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Book News: Hachette Announces Layoffs Amid Amazon Dispute

Friday, June 06, 2014

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Hachette Book Group says it is cutting 28 positions, about 3 percent of its U.S. staff, as a "cost-savings initiative." The news comes as the publisher is embroiled in a high-profile dispute with Amazon, which has removed the option to preorder a number of Hachette titles online. But Publishers Weekly notes that "while the timing seems to point to its fight with Amazon as a reason for the cuts, the realignment has been in the works for awhile." Hachette said in a statement that the layoffs are "essential to our company's continued growth, and our ability to carry out our primary goal: to publish our authors' work with passion, originality, and impact."
  • Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert gave Amazon the middle finger (literally and metaphorically) Wednesday night, saying he was not just mad, but "mad prime" about the retailer's dispute with the publisher of all three of his books. Colbert asked his viewers to order from Powell's Books instead, with guest Sherman Alexie suggesting they buy California, by Edan Lepucki. In a phone interview with NPR, Powell's marketing director, Kim Sutton, declined to release sales figures but said that sales had "exploded" for California and other titles. "The offices are buzzing and everyone is thrilled," she said. Amazon declined to comment.
  • In a much-discussed column in Slate, Ruth Graham argues against reading Young Adult, writing, "Adults should feel embarrassed about reading literature written for children." She added, sounding rather snobbish and joyless and old: "Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this."
  • A federal judge ended Harper Lee's lawsuit against a museum in her hometown of Monroeville, Ala., after both sides asked that it be dismissed. The author had claimed the Monroe County Heritage Museum was capitalizing unfairly on the fame of her novel To Kill A Mockingbird by selling Mockingbird-themed merchandise without her permission. The museum had settled with Lee earlier this year, but the case began again in May. Lawyers representing the museum and Lee filed a joint motion to end the suit after reaching a confidential agreement.
  • CBS News obtained a copy of Hillary Clinton's forthcoming memoir Hard Choices by โ€” wait for it โ€” "purchas[ing] a copy at a bookstore." The book won't come out until next week, so it's not clear how CBS was able to buy it. CBS says Clinton's book "offers rich detail of her four-year tenure as secretary of state on issues such as Benghazi, U.S. relations with Russia, shifting strategy in Afghanistan, the fallout from the Arab Spring and the worsening chaos in Syria."
  • Dan Chelotti has a new poem, "My Sparrow," in Poetry magazine:

"My sparrow, fly away if you have to

But know that I am coming.

I am low in the grass. I am burning

With patience."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Source: NPR

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