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Book News Roundup: Joan Didion goes to the movies

  • Friends, I messed up. I failed to mention in this week's reading calendar that the Seattle Anarchist Book Fair is tomorrow, August 26th, from 10 am to 5 pm at the Vera Project in Seattle Center. It features all kinds of neat organizations including Books to Prisoners, Left Bank Books, and the Social Justice Film Festival, and it's absolutely free. Go check it out, please.

  • You should definitely read this Seattle Times story about how Seattle is now the country's biggest company town:

Amazon now occupies a mind-boggling 19 percent of all prime office space in the city, the most for any employer in a major U.S. city, according to a new analysis conducted for The Seattle Times.

Amazon’s footprint in Seattle is more than twice as large as any other company in any other big U.S. city, and the e-commerce giant’s expansion here is just getting started.

  • Here's the thing about company towns: They always flourish until, suddenly, they stop flourishing.

  • Seattle publisher Fantagraphics announced this week that they'll be publishing a comic called Dull Margaret written by the great actor Jim Broadbent.

  • I don't agree with the assessment that Joan Didion is "the Original Millennial White Girl," but I can tell you that the movie that inspired this observation, Ingrid Goes West, is a decent (if not great) comedy with a bad ending.

  • Speaking of Didion, there's a Netflix documentary about her coming out later this year, along with a documentary about Gay Talese.

  • Neil Gaiman wrote a short-but-touching remembrance of sci-fi author Brian Aldiss at The Guardian.

Book News Roundup: Donald Trump is not children's book material

  • Seattle poet (and the current poet in residence here at the Seattle Review of Books) Daemond Arrindell is the curator for the 2018 Jack Straw Writers program. That means Arrindell will choose the writers who take part in the program, and he'll take a leadership role as the writers learn how to share their work as spoken word and in recordings. Jack Straw is taking applications for the program through November 1st. You can apply right here.

  • Electric Literature reports on what one indie bookstore did when some fascists came in and tried to use their store as a marketing campaign for an alt-right douchebag's book.

  • Headline of the week: "I Bought a Book About the Internet From 1994 and None of the Links Worked." We think of the internet as lasting forever, but the truth is that this is a very fluid medium.

  • A Texas assistant principal was forced out of his job after self-publishing a children's book. It sounds truly awful — and by "it," I mean the book, not the fact that the guy lost his job:

The book features allusions that may go over some children’s heads. The setting is a farm called Wishington. The antagonist is a bearded alligator named “Alkah.” Astute readers will recognize Covfefe cliff. But perhaps the most inflammatory aspect is the smiling cartoon frog, which NBC News has called a “popular white nationalist symbol.” “Pede,” the name of the cartoon centipede that also graces the book’s cover, is also a term members of a Donald Trump-themed Reddit board use to refer to each other.

Spoiler alerts ahead, but Pepe and his centipede sidekick Pede start the book ecstatic that the old farmer has left after eight years of oppression. But Alkah and his minions have entrenched themselves in a pond that very much resembles a swamp — and are threatening to spread throughout all of Wishington Farm. Pepe and Pede have one weapon to vanguish the gator: buds from the honesty tree.

Book News Roundup: Grab a milkshake and listen to some audio books

As you might imagine, I often get asked by young entrepreneurs for advice on how to start a business. What many seem to want is some sort of trick, some magic set of tools that will allow them to launch a thriving startup from scratch. Well, there’s no magic involved, but the keys to success are quite simple: Value your customers, hire well, find a market that isn’t being served, and realize that someday I will utterly crush you.
  • A 68-year-old writer is suing the Iowa Writers' Workshop for age discrimination. The L.A. Times's Jacket Copy blog smartly published the first paragraph of the writer's self-published novel so the audience could decide for itself whether he deserved to be accepted or not. Here's the first half of the paragraph:
The name of Norman Telos’ car was an automatic talk show joke. The Tork rhymed with stork, pork and cork. When the talking heads were done making fun of the Tork they went out and bought one because the Tork was the best two passenger sedan since the model T. Its diesel electric engine was the most efficient one on the market. Acceleration was better than any sports car. With 2 crossing roll beams and a domed roof it was the safest car around. The price was in the midrange of two passenger cars.
  • Sometimes a high sense of self-regard can be its own downfall, is all I'm saying.

