Robot 6 has a list of all the nominees for this year's Eisner Awards, which are basically the comic book Oscars. It's a solid list, mostly full of the usual suspects (Seattle's Fantagraphics Books is well-represented, as is Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples' excellent Saga and Chris Ware's Building Stories). They're all good comics, and you should check them out. But two Seattle cartoonists are in a direct competition for one award: Ellen Forney and David Lasky (along with Lasky's co-writer, Frank M. Young) are nominated for their works of non-fiction. Here's the full lineup for the category:
Best Reality-Based Work
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion)
The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts)
A Chinese Life, by Li Kunwu and P. Ôtié (Self Made Hero)
The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, by Julia Wertz (Koyama Press)
Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me, by Ellen Forney (Gotham Books)
You’ll Never Know, Book 3: A Soldier’s Heart, by C. Tyler (Fantagraphics)
Forney, of course, is last year's Genius Award winner for Literature. But I really liked The Carter Family, too. And I've always been a fan of New York cartoonist Julia Wertz's autobiographical comics, too. Who will win? Can you possibly handle all the drama? The winners will be announced July 19th, during the big San Diego Comic-Con International.
Last month, I told you that two Seattle authors were on the longlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction, which used to be known as the Orange Prize. Today, the Women's Prize for Fiction announced its shortlist of six books, and Seattle author Maria Semple's Where'd You Go Bernadette made the cut. The other books are:
Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior
Kate Atkinson, Life After Life
A.M. Homes, May We Be Forgiven
Zadie Smith, NW
Exciting! The winner will be announced on June 5. Congratulations to Maria Semple, who really did write a great novel.
The narrator is a heartbroken historian descended from an old Princeton family—the van Dycks—and the story he tells revolves around the richest, whitest family in Princeton, the Slades. Grandpa Slade is much loved, with a big family of beautiful children and an enviable public career as a minister and former governor. But Grandpa Slade is also hiding a nasty secret from his youth, and he can't keep the resulting curse from systematically murdering his family in increasingly strange and disturbing ways...
(Shawn Vestal reads tonight at Third Place Books at 7 pm. The reading is free.)
Shawn Vestal's first collection of short stories, Godforsaken Idaho (New Harvest, $15.95), spans from the earliest days of Mormonism, to life in Southern Idaho in the 1980s, to the afterlife. As I'm also from godforsaken Idaho, I read the book (spoiler alert: It's very good) and then called Vestal to chat about faith, daddy issues, and what stands for optimism in a book where God is absent.
No, actually it came to me as, I don't know, a joke? I was trying to think of titles, I thought of Godforsaken Idaho, and it felt right. It sounds bleak, existential, beyond help. I was probably reading Beckett at the time. It conveys a sense of post-something-or-other—I'm hesitant to say postfaith or postreligion, because I don't want to declare something that large about it. But the characters are operating in some godless state.
The first story takes place in a prisonish version of the afterlife, where souls bounce from their individual cells, souls can relive memories of their lives at will, and a communal cafeteria only serves them meals that they ate in life. Is this your version of heaven, hell, or eternity spent in the absence of religion?
Here are the twenty best young British novelists, according to Granta magazine.
Naomi Alderman, Tahmima Anam, Ned Beauman, Jenni Fagan, Adam Foulds, Xiaolu Guo, Sarah Hall, Steven Hall, Joanna Kavenna, Benjamin Markovits, Nadifa Mohamed, Helen Oyeyemi, Ross Raisin, Sunjeev Sahota, Taiye Selasi, Kamila Shamsie, Zadie Smith, David Szalay, Adam Thirlwell, Evie Wyld
Thank heavens Zadie Smith is finally getting some attention. I'm ashamed to admit that the only three people I've read on this list are Smith, Adam Thirlwell, and Helen Oyeyemi. (All three are great.) Seattle will have the opportunity to meet two young writers on this list when Granta magazine editor John Freeman brings Nadifa Mohamed and Ross Raisin to town on April 24th.
