Mon, 14 December 2009
In 1841 Thomas Babington Macaulay observed that “it is good that authors should be remunerated; and the least exceptionable way of remunerating them is by a monopoly. Yet monopoly is an evil. For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil; but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good.”
In his new book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, highly regarded copyright lawyer Bill Patry concurs with Macaulay, arguing that ‘copyright should last only as long as is necessary to ensure that works that would not have been created but for the incentive of copyright are created.’
The book at once demonstrates how copyright is a utilitarian government program–not a property or moral right, and deplores the manner in which debate has deteriorated into a battle between oversimplified metaphors; language which demonizes everyone involved – pirates and orphans alike. This has led to bad business and bad policy decisions. "Unless we recognize that the debates over copyright are debates over business models, says Patry, we will never be able to make the correct business and policy decisions
A former copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, policy adviser to the Register of Copyright, law professor and author of the definitive Patry on Copyright, the man, currently copyright counsel to Google, is a centrist and advocate of balanced copyright laws, and, perhaps most significantly, the owner of a kickin’ pair of running shoes
Moral Panic concludes with a call not for strong or weak copyright laws but more effective ones, designed to maximize the creation of new works and learning, and minimize obstacles which prevent others from accessing and building upon them.
Listen here as Patry, speaking as a concerned, informed citizen, not as a Google employee, works his way out from Macaulay’s lucidity, a sampling of which I cite to start off our conversation:
Thu, 10 December 2009
Published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables is the first in a series of bestselling novels by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Although often dark and complex, and at times racy, the ‘Anne’ novels are today considered by most to be children’s books. Inspired by similar girls’ stories of the time, and her own childhood experiences in rural Prince Edward Island, Montgomery’s writing has affected generations of women around the world, perhaps none more so than another Canadian, novelist Jane Urquhart, who has just written a biography of Lucy Maud as part of Penguin’s
Extraordinary Canadians series. We met recently to talk about the vast disconnect between the work and the woman; depression, lesbianism and gaiety; about place, truth and memory, narrative and culture, confidence and role models.
Please listen here:
Sun, 6 December 2009
Copyright activist, speaker, teacher (how about ’speacher’…or ’spreacher’), columnist, science fiction novelist, short story writer, co-editor of Boing Boing, and the very manifestation of articulate dynamism, Cory Doctorow was in town recently to promote his novel Little Brother (free download here), a fast paced, current-day 1984-like polemic calling for teens to subvert security measures, especially those used by governments that claim to "defend my freedom by tearing up the Bill of Rights.”
As Austin Grossman puts it in the New York Times:
MY favorite thing about “Little Brother” is that every page is charged with an authentic sense of the personal and ethical need for a better relationship to information technology, a visceral sense that one’s continued dignity and independence depend on it: “My technology was working for me, serving me, protecting me. It wasn’t spying on me. This is why I loved technology: if you used it right, it could give you power and privacy…Little Brother argues that unless you’re passably technically literate, you’re not fully in command of those constitutionally guaranteed freedoms — that in fact it’s your patriotic duty as an American to be a little more nerdy."
I’m clearly not nerdy enough… incarcerated I am in fact by technological illiteracy…incapacitated too…neither machine I used to record my conversation with Cory worked for the full duration of our encounter…they did however capture enough, thankfully, to provide his engaging take on the future of the book, the seeds of its destruction…and mention of a guy with a lemon up his nose. Please listen here:
(For discussion of copyright, please watch this space over the coming days for my interview with the acknowledged giant in the field, Bill Patry).
Thu, 26 November 2009
(last night at Art Matters)
Kate Pullinger is a novelist who also writes for film and various digital platforms. Born in Cranbrook British Columbia she went to high school on Vancouver Island, dropped out of McGill University, worked for a year in a copper mine in the Yukon, traveled, and eventually settled in London. Pullinger has written two short story collections; her novels include When the Monster Dies (1989), Where Does Kissing End? (1992), A Little Stranger and most recently The Mistress of Nothing which has just won Canada’s GG Literary Award for best English Fiction (to be awarded this evening).
She has lectured and taught at, among other institutions: the Battersea Arts Centre, the University of Reading, and Cambridge University, as well as in various prisons. She currently teaches Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University, Leicester.
The Mistress of Nothing (2009), takes its inspiration from the life of Lucie, Lady Duff Gordon, and is set in nineteenth-century Egypt. I met with Kate yesterday afternoon. Among other things we talk about what it’s like to win the GG, class structures, and the future of the book (check out her website here). Please listen here:
Thu, 26 November 2009
Listen here as famed author of Life of Pi and self proclaimed political gadfly Yann Martel 1) Absorbs a barrage of punishing jabs I throw at him over his latest book What is Stephen Harper Reading? and 2) Punches back at a Canadian Prime Minister whom he considers to be a visionless, ‘fact’-mired, fiction-eschewing ideologue.