  • An editor at Marvel Comics posted an innocuous selfie of a post-work milkshake party. That editor then received a deluge of hateful comments from comics-fan trolls. What did the editor do wrong? Well, uh, she's a woman.

She was immediately swarmed by a squadron of fanbabies furious that such “fake geek girls” had made their way into Marvel’s inner sanctum... According to Antos, the private messages she got in response to her tweet were considerably less polite. “[T]he internet is an awful, horrible, and disgusting place,” she wrote, noting that she woke up Sunday, two days after she posted the selfie, "to a slew of more garbage tweets and DMs. For being a woman. In comics. Who posted a selfie of her friends getting milkshakes."

Book News Roundup: United Airlines vs. Comic Con nerds

  • The host of the computer science book club at Ada's Technical Books has written a great Medium post about why you should start (or join) a computer science book club.

  • In what may be one of the greatest instances of architectural trollery in history, someone built a Parthenon out of banned books on the site where Nazis burned books in 1933.

  • This person thinks e-books are on the way to being a "dead format."

  • This person disagrees.

  • The next book from George R.R. Martin will arrive in 2018. Supposedly.

  • After San Diego Comic Con, United Airlines tried to ban comics in checked bags. It didn't go well.

“While TSA is recommending that customers keep their comic books in their carry-on bags, there are no restrictions on packing them in checked luggage,” reads the statement. “We misunderstood TSA’s instructions and regret any inconvenience this may have caused our customers.”

Book News Roundup: Why did the robot kill itself?

  • Don't forget that the deadline to apply for a table at this year's Short Run Comix & Arts Festival is July 31st. The organizers this year are eager to include the literary arts, so even if you're "just" a writer and not an artist or cartoonist, you should consider applying.

  • This is a pretty big get: the King County Library System Foundation announced yesterday that basketball great and all-around awesome human Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be the headliner at their 2018 Literary Lions fundraising dinner. This year's headliner, for comparison's sake, was Daniel Handler. Handler gave a spectacular speech and he's definitely a high-profile author, but Abdul-Jabbar is a household name. Expect tickets to go very fast for this one. The Literary Lions dinner will take place in Bellevue on Saturday, March 10th of next year. We'll let you know when tickets go on sale.

  • At the Seattle Times, SPL librarian David Wright wrote a great profile of local publisher Pharos Editions, which has brought some essential Northwest literary classics back from the dead.

  • While we're talking about local reviews, Seattle Mystery Bookshop bookseller Fran published a good review of Cory Doctorow's latest novel, Walkaway.

  • Tara Marie at the Polygon has written a good meditation on white cisgender privilege in the comics industry, using Howard Chaykin's atrocious Divided States of Hysteria as the launching pad for the piece. (I read the first issue of the series and decided to ignore it; Chaykin has a long history, with his best work decades behind him, and he's now become nothing more than an aggrieved-white-dude comics troll like Frank Miller. I'm happy to not give Chaykin the attention, but I'm glad that writers like Marie are around to explain what it all means to general audiences.)

  • The new Jane Austen pound notes have a quote from Pride and Prejudice — "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” — that shall we say...not quite delivered earnestly in the novel:

As many Janeites were quick to point out, that quote wasn’t sincere. Caroline Bingley, the haughty gentlewoman who competes with Elizabeth Bennet for Mr. Darcy’s attentions, makes this announcement in hopes of impressing him. “How much sooner one tires of anything than a book!” Miss Bingley adds. Shortly after saying so, already bored by a quick dip into a book, she throws it aside and tries another gambit to grab his attention. In short, Austen wrote the line as a satirical comment on how we perform certain admirable qualities to win approval.
  • I don't really believe in guilty-pleasure reading. Every book has some value, even if it proves that value through negative means. But people like interactive lists on the internet, so maybe you might enjoy this checklist of "Books You'll Never Brag About Having Read." Don't listen to the headline; feel free to brag if you want to. Try to beat my score:

