By Salina Christmas
Microsoft surfaces with a tablet; The Great Gatsby to hit the silver screen – again; Sainsbury’s buys Anobii from HMV for £1; Boundless says the textbook market is broken, and textbooks are dull, ineffective pedagogical tools. Just another Week In Book News.
June has been a busy month indeed. The editor was away doing a TEDx event, and then got into a role in online gaming and games shortly afterwards. But we are back with the latest updates on books and ebooks. Quite a few things have happened while we were away.
Book and design
The disappointing storyline of Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” reminds us why some film makers would rather fall back on books – especially classics – for sound storytelling materials. And if one novel works wonders, why not make another re-make, like “The Great Gatsby”? The film adaptation, based on the famous work by F Scott’s Fitzgerald, will hit cinemas in December 2012.
The story about a New York upstart from North Dakota, as told from the point of view of a Yale-educated Midwesterner, is a thinly disguised autobiography of Fitzgerald. The author, who made it to Princeton despite the financial hardship endured during his childhood, was rejected by his fiancée for not being rich enough to support her. They got married when his first novel was published and became popular. Social mobility and habitus fascinated and appalled Fitzgerald, who later made these the premise of his seminal work, “The Great Gatsby”.
The book’s 1925 dust jacket illustration by Francis Cugat impressed the author so much that Fitzgerald reportedly told his publisher that he ‘wrote the story into the (hard copy) novel’.
Book and technology
Is that an Apple Macbook? No, it’s Microsoft Surface, a tablet computer which runs on Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT platforms.
The Editor did actually see the coffee table version of it at its Cambridge, UK, HQ, on a college trip with UCL Digital Anthropology, back in 2009.
Will you be able to read your ebook on it? Not yet, because you can’t buy it. Said Brad McCarty of The Next Web to BBC: “If there’s one thing that Microsoft could learn from Apple, it is ‘announce and ship’. Today we saw the Surface. When can we buy it? The only thing we know is that it will be available in conjunction with the release of Windows 8: That is to say, ‘not today’.”
We think that’s Microsoft taking its cue from Nook, which spoke about its device a few months back at MoMoLo in London, UK, knowing fully well it can only do business in the US.
Sainsbury’s, the UK supermarket, has bought a huge stake in ebook retailer Anobii from HMV for £1. The £1 tag should raise one’s eyebrows, but not the supermarket’s ebook ambitions. Have you seen Tesco’s ebook store? You need Adobe Digital Editions installed on your PC to read the ebooks.
Book and litigation
We don’t hear a lot of news on litigations in the publishing and tablet device worlds during the past month or so. But if you are curious about the latest update on the Boundless Lawsuit, the Boston, US e-textbook startup invites you to follow its tweets at @GoBoundless. The maker of free online college textbook is being sued by Pearson Education, Cengage Learning and MacMillan Higher Education for allegedly “copying material from the companies’ biology, economics and psychology textbooks”.
Boundless calls textbook publishing a “broken market with little innovation”.
“The textbook publishing market is an oligopoly,” it declares on its blog, “with over 80% of the textbook market controlled by the top four publishers: Pearson, Cengage, Wiley and McGraw-Hill”.
Well, the Editor of Story Of Books did work for the corporation that owned Routledge and Taylor & Francis. It is not easy to change the course of a massive, titanic-sized ship when the stream of digital information is moving too fast.
Yes, a metaphor will do for now.
Textbooks, according to Boundless, are “flat-out terrible products” that are “ineffective pedagogical tools”. Pointedly, it asserts: “Everyone has a favorite teacher, but no one has a favorite textbook”.
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Book and people
Kobo’s Facebook status really got us thinking:
“… one reads, above all, to prevent oneself thinking.” – Aldous Huxley, Chrome Yellow.