As you'll recall, last year, for the first time in 35 years, the board that awards Pulitzer Prizes declined to give the award to any of the three finalists in fiction—Karen Russell's Swamplandia!, Denis Johnson's Train Dreams, and David Foster Wallace's The Pale King. Which is nuts. Those are three extraordinary writers, one of whom got passed over for it back in the '90s with Infinite Jest and arguably deserved it retroactively. And yeah, of course, awards are bullshit and don't matter—except in the ways that they do matter, i.e., in getting serious fiction into customers' hands. So it makes sense that publishers are still piqued about what happened last year and booksellers are hopeful that it won't happen again.
This year's winners are announced at noon, 45 minutes from now. Meanwhile, The Millions just tweeted:
Hahaha. But seriously? According to that NYT article linked above, the administrator of the awards "said it was not impossible that a Pulitzer board would decline to award a prize in a category two years in a row."
My review of journalist Jeff Chu's new book—Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America—is on the cover of this week's NYT Book Review. The editors went with the headline "What God Wants" instead of the more accurate and more awesome headline that I suggested: "Are You There God? It's Me, Faggot." You can read my review here. Chu's reaction to my suggested headline is here.
In the US, e-book sales made up 22.55 percent of book sales in 2012, but Paid Content says that those numbers appear to be plateauing. At the very least, the days of huge increases in e-book adopters seem to be over. But what do you think?
I'm such a sucker for things like this. For anything Vonnegut-related. Last public appearance of his in the Northwest, in Spokane maybe 10 years ago, he exited a room of book readers and booksellers by smiling broadly and flipping everyone off. When he died, we published reactions from writers and artists here on Slog. So nice to see he's just getting more beloved with time.
We've seen this sort of thing before: People who offer to publish your tweets in a book, companies that publish Wikipedia articles, and so on. They never really seem to catch on, but people just keep trying. This is from Laura Hazard Owen at PaidContent:
Saving something to read later, in Instapaper or Pocket, doesn’t mean that you’ll ever actually get around to reading it. A company called Blackstrap aims to fix that: It will print all of your read-later articles into a $15 book. “If an article deserves a little time, then Blackstrap it: choose the ones you want to linger over and we’ll print, bind and send them to you, to enjoy undistracted,” the company says.
The "books" can only be up to seventy-five pages long. Blackstrap says they've figured out the copyright issues: "You can only print an article from a given URL once, and the company’s terms and conditions specify that users can’t make copies of their books." The books can take up to a little over two weeks to arrive in the mail. This sounds like a totally sustainable model.
In preparation for his unfinished novel The Pale King, David Foster Wallace immersed himself in the world of accounting and the IRS. (Read my sort-of-review of The Pale King here.) Quartz just published two pages of DFW's notes from one of those accounting classes. There's not much there, but it's full of little notations that you can tell are revelatory to DFW—the fact that supplies are assets until they're used, when they become expenses, for instance. It's a tiny little bite-sized peek into the novel that he'll never finish. You should go take a look.
Yesterday, writer Brian K. Vaughan published a press release announcing that Apple had banned the new issue of his very good ongoing comic book series Saga due to some very small images of gay sex. Comixology CEO David Steinberger just published a blog post saying that the issue will be available for sale on iOS devices after all:
As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps. Based on our understanding of those policies, we believed that Saga #12 could not be made available in our app, and so we did not release it today.
We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.
Given this, it should be clear that Apple did not reject Saga #12.
After hearing from Apple this morning, we can say that our interpretation of its policies was mistaken. You’ll be glad to know that Saga #12 will be available on our App Store app soon.
Say, does anybody else smell bullshit? I swear, I've got a strong whiff of some bullshit over here.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples's science fantasy comic Saga is the best ongoing comic book series in the business right now. The first trade paperback, which you really should be reading, is selling like crazy. Readers are jumping on board all the time. And Apple refuses to release tomorrow's Saga issue number 12 on any of their apps because it features gay sex. The Beat reports that Vaughan has released a press release about the ban:
As has hopefully been clear from the first page of our first issue, SAGA is a series for the proverbial “mature reader.” Unfortunately, because of two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex, Apple is banning tomorrow’s SAGA #12 from being sold through any iOS apps. This is a drag, especially because our book has featured what I would consider much more graphic imagery in the past, but there you go. Fiona and I could always edit the images in question, but everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate, so we’re not changing shit.
