Tuesday News: Canadian book tax, the “Future is Here”, celebrity readers, and Game of Thrones tourist attraction
Publishers, writers rally against N.L. book tax – Newfoundland and Labrador (N.L.) has become the first and only Canadian province to institute a book tax – 10 percent a book, as compared to the 5 percent GST. Insisting that “books are not luxury items,” writers and publishers are also pointing out that N.L. will lose book sales to other provinces and that the tax is anti-literacy, putting profit above reading:
“This kind of tax is hurting artists, it’s hurting students, and it’s hurting women who buy most fiction,” said writer and Memorial University professor Lisa Moore, one of the protesters who rallied at Broken Books in St. John’s to voice their concerns.
“So you are looking at a very vulnerable demographic when you bring in this tax and I would really like to believe that this government is flexible enough listen and to change those decisions they have made in this budget that just don’t make sense.” – CBC
How to Make Science Fiction Become Fact, in Three Steps – There are some pretty interesting stories in this article on the recent “Future is Here” conference sponsored by Smithsonian Magazine. Martine Rothblatt, for example (founder of Sirius Radio), got a Ph.D. in medical ethics and helped develop an FDA-approved drug following her daughter’s diagnosis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (she founded United Therapeutics in 1996). Another reminder that what a cellphone can do once took an “entire van,” and even an appearance by William Shatner:
In a special appearance, actor William Shatner said that though science fiction can lay the groundwork for the future, progress is not always made with computer wizardry and bubbling test tubes. He spoke about recently witnessing an unusual and unexpected experiment in progress.
“We write and we think about all these highfalutin futuristic things that are going to take place, but buried in the basement of a small building in Philadelphia there are dogs sniffing for cancer in vials of blood,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the future as imagined by a show called ‘Star Trek.’” – Smithsonian Magazine
Book-loving stars on Instagram: They’re the new Oprah – So are you moved by a celebrity endorsement for a book? Because this seems to be the new thing (remember Emma Watson’s “feminist” book club announcement?). Now it’s all about Reese Witherspoon, apparently, who helped push the popularity of Big Little Lies (and now she’s co-producing and co-starring in a tv adaptation, so it’s not like she doesn’t have an economic investment).
These celebrities, and they’re mainly women, are helping fill a gap left by Winfrey, who under her 2.0 club recommends far fewer books than her original club did, when she had a talk show and a huge audience.
“Social media is more diffuse,” says Simon & Schuster’s Rhorer. “With Oprah, you had millions of people tuning in on a particular day of the week and a particular hour of the day, and when she would say ‘Go buy Wally Lamb’s new book,’ you had all those millions of people reacting in the same moment. But with somebody who has as large a following as Reese Witherspoon, the impact can be significant. – USA Today
Game of Thrones: Fallen trees used in tourism drive – Given the fact that much of “Game of Thrones” is filmed in Northern Ireland, a couple of 200-year old beech trees featured in the series, and uprooted in a recent storm, are being carved into doors featuring scenes from the series. The doors will hang in pubs and will be featured in advertisements for Northern Ireland, hopefully boosting tourism through the connection to the massively popular series (which just started its new season). – BBC