24 November 2007


In the tradition of the time of year, have some leftovers.

  • One of the main problems I have with many literary contracts is the absolute warranties that publishers try to make authors agree to — in particular, that the work is not libellous under any theory. That's well and good in the US; with very rare exceptions, any book that is libellous and still gets published will get the author exactly what he/she deserves. However, the problem of "libel tourism" has never made its way into the consciousness of either agents and authors or publishers. Consider this piece on Mahfouz and libel tourism a severe warning.
  • Staying across the pond for the moment, Hachette UK is making its backlist nonreturnable. Does that mean that reserves against returns will get released to the authors? Only if you believe in Santa Claus.
  • One of the major victims of returns over the years has been the academic monograph. Of course, that leads to the question of digital scholarship and how academics will disseminate their work... and how others will determine which works to consider.
  • One of the more irritating problems with being an American is our collective ignorance of foreign languages. Not only do we seldom do a very good job at learning them at all, but we try to make it hard for children to do so by delaying exposure to foreign languages. On the other hand, a few education systems are trying to encourage polyglots.