- Breaking News: Streitfeld Admits That Amazon “Might” Not be Guilty of Censorship
- Heads Up: Dropbox Bug is Eating Files
- Should Authors Disappear Controversial Books?
Posted: 13 Oct 2014 11:25 AM PDT
If you were hoping that a public rebuke from the NY Times’ public editor would restore some degree of balance to that august publication’s coverage of Amazon, I’m sorry but that hasn’t happened.
The media spokesperson for Authors United, David Streitfeld, is mixing it up again. He has a new post up on Sunday on the NY Times’ Bits blog in which he continues to lay out how evil Amazon is evil.
Streitfeld doesn’t have as good of an argument to make this time around, so he rehashes past coverage, drags in irrelevant anecdotal stories, and closes out his piece with an argument of false equivalence.
Starting with the Le Guin quote in which she accuses Amazon of censorship, Streitfeld singles out the comment section for The Passive Voice blog for special attention:
It’s not clear why he chose to focus in TPV (the people there are neither pundits nor spokespersons), but I can tell you that his implication that the selected comments were the more polite responses is largely nonsense. Alas, I can’t link to the blog and show you; that site is down as a result of the traffic sent its way.
But more importantly, Streitfeld continues to financial reiterate the damage that Amazon is doing to Hachette before finally admitting:
If there is doubt, sir, as to whether shipping delays can be equated with censorship, sir, then why did you use that quote not once but twice now?
As I see it, he has admitted that his own past work is bogus, but sadly that isn’t stopping him from continuing to bash Amazon via a selective reporting of the story.
Speaking of which, Streitfeld has found new fodder for his campaign:
Anyone who doesn’t know that Ellora’s Cave revenues dropped as a result of unreasonably high prices and negative publicity from the libel lawsuit has to be living under a rock.
But of course Streitfeld already knows that; he goes on to hint at the reason that EC sales have dropped, while simultaneously making the disingenuous claim that Amazon refuses to speak to authors:
Except Dohner did sign up for it: she signed a contract with Ellora’s Cave. Or is she trying to claim that Ellora’s Cave is publishing her books without her permission? Now that would be newsworthy.
Streitfeld goes on to list a couple other examples where he tries to link a low stock situation with deliberate Amazon evilness, but I will skip them here and go to the last section of this screed.
Streitfeld ends his piece with a final dig at Hugh Howey. He uses selective quotation again to try to twist Hugh Howey’s words against him, resulting in Streitfeld making an argument of false equivalence:
The problem with Streitfeld’s argument here is that it is an established fact that booksellers, including both indie and B&N, literally refused to carry titles published by Amazon.
Say what you will about Amazon, they have not refused to carry Hachette titles – yet.
The post Breaking News: Streitfeld Admits That Amazon “Might” Not be Guilty of Censorship appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 13 Oct 2014 08:20 AM PDT
According to emails sent to users (I haven’t gotten one), Dropbox is reporting that a bug in the selective sync feature has resulted in files going missing:
I haven’t gotten an email, and I don’t see any official confirmation on Twitter or the Dropbox blog, but Engadget did turn up a couple different reports so it is reasonably safe to assume that this story is true.
According to the emails, Dropbox is actively trying to fix the issue, and they are also making up for the lost files by offering those affected a free year of Dropbox Pro. There’s no word yet on how many were affected.
Hmm. While I would like to snark on this issue, I think the more important story here is that we now see that you can’t rely on the cloud services quite as much they would claim.
Dropbox, for example, offers PC apps which will let you sync certain folders on your PC to your account on their servers. This includes whichever folder you use for current work, but clearly that’s not a good idea anymore. This bug has also shown that you shouldn’t sync your main storage to Dropbox, either, but instead treat the cloud storage provider as an alternative to a local backup – an external hard disk, for example.
I know that no one has ever really said that you should sync your main working directory, but Dropbox does make it perilously easy to do just that. Clearly caution is in order.
image by Hugo Quintero
Posted: 13 Oct 2014 06:49 AM PDT
Last Thursday Digiday asked the question “Should publishers take down controversial posts?”:
Digiday doesn’t answer the question, but they do look at the post-publication editorial policies of several major media outlets, and they also mention several recent situations where articles were removed from the web.
Coincidentally, Digiday missed what is still one of my favorite articles and subsequent retractions, a book review in which The Economist defended slavery with arguments which explained that the book was not “an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains”. (And it gets better from there.)
I had initially planned to cover this story from the view point of a journalist and comment on the original point, but as I got to thinking about it I realized that this was an issue authors would face.
So should authors sometimes disappear books?
I say yes – with reservations.
In a time when it is common for authors to change pen names when switching from one genre/audience to another, when it is not uncommon for a book to be reissued with a new cover in a new genre, I don’t see unpublishing a book as an attempt to censor or try to cover up for past mistakes.
I see it as an author’s prerogative; they can decide whether a book is published in the first place, and I think authors should have the privilege of unpublishing a book if they so choose (so long as they don’t steal back previously sold copies).
Furthermore, I hold to the view that this is just one of those things that could happen – and in fact has happened. Books have been retracted in the past, with some publishers going so far as to recall all unsold copies and pulp them. (What’s more, this has even happened to ebooks, with Amazon sometimes going so far as to pull an ebook after an egregious number of complaints.)
That of course doesn’t remove what has been said about a book or its author – nor should it. Just because an author wants to remove one of their books doesn’t mean they get to silence what others are saying; the privilege doesn’t extend that far.
What do you think?
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