Some book links

  • So by “video book,” HarperCollins really means “quick, sort of detailed interview about the book.” And for only $9.99! [via]
  • A high school English teacher wants to stop teaching Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Of Mice and Men because Barack Obama is now President. [via]

    He makes a reasonable argument, but he’s still full of crap. You don’t stop teaching a book because it’s hard; you don’t stop teaching history because it was painful; you don’t move forward into a better tomorrow by forgetting what was wrong about yesterday. Teach the damn context. I know it’s a cliché that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but it’s true. An English teacher ought to know better.

  • The Miami-Dade School Board decided to ban a book because they felt it was inaccurate. This sets a very dangerous precedent. [via]
  • Some interesting thoughts on the future of e-publishing. In my (albeit limited) experience, publishing as a whole is still scared and confused by eBooks just as much as consumers, because it’s such a new, and as yet still largely only potential, audience. And while they’re significantly cheaper to produce, you also can’t charge as much for them — or won’t be able to for long. There’s still this feeling in the upper levels of the industry that book publishing is a good way to make millions of dollars. It’s really not, and I think that’s where a lot of the industry’s recent troubles stem from, it’s hard to shake those visions of dollar-signs from your eyes.
  • Then again, maybe this kind of print-on-demand is the real future of publishing and bookselling.
  • There’s been a lot of talk recently about the new Amazon Kindle’s text-to-speech feature, specifically how it might infringe on an author’s audio rights.Small Beer Press, for one, Wasn’t too happy about it:

    But the difference is that the Kindle is specifically a reading device, so customers can buy the ebook—and get it read to them, which is a different product and right, an audiobook—whereas a computer is a multifunction device. We’re happy that computers have text-to-speech capabilities for visually impaired readers but this seems to be directly impinging on an author’s rights. Hmm.

    However, a number of authors are not themselves all that concerned. John Scalzi writes:

    Since I’m not committed to busting down doors and shooting people when they read a book to their kids, worrying about a mon[o]tone computer voice bleating out the words to a text on a kindle is not something I’m going to stay up nights thinking about either.

    And Neil Gaiman adds:

    When you buy a book, you’re also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips, record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc. This is the same kind of thing, only without the ability to do the voices properly, and no-one’s going to confuse it with an audiobook. And that any authors’ societies or publishers who are thinking of spending money on fighting a fundamentally pointless legal case would be much better off taking that money and advertising and promoting what audio books are and what’s good about them with it.

    Although he does note in a follow-up that his agent’s “concern that text to speech violates audio book rights is natural and sensible.”

    I think only time will tell. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to worry that the new Kindle feature might violate some contracted rights, or even that it might negatively impact audiobook sales. That’s maybe more a fear for future Kindle versions, if the text-to-voice ever isn’t a robotic monotone — although I think even the most sophisticated computer is going to have some trouble picking up inflection from just a printed page.