  • After you've watched Wonder Woman for the 16th time this fall, you might want to take a break by watching the biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman, titled Professor Marston & the Wonder Women. The trailer was just released yesterday:

Book News Roundup: The Pepe-demption tour continues

Jamie Natonabah (Diné) will receive $7,500 per semester for four semesters, for a total of $30,000, $24,000 of which will be applied to tuition. The remaining $6,000 will help pay for her travel, lodging, books, and meals during the five residencies in Santa Fe. Jamie is an IAIA Alumnae. Jamie is from Fort Defiance, Arizona. For twenty-eight years she has embraced her love of writing which has evolved into a thirst for personal truth created largely through poetry. She won first place in the New Mexico Slam Poetry Competition (online). Also, for two consecutive years, Jamie participated in performances of her poetry through funding from the Witter Bynner Foundation. Her work has been published in Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities as well as the IAIA Literary Anthologies Bone Light and Fourth World Rising among others. Jamie is now living in Santa Fe with her partner Paul and daughter Anastasia Moriarty.
  • Town Hall's Executive Director, Weir Harmon, published a thank-you to the community for contributing to Town Hall's renovation compaign. He also promises that you'll find Town Hall programming "in venues scattered in neighborhoods across Seattle" until Town Hall reopens in fall of 2018. He shares more about the program, which is cleverly titled Inside/Out:
Many events will be programmed in consultation with Neighborhood Steering Committees; some will be co-created by audience members, in collaboration with Artists and Scholars in Community. If we do this right, Inside/Out will create lasting mechanisms to bring grassroots ideas and community-sourced solutions into broad public consideration—and we’ll welcome a whole new slate of exciting voices back to our renovated home. We’ll share more about Inside/Out over the coming months, and I hope you will join us for this transformative year.
  • RJ Casey at the Comics Journal interviews Kimberley Motley, a lawyer who is trying to help Fantagraphics cartoonist Matt Furie save his creation, Pepe the Frog, from hate symbol status:
You can’t really control how Pepe has been used on the internet in the past, especially since he’s been turned into this meme. Dealing with the internet is difficult because there are so many users all around the world. Pepe has taken on a life of his own. However, what should not happen is people profiting off Pepe and the intellectual property of Matt Furie. That’s a big concern. I couldn’t make a tuna fish sandwich at home and stick a McDonald’s logo on it and sell it to people. The McDonald’s corporation would come after me. This is Matt’s creation and people don’t have a right to take his intellectual property and then themselves profit off of it without his permission.
  • For KUOW, Elizabeth Austen introduces listeners to Seattle-area poet Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, with a pair of extra poems published as an online extra.

  • It was published in May, but I only just came across Bill Gates's summer reading list. Have you ever found yourself standing in a bookstore and wondering, "what would Bill Gates read?" Wonder no more:

  • Last week, On the Media interviewed a few sci-fi authors about dystopian fiction for a dystopian world, and it's a very thoughtful episode. I especially love that host Brooke Gladstone asks each of the authors if they agree with Jill Lepore's recent observation that "Dystopia used to be a fiction of resistance; it’s become a fiction of submission."

Book News Roundup: Maybe Bill O'Reilly needs to take this self-promotion class

This class, led by conceptual artist, writer, and communications professional Natasha Marin, will help you develop strategies and goals for effectively promoting your work. Through interactive exercises and group discussions, you'll identify the best platforms for your work, learn the key components of your web and social media presence, and practice your networking skills, so you can talk about your work online or in person with confidence.
Suppose your favorite film critic started sprinkling his reviews with references to the “Cowboy Test” and made it clear that he was factoring into his appraisal of a work of art whether it contained cowboys.
Movies (at least Hollywood movies) are about people on the extremes of society — cops, criminals, superheroes. These extreme characters tend to be men, and men tend to be the ones who create them. Women enjoy much more prominence in the milieu of low-budget independent movies, where the stories are more focused on ordinary people with real-world problems, but those movies usually attract small audiences.
To be slightly less reductionist than the Bechdel Test, women tend to write movies about relationships, and men tend to write movies about aliens and shootouts. Have a wander through the sci-fi and fantasy section of your local bookstore: How many of these books’ authors are female? Yet these are where the big movie ideas come from. If a woman wants the next Lord of the Rings–style franchise to pass the Bechdel Test, then a woman should come up with a story with as much earning potential as J. R. R. Tolkien’s.
  • But that last observation really doesn't make any sense. Has Smith ever been to a bookstore? Does he really not know the names Octavia Butler or Margaret Atwood or Ursula LeGuin or Mary Doria Russell or J.K. Rowling or Mary Shelley? How big of an idiot is Kyle Smith, anyway? And what kind of a publication would let Smith embarrass himself like this? Do the editors at the National Review really hate Kyle Smith that much?