Apologies to everyone who reads our series on iPads or iPhones...
Vaughan recommends that Saga fans go buy a physical copy of the book from their local comics retailer instead. Unless your comics store owner takes to the issues with a pair of scissors before you go to buy a copy, you're guaranteed to get the story intact, just as Vaughan and Staples intended. Fuck Apple's ridiculous censorship. I could go on the Comixology app on any iPhone or iPad right now and buy any number of comics with scenes of graphic violence. This is bullshit.
Did you read the Seattle bookstore shout-out in The New York Times yesterday? It came in an article about a small private library/reading room that's opened in Brooklyn:
Lucas Pinheiro and Magda Mortner entered the Mellow Pages Library in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, greeted the others there, and began to look at some of the library’s inventory of 1,300 books, many of them from obscure presses or by little-known writers.
Ms. Mortner, 22, sat on a brown bench seat pulled from a van and leafed through a stack of books that included a volume of poems by Mark Leidner titled “Beauty Was the Case That They Gave Me.”
Mr. Pinheiro, 26, settled into a conversation with a fellow browser, touching upon the Brazilian landless movement, student occupations at universities and the writings of Michel Foucault.
While that went on, Matt Nelson, a graduate student in creative writing at Queens College and one of the library’s two founders, explained the origins of the place, which is meant to serve as a reading room and gathering spot in addition to book lender. Mr. Nelson and Jacob Perkins, both 26, started the library in February, inspired in part by Pilot Books, a bookstore in Mr. Nelson’s hometown, Seattle, that carried volumes by independent publishers, and which closed in 2011.
Sounds like Mellow Pages—Christ, but I hate that name—has learned from Pilot Books' closing, too, by modeling the business on a library and not a bookstore. The one thing that Pilot had plenty of was a sense of community. By selling memberships, Mellow Pages—ugh—is benefitting from the community in a way that Pilot didn't. Maybe someone inspired by Mellow Pages—in every way but the name—can bring this idea back home to Seattle, possibly in conjunction with a bar space?
Big Monday for nerds: First, there's the SIFF news, and now University Book Store is selling tickets to their July 2nd event with Neil Gaiman. Gaiman will be reading from his upcoming The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and he says this will be his final United States book tour ever. I have a feeling these are going to sell out quickly.
Go buy tickets right now.
UPDATE 3:36 PM: Sold out!
@thsea —Yes, just a bit ago. SOLD OUT!— University BookStore (@ubs_events) April 8, 2013
From Anatomy of Criticism, Northrop Frye, 1957:
The term irony, then, indicates a technique of appearing to be less than one is, which in literature becomes most commonly a technique of saying as little and meaning as much as possible, or, in a more general way, a pattern of words that turns away from direct statement or its own obvious meaning... Coleridge, noting an ironic comment in Defoe, points out how Defoe's subtlety could be made crude and obvious simply by over-punctuating the same words with italics, dashes, exclamation points, and other signs of being oneself aware of irony.
The ironist, in Frye's words, "takes life exactly as he finds it" and his power doesn't come from showing off how much he knows or being swoopy, dramatic, and obvious with his work. "Complete objectivity and suppression of all explicit moral judgements are essential to his method."
So ironic-tragic figures are not like simple tragic figures—they do not have massive flaws (like Antony in Antony and Cleopatra) or consuming obsessions (like Captain Ahab). They're just folks.
Thus the central principle of tragic irony is that whatever exceptional happens to the hero should be causally out of line with his character... Thus the figure of a typical or random victim begins to crystallize in domestic tragedy as it deepens in ironic tone. We may call this typical victim the pharmakos or scapegoat. We meet a pharmakos figure in Hawthorne's Hester Prynne, in Melville's Billy Budd, in Hardy's Tess, in the Septimus of Mrs. Dalloway, in stories of persecuted Jews and Negroes, in stories of artists whose genius makes them Ishmaels of a bourgeois society. The pharmakos is neither innocent nor guilty. He is innocent in the sense that what happens to him is far greater than anything he has done provokes, like the mountaineer whose shout brings down an avalanche. He is guilty in the sense that he is a member of a guilty society, or living in a world where such injustices are an inescapable part of existence.
