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Thursday News: Death comes to Archie Comics, Comcast’s anti-trust challenge, Kobo’s new president, and Denmark’s Yahya Hassan

Thursday News: Death comes to Archie Comics, Comcast’s anti-trust challenge, Kobo’s...

Comic book icon Archie to ‘die heroically’ – I have to admit that this is pretty clever, although I’m guessing it’s going to make some readers feel manipulated. Although the Archie comics that continue to feature Archie, Veronica, and Betty as teenagers continue to keep all its main characters alive, the series “Life with Archie,” which represents Archie’s grown-up life, will be portraying his death this July. Pretty tricky, Archie Comics.

“Archie dies as he lived — heroically. He dies saving the life of a friend, and does it in his usual selfless way. Archie has always been a representation of us — the best of us. Our strengths and our faults,” Goldwater said. –New York Post

Antitrust issues abound as Comcast explains Time Warner Cable deal in the Senate – This is a really interesting analysis of the case Comcast is trying to make to Congress about why it should be allowed to purchase Time Warner. Comcast is currently the largest cable tv company in the US, and Time Warner is the second largest. Comcast claims that horizontal competition will not be affected by the merger, and the government is interested in making the harder-to-support case that there are vertical antitrust issues that weight against the merger. However, as this piece points out, the issue is much larger than that of cable tv providers — it goes back to that fundamental question of who controls the broadband market. This potential deal also directly implicates net neutrality.

As my colleague Stacey Higginbotham explained yesterday, this deal isn’t really about cable, but about broadband services. It is not about a choice of cable company, but instead about deciding who will control the the pipe of information that comes into our home alongside our gas and electricity.

And it is on this front that the antitrust issues are most profound. If Comcast and Time Warner Cable merge, the combined company could control at least 40 percent of the country’s broadband market. –Gigaom

London Book Fair 2014: PW Talks with Kobo President Michael Tamblyn – This interview with Kobo’s new President and CCO Michael Tamblyn may be of particular interest to those whose content was transferred from the now-defunct Sony Reader Store to the Kobo Store, who lays out some of his strategy for Kobo and his perceptions of the ebook and e-device market. Not surprisingly, Kobo is looking at the self-publishing market, which Tamblyn claims account for about 10% of daily unit sales. He also seems to be pretty focused on keeping Kobo centered in the e-reader business, not branching out to tablets.

If you look at the development of Kobo over time, we started as an apps only company which then figured out that devices were a great way to acquire customers, so we succeeded in building a lot of devices and released them into a lot of markets, and then figured out how to get partners selling those devices, in a lot of different territories. Now, we’re coming back with a greater focus on the content side of the business. Now that we have all of our partners putting devices on shelves and putting them in customers hands, how do we get those partners more engaged in the promotion of the digital titles that go on those devices? How do we get bricks and mortar locations promoting more digital in more ways? So I’ve been spending a lot of my time looking at the publisher, author, and title side of the business. –Publishers Weekly

Lashing Out in Verse – I have to admit that I’ve been a little bit obsessed with this story for the past week, seeking out videos of Hassan’s poetry readings, even though I don’t understand much Danish, the language in which he produces his work. For despite Denmark’s reputation as the happiest country in the world, Hassan provides a much different view, one that suggests much more complexity and social stratification than is often perceived by or presented to outsiders. At only 18 years of age, the Danish-Palestinian poet is making a controversial name for himself as both an artist to be reckoned with, and a force of political and social rebellion that has earned him both substantial popularity and criticism.

A rapper before he became a poet, Mr. Hassan caught the attention of Johannes Riis, the literary director of the Gyldendal publishing house, who met him through other Danish literary figures. Mr. Hassan then wrote some 170 pages of poetry over the course of several months before publishing the first 800 copies of “Yahya Hassan” on Oct. 19. Sales took off after an interview in the Danish daily Politiken whose headline, containing an expletive, quoting him on his hate for his parents’ generation. He describes a disciplinarian father who hits him and his siblings and eventually leaves to marry a second Muslim wife, and he criticizes his mother and other relatives.

He finds particular fault with the ways their lives in Denmark are circumscribed — as are those of so many modern immigrants — by clinging to the remote control that brings satellite TV, in this case Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera, to their living rooms. The images of life in the poorer parts of Aarhus, the port city where Mr. Hassan lived with his family, are bare and dirty. The language used to describe his various brushes with state institutions is rife with expletives. –New York Times

Tuesday News: Gaming Amazon’s bestseller lists, a glitch in the Sony-Kobo transfer, an essay defending NY book editors, and wacky book covers

Tuesday News: Gaming Amazon’s bestseller lists, a glitch in the Sony-Kobo...

My Buying Community Want to Help Authors Beat the Kindle Store Best Seller List – My Buying Community, with a purported 10,000 members, seems to be another way to game the system on Amazon. The idea behind the service is that an author can get members to purchase his or her book, driving it up the lists. Can Amazon figure out this crap is happening and put a stop to it? Where’s the petition to get THAT to happen?

Like the MyKindex site which operated for a period of time last year, MBC connects authors with a willing pool of book buyers. The site looks to be entirely author funded, and from what I can tell as a reader it works along the same lines as the services that sold reviews to authors like John Locke.

A user signs up, request to purchase a book, and after the purchase is verified the user is credited the price of the ebook plus an additional 30%. After a user buys enough books to pass the minimum payment threshold, they can request a Paypal funds transfer. –The Digital Reader

Welcome US and Canadian Reader Store Customers! – So who, among former Reader Store customers, has attempted to use your Kobo account? I haven’t yet, but apparently there has been a problem with the supposedly automatic transfer of gift certificate and other credit balances to Kobo. According to the Kobo site, they are aware of the problem and are attempting to resolve it, but if you are supposed to have a credit in your account, and haven’t yet checked Kobo, this might be a good time to do so.

Kobo Customer Care has received calls regarding credit balances that didn’t transfer to Kobo customer accounts. We are working with Sony to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. If your account is affected, Kobo will notify you directly. Thank you for your patience. –Kobo Store

YES, BOOK EDITORS EDIT – In his response to the essay collection MFA vs NYC, Harper Collins editor Barry Harbaugh defends the work of New York publishing’s editorial staff against accusations of irrelevance, laziness, and even non-existence. However, even if you aren’t familiar with the source of Harbaugh’s defense, his essay is still an interesting commentary on the numerous tensions within traditional publishing, including the role of the editor, who have historically served as underpaid workhorses for publishing houses.

The editorial staffs of New York houses are not the faceless lemmings that a certain retail giant with a vested stake in self-publishing would have us be. And though it would appear to outsiders that the health of our careers depends solely on measurements of quantity (of the books that we acquire and the units sold), we’re not numbers-obsessed automatons. Editors edit. A lot. As a group, we’re hesitant to speak up for ourselves, lest our decorousness be tainted by saying something too self-aggrandizing. But I’ll take the risk: I probably mark up fifty to a hundred pages a week, most of it on the weekend. I ask questions and cut sentences and write chapter titles and all that stuff. The other editors at my company, and editors I know socially from other companies, are just as rigorous. –The New Yorker

The weirdest, most bizarre book covers ever published – While I’m pretty sure these aren’t THE weirdest and most bizarre book covers, some of them are pretty darn creepy, from Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad (a “Quality Religious Book for Children”), to Harpo’s Horrible Secret (which I’m sure you can guess, even without looking at the cover). –