Book News Roundup: The fight to save Pepe

  • We've written several times about how much we love the children's books of Seattle author Jessixa Bagley. If you'd like to hear Bagley discuss her life and work, she guest-starred on the All the Wonders podcast earlier this week. Make sure to check it out.

  • You probably know that Fantagraphics cartoonist Matt Furie's cartoon character Pepe the Frog has become a symbol of the Trump-loving alt-right. Furie is by all accounts a wonderful, easygoing guy who was completely blindsided by the fact that his laid-back cartoon frog has become the rough equivalent of a swastika. Now, an online petition by Furie supporters "implore[s] the Anti Defamation League, ADL, to remove the designation of Pepe the frog or any likeness as a hate symbol." Sign the petition if you agree. I've stated in the past that I don't know how much hope there is for the rehabilitation of Pepe; it's much harder to remove a meaning from a symbol than it is to add a meaning. But you certainly can't fault Furie and his friends for trying.

  • Remember when we told you that the TSA was testing a program requiring agents to go through books and magazines at airport security checkpoints? Great news! Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed says that the TSA has "abandoned" the program and "there are no plans to restore the pilot or to expand it."

  • Open Culture examines "The Splendid Book Design of the 1946 Edition of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." I saw these books once when I was a used bookseller and, unlike the tens thousands of books that passed over my desk in those years, I remember perfectly what this edition of Decline and Fall looks like. Book design is so important.

  • The Association for Library Service to Children is looking for people of color who are willing to volunteer to join its awards and media evaluation committees. This paragraph is exactly the kind of thing you want to see from an organization of librarians in 2017:

It is an inconvenient truth for many of us, mostly white, that our industry (which I use here loosely to mean work in children’s books) upholds the systemic racism that is prevalent throughout the wider media industry and most institutions and communities in our country. It can be uncomfortable to confront the foundations of one’s own expertise in and passion for children’s books and examine where some of our judgments of quality we think are “unbiased” are only so when viewed through the lens of white privilege. But this white inconvenience, this white discomfort, is paltry when compared to what we create for communities of color by pretending this problem does not exist, or is not our own job to fix. To do our job, in service of the job of the child, many of us will need to start listening more, speaking less, and using our expertise to make space for and amplify voices that shine, in the multitude of ways a voice can shine.

Book News Roundup: Meet Hugo House's new faces, sign up for Short Run's summer school

Flame has regularly worked as an activist and organizer for a diverse number of theatrical, cabaret, queer, and POC communities — both during her time in the Bay Area and since returning to Seattle. Her connections to a broad network of artists and teachers also extends to the growing immigrant community and incarcerated populations through her work with The IF Project, a program funded by the Seattle Police Foundation.
  • Yesterday, Hugo House also announced their newest Made at Hugo fellows, which is a program that creates a cohort of young Seattle writers and gives them access to all of the Hugo House's mighty educational opportunities. The Made at Hugo program is a great way to take the pulse of Seattle's next generation of literary talent. You'll be seeing more of these names in the near future: "poet Holly DeBevoise, poet and writer Max Delsohn, writer Nia Dickens, poet Kym Littlefield, poet and artist Erin Lynch, and indigenous prose writer D.A. Navoti."

  • Speaking of mighty educational opportunities! Short Run's summer school looks like a lot of fun, with many free classes and all other classes below $50. Topics include letterpress printing, comics classes for kids, papermaking with local papercraft cartoonist Mita Mahato, and a class titled "How to Be Self-Employed in Seattle" that a lot of you should take.