In Frye's literary math, incongruous + inevitable = tragedy. But irony separates the incongruous and the inevitable into two separate poles.
One is the inevitable irony of human life—as in Kafka's Trial. (Which I'm reviewing for this week's paper, which is why I'm reading Frye, which technically disqualifies this edition of the "Monday Morning Olds" since there's something vaguely current about this post. But whatever.) Adam is the archetype of inevitable irony. He is damned simply by being born, our forefather of, as Frye puts it, "human nature under sentence of death."
Phil Foglio, half of the local team that makes the webcomic and prose novel series Girl Genius, has posted on Facebook about all the troubles his books are in, now that his publisher Night Shade Books is in the process of going under:
So– Got a call from our agent, telling me that Night Shade Books, the American publisher of the Girl Genius novels, is folding. This made me sad. I became markedly less sad when my agent assured me that our sales were sufficiently good that any number of other publishers should be interested in picking us up, so– Hurrah! Well…maybe hurrah.
You see, there's the whole tedious business of disengaging ourselves from Night Shade, which has decided to sell our contract to another publisher in order to cover their debts. This other publisher, Skyhorse, is perfectly willing to buy Night Shade's assets (our contracts). However, they will rewrite them and everybody now gets paid a flat 10% of net sales. Let me put this another way; If I was a monkey, I'd be throwing this.
Foglio goes on to explain the different scenarios, including one in which the prose books published by Night Shade might remain in a publishing limbo, out of his control forever. Let's be clear about the fact that the Girl Genius comic isn't published by Night Shade, and the property still belongs to the Foglios, so it's not like this is the end of Girl Genius; it just means that readers might not get access to the books that have been published by Night Shade for a long, long time. This is a shame.
Phil and Kaja Foglio are the kinds of working artists who have done everything right in their careers—they're great to their fans, they've contributed to Stranger charity auctions, they're out cheerfully representing their work at every local convention I've ever attended—and because they decided to be published by a smaller, quality independent press, their work (or, in the best-case scenario, their wallets) might suffer for it. This isn't how the publishing industry should work.
(Via Bleeding Cool.)
Holy shit! Let's take a look at all the incredible stuff that's happening all around town this weekend.
Tonight, you've got a celebration for a book that publishes basically every Seattle poet of note at the Hugo House. Alive at the Center is an anthology intended to show off the greatness of poetry from the Pacific Northwest. The very long list of contributors includes Cody Walker, Kate Lebo, Molly Tenenbaum, Sierra Nelson, Christine Deavel, Elizabeth Austen, Kevin Craft, Rebecca Hoogs, Karen Finneyfrock, Frances McCue, and Sarah Galvin. That's a nice list right there, and some of those poets will be in attendance tonight. This reading is free. The other big free reading of the night is at Elliott Bay Book Company. Aleksandar Hemon, the brilliant author of alternately tough-and-tender works of fiction like The Question of Bruno, Nowhere Man, and The Lazarus Project will read from his first work of non-fiction, The Book of My Lives.
But Sunday is the biggest day of the weekend. Let's get the conflict of interest out of the way: I'm judging the "Worst Pun" category at the Seattle Edible Book Festival, at the Portage Bay Cafe in South Lake Union. For ten bucks, you get to eat all the edible books you can stomach, and your entry fee goes to Farestart, so your gluttony serves a good cause. Elliott Bay Book Company is hosting two exciting readings on Sunday. First, John Thavis, the author of The Vatican Diaries: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church must be feeling awfully lucky right now. Being the author of this book during the beginning of Pope Francis's tenure is basically like winning Publishing Bingo. And then at 6 pm, a team of playwrights (Kelleen Blanchard, Catherine Cole Rogers, John C. Davenport, Craig Kenworthy, Paul Mullin, and Stephen Oles) do battle with a team of poets (Greg Bem, Shane Guthrie, Jessica Lohafer, Amber Nelson, John Newman, and Jim Jewell) by producing work based on a theme.
For more information about all these events, and to read about all the other weekend events I didn't write about here, you should go visit the readings calendar.
