Tuesday News: Culling libraries, Cory Doctorow’s publishing platform, why the Oxford comma rules, and Chuck Berry’s genius
Dilemma for librarians: Keep thousands of books or donate them? – Libraries, like all collections, must be curated, and part of that process is ensuring that books on the shelves are both in good condition and in good standing, historically speaking. At what point does a book become outdated, for example, and what is the difference between a book that can transcend its date of creation and one that becomes a bad reference? These are some of the decisions that inform the culling of public library collections, and beyond that, there is a decision that must be made about the book’s ultimate fate. Many, if not all, of the discarded books at this Washington, D.C. library get donated to Better World Books, a bookseller that “saves books from landfills” and uses their income to fund nonprofit global literacy initiatives. I didn’t know all that about BWB, but I now feel a lot better about buying used books from them on Amazon.
“The collection needs to represent up-to-date information,” Katzin says. “Under no circumstances do we want to give you something that is not true because we let it sit too long.”
[Assistant Director of Collections Sheryl] Katzin points to a book called “Germany 1945/1954.”
“This book says the Berlin Wall is still up,” she notes. “You don’t want that to be out there.”
Here’s a reference book called “Something About the Author; Volume 29.”
“It says contemporary authors now covers more than 70,000 authors,” Katzin reads, “but this is from 1982. When I was in middle school.” – Washington Post
London Book Fair 2017: Cory Doctorow Unveils His Latest Publishing Experiment—Fair Trade E-Books – So this is interesting, although I can’t imagine an author with less publishing capital being able to pull it off. Cory Doctorow is basically becoming his own publishing and sales platform, through which he will sell all traditional and independent versions of his new book, Walkaway. Now it’s possible, even likely, that I’m overcomplicating this, but I’m unsure how this will work given the fact that Doctorow is planning to sell DRM-free versions of his e-book alongside traditionally published versions. And the publishers are okay with this kind of competition? Doctorow has a point about how a model like this can serve the entire writing and publishing ecosphere, but, uh, it seems like a boatload of work and the kind of experiment that cannot easily be replicated by many other authors. I guess we’ll see.
Walkaway has traditional publishers, and it will have a traditional e-book edition. But I’m going to sell that e-book in a nontraditional way. I’m launching an e-book store with the book, a store that I’ve privately developed for the past three years, code named “Shut Up and Take My Money” (SUATMM). SUATMM is what I like to call a fair trade e-book store, in which the writer also serves as a retailer.
There are many small, niche-oriented e-book stores serving highly specific markets, but SUATMM is different. It’s a retail platform that lets authors with traditional publishers serve as retailers for their those publishers, on the same terms as Amazon, Kobo, Google, BN.com, Apple, and other giants. Those stores have resources no individual author (save, perhaps, the delightfully DRM-free J.K. Rowling) can muster. In particular, they can manage a seamless experience that no indie bookstore can hope to match. . . .
As an author, being my own e-book retailer gets me a lot. It gets me money: once I take the normal 30 percent retail share off the top, and the customary 25 percent royalty from my publisher on the back-end, my royalty is effectively doubled. It gives me a simple, fair way to cut all the other parts of the value-chain in on my success: because this is a regular retail sale, my publishers get their regular share, likewise my agents. And, it gets me up-to-the-second data about who’s buying my books and where.
It also gets me a new audience that no retailer or publisher is targeting: the English-speaking reader outside of the Anglosphere. Travel in Schengen, for example, and you will quickly learn that there are tens of millions of people who speak English as a second (or third, or fourth) language, and nevertheless speak it better than you ever will. Yet there is no reliable way for these English-preferring readers, who value the writer’s original words, unfiltered by translation, to source legal e-books in English. – Publishers Weekly
Lack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute – More proof that the world is a poorer place without the Oxford comma, even as these dairy drivers are poised to get more money – about $10 million total. The absence of an Oxford comma in the statute creates ambiguity about what, precisely, the exemption from eligibility for overtime pay encompasses. The Oxford comma is specifically discouraged in the state legislative Drafting Manual, but apparently no one was paying attention to the likelihood of unintended consequences resulting from its absence here.
In 2014, three truck drivers sued Oakhurst Dairy, seeking more than four years’ worth of overtime pay that they had been denied. Maine law requires workers to be paid 1.5 times their normal rate for each hour worked after 40 hours, but it carves out some exemptions. . . .
The debate over commas is often a pretty inconsequential one, but it was anything but for the truck drivers. Note the lack of Oxford comma — also known as the serial comma — in the following state law, which says overtime rules do not apply to:
The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.
Does the law intend to exempt the distribution of the three categories that follow, or does it mean to exempt packing for the shipping or distribution of them? – New York Times
Chuck Berry (RIP) Reviews Punk Songs by The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Talking Heads & More (1980) – In the “everything old is new again” category comes the insights of Chuck Berry, who understood that despite the rebellious spirit of the punk movement, the musical heritage was both substantial and clear. Check out Berry’s comments on a number of popular songs, from the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” to “What I Like About You,” by the Romantics. Berry is both hilarious and brilliant in his insights, and the interview is actually a fitting tribute to his incredible career and legacy.
It all goes back to Chuck Berry, and Berry knew it. In a 1980 interview with the zin Jet Lag, Berry shared his thoughts on the punk anthems of the day and spotted his influence in many of them.
The Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”:
“What’s this guy so angry about anyway? Guitar work and progression is like mine. Good backbeat. Can’t understand most of the vocals. If you’re going to be mad at least let the people know what you’re mad about.” – Open Culture