“No Project Too Weird”

Zinsser-shelfWhat serious writer doesn’t have William Zinsser on his or her bookshelf? On Writing Well and Writing to Learn are both books I return to often.

This morning’s New York Times has a piece by Dan Barry about Zinsser’s transition from writing coach to one who still teaches — by listening. Zinsser, now 90, has glaucoma and can no longer see.

But he’s still teaching and, according to the article, is available “for help with writing problems and stalled editorial projects and memoirs and family history; for singalongs and piano lessons and vocal coaching; for readings and salons and whatever pastimes you may devise that will keep both of us interested and amused.

“I’m eager to hear from you. No project too weird.”

Thank you, Mr. Zinsser, for still being willing to help.

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Copyright — Gone Wrong?

Basic RGBWhether you’re a reader, writer, author, or publisher — this New York Times Op-Ed piece by Scott Turow matters. And if you’re an author, it matters whether your books are bestsellers or self-published e-books.

In fact, it matters even more if you’