paper trail

Amazon's attempts to weaken publishers

A page collected by Book Traces

Salon reports that Amazon has been delaying shipments of books published by Hachette, claiming that readily available bestsellers by authors such as Stephen Colbert and Malcolm Gladwell will take two to three weeks to ship. As the Times explains: “Among Amazon’s tactics against Hachette, some of which it has been employing for months, are charging more for its books and suggesting that readers might enjoy instead a book from another author.” Amazon has yet to explain the slowdown, but most agree that the online megastore is attempting to assert their power and weaken publishers: “The company has a variety of tactics it can unleash to get publishers to discount their prices, and delay fronting the bill, which include algorithms that can bury books or publishers.”

At a private reception following his reading at the 92nd Street Y last Thursday, Philip Roth, who announced his retirement from writing fiction last year, declared that he will give no more public readings.

Gawker is hiring bloggers. “All over the internet, in and out of traditional media, talented writers are overlooked and underused. If you're trapped by the bureaucracy, inertia, or institutional fear of your current employer, we can help you break free (and accelerate).”

Alexis Madrigal writes about BookTraces, a project that collects images of how readers have marked copies of books published before 1923. "Marginalia, inscriptions, photos, original manuscripts, letters, drawings, and many other unique pieces of historical data can be found in individual copies.”

The Guardian offers a cunning visual guide to the gothic novel that points out, among other things, that the villain usually usually has scary eyes, on a spectrum from “spine-tingling” to “can actually kill you,” while the heroine is a “pious, virginal orphan, prone to fainting.” On one end there’s Dracula's Mina, who faints once, or Agnes, in The Monk, who faints twice. Then there’s Emily, who in The Mysteries of Udolpho faints no fewer than ten times. The data is good, and so is its graphic presentation. Franco Moretti would be proud.