  • Last year, some unpaid employees of Emerald City Comicon — who are unfortunately dubbed "minions" by ECCC leadership — sued the convention for compensation. Yesterday, lawyers announced that ECCC reached a settlement with the minions.Brigid Alverson at Smash Pages writes:

Under the settlement, Eitane Emerald Corp. and the Demonakos family will pay almost $500,000 to the volunteers, with the lawyers scooping up $123,300 for their troubles, [former "minion" Jerry Michael] Brooks [who filed the suit in the first place] getting $5,000, and the 250 or so other “volunteers” will divvy up the rest according to how many hours they worked.
  • This tweetstorm about BBC English is a great illustration of how language evolves, and how what we think of as "normal" English probably didn't exist just a few short decades ago. A few highlights:

Book News Roundup: The deadlines approacheth

There’s a strong overlap between the women of the anti-Trump resistance and Alexie’s readership, which is primarily composed of college-educated white women. Unlike some male authors (see: Jonathan Franzen) who worry that a female audience will feminize their art, and thereby delegitimize it, Alexie embraces his readers. “They pay my mortgage!” he said. “But they’re also just more open to actually crossing boundaries. They have that perfect combination of privilege — because of their whiteness — and oppression, because they’re women. They’re at the forefront of every battle, and they come into it with both strength and weakness, with both power and pain.”
  • If you're into best-of lists, Vulture has published a listicle of "The Best Books of 2017 So Far." The usual standards apply — lists are meaningless, you can't really rate literary works, lists provide nothing more than clickbait for media sites that are addicted to clicks at the expense of thoughtful coverage, etc. etc. etc. — but sometimes lists of this sort spur bookstore shopping excursions, and who am I to argue with the buying of (and/or library-checking-out-ing of) new books?

  • OpenCulture published a great piece about why lowering your productivity might actually lead to better work. If it was good enough for Charles Dickens, it's good enough for you.

  • The Harry Potter books are now 20 years old.

Book News Roundup: Get your table at the Seattle Urban Book Expo

  • The Seattle Urban Book Expo is happening on August 26th at Washington Hall. "Last October, the authors and the people showed out and declared that black literature has a place in our community. So much so, that we had to do it again," SUBE founders write on their Facebook page. If you'd like to get a table to exhibit at this year's SUBE, you should send organizers an email and follow the instructions on this post.

  • Local sci-fi writing organization Clarion West is offering up some neat-looking one-day writing classes this fall, including one on world-building and one class taught by the great Nicola Griffith. You can sign up right here.

  • Here's a neat idea that may or may not turn into something: Bookshelf is a website that lets you construct "book mix tapes" to share with friends. You can also read through mix tapes made by other readers. And here's a nice touch: rather than the ubiquitous links to Amazon you'll find all over the internet, Bookshelf links to Indiebound, which allows you to buy books from independent bookseller.

  • Standard Ebooks takes the free-e-library spirit of Project Gutenberg and pairs it with a good sense of design.

Ebook projects like Project Gutenberg transcribe ebooks and make them available for the widest number of reading devices. Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology.

Book News Roundup: Stacey Levine, William Shakespeare, and James Baldwin

I see novel-writing as an opportunity to ask dozens of questions. The question of self-“realization” is going to be among them, but I like to think a novel is a chance to throw dice that ask combinations of even broader questions. “What is the experience of being alone versus being ‘beside’ somebody else?” And smaller ones: “What is the best way to describe that one sensation?” And situational questions, too: “What would this character do if she were trapped in a well and mocked by local teenagers?”
The C.S.A. model is simple: consumers commit a certain amount of money to a farm up front in exchange for a portion of the future harvest. Farmers use the resources to support themselves during the slower months. Over the past few decades, C.S.A.s have grown in popularity across the United States. Many farms on the Blue Hill peninsula have adopted such programs, and Haskell watched a local brewery, Strong Brewing Company, get its operation off the ground with a community-supported beer program. “The idea of purchasing a season’s or a year’s worth of books seemed like an interesting way to structure thinking about a customer’s relationship to the store,” Haskell said recently. At Blue Hill Books, C.S.B. members can purchase a “share” for a thousand dollars—or partial shares for two hundred or five hundred dollars—and draw on that credit to buy books throughout the year. “It’s not a donation; it’s not an investment,” Sichterman explained. It’s more of a “gift certificate for yourself.”

