By Siobhan O’Leary and Edward Nawotka
Though Amazon’s Kindle is now available in 200 countries, including Germany, many are asking what good it is if only English-language titles are available for the device. According to the Boersenblatt, negotiations are underway with publishers in Europe, but no German publisher has signed an e-book contract with Amazon at this point. Questions remain about how Amazon will deal with Germany’s fixed book price system, which would prevent them from selling an e-book for any less than it is being sold elsewhere.
Speaking of e-books in Germany, publishing industry representatives met yesterday to discuss their problems with German e-book portal, libreka!, which is the official e-book shop of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers and Booksellers Association). As reported by the Boersenblatt, the question is whether libreka! can meet the needs of booksellers, publishers and logistics service providers and become a solution for the entire industry. Initially established as a full text search for digitized German books, libreka! shifted to e-commerce and is now viewed as competition by some of the members the Börsenverein represents.
The Wall Street Journal offered online profiles of writers talking about their writing secrets and technique. Everyone’s different: Michael Ondaatje likes 8½-by-11-inch Muji brand lined notebooks, Richard Powers dictates to his computer using voice recognition software (which I too use occasionally—Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 Professional), and Junot Diaz confesses, “I think 90% of my ideas evaporate because I have a terrible memory and because I seem to be committed to not scribble anything down. As soon as I write it down, my mind rejects it.”
Some people do, apparently, still read Playboy for the articles. This month, the magazine is especially strong on literary offerings from three heavyweight contributors—one dead, one Brazilian, and one Stephen King: There’s an excerpt from Vladimir Nabokov’s final, unfinished work The Original of Laura; there’s an essay by Paulo Coelho about giving away all his books except for the 400 he re-reads; and Stephen King contributes a poem by Stephen King called “The Bone Church” which describes of a jungle adventure gone horribly, horribly wrong: “There were thirty-two of us went into that greensore / and only three who rose above it. / We were thirty days in the green, and only one of us came out.”