An investigation for Scientific American by MeFi's own cgs06 uncovers evidence of widespread fraud in scientific publishing's peer review system. Alarming signs point to the Chinese government as a source of institutional support and funding for questionable papers and fake peer reviewers. [more inside]
To Lure Young Readers, Nonfiction Writers Sanitize and Simplify: [New York Times]
"Inspired by the booming market for young adult novels, a growing number of biographers and historians are retrofitting their works to make them palatable for younger readers."
This year's Women's Prize For Fiction has been won by A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. [more inside]
"Why translators should give Dr Alaa Al Aswany and Knopf Doubleday a wide berth" is a "cautionary tale," which involves literary agent Andrew Wylie, seen in a recent metafilter post, and translator Jonathan Wright who says, "The least I can say is that he [Dr. Aswany] is not an honorable man. But let others be the judge, as I explain the origins of our dispute." Some of Dr. Aswany's objections to Wright's translation can be found in this file.
Ruby-Strauss learned his craft working for the notorious Judith Regan, in whose shadow all lowbrow publishing still operates. In college at the University of California, Santa Cruz, he had been a comp-lit major who scoffed when friends talked up popular sci-fi books. “I was too pretentious,” he says. “I was reading Camus.” (A far way from that to Tucker Max, I noted. “Is it?” he replied.) Under Regan, he came to appreciate the simpler beauty of “books that sell.” He acquired a book by shock-rock star Marilyn Manson and then a series of pro-wrestling books, still his highest-selling titles ever. He once took Regan to a match, where he remembers her looking around the arena and declaring happily of the crowd, “You could sell them blank pages!” (SLNewRepublic) [more inside]
"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf, which would later be called The Harvard Classics." (Via) [more inside]
"If Shirley Jackson’s intent was to symbolize into complete mystification, and at the same time be gratuitously disagreeable, she certainly succeeded" - The New Yorker takes a look at the over 300 letters in reaction to The Lottery
What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being.[more inside]
An Orange Prize nominee speaks out about her experience as a woman in literature: weakened titles, pink covers, snubbed for reviews. [more inside]
Barney Rosset, former owner of the influential Grove Press and Evergreen Review, boundary-shattering publisher of Tropic of Cancer, Waiting for Godot, and Naked Lunch, and U.S. distributor of I Am Curious (Yellow), died yesterday at the age of 90.
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
All told, Updike has published more than a million words on books. ... In Picked-up Pieces (1975), Updike’s second collection of essays, he lists his rules for reviewing... Without coyness, Updike renders a stern judgment based on telling quotation. He builds toward his findings in plain sight, earning him an authority that is based on his presentation of a plausible case. [more inside]
Penguin announces a cover contest for John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. John Green, one half of the VlogBrothers (previously on metafilter), is also a Young Adult novelist. His upcoming book, The Fault in Our Stars, has topped pre-order lists since its title was announced in June of 2011, thanks in no small part to Green's promise to sign all pre-ordered copies of the book (150,000 total, as determined by his publisher). Since the upcoming novel's title release, fan-made covers have made the rounds on Tumblr, some for which Green has expressed admiration himself. As it turns out, Penguin went with a professionally-designed cover for TFiOS, but has also announced a contest to determine which fan-made cover it'll use for the next printing of Green's second novel, An Abundance of Katherines.
Novelist, frontman, economist, pig stealer, and man from Ireland, Julian Gough invites you to join him on an adventure in "a love-based mutant version of capitalism."
"A difficult situation or problem whose seemingly alternative solutions are logically invalid." The tragicomic 1961 novel that sprang from Joseph Heller’s experience as a W.W. II bombardier mystified and offended many of the publishing professionals who saw it first. But thanks to a fledgling agent, Candida Donadio, and a young editor, Robert Gottlieb, it would eventually be recognized as one of the greatest anti-war books ever written. In an adaptation from his Heller biography, Tracy Daugherty recalls the tortured eight-year genesis of Catch-22 and its ultimate triumph. [more inside]
A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, will arrive on July 12. [more inside]
Iain Banks interviewed by the Open University (45min). Compare and contrast with Iain Banks interviewed on STV (25min) back in 1989. [more inside]
‘We feel that the stories in this book are such that if your nerves are not of the strongest, then it is wise to read them in daylight.' For a certain time, in every second-hand bookshop in the UK you would always be able to find a musty and dog-eared copy of one or more of the Pan Books Of Horror Stories edited by the splendidly named Herbert Van Thal. Now the first is being re-printed. [more inside]
Reader's Almanac is a new blog devoted to the authors published in the Library of America. Posts so far have featured film shot by Zora Neale Hurston, audio recordings of William Faulkner, and Walt Whitman's astronomical inspiration.
17 year old prodigy Helene Hegemann admits that her bestseller "Axolotl Roadkill" is not as original as previously assumed. "The publication last month of her novel about a 16-year-old exploring Berlin’s drug and club scene after the death of her mother, called “Axolotl Roadkill,” was heralded far and wide in German newspapers and magazines as a tremendous debut, particularly for such a young author. The book shot to No. 5 this week on the magazine Spiegel’s hardcover best-seller list", writes the New York Times. Unfortunately, parts of it were lifted. "It's not plagiarism", says the author. [more inside]
Scouting occupies a strange niche in book publishing, itself a rather inscrutable business from the outside, and after a time most scouts resign themselves to working—very hard—at an occupation not even their closest family members will ever fully understand. [more inside]
How One Nearly Forgotten 1920s Publisher's “Little Blue Books” Created An Inexpensive Mail-Order Information Superhighway That Paved The Way For The Sexual Revolution, Influenced The Feminist And Civil Rights Movements, And Foreshadowed The Age Of Information. [more inside]
If you're a girl and you grew up in the 80's, chances are you read Sweet Valley High books. Guess what? They're being re-released. Don't worry, they're being updated to reflect the times- Jessica and Liz will be a size 4 now, and Liz's gossip column will be a gossip blog instead. Those wishing to relive the glory days can read reviews of the old series at The Dairi Burger, a blog devoted to all things Sweet Valley. [more inside]
"It seems like a really original and interesting read." It is a truth universally acknowledged that the first line of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" is one of literature's most famous, wittily kicking off one of the most beloved of all classics. And yet, 17 British publishers failed to recognize it and rejected the manuscript when Jane's name and the title were changed. What happens when the gatekeepers of literature are illiterate?
As he read, Mr Sterling became convinced he had to publish the book. Jed Rubenfeld's "The Interpretation of Murder" had an intriguing cast of characters, an engaging plot and a dash of kinky sex. It was a historical thriller, one of publishing's hottest recent categories. It had the potential, he thought, to be the next "Da Vinci Code."The Wall Street Journal details the fascinating mechanics of modern-day book marketing as Henry Holt & Co labors to birth this year's must-buy publishing phenomenon.
Kaavya Viswanathan is a 19-year-old Harvard student whose first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, just cracked the New York Times bestseller list. The problem? The Harvard Crimson and SF Gate assert that the author plagiarized much of it from two books by Megan McCafferty. Of course, it's not like this kind of thing hasn't happened before with young writers.
Snark. In the newest issue of Bookforum, critic Sven Birkerts ruminates on what he considers to be the regrettable rise of the snarky book review, taking as his starting example Dale Peck's hatchet job on Rick Moody, written in 2002. "Psychologically [the literary] landscape [is one that is] subtly demoralized by the slash-and-burn of bottom-line economics; the modernist/humanist assumption of art and social criticism marching forward, leading the way, has not recovered from the wholesale flight of academia into theory; the publishing world remains tyrannized in acquisition, marketing, and sales by the mentality of the blockbuster; the confident authority of print journalism has been challenged by the proliferation of online alternatives. [...] All of this leads, and not all that circuitously, to the question of snark, the spirit of negativity, the personal animus pushing ahead of the intellectual or critical agenda. Snark is, I believe, prompted by the terrible vacuum feeling of not mattering, not connecting, not being heard; it is fueled by rage at the same."
projet MOBILIVRE-BOOKMOBILE projet is a collection of independently-produced books and zines traveling and exhibiting across North America in a vintage Airstream trailer. The project is accepting submissions for the 2002 tour.