What happens to books that no one wants to read

Perhaps it's time that publishers organize focus groups to find out what editors readers want to read...
Publishers are quietly disposing of around 77million unsold books a year, it has emerged.

So many titles no one wants to read are being produced that they are being shredded, pulped or sold on market stalls at a fraction of their original price.

Industry insiders say companies are forced to destroy them after they are returned by bookshops.

Figures from the Publishers Association show that 61million books were returned to publishers in the UK last year. Another 16million were returned by overseas retailers.

Celebrity works are some of the lowest sellers – including Cherie Blair who is said to have received a £1million advance for her autobiography. But the book has sold only 23,412 hardbacks and 10,240 paperbacks since 2008.



European Anti-Americanism in Literature

What's missing in this yet another overly-dramatic cry is the question "Why do they hate us?":

Despite its cultural prominence, anti-Americanism is the last European chauvinist discourse not to have fallen into general disrepute. While first emerging during the Romantic period, European anti-Americanism reached a peak during the interwar years; literature of the period represented the United States as the quintessence of a traumatic, unbridled modernity that presaged the destruction of Europe. [...]

Thus, a literary history of anti-Americanism has yet to be written. Such a work would prove a valuable contribution to the historical processing of the discourse, for it is often in literature we find the European fantasies about the United States – the dreams as well as the nightmares – in their most unadulterated and seductive versions.



Take this deal and shove it!

Ursula K Le Guin resigns from the Authors Gild, because of her

unhappiness with the role the Guild played in the Google Book settlement. “You decided to deal with the devil, as it were, and have presented your arguments for doing so. I wish I could accept them. I can’t,” Le Guin wrote in her letter of resignation. “There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle.” SOURCE

I am glad I never signed up with the Authors Guild, although now I can't say "Take this deal and shove it!"


Marquis de Sade's optimism

Reading in "The Crimes of Love" (my translation from French):

"Is there being foolish enough to believe that anyone breaking any law of society will be left in peace by the people?

Is it not in the interest of humanity to destroy anyone who interferes with their rights, or is detrimental to their existence?

Position or wealth can sometimes provide the evanescent glow of success, however, such reign will be short!

Recognized and exposed, he will soon become a subject of public hatred and contempt; will he then find apologists, or supporters ready to cheer him in the fall?

Nobody will want to admit to knowing him, since he will not have anything to offer. Everyone will abandon him as superfluous ballast; misfortune will fall upon him from all sides, he will cry in shame and misery, and will soon die in despair."

Who would have thought that Marquis de Sade could be such an optimist?


Publishers embrace the vanity model

It's a long-held truth of trade publishing: Only the most desperate authors would pay to get their books published. Vanity presses, the wisdom goes, handle books by the rank amateurs, the wannabes, the lowest of the low. Then last month, romance publisher Harlequin announced it was getting into the pay-to-publish game with a new imprint, then called Harlequin Horizons and now DellArte Press.

The response was controversy: writers' groups demoted the publisher from approved status, and those who self-publish or use subsidy publishers complained of being the industry's bastard stepchildren. But the real raw nerve that Harlequin unwittingly exposed is that in publishing, money always talks first -- and that money is increasingly flowing toward the pay-to-publish model. SOURCE


Enter the Agent

The rise of the Literary Agent, in France:

"In the Anglo-Saxon literary world if you want to publish a book, you look for an agent first. So I never thought to do anything else. This French notion of sending your manuscript direct to a publishing house is foreign to me. I do understand that it worries some people in France, where a delicate balancing act ensures that certain books are published which would never be elsewhere."

"There’s less resistance to agents on the part of publishers. The new generation of editors has had more marketing experience and is not purely literary.”

Publisher "Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, director of Editions POL, [...] has publicly said that he will not consider a manuscript that has been submitted by an agent, SOURCE


Someone is always watching you

We allow Google, Amazon.com, credit companies and all manner of private corporations to collect intimate information about our lives, but we reflexively recoil when the government proposes to monitor (and not even collect) a fraction of that information, even with legal safeguards. We carry in our wallets credit cards with RFID chips. Data companies send unmarked vans in our neighborhoods, mapping wireless networks. The IBM scientist and tech guru Jeff Jonas noted on his blog that every time we send a text message, we're contributing to a cloud where "powerful analytics commingle space-time-travel data with tertiary data."  Geolocated tweets can tell everyone where we are, what we're doing, and who we like. [...]

Government power is just different than corporate power. Our engagement with technology implies a certain consent to give up information to companies. A deeper mistrust of government is healthy, so far as the it places pressure on lawmakers to properly oversee the exercise of state power. Warrantless domestic surveillance by NSA during the Bush administration doubtless ensnared a number of innocent Americans and monitored the communications of people who posed no harm to anyone. Where the standard is personal privacy and the rule of law, the violation is severe. SOURCE

Feds track citizens using Sprint's geolocation data, and Yahoo, Verizon sell information on their customers.


Writers take note: get up, or die.

"People who sit for the majority of their day have much higher mortality rates than people who don't, even if they're physically active during another part of the day," says Peter Katzmarzyk, an epidemiologist.

"We've known for a while that people who watch a lot of television are more likely to be obese and have the metabolic syndrome," he notes. (The metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.)

"We've now shown for the first time that sitting is directly related to mortality.

Long periods of sitting cannot be compensated for with occasional leisure time physical activity. If you're active for just 30 minutes a day, how is that supposed to wipe out all the other hours of sitting?

Muscles seem to be extremely inactive while sitting, and this may change the way they metabolize compounds and may effect the regulation of insulin and glucose. Just getting people to stand up changes the physiology in their limbs."

Advice: "Stand up. Walk around, do anything like that to encourage blood flow and increase the muscle activity in the lower limbs."

Source: CSPINET (Canada)


Carrying Capacity of the USA

Carrying capacity (maximum sustainable population size) of the United States:

The estimate of maximum sustainable population size takes into account both the source and sink functions of Earth. At least two effects of pollution­greenhouse warming and the ozone hole are poorly understood. One can only estimate the extent of change to which present levels of pollutants commit us already, the lead time before effects become manifest, and the damage that is being done. Nevertheless, the shift away from a fossil-fuel based economy, adopted in order to minimize greenhouse gas emissions and/or as a market response to high prices, will be one of the severest constraints.

Others, more sanguine, peg the U.S. carrying capacity at a higher level. Economist Robert Costanza of the Marine Biological Institute (University of Maryland) and editor of Ecological Economics thinks the carrying capacity is closer to being 150 million persons (Carrying Capacity, 1991).

In the United States, humankind is already managing and using more than half of all the solar energy captured by photosynthesis. Yet even this is insufficient to our needs, and we are actually using nearly three times that much energy, or about 40% more energy than is captured by all plants in the United States [italics in the original]. This rate is made possible only because we are temporarily drawing upon stored fossil energy; the very use of these fossil fuels, plus erosion and other misuse of our natural resources, are reducing the carrying capacity of our ecosystem. SOURCE