Tuesday News: Anonymity and Elena Ferrante, is HP backing down, Amazon’s problems in Japan, and the time it takes to write a book
We May Know Who Ferrante Is, But Have We Learned Anything? – You may be aware of an article in the New York Review of Books that purports to identify Elena Ferrante, despite her clearly and strongly stated desire to remain anonymous. I refuse to send traffic to that particular article, but I think this piece from Lincoln Michel provides a good overview of the situation, and among the articles he links to is Alexandra Schwartz’s excellent contemplation of the role gender plays in the violation of Ferrante’s privacy. Michel discusses the importance of enjoying a book without having to import the person of the author into the reader’s experience, citing Roland Barthes’ essay, “The Death of the Author:”
What Barthes was getting at back in the 1960s is that what (should) matter is the work of art itself. The author’s biographical details don’t explain art, all they do in Barthes’s mind is “impose a limit on that text.” Yes, it’s much easier to teach a limited, biographical view of art, but that isn’t the best way to experience art. Great fiction has multiple meanings, it isn’t a puzzle box that you can unlock with some biographical key. Art is not a mystery to be solved. Art is supposed to open up the mysterious inside you.
“I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors,” Ferrante has said. The mystery of Ferrante’s identity also served to shield her books from those limiting impulses. It served to expand the books in her readers’ minds, to open them up to meaning. Even if it was inevitable that her secret would shattered at some point, it’s a shame to see it go. – Electric Lit & The New Yorker
HP blinked! Let’s keep the pressure on! [PLEASE SHARE!] – With the pressure on HP following its announcement that you can no longer use third-party cartridges in its printers, the company appears to be backtracking (for now). As BoingBoing notes, though, the increasing popularity of appliance DRM is a strong disincentive to user installation of security updates, putting us all at greater risk.
Only three days after EFF’s open letter to HP over the company’s deployment of a stealth “security update” that caused its printers to reject third-party cartridges, the company issued an apology promising to let customers optionally install another update to unbreak their printers. . . .
EFF’s open letter has more than 10,000 signatures, and there’s more flooding in as I type these words. If you haven’t signed the letter, please do — and then tell your friends. Even if you don’t have an HP printer, we all share the same internet with tens of millions of these things, and the last thing we can afford is for HP to be giving its customers reasons not to run security updates, especially as these kinds of devices are being hijacked to perform unprecedented attacks on the net. – BoingBoing
Amazon Faces Publishing Dispute in Japan Over Book Subscriptions – Kindle Unlimited Japan is only two months old, and already Amazon is pulling titles from the program over contract disputes with three major Japanese publishers. Japan, by the way, is the fourth largest global publishing market, so this is no small dispute.
Kindle Unlimited, which debuted Aug. 3 in Japan, was the first e-book subscription offering outside of Amazon’s main English-speaking markets. Amazon charges 980 yen ($9.60) a month for customers for access about 120,000 titles; because the Seattle-based company incurs fees whenever a book is read, there’s a risk that the service may not be profitable if too many people sign up and access books. Amazon sought to renegotiate its contracts with Kodansha, Kobunsha and Shogakukan in September, and amid discussions decided to remove their titles from Kindle Unlimited.
“Due to a unilateral decision by Amazon, our top-ranked titles were no longer being distributed by the company, without any notification,” Tokyo-based Kodansha said in a statement. Natsuko Tanabe, a spokeswoman for Kobunsha, said the publisher is “asking Amazon to continue the service as defined by the current contract.” A representative for Shogakukan said that it was protesting Amazon’s moves because they “don’t properly consider readers and create anxiety for authors.” – Bloomberg
Here’s How Long It Took To Write Your Favorite Book – From The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which apparently took a mere 2.5 days to write, to Lord of the Rings (16 years!), there’s quite a range here. I’m not sure how much this really tells us much about any of these books, but it’s kind of fun, nonetheless.
This mind-boggling infographic compiles the purported lengths of time it took 30 authors to write some of their most beloved works, and the range is remarkable (from 2.5 days to 16 years). On the whole, though, it looks like the Great American Novel can’t be written during NaNoWriMo ? or any month, for that matter. – Huffington Post