Monday News: Seattle booksellers, RIP Amiri Baraka, Kamloops newspaper shuts down, Elsevier redux, and an American writer in Japan
Retail in Seattle: In the Shadow of Amazon – If any book selling market seems like it would suffer because of Amazon’s presence, it’s Seattle. And yet, this article suggests that is far from the case; in fact, despite the obvious challenges, there are some interesting examples here of booksellers who have actually used Amazon’s presence to set themselves apart:
“‘I don’t do anything differently because of Amazon’s presence,’ says Lara Hamilton, owner of Book Larder and of the Kim Ricketts Book Events speakers series, which brings authors to places like Microsoft. ‘Amazon’s reach is global, so the only thing that likely differentiates my experience from that of booksellers in other places is that I have plenty of Amazon employees as customers. I want Book Larder to provide a great experience, whether the customer is shopping for the perfect cookbook, taking a cooking class, or attending an author talk. Experienced humans are still better at the delivery of all of those things.'” Publishers Weekly
Remembering Activist Poet Amiri Baraka – Amiri Baraka died last week. A poet, playwright, and activist, Baraka (born LeRoi Jones) was one of the most influential literary figures of the 60s, and his own political evolution, which was as complex as his artistic journey, was always reflected in his art. A member of the Beat generation, Baraka was helping to create a new literary consciousness:
“But I think in that circle, those people generally were fighting against the academic life — academic poetry of the ’50s. Whether you’re talking about Ginsberg and the Beats or you’re talking … the Black Mountain school [of poetry] or you’re talking about Frank O’Hara and the New York school … they were all aligned, I think, in a kind of united front against the dullness of the new critics and the dullness of the kind of poetry [those critics were] trying to bring back.” NPR
Kamloops newspaper to close doors after more than 80 years – British Columbia has lost one of its most revered daily newspapers after 80 years, the Kamloops Daily News. While a circulation of 83,000 might not seem enormous compared to numbers like those the New York Times pulls down, the paper’s demise is illustrative of the difficulties independent newspapers face in the current information climate, and the question of what, if anything, will fill this growing vacuum.
“The end of the newspaper after about 80 years, and the fact that the bustling community of about 83,000 people will be without a daily paper, dramatically highlights the challenges facing the newspaper industry as past models for financial success are challenged by shifts in advertising, declining circulation and the Internet.” The Globe and Mail
Academic publishing: No peeking… – More on the case of Elsevier, the Netherlands-based academic publisher that has been using the authority of the DMCA to force scholars to remove articles they have published from other venues, including individual scholar websites. Not surprisingly, backlash has been building, and some are now predicting that Elsevier is hastening, rather than stalling, the growth of open-access publishing in academia. Also interesting to note is the fact that only the final version published is generally covered under a journal’s copyright claim.
“Many advocates of open access make a moral case for it, too, arguing that freely available research is a public good—and that much of it is paid for by taxpayers in the first place. Ross Mounce, a palaeontologist at the University of Bath, in England, and an advocate of open access, is enthusiastic about what has happened. “This”, he says, referring to the row, “has been great [for open-access advocates]. Lots of people who were completely apathetic before are starting to realise the importance of how we distribute scientific research.”” The Economist
Big in Japan – This story reminded me a little of the film “Lost in Translation,” with detective novelist David Gordon playing the Bill Murray role. Although his book, The Serialist, did okay in the States, it was a blockbuster and multiple award winner in Japan, where he became far more popular than he ever has been in the U.S. It’s an interesting companion piece to the story about Chinese-American novelist, Qiu Xiaolong, I posted about a week ago. Although Gordon does not even set his book in Japan.
“In a daze, I was paraded before the press, blinded by flashbulbs and tracked by TV cameras. But because I couldn’t understand the directions, I often talked to the wrong camera, stared into space or even leaned on the scenery — until my intrepid and glamorous young translator told the reporters to wave if they wanted David-san to look at their cameras, like a baby at a birthday party. I watched the film with her whispering in my ear: ‘He is the detective.’ It was as if I had fallen asleep and had a weird dream about my own book. At the end, when the lights came up and I stood to leave, she tapped my shoulder and pointed. The audience was clapping wildly. For me. I took a few deep bows and fled.” New York Times
Baraka was a vicious Anti-Semite who blamed Zionist conspiracies for the terrorist attacks on 9/11. This was too much for New Jersey and they took away his Poet Laureate title. His tweets about Jews are straight from Mein Kampf. Its absolutly disgraceful this man is getting acolades from academia, NPR, the NY Times and yeah this site. Shame on anyone promoting him. The man was a bigot pure and simple who got away with it because he advocated an extreme form of black nationalism the was radical chic for a while with liberal whites. If you wanna read his teeets about Jews go ahead, but they’ll make you shudder. Sick and indicative of the moral rot in academia. I am glad he’s dead.
Robin, thank you for the news briefs. I appreciate your efforts to highlight interesting things for us.
Wow okay, lots of big news over the weekend. Meanwhile the Big in Japan thing? Priceless.
@mari: Your comments are both offensive and ill-informed. You have taken a complex person and issue and diluted the discussion to the most fascile level possible. (And, as an aside, because this shouldn’t be relevant- I am both jewish and from NJ, and you do not represent my opinion in any way.)
@mari – noting someone’s relevance and reading their writing has nothing to do with condoning anything. We regularly do this with all sorts of historical figures. If you’d have read the link’d article you’d have seen that 6 sentences in the NPR article acknowledges those controversies (the preceeding 5 sentences explained who he was). And a quick check of wikipedia also notes the controversies.
I’ve always enjoyed these news posts, and I’m sorry to be so late making this point, but I’ve especially been enjoying Robin’s selection of links and commentary. It’s the first post I read every morning. Thanks!
@mari: I’m curious. Why do you read DA if you don’t like anything anyone writes? Why do you never post anything that adds to the discussion? Why do you never return to carry on a conversation after people have addressed you?
It seems to me that you wake up, dump all over DA, then go about your day without thinking about what you say or how what you say may affect others. Do you think it could be possible that you are stifling conversation here?
@mari: It’s one thing to find Baraka’s work and views offensive (and people can decide for themselves about that, although it’s noteworthy to point out that even the Jerusalem Post affords the man more respect than your comment does). But your last line is deeply ironic, considering all of the hateful things you accuse Baraka of. If the point is to condemn hateful beliefs, why celebrate someone’s death? It’s an extreme, offensive line to cross, and it completely undermines any legitimate criticism you could potentially make about Baraka’s problematic treatment of Judaism and Zionism.
@Janet: Yeah, and the Jerusalem Post is one of the most right wing among the major newspapers in Israel. I don’t know enough about Baraka and I can’t say that his words as quoted in the Post article you linked to don’t give me the creeps, but even so, I find Mari’s comment chilling in its hatefulness.