Book News Roundup: Community is something you make

The idea really coalesced after last year's Short Run festival. I went to that show with a plan to really canvas the show and see what was there. I don't get to actually shop extensively at shows very often, and I ended up dropping close to a couple of hundred bucks, buying anything that looked even remotely interesting. There was a lot of good work that I felt was probably being overlooked because of either the signal to noise ratio or even just the harsh realities of distribution. If you don't live in a region that has a show like Short Run, you're likely to never be exposed to a lot the work that's there. And I came away from that show realizing that Fantagraphics can provide a platform to get the work out there.

Book News Roundup: Neil Gaiman at the Cheesecake Factory

...I came upon yet another problem for Marvel: working with libraries – another source of easy money for most publishers – isn’t much of a priority for them...As one prominent librarian put it to me, “People [in the library space] ask me is there a way to contact Marvel and I say, ‘nope it’s just impossible.’ Often, they’re people who want to buy 200 copies of something. I say ‘Good luck!'”
  • I just want to confirm MacDonald's experience and add that Marvel never supplies the media with review copies, a weird policy held by virtually no other publisher in the business. Additionally, I've talked to multiple writers over the years who argue that, for a company that likes to brag about the high value of its intellectual property, Marvel pays its contributors very little. Maybe if they actually invested in their people, Marvel wouldn't be suffering from low sales?

  • Yesterday, Amazon opened its first Amazon Books brick-and-mortar store in New York City. Thu-Huong Ha from Quartz didn't enjoy the experience:

The store doesn’t let you escape the noise of shopping online: One section is for books with more than 10,000 reviews; another display is for “page-turners,” based on ebooks that customers have read in three or fewer days; with a few exceptions, books need a 4-star review to be in the store; to enter, you have to walk around a table showing books 4.8 star-rated or higher.

Book News Roundup: Nominate your favorite Seattle writer for the Mayor's Arts Awards

  • There's still time to nominate a Seattle writer you love for the Mayor's Arts Awards! You have until May 25th to "recognize the accomplishments of artists, arts and cultural organizations and community members committed to enriching their communities through the arts." All you have to do is head over here and fill out the form.

  • And if you'd like to be Washington State Poet Laureate, you can find more information about that in this PDF. The position pays $10,000 per year, with up to $3,500 in expenses paid for travel and materials.

  • The Spokesman-Review reported on Sherman Alexie's commencement speech at Gonzaga University:

“So ask yourself, graduates, and families and friends: Do you want to be the person suspicious of strangers? Do you want to be the person who turns away strangers from your front door?”

Book News Roundup: All good news, all poetry

  • It has been, to say the least, a crazy week. Locally, everybody is running for mayor. Nationally, our president's brain seems to be degrading at an alarming rate. So let's end the week with a piece of unabashed good news and a pair of excellent poems by Seattle poets, okay? Be good to yourself — and the moms in your life — this weekend. Spend a few hours at a bookstore. Read a book. Don't go on the internet on Mother's Day.

  • Seattle poet Jane Wong recorded part of her poem "Pastoral Power" with KUOW. It's lovely and you can listen to it here.

  • Cody Walker's book of Trump-inspired poems The Trumpiad, which I reviewed last week, has already raised $1,368.60 for the ACLU, Walker reported yesterday on Facebook. You can do your part by picking up a copy at Open Books this weekend.

  • Lit Hub published an incredibly moving poem from Sherman Alexie's upcoming memoir You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.

Book News Roundup: Sarah Galvin's going on a European book tour, Jim Demonakos is leaving Emerald City Comicon

  • You can add poet Sarah Galvin to the short list of Seattle authors who have gone on a European tour. Starting on Sunday, Galvin will be traveling to bookstores in Amsterdam, Krakow, Paris, Berlin, and Reykjavik in support of her terrific new collection out from Gramma Press, Ugly Time. If you know anyone in or near those cities, let them know by sending them a link to the tour page.