Fri, 20 November 2009
established Greyweathers Press
several years ago because of a "love of beautifully designed type
skillfully arranged on a well-proportioned page."
His original plan was to print letterpress books only, however, as his enterprise evolved Larry became interested in relief block prints and now includes these in his work. Editorial focus is on the literature both of 19th and early 20th century British and American writers
and young, unpublished writers. All printing and typesetting
is done by hand on a Vandercook S-219AB proofing press.
Books are also bound by hand.
I met with Larry in his studio in Merrickville, Ontario (about a half hour drive south of Ottawa), to talk about what he does. Listen here as he takes us through the letterpress printing process.
Fri, 13 November 2009
Researching ‘literary’ Portland (Maine) before trekking down there, I came across mention of Rabelais Book shop. What an interesting concept it’s built upon: the vertical integration of new titles on food, wine, gardening and farming, with rare out-of-print books. Patrons therefore inhabit several distinct categories: Book lovers and collectors from around the globe, food lovers and cooks from around the block. Situated in Portland’s East End next door to Hugo’s (chef Rob Evans won the 2009 James Beard award for Best Chef Northeast) and within walking distance of half a dozen other great restaurants, including Bresca, Duckfat and Fore Street, the store, in several short years, has become the go-to place for New England’s foodies. Hosting author readings, art exhibits, film showings/dinners and Slow Food meetings, the shop is a jointly owned by Samantha Hoyt Lindgren, a former photo editor and pastry chef, and her husband Don, an antiquarian book dealer. I met with Don at Hugo’s – we thought it would be quieter there than in the store – to talk food and books…listen for the names of titles you might want to start collecting here:
Wed, 11 November 2009
After working his way up through the publishing trade during the 1950s and 1960s, Tom Doherty became publisher of Tempo Books in 1972 and later Ace Books. In 1980 he established his own publishing firm Tom Doherty Associates Inc., with the help of several investors including silent partner Richard Gallen (of Dell Emerald Books fame), and with it the Tor Books imprint.
Early Tor titles included Norton’s Forerunner; Fred Saberhagen’s Water of Thought; Poul Anderson’s Winners, Starship, Explorations and Guardians of Time; Keith Laumer’s The Breaking Earth, Beyond the Imperium, and The House in November; Harry Harrison’s Planet of No Return and Planet of the Damned; Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen’s Coils; and Steve Barnes and Larry Niven’s Belial
Honours during the early/mid eighties included The Prometheus Award for The Probability Broach by L. Neil Smith (1982) and the Nebula Award for Best Novel for Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game (1985).
In 1986 Doherty sold his company to St. Martin’s Press and TDA/Tor Books became a division of the larger company. Over time the portion of non-SF "mainstream" titles at Tor grew, to a point where, by 1993, they made up more than half the list. As a result a new imprint, Forge Books, was established in order to better market these titles.
Tom does a much better job of charting the history of his career and these companies than I have here. Listen and learn how and why he has enjoyed such success; you can just tell how much fun he’s had in the business.
Mon, 9 November 2009
David Hartwell has worked as a Science Fiction and Fantasy editor for Signet, Berkley Putnam, Pocket (where he founded the Timescape imprint and created the Pocket Books Star Trek publishing line), and Tor (where he headed Tor’s Canadian publishing initiative, and introduced many Australian writers to the US market). Since 1995, his title at Tor/Forge Books has been "Senior Editor." He chairs the board of directors of the World Fantasy Convention and is an administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award. He holds a Ph.D. in comparative medieval literature and lives in Pleasantville, New York with his wife Kathryn Cramer and their two children
Each year, with Cramer, he edits two anthologies, Year’s Best SF and Year’s Best Fantasy. Both anthologies have consistently placed in the top 10 of the Locus annual reader poll. In 1988, Hartwell won the World Fantasy Award in the category Best Anthology for The Dark Descent. He has been nominated for Hugo Awards on numerous occasions, and won in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Hartwell has also edited four best-novel Nebula Award-winners.
I interviewed Hartwell and Cramer recently at their home/bookstore in upstate New York. We talk about the differences between SF editors and their more general literary kin.
Fri, 6 November 2009
Roderick ‘Rocky’ Stinehour is a very pleasant, accomplished gentleman from Vermont. He’s also recognized internationally as a printer of high repute and a designer of beautiful, scholarly books. His career spans over much change in printing technology and the way in which books are produced and distributed. In 1950, after graduating from Dartmouth College, he, along with his wife and brother, established The Stinehour Press in the village of Lunenburg, Vermont.
From modest beginnings the Press flourished thanks to persistence, vision, and the ability to attract skilled passionate co-workers; due to the quality of its books, the company will long be remembered as one of America’s finest scholarly publishers.
I visited Rocky in the ‘Northeast Kingdom’ recently. Listen here to our conversation