Thursday News: Self-censorship in China, GameTrust, James Beard winners, and more book vending machines
Book Debate Raises Questions of Self-Censorship by Foreign Groups in China – While there has been ample discussion about censorship by the Chinese government, the behavior of foreign entities – in this case the American Bar Association – has not been widely scrutinized. However, when the ABA rescinded an offer to publish Chinese human rights attorney Teng Biao, noting a concern for “ABA commissions” working in China, something ABA execs are now disclaiming (they say it’s all about economics and “sales forecasting”). Teng avers that numerous foreign NGO’s self-censor in order to avoid negative attention from the Chinese government, raising questions around how these organizations manage human rights issues (not that the U.S. has a stellar human rights record).
The dispute has raised questions as to whether foreign nongovernmental organizations working in China engage in self-censorship. That is an issue that will become more acute if China passes a proposed law putting more than 7,000 such foreign groups under police oversight. The law could be passed this week.
Like some other human rights lawyers in China, Mr. Teng has been jailed and beaten in recent years, and in 2014 he fled to the United States. He lives in New Jersey and has been a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School and New York University’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute.
His dispute with the bar association became public this month when Foreign Policy magazine reported that last year the bar association had rescinded an offer to publish Mr. Teng’s book, which would be an account of his struggles in human rights law and an analysis of the political and legal situation in China. – New York Times
GameStop Forms a Label to Dive Even Deeper Into Publishing – GameStop, which recently announced the creation of its own publishing venture, GameTrust, is expanding its scope. GameTrust isn’t developing games, so it seems more akin to a book packaging service, with distribution being its own retail space, which does not otherwise appear to be growing:
The move into publishing is just one of the steps that GameStop has taken in recent years to diversify its business. Its longtime core business, selling new and used games and consoles—which Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter called a “melting ice cube” in a note to investors last month—has been on the decline with no end in sight. This has prompted GameStop’s entrance into other, complementary, businesses, such as acquiring the nerd-stuff retailer ThinkGeek and the AT&T wireless retail chain Spring Mobile. – Wired
2016 James Beard Foundation Awards for Book, Broadcast & Journalism – With all the literary awards around, we don’t always acknowledge the James Beard Award, which honors all aspects of food, from cookbooks to chefs. I am particularly happy to see Heidi Swanson’s photography honored this year (I have followed her excellent blog for years), and in general the California Bay Area featured strongly in this year’s winner’s list (which you can read in full at the SF Gate link above – chef and restaurant awards will be announced next week):
Bay Area highlights from the event included a win for J. Kenji López-Alt, who took home the prize in the General Cooking category for The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science (W. W. Norton & Company). Heidi Swanson won the award for photography for her book, Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel (Ten Speed Press). John Birdsall won for his Jarry Magazine story, Straight-Up Passing. In the Humor category, Petit Crenn sommelier Maryse Chevriere won for her Instagram feed, @Freshcutgardenhose. – SF Gate
Machine Supply is a Vending Machine Which Sells Books – I’ve reported on a few of these, but Machine Supply goes a step further and hosts a Twitter account for its “vending machine bookshop” at Campus London.
The vending machine was deployed about a month ago in the lounge at Campus London, one of Google’s incubators. . . .
With the first known book vending machine having been invented nearly 200 years ago, the idea isn’t new. Penguin promoted the concept during its early years (when it was still a paperback-publishing outsider), and indie bookstores have developedcustom designs. – The Digital Reader