The publishing house Hachette Book Group has accused Amazon of deliberately delaying shipments of their books as a negotiation tactic to pressure the publisher into giving Amazon more favorable terms. Amazon has reportedly been marking many books published by Hachette as not available for at least two or three weeks. Titles by Malcolm Gladwell and J.D. Salinger are being delayed. Stephen Colbert’s America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t is listed as three weeks away, while James Patterson’s Alex Cross, Run is listed as a five-week wait. The New York Times reports that over the years Amazon has employed a number of ruthless tactics against publishing houses, even removing the “buy” buttons from some books! [New York Times] READ FULL STORY
Tag: Censorship (1-6 of 6)
Vladmir Putin and Prince are on the same page about profanity right now, specifically that they’ve had enough of it. Putin passed a law that “requires books containing obscenities to come in sealed packages with warning labels and that bans cursing in movies and the performing arts,” according to NPR. There’s no official list of banned words, but it will be up to the Ministry of Culture to decide what is too profane. Prince, on the other hand, just told Essence magazine that he’s not swearing in his music anymore because we should treat “all people like royalty,” and you don’t swear in front of royalty. READ FULL STORY
Editor and Mark Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben has caused a stir by overseeing a controversial new edition of Huckleberry Finn that cleans up the classic novel — most notably by replacing the ‘n’ word with the word ‘slave.’ In the editor’s introduction to the book, which combines Twain’s classics under the title The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Gribben defends his choices by relating a personal anecdote about a 2009 lecture tour in Alabama. “In several towns I was taken aside after my talk by earnest middle and high school teachers who lamented the fact that they no longer felt justified in assigning either of Twain’s boy books because of the hurtful n-word,” he writes. “Here was further proof that this single debasing label is overwhelming every other consideration about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, whereas what these novels have to offer readers hardly depends upon that one indefensible slur.”
Gribben also admits that while the edits might make this version of the book more appropriate for young readers, it discredits them as historical documents. “This NewSouth Edition of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn is emphatically not intended for academic scholars,” he writes, referring purists instead to past editions of the book.
Check out the full excerpt here, and then let us know where you land on the issue: What do you think of Gribben’s arguments? Are the books being censored or just edited?
What is a word worth? According to Publishers Weekly, NewSouth Books’ upcoming edition of Mark Twain’s seminal novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will remove all instances of the “n” word—I’ll give you a hint, it’s not nonesuch—present in the text and replace it with slave. The new book will also remove usage of the word Injun. The effort is spearheaded by Twain expert Alan Gribben, who says his PC-ified version is not an attempt to neuter the classic but rather to update it. “Race matters in these books,” Gribben told PW. “It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”
Unsurprisingly, there are already those who are yelling “Censorship!” as well as others with thesauruses yelling “Bowdlerization!” and “Comstockery!” Their position is understandable: Twain’s book has been one of the most often misunderstood novels of all time, continuously being accused of perpetuating the prejudiced attitudes it is criticizing, and it’s a little disheartening to see a cave-in to those who would ban a book simply because it requires context. On the other hand, if this puts the book into the hands of kids who would not otherwise be allowed to read it due to forces beyond their control (overprotective parents and the school boards they frighten), then maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. It’s unfortunate, but is it really any more catastrophic than a TBS-friendly re-edit of The Godfather, you down-and-dirty melon farmer? The original product is changed for the benefit of those who, for one reason or another, are not mature enough to handle it, but as long as it doesn’t affect the original, is there a problem?
What do you think, Shelf-Lifers? Unnecessary censorship or necessary evil?
Today marks the end of Banned Books Week, as designated by the American Library Association, a week of reflection on and resistance to all forms of censorship, expurgation, and bowdlerization. The ALA’s list of “Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2008” saw some titles mercifully drop from its ranks, including classics like The Color Purple and the perennially misread The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Moving up two spots to No. 2 is Philip Pullman’s atheistically inclined His Dark Materials trilogy, undoubtedly given a bump since the release of the 2007 film adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first entry in the series. The list cites “political viewpoint” and “religious viewpoint” as two of the primary reasons given by those challenging the trilogy, although personally I never understood all the hubbub. In my mind, His Dark Materials and the Narnia series kind of cancel each other out in a school library. Just give a kid both and let her figure out which ham-handed talking allegory she prefers: lions or polar bears.
Politicized animals really do appear to have gotten people’s dander up, as can be seen by the fact that no less than two titles on the list (No. 1 and 8, respectively) are picture books about cute critters in gay families. The most challenged book, And Tango Makes Three, features two male penguins finding love and raising a chick together, a tale that’s not too far from reality. This is Tango’s third year topping the list, and also for the third time, authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell participated this week in a reading organized by the ALA’s Chicago office.
It’s nothing new to have highly visible political and social issues play out in our children’s plastic bookcases. I remember that my middle school had a copy of the 1967 educational edition of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 edited for profanity and, I guess, irony. And I definitely remember the school board’s resigned sighs in the face of a panel of bored housewives unwilling to bestow this book or that with their suburban imprimatur. To honor the end of this year’s Banned Books Week, tell us some of your most memorable banned book experiences. Do you have any favorite controversial titles?
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