The Lady Gaga Book Club; James Joyce's Literary Heir
Today in books: Lady Gaga's Book Club is a sleeping giant, Apple and Macmillan will not negotiate, and the James Joyce-Kool Keith quote game is hard, but fair.
The Department of Justice is pressing ahead with a lawsuit against Apple and Macmillan over alleged e-book price-fixing. Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and RandomHouse settled their lawsuits earlier today, Bloomberg reports, while Apple and Macmillan have "refused to engage in settlement talks." So what was the government demanding of publishers? A source told Politico the Department of Justice wanted "a settlement that would ensure the publishers not only scrap their current agreements over pricing with Apple, but are truly acting independently," with contracts boobytrapped with "conditions or clauses that other publishers could not guess" to keep the terrain even. That would essentially do away with the current "agency pricing model," in which publishers set the price of their titles and Apple receives a 30% cut from every sale. [Politico]
Lady Gaga recently "liked" a book on Facebook -- The Drunk Diet by Lüc Carl, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend. A few hours later, the book had racked up more than 15,000 likes. And it doesn't even look like a very good book. (Obviously, you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But whoever heard of losing 40 pounds while drunk? It's nonsense. And that purple and black cover does not rock, it hurts our eyes.) Anyway: if Lady Gaga, who admittedly is a popular celebrity with more of 21 million Twitter followers, can get people interested in a silly stunt diet book, imagine the influence Gaga -- or a celebrity with an equally massive online fanbase -- could exert just by tweeting a link to a book they liked. It's the same basic principle that made Oprah's Book Club a juggernaut -- famous person tells others they should read a certain book, book becomes a big seller. If this is the criteria for inclusion in the hypothetical Gaga Book Club, it would be a windfall for small and independent publishing houses, the kind of folks who are in the business of shepherding titles like The Drunk Diet through the editorial process. She could be the oddball publishing industry's angel tweeter. [The Guardian]
Want to play a game where you get quotes and have to guess if they came from James Joyce, pioneer of the modernist novel, or Kool Keith, the pioneer of Horrorcore rap? Of course you do! We should warn you the quiz is difficult, though scrupulously fair. We scored a six out of ten, which we blame on not fully realizing how weird some of Joyce's short stories are. [hudsonhongo]
Today in musical memoirs: Viking has acquired a memoir from jazz musician Herbie Hancock which is slated to be published in 2014. Terms for the book weren't announced, but the AP notes "several publishers" were vying for the rights. (This is reasonable. If we ran a publishing house, we would buy every musical memoir in sight. Has a musician's autobiography ever disappointed? Even when they're puffed up and self-important, you get to shake your head at how puffed up and self-important they sound.) Hancock's apparently going to work with a collaborator, who hasn't been selected yet. [AP]
Google is nothing if not fair. Days after telling American merchants it would be discontinuing the reseller program at the end of the year, the company has delivered the same news to booksellers in the United Kingdom. The service allowed bookstores to sell their own texts through Google, which made for interesting variety, and also provided users with a way to avoid using the company's confusing and (seemingly) glitch-ridden Google Play function to get their books. [The Bookseller]