  • Heidi MacDonald at the Beat broke some pretty big news this morning: Jim Demonakos, the Seattle-area comics retailer who started Emerald City Comicon, has left the organization. Two years ago, Demonakos sold ECCC to ReedPop, an international producer of comic book conventions. "I’m not leaving for another job, I don’t have an immediate new project," Demonakos wrote in a Facebook post announcing the change. This means that next year's ECCC will be the first time the show is not produced by its founder. It'll be interesting to see if the convention can maintain its essential Seattle-ness without Demonakos at the lead.

  • At Strong Towns, Kea Wilson wrote a piece about why urbanists need to talk about Amazon:

Amazon has made it their business model to make you think that way: they market themselves as your friendly, invisible big box store, with all of the benefits and none of the massive, concrete drawbacks of the K-Marts of the world that you’ve (rightly) come to distrust. All you see is the website, algorithmically manipulated to show you everything you want and need—and two days later, a little brown box on your doorstep with a smile printed on the side.
  • Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, is launching an interesting new news organization. I don't know if Wikitribune will actually work, but it's always worth your attention when people try new models of journalism.

  • The bookstore that trolled Piers Morgan on Twitter is now in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign to stay open.

  • This 2011 video of a carwash for books is making the rounds on Twitter and it's so terrific that you should watch it again:

Book News Roundup: Follow a book through the Seattle Public Library

Book News Roundup: This book smells awfully skunky...

Harry Potter was perhaps the first major shitlib touchstone to vault willing cuckoldry into the wider culture as some kind of moral imperative; it was beta orbiter Snape, a man with the worst case of oneitis imaginable because he was in love with a dead woman who when alive wanted nothing to do with him, who vowed to look after Harry, (the child of his oneitis by another man Snape hated), out of a misplaced sense of loyalty and maybe hope for an afterlife consummation.

Book News Roundup: Politicians we love

That verse is difficult to translate precisely into English, and there has been an array of attempts over the years, many of which you can read here. Generally, it says something along the lines of what the Hilali-Khan translation schema maps out as “O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as awliya (friends, protectors, helpers, etc.), they are but awliya to one another. And if any amongst you takes them as awliya, then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the zalimoon (polytheists, wrongdoers, unjust).” Whatever your interpretation, it’s not very nice to Jews and Christians.
This verse is subject to a truly fantastical amount of bullshittery in the modern era. And that bullshittery takes on a particular flavor depending on the agenda of whoever is translating the verse. Keep in mind that 75% of Muslims are non-native speakers of Arabic (I’m one of them), and of that 75%, most know a few phrases of Arabic at most; just enough to be able to perform the five daily prayers, plus some tangentially related religious terminology (I know a bit more). To put it more simply, the vast majority of Muslims around the world do not read the Quran in the original Arabic. They read an interpretation rendered into their local language. And this is where the bullshittery starts.
  • In the aftermath of all the upset comics fans calling for his blood and some unspecified disciplinary action from Marvel, Syaf published a post announcing, "My career is over now."

  • Joe and Jill Biden have signed a book deal. Hopefully Joe Biden's book will have a chapter on how to hotwire a Camaro.

  • Speaking of politicians we love, Wonkette's Doktor Zoom runs down the nerdy books that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (siiiiiiigggghhhhh) adores:

You’ve got your Stephen King of course, and your Neal Stephenson, the master of erudite cyberpunk who gave us Snow Crash (the main character is a guy named Hiro Protagonist), and your Tad Williams, who goes more toward the sword-n-sorcery stuff. The two novels Trudeau names are also science fictional — Ready Player One is a dystopian SF story about adventures in virtual reality, which is a far preferable place than the dying overheated Earth of 2044 that Donald Trump is helping to build right now. And La Part de l’autre is a 2001 alternate-history affair (never published in English as far as we can tell) about the life of a young man named Adolf H. who in 1908 gets accepted to the Vienna School of Fine Arts, becomes a painter, and never bothers with politics. But he does meet a nice doctor named Freud who helps him work through some issues.