The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Five major publishers are objecting to restrictions the Justice Department wants to place on Apple for colluding with them to fix ebook prices. The proposal, which has not yet been approved by the judge in the case, would force Apple to end existing contacts with the publishers, in addition to several other measures that Apple called "draconian and punitive." In a court filing Wednesday, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan – all of which settled with the Justice Department rather than go to trial – said the restrictions would unfairly punish them by effectively eliminating the "agency model" for five years. Under the agency model, publishers, rather than retailers, set book prices. (CNET explains why some publishers prefer these deals.) "The provisions do not impose any limitation on Apple's pricing behavior at all; rather, under the guise of punishing Apple, they effectively punish the settling defendants by prohibiting agreements with Apple using an agency model," the publishers wrote. A hearing on the Justice Department's proposed measures is scheduled for Friday.
- A Brooklyn "missed connection" on Craigslist has gone viral: It begins as a normal encounter on the subway ("I was wearing a blue-striped t-shirt and a pair of maroon pants. You were wearing a vintage red skirt and a smart white blouse") and then descends unexpectedly into a surrealist short story ("For months we sat on the train saying nothing to each other. We survived on bags of skittles sold to us by kids raising money for their basketball teams"). An email inquiry from NPR seeking comment (or, you know, a date) wasn't answered.
- In a blog post titled "Are you still a Brain Surgeon?" the queen of steam and one of the bestselling novelists of all time, Danielle Steel, explains why she's tired of men asking her whether she's "still writing." She says: "What this does is that it immediately puts my writing into the category as a hobby. As in, are you still taking piano lessons, doing macrame, have a parrot? ... It is a way of suggesting that what I do is really not very important."
- Brainpickings features some of Lewis Carroll's unforgettable etiquette advice in a post about The Alice in Wonderland Cookbook: "As a general rule, do not kick the shins of the opposite gentleman under the table, if personally unacquainted with him; your pleasantry is liable to be misunderstood — a circumstance at all times unpleasant."
- NoViolet Bulawayo, whose novel We Need New Names was called "one of the most powerful works of fiction to come out of Zimbabwe in recent years," spoke to The Los Angeles Review of Books: "I grew up in a very different time in Zimbabwe; as part of the first generation of kids born after independence, I experienced stability, success, and normalcy and of course the Zimbabwe that I remember is terribly gone."