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LeGuin Shakes Up Book Awards

Presented with a plaque for “lifetime achievement” in writing at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, Ursula LeGuin replied with a jeremiad on the state of publishing. The audience applauded – “bravely,” she noted. Clearly, the 85-year-old novelist of science fiction and fantasy relished the chance to see that more than cocktails were shaken at […]

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Terms Reached For Hachette, Amazon

On the same week that the New York Times reported he gave up a lavish private office for a 6-foot X 7-foot cube in an open-plan office, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch announced conclusion of an e-book sales deal with Amazon. He says the deal is “great news for writers,” but he also says he doesn’t […]

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Happy Days For Debut Novelist

In 2014, some things about the book business are as long gone as the days of Mad Men. Three-martini lunches, of course, as well an urban landscape dotted with bookstores. Also among the missing, or so we thought, were the hefty advances that signal the imminent arrival of a new “big book” or the opening […]

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Publishers In No Hurry For Amazon Antitrust

Over the summer, as Amazon and Hachette clashed on e-book pricing levels, calls were heard for the federal government to undertake antitrust action against the e-retailing giant. Distraught booksellers and outraged intellectuals alike have challenged the Department of Justice to take on Amazon as a monopolist, even as publishers look the other way. “The Seattle Times […]

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The Amazon Problem

Linus van Pelt, the resident intellectual of the Peanuts comic strip, once articulated his philosophy of life as, “No problem is so big or so complicated that it can’t be run away from.” For many years, one could argue, such was the view of book publishers when it came to Amazon. Yet the Amazon problem […]

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Library Free For All?

“Built by the People and Dedicated to the Advancement of Learning.” So reads an inscription on the Boston Public Library façade that summarizes the aspirations of the American public library. The 19th-century BPL is as nearly a palatial edifice as any in Boston, yet above the central entrance, three words also remind all comers that […]

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Frankfurt Book Fair Same But Different

Reliably as ever, the Frankfurt Book Fair for 2014 is overstuffed with new titles from promising and established authors alike. Yet the hopeful, even sometimes buoyant mood belies a fear of the figure lurking around every corner of the business, no matter where you travel. You know who. From the media center of the Frankfurt […]

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Publishing Pink Slips Go Green

When the pink slip comes, often the green follows. Certainly, severance packages are a very welcome way to soften the sting of a layoff. But stockholders of some of the industry’s top publishing houses might want to ask exactly what all the generosity is buying for them. “We have looked at the SEC filings of […]

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The Right Place for Rights

Deal or no deal? That’s always the most common — and the most important — question at the Frankfurt Book Fair. For the hundreds of publishers, agents and organizations who will attend the world’s largest gathering of executives in the book industry, successful deal-making hangs on the fortunes of local markets and the future direction […]

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Antitrust For Amazon?

The federal government has long been in the printing business – think of all those regulations – but until recently, it’s stayed out of the book business. That all changed, of course, when the Dept. of Justice sued Apple and publishers over e-book price-fixing The role of the feds may grow further, though, if some […]

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