The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
After many months of silence, Amazon has come out in defense of its tactics in an ongoing dispute with the publisher Hachette. Amazon executive Russ Grandinetti told The Wall Street Journal [subscription required] that the online retail giant is working "in the long-term interest of our customers." In an effort to put pressure on Hachette, Amazon has been delaying shipment of the publisher's titles, removing the option to preorder them, and recommending lower-priced options when customers look for Hachette books. Grandinetti, senior vice president of Kindle content, told the Journal, "The terms under which we trade will determine how good the prices are that we can offer consumers." Hachette hasn't commented on Grandinetti's remarks.
The bench in Amsterdam where the main characters sit in the film adaptation of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars is ... missing. The Associated Press reports: "Suspects in the disappearance include the city itself, which may have simply taken the old bench away for repairs, as well as neighbors unhappy with extra tourist traffic, vandals or even fans wanting to own a small piece of film history. A city spokesman says it will be replaced."
In The New York Times, Pankaj Mishra and Francine Prose discuss the value of labeling books as "immigrant fiction." Prose writes, "When categories get less interesting is when the category becomes the whole point — the substance and the basis of how a book is read. There are many things to be said about Dinaw Mengestu, María Luisa Bombal, Chinua Achebe and Anita Desai apart from the fact of their having come from former colonies; there is much to note about Harry Crews's "A Childhood" besides the fact that it is a Southern coming-of-age memoir."
Joel Brouwer has a poem in the Boston Review, "On the Narcissism of Minor Differences":
"Parmenides, a filthy Greek, proposed the world is round.
Satan comes as smokeless fire. My couch screams middlebrow."
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