On the Books: Amazon scrutinized over labor practices; first book published in the U.S. may break auction record

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An undercover BBC reporter acquired video footage of how workers at an Amazon warehouse are treated, prompting the company to release a statement denying any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, a small book of psalms may fetch up to an estimated $30 million at an auction. Those headlines and more below:

BBC reporter Adam Littler went undercover as a worker at a U.K. Amazon warehouse and captured footage with his hidden camera of the retail giant’s questionable labor practices. But Amazon released a statement saying, “We strongly refute the charge that Amazon exploits its employees in any way. The safety of our associates is our number one priority, and we adhere to all regulations and employment law.” [BBC News]

A book of psalms that was printed in New England shortly after the voyage of the Mayflower may break the record for the most expensive text ever sold at an auction, and is expected to reach between $15-$30 million. [The Telegraph]

On a related note, The New Yorker takes a deep dive into previous auction heavyweights, including John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which sold for $11.5 million in 2010. [The New Yorker]

And even more high-priced book news: The New York Public Library bought all of Tom Wolfe’s papers for $2.15 million. [The New York Times]

We’re not done yet: The St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York’s East Village announced it will be launching a fundraiser for its move to a cheaper space. The bookstore will host an auction of signed first editions. [CBS New York]

On to the must-reads: Romesh Gunesekera published a new short story in The New Yorker titled “Roadkill.” [The New Yorker]

In an interview with The New York Times, National Book Award for fiction winner James McBride revealed he thought he had no chance against authors like Thomas Pynchon and Jhumpa Lahiri, so much so that he continued eating through the announcement. [The New York Times]

Writer Maria Popova posted her picks of the best biographies, memoirs, and history books of 2013. [Brain Pickings]

The Pacific Standard tackles the issue of fan-fiction: Can it be considered the next great genre of literature? [Pacific Standard]

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