Sunday, February 7, 2010

Now, where were we?

It's been a crazy ten days, what with lots of store chores, dicey weather and computer issues but there are at least a couple of items that I thought I would at least note in passing.

First, the death of J. D. Salinger at the age of 91. Since he was strongly associated with New York City it is perhaps appropriate that two publications located there provided some of the best coverage and reaction. The New Yorker's "Book Bench" had tributes from a number of writers including Joshua Ferris, Dave Eggers and A. M. Homes. And the New York Times' "Room for Debate" blog hosted a discussion on the relevance of Holden Caulfield and Catcher in the Rye for today's teenagers.

Second, the Great Amazon-Macmillan e-book price war. This was a crazy, complex two-children-in-the-sandbox kind of thing, but what it basically amounted to was Macmillan wanting to gain a bit of control over the pricing of its e-books sold by Amazon, and Amazon reacting by making it no longer possible to buy any Macmillan books at its site. The two sides have made up, at least for the moment, but Macmillan seems to be the winner here, since they have received support from two other "Big Six" publishers -- Hachette and HarperCollins. The precipitating factor in all this was undoubtedly Apple's introduction of its IPad device two weeks ago, since the new terms Macmillan wanted with Amazon were identical to the ones it had agreed on with Apple for Apple's "IBooks" store. Does any of this have any relevance for the huge majority of readers who still prefer "real" books to e-books? Insofar as this affair has shown a chink in the armor of Amazon's online monopoly I think it may be a good thing. Much cyber-ink has spilled regarding all this, but one of the best articles I've come across is this post from acclaimed young adults books author Scott Westerfeld.

Meanwhile, winter marches on, great books are still being written and published, and Accent on Books will continue to sell them. Real books -- the kind printed on paper with no download or batteries or gadget required to read them.

No comments: