Category Archives: Publishing

Sci-Fi Writers of America Flails About on Copyright Complaints

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America seems to have overstepped its bounds. Earlier this month, it sent a notice of violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to Scribd, a text file sharing site. The noticed intended to name pirated works by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, but included several non-pirated works including Cory Doctorow’s “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.” Doctorow explains the mess they made.

More importantly, many of the works that were listed in the takedown were written by the people who’d posted them to Scribd — these people have been maligned and harmed by SFWA, who have accused them of being copyright violators and have caused their material to be taken offline. These people made the mistake of talking about and promoting science fiction — by compiling a bibliography of good works to turn kids onto science fiction, by writing critical or personal essays that quoted science fiction novels, or by discussing science fiction. SFWA — whose business is to promote science fiction reading — has turned readers into collateral damage in a campaign to make Scribd change its upload procedures.

The SFWA President has apologized. “Unfortunately, this list was flawed,” he said, “and the results were not checked.” I can understand making a mistake, but not checked a complaint like this seems irresponsible very much like forwarding urban legends to all your friends. [via Paul Jessup]

Editor Trumpets New Literary Voice

Random House states that their man David Fickling, whom they praise for discovering and editing Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, has found a new literary talent–Jenny Downham. Fickling will be releasing her first young adult novel, Before I Die, next month.

How does that strike you? Does the news that the first editor of popular books encourage you to believe a new book passed through his hands with his blessing will be just as good as the others?

The Collector’s Edition of Foxe’s Book

In 1563, John Foxe gave us a record of the blood shed for the love of Christ. According to the author sketch in this online edition:

Although the recent recollection of the persecutions under Bloody Mary gave bitterness to his pen, it is singular to note that [Foxe] was personally the most conciliatory of men, and that while he heartily disowned the Roman Church in which he was born, he was one of the first to attempt the concord of the Protestant brethren. In fact, he was a veritable apostle of toleration.

When the plague or pestilence broke out in England, in 1563, and many forsook their duties, Fox remained at his post, assisting the friendless and acting as the almsgiver of the rich. It was said of him that he could never refuse help to any one who asked it in the name of Christ. Tolerant and large-hearted he exerted his influence with Queen Elizabeth to confirm her intention to no longer keep up the cruel practice of putting to death those of opposing religious convictions. The queen held him in respect and referred to him as “Our Father Foxe.”

Now Foxe’s stories of suffering and persecution are available to you in an elegantly gold-stamped collector’s edition. This keepsake volume has a “copper-plated Cross of Fellowship” embedded in its padded cover and comes with a mail-in card for obtaining your own Cross of Fellowship pendant.

Forgive me if I have been sacrilegious here, but my wife noted this edition of Foxe’s book this evening, and I wanted to capture her response. We definitely support the Voice of the Martyrs, endorsers of this edition, and while in favor of a quality, updated edition of Foxe’s valuable history, we think making it into a nice collector’s item (that would look so good on a rich American shelf) clashes with the ideals of sacrifice recorded on its pages. This isn’t just a classic faith story. It’s a record of brutality and ultimate peace, taking up a cross which Americans often cannot imagine.

Ripping Off Austen Without Notice

David Lassman, the director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, England, decided to slightly alter the first paragraphs of a few of Jane Austen’s classic works for submission to today’s publishers. In the Guardian:

After making only minor changes, he sent off opening chapters and plot synopses to 18 of the UK’s biggest publishers and agents. He was amazed when they all sent the manuscripts back with polite but firm “no-thank-you’s” and almost all failed to spot that he was ripping off one of the world’s most famous literary figures.

Mr Lassman said: “I was staggered. Here is one of the greatest writers that has lived, with her oeuvre securely fixed in the English canon and yet only one recipient recognised them as Austen’s work.”

The one who recognised it said, “I suggest you reach for your copy of Pride and Prejudice, which I’d guess lives in close proximity to your typewriter, and make sure that your opening pages don’t too closely mimic that book’s opening.”

I love this kind of experiment, but hasn’t this been done before with another classic author? I don’t remember the specifics, but I think I’ve heard about someone doing this very thing a few years ago.

BibleRhymes for Kids

I corresponded with Ken McCardell of BibleRhymes this week about his company which producing illustrated Bible stories in verse. Here’s what he says about his experience in publishing.

Hardcover versions of BibleRhymes’ Creation are in stock and ready for shipment with releases scheduled in October for BibleRhymes’ Noah and the Ark and BibleRhymes’ Christmas Story. 15-20 books are anticipated for the BibleRhymes series.

Though much research was done in regards to publishers, both Christian and secular, to maintain our vision and quality standards it was appropriate to establish BibleRhymes Publishing. Continue reading BibleRhymes for Kids

Conservative Books “Fractured”

There appears to be a slump in conservative political books. “The conservative market is not unified, there are many fractures,” says the president of Regnery Publishing. “The ongoing war in Iraq and his positions on immigration and education has made it harder to get anyone to write books that rally behind [Mr. Bush].”

Also from the BookExpo, Hillel Italie reports, “New releases topped 290,000 in 2006, according to statisticians R.R. Bowker, which, thanks to revised methodology, added a bountiful 100,000 titles to its previous estimates. . . .

BookExpo reminds you of how the new becomes old, like watching Pete Hamill promote his new book, The Gift, while a few aisles away, at the “Remainders” section of the convention, a previous Hamill book, Downtown, was being sold for $3.”

Would They Add Conversation Value to My Bookshelf?

BookDaddy points out some odd book titles. The winning title for this year is The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification. On, reviewer Robin Benson, whom I hope received a free review copy of this, says, “Flick through this book and many of you might think [author] Julian Montague needs to get a life, roaming round the North Eastern states snapping the death throes of shopping carts, indeed. The book is a bit of fun though and quite cleverly thought out, but maybe the joke wears a bit thin by page 176.”

Oddly enough, Shopping Carts beat out How Green Were the Nazis? for oddest title.

Are Online Books Really Books?

Here’s a report on books, libraries, and the Interweb from Bryan Appleyard (by way of Frank Wilson): The final chapter in the life of the book? He makes a good point about teacher, which Frank quotes, but let me point out something else. Mr. Appleyard writes:

Intellectual property is the big difference between the developing and developed worlds. But intellectual property rights and the internet are uneasy bedfellows. Google’s stated mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. The words “universally accessible” carry the implicit threat that nobody can actually own or earn revenue from any information since it will all be just out there.

This is one reason an Interweb library search, like Google Book, won’t take over the literary world. Publishers and writers, who can’t afford to work for free, won’t allow it. At the same time, I won’t be surprised if users won’t allow it either when they realize the Interweb can’t offer everything for free (it doesn’t even today) and what they want to read or know won’t be online.