Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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Speaking of copyright infringement...
What is it with Google that makes them think they can just, allegedly, keep rolling over copyright laws? First it was the whack of books they scanned without permission for the Google Books Library Project. Now the NYTs and Guardian are reporting that Google has, allegedly, "borrowed" the name Nexus from Philip K Dick's book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, to use as the name of their new cell phone without permission. Dick's estate has sent Google a "knock it off" letter, but the phone has already been launched. What to do? What to do? (Ummm...try going back to not being evil?)

At least if it was a book you could use it as kindling.
Did Santa bring you a Kindle for Christmas? Lucky you! Congratulations on your pending obsolescence. The annual International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) conference was held last week, and it seems a veritable tsunami of digital e-reader type gadgets is about to hit the market. Jan Stokes at Ars Technica has a decent enough round up of some of these devices, with comparisons of their usability, etc... His conclusion: "So at some point soon, the dedicated 'e-reader' will be about where the 'feature phone' is in 2010—at the bottom of the mobile barrel, having been outclassed by a raft of devices that do much more than just display books." (Thanks to Jack Illingworth for the link.)

Beatty beating
There are scads of reviews published this weekend of Peter Biskind's Star:How Warren Beatty Seduced America (an authorized biography). Jeff Simon, writing in The Buffalo News, has an entertaining one. What makes Simon's review worth reading above many others is his penetrating critique of the culture of fascination. His best line: "[Beatty] never seduced America, he seduced Hollywood. America was asked to put up with the result." Truer words...

"Movin' to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon." — Frank Zappa
Okay, it does not entail dental floss, but it is still one of the strangest stories I've read in ages. Here's the short version: a Helena, Montana white supremacist biker, seeing the error of his ways, sold (in exchange for a bus ticket out of town) thousands of racist tracts to the Montana Human Rights Network, which partnered with the Holter Museum to find artists who converted the books into unreadable objects for an exhibit called Speaking Volumes: Transforming Hate, currently on display at the University of Montana. The Missoulian broke the story and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has some pics.

Squirrel pie, anyone?
I have an ancient copy of The Joy of Cooking which, at one point, contained a page showing an illustration of how to skin a squirrel with your bare hands and a sturdily planted boot heel. For some reason the page has been torn out, which is a shame because it was a great conversation piece. The Guardian has a gallery of unusual gastronomical images from the new book A Visiual History of Cooking. Alas, no squirrels.

"Onward!" — Guy Davenport
Publisher's Weekly has a roundup of the highs and lows (it's mostly lows, folks) from the publishing industry in 2009.


I'm aware Doctorow has that reputation, ksawyer, but did you read the speech? It is about the need to protect copyright.

Cory Doctorow is great until you begin to disagree with him. It's not that I don't like him or his stance, but he's often a little too one-sided about it, championing sharing and openness without any regard or respect for IPs and copyright. It may not be with the Kindle or with iPods, but there are times and places where ownership matters, where sharing is piracy, and where freedom of information is really just lifting someone else's work. With Doctorow, it's sometimes difficult to know where even he draws that line.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Shaun Smith

Shaun Smith is a novelist and journalist living in Toronto. His young adult novel Snakes & Ladders was published in January 2009 by the Dundurn Group.

Go to Shaun Smith ’s Author Page