licensing agreements administrated by Access Copyright. Under those agreements, universities pay C$26 per student and colleges pay C$10 per student as a flat fee for the reproduction of copyrighted material, and Access Copyright distributes royalties to the appropriate publishers and creators. According to figures provided by the organization, the drop-off in licensing renewals in 2013 resulted in a C$4.9 million decline in Access Copyright’s payments to publishers and creators last year. They lost another C$13.5 million in 2013 because provincial education ministries also stopped paying licensing fees for the K–12 sector in public schools. –Publishers Weekly

These translated thrillers captivated Egyptian readers in part because they shined a torch on the contested legal system of colonialism. The plots would be familiar to those who watch The Wire—inefficient courts, bumbling officers, the law’s futility in the face of crime. A classic example is Tawfik Al-Hakim’s Diary of a Country Prosecutor, a 1947 novel that’s part biographical, part hard-boiled, with a dash of bitters thrown in. The prosecutor waxes cynical about the legal institutions of British colonialism. In a satirical courthouse scene, Al-Hakim demonstrates the law’s worthlessness in the Nile Delta, where rural Egyptians are “required to submit to a modern legal system imported from abroad.” As in James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, the law here can be fudged; the real disputes are settled outside of court.

“These novels form a tradition of legal muckraking,” writes Elliott Colla, chair of Georgetown’s Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and the author of a new thriller, Baghdad Central. “Writing fiction about impolite or contentious social issues became an alternative way of addressing problems normally resolved through legal deliberation and action.” The stories of prosecutors and shamuses portrayed the ambiguity of law and order. All crime novels are political. –The Paris Review

But despite the whittling away of the legal distinction that made Gretna a marriage capital, it retains a romantic allure. “Running away to Gretna Green” remains a commonly used phrase. And couples still come. –BBC News