Of those two books, the more maddening is Jay Ponteri's Wedlocked. It's a tiresome account of Ponteri's miserable marriage, and how his attempts at memoir have made his marriage even more miserable. Ponteri seems to loathe his wife, and he spends all his time talking about all the ways his wife disappoints him, including the loathsome fact that she has hands:
My wife reached out for my hand and I shook it off. I pushed her hand away from me. I would not hold her hand. I didn't want to. I batted it away! Seamlessly attached to an arm end, a hand seems like a smallish pillow out of which grows even tinier pillows, tentacle-like and wiggly.
Scott Nadelson, meanwhile, is just sad. His fiancee left him for a drag king right before the wedding. He's sick of being described as the next Philip Roth. He's got a crush on a cute bookseller. The Next Scott Nadelson is a collection of personal essays, many focusing on the dissolution of his relationship, but some focusing on Nadelson's childhood, too. Of these two, Nadelson is clearly the better writer; he's got a strong sense of structure and some of his sentences are outright beautiful. But the problem is what the sentences are in service to: A series of melancholic stories about a man who is—or who at least wants to portray himself as—a sad sack.
I understand that not every protagonist needs to be likable. I know that some people really dig confessional narratives. If you enjoy people admitting to secret shames and narcissistic spirals of self-loathing, these could be the authors for you. But if there's a limit to your appreciation of honesty, you should probably skip these two books.
David Neiwert reads tonight, Thursday April 4, 7 pm, at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. The reading is free.
The immigration debate in the United States is often framed in terms of jobs and fairness and the rule of law. But at its heart, it has always been a conversation about race. And as has been the case throughout American history, racism inevitably leads to brutal acts of violence. Like the execution-style murder of a 9-year-old girl.
"911, what is your emergency?"
"Ma'am, somebody just come in and shot my daughter and my husband!"
It is with this frantic 911 call that Seattle author David Neiwert grabs readers and drags them from a dusty Arizona border town to Washington's Canadian border, all the while mapping the rise and fall of the Minutemen movement and its ill-fated volunteer border patrols. Part true-crime story, part history of modern American right-wing extremism, And Hell Followed with Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border (Nation Books, $26.99) is a cautionary tale about how words have consequences.
"The book is kind of a plea for people to think of the shape of the debate we are having on immigration," Neiwert tells me. "When you focus the debate on demonizing brown people, evil results."
It is also a book that only Neiwert could write.
Why, this sounds downright civilized. Tim Carmody at The Verge just introduced us to the Digital Public Library of America, which is a database that will connect all of the free digital information available in the United States and make it available to everyone:
The user-friendly interface will therefore enable any reader — say, a high school student in the Bronx — to consult works that used to be stored on inaccessible shelves or locked up in treasure rooms — say, pamphlets in the Huntington Library of Los Angeles about nullification and secession in the antebellum South. Readers will simply consult the DPLA through its URL, http://dp.la/. They will then be able to search records by entering a title or the name of an author, and they will be connected through the DPLA’s site to the book or other digital object at its home institution
This is something that Europe has already done, and it's something that the US government should have started doing a long time ago, but it's great that it's finally getting off the ground. The DPLA will launch on April 18th, and they've already partnered with the Smithsonian and other institutions. To find out what you can do to help, visit this page.
Instead of the usual one hour, resident musician William Bielawski will be playing for two hours! In other words, live music right at 6! No more waiting until 7! Oh happy day! More info about what the reading party is and how to get there and tonight's special guests is right over here...
Molly Morrow already told you the sad truth about Jamaica Kincaid's new book, but there are plenty of other readings going on tonight, and I'm going to tell you about a couple of them right now.
First up, as Christopher told you yesterday, there's a Silent Reading Party at the Sorrento Hotel.
If you'd rather have something more poetry-minded—it is National Poetry Month, after all—Kjell Espmark is at the Hugo House tonight. The poet, who is also the chair of the Nobel Prize in Literature, will be reading from his new collection, Outside the Cathedral, and taking your questions about poetry and the Nobel Prize. This is obviously a big deal.
But there's even more, including a talk about plastics and a new novel from Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and you can read about everything else going on tonight in our readings calendar.
Science fiction author Iain Banks, who has written some amazing novels including The Business and The Wasp Factory, posted a very sad announcement this morning:
I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.
The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.
If you've loved any of Banks's novels—and if you're a sci-fi geek who hasn't read Banks, you absolutely should consider this to be your marching orders—tell him so. There's a guest book on his site for fans to thank him and tell their favorite Banks stories. Often, when I write about the passing of an author, commenters lament not being able to tell that author how much their stories have mean to them. Here's your chance.
(Jamaica Kincaid reads tonight at the Central Library. The reading is free.)
The line between originality and total incomprehensibility needn't be so thin, nor result in sentences like this one: "The young Heracles, growing in youth, not growing older, growing in his youth, becoming more perfectly youthful, his many tasks to perform, performing them more perfectly, at first performing them awkwardly..." First of all, what the hell? And second of all, there is only so much I can swallow in the name of satire. No, you should not read this book if you are looking for beautiful prose, or even just prose that isn't hideous. You should not read this book if you enjoy plots, or skillful editing. And you absolutely shouldn't read it if you want characters that embody anything more than a cruel parody of our worst selves. Kincaid seems to want to grind these obvious assumptions into pulp against our thick skulls: Time is relative, passionate love begets passionate hate, snobbish intellectualism is fun to mock, the deterioration of a marriage is excruciating...
I know the internet likes to pick on Gwyneth Paltrow, but sometimes Gwyneth Paltrow deserves it. Case in point: Beth Greenfield learns that one day's worth of meals made exclusively from recipes found in Paltrow's cookbook could cost as much as $300.
It's getting to be that time of the month again—when we gather in the beautifully upholstered Fireside Room at the Sorrento to drink and read and sit by the fire and stare into the middle distance while Will Bielawski plays a harp. If you've never been to the reading party before, read all about it here. The special guests tomorrow night, who will bring whatever they feel like reading and then sit there and read silently like everyone else, are the writers Bess Lovejoy and Jake Uitti. Lovejoy is the author of Rest in Pieces, a book about the fates of famous corpses. (Read an interview with Lovejoy here—scroll down.) She says she'll be reading Zora Neale Hurston's book about voodoo in Haiti, Tell My Horse. Uitti is the managing editor of the upstart Seattle literary journal The Monarch Review. He says he'll be bringing a book of poems by Matthew Dickman, along with a copy of The Great Animal Orchestra by musician/naturalist Bernie Krause. And you? What will you be reading?
Sorrento Hotel, Fireside Room, 900 Madison St, first Wednesday of the month, 6 pm until 9 pm, with live music from 7 pm to 8 pm. There's a $5 Manhattan drink special. It's all ages and free.
This essay in The Atlantic about the Amazon/GoodReads deal has a very interesting fact tucked away in the middle:
The United States is not, sadly, a country of lit buffs. In 2008, a little more than half of all American adults reported reading a book in the past year, according to the National Endowment of the Arts. And as shown in the graph below, which like the other charts in this piece come courtesy of the industry researchers at Codex Group, just 19 percent read a dozen or more titles.
Or, to put it another way, 19 percent of Americans did 79 percent of all our book readin'.
The essay refers to the 19 percent of book-happy Americans as "super fans," and suggests that GoodReads was an easy way for Amazon.com to get a hold of a significant chunk of those fans. I obviously fall in that 19 percent figure, as I read anywhere from three to five books a week, usually. But it left me wondering how much Slog reads. So how about it, Slog?
It's good to see that at least one country understands the value of independent bookstores:
French Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti has unveiled part of the government’s plan to shore up independent booksellers, despite earlier fears that she would be unable to commit any money because of France’s huge budget deficit.
She announced that a fund of €5m would be created for loans to booksellers with cashflow problems and that the budget of ADELC, the association that subsidises booksellers, would rise from €4m to €7m to help outlets when they change hands. A general fund for booksellers and other measures "need further reflection", but should be announced by the summer, she said.
Before the South Lake Union Libertarians start to chime in, I just want to say that government should absolutely be interested in preserving culture. In fact, preserving culture should be one of the primary roles of a civilized government.
(Via Melville House.)