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Tuesday News: Bitcoin, Amazon in Japan, the Light Novel, and the Teachability of Writing

Tuesday News: Bitcoin, Amazon in Japan, the Light Novel, and the...

Part of the draw of opening up bitcoin payments internationally is the cost savings. Instead of dealing with the hassle of foreign currencies and high processing fees, bitcoin coming from Albania costs the same to process as a bitcoin from Alabama. It also helps minimize cases of fraud, which can be higher among international customers, thanks to the technology behind blockchain confirmations.

For Overstock, there was no “deep strategy” to roll it out to international consumers, said CEO Patrick Byrne. Instead, it was about the distribution of resources needed to implement it. Bitcoin payments currently account for one quarter of one percent of Overstock’s daily transactions, Byrne said, so the company was limited by how many resources it could dedicate to the project during its development cycle. –GigaOM

Additionally, eBooks from publishers ranked higher are given more prominence on the Amazon.co.jp website. Many publishers, including high-profile publishing houses, have protested the move, calling it a form of “blackmail” that exploits the company’s considerable dominance in the book retailing industry. –The Digital Reader

Light novels are Japanese prose works illustrated with manga-style drawings and are often adapted into manga and anime properties. While a few U.S. manga publishers dabbled in the books in the early 2000s, the category never quite took off. Now, Yen Press, Hachette Book Group’s graphic novel and manga line, has launched Yen On, a light novel imprint that will release at least 24 titles in 2015, and has plans to publish many more. Yen Press has already released several light novels, according to its publishing director Kurt Hassler, and, while its prose push is still young, he reported that results are promising.

Yet we know we can teach biology, we know we can teach chemistry. Or, at the very least, we teach those subjects every day, in every school system and at every level without finding ourselves in sinusoidal crisis about the subjects’ transmissibility. Somehow, with the sciences — with most every subject — we don’t think that the measure of teaching is its production of masters. I remember learning about RNA transcriptase and about the peppered moth that turned black in adapting to the soot of the Industrial Revolution, and although I never found in myself the inner calling or natural talent that would make me a professional biologist, I didn’t think, What’s the point and to hell with the whole project. And even as these were college-level courses, I didn’t get the sense that my teachers were agonized as to why they were teaching this not-a-prodigy-in-biology person. It was as if interest and pleasure were reason enough. –New York Times

First Page: Untitled 1 – Urban Contemporary Romance

First Page: Untitled 1 – Urban Contemporary Romance

Welcome to First Page Saturday. Individual authors anonymously send a first page read and critiqued by the Dear Author community of authors, readers and industry others. Anyone is welcome to comment. You may comment anonymously. You can submit your own First Page using this form.


It’s been a little over a year since my wife died.

Every evening, alone in Central Park, I run laps around the Reservoir. That’s the only time I allow myself to think about Kelly. I don’t count how many laps I run; I just run in the darkness until I can’t go on anymore, thinking about the woman that she was, and about our life together.

She was a kind woman. Helpful to people in need, always willing to help friends in a jam. And was she sexy? Lord, she was sexy. In Manhattan, where professional models run around like squirrels in a park, they would eye her enviously. It wasn’t just that Kelly was pretty; there was more to her than just being pretty. The way she dressed and carried herself, the way she spoke and laughed: she had grace, you know what I mean? And to top it off, she was whip-smart, too. Running rings around her peers. She was making a name for herself, a name that was already beginning to shine.

Then she died.

She was only 26. Not fair. I don’t know how such a thing can happen. We’d been married for four years—we were waiting for our first child to be born—when Kelly was diagnosed.

And then she died. There weren’t any last-minute cures, no eleventh-hour salvation. She got sick, and then sicker, and then she died.

And I was there. She died in my arms, as the brain cancer stole the last of her. In the end, she was hallucinating that we were both walking on a beach, hand in hand. A beach with sand as fine as flour, a turquoise sea that glittered in the sunlight, and a sky as big and as blue as the world.

That was the vision she was dreaming of when she died.

I want to believe that there was a reason for this. As I run through the cold and cruddy night, I want to believe that she did not die in vain. She was sexy, and she was beautiful, and she was smart, and she had the world at her feet.

But most of all, she was kind. It was in her voice, in her touch, in her smile. It wasn’t that fake sort of kindness, the Look-at-me-I’m-being-so-kind-to-you sort of fakery. She was true-blue. She was decent. She never spoke badly about anyone; not even about people who deserved it. She never did anything behind someone’s back; she was always up-front and honest.

She made me a better man. I didn’t think that was part of our deal, when she picked me.

Because like she always teased me, she picked me.

“Yes you did,” I’d tell her. “But I was your first pick.”

“Yes you were,” she’d agree. “You were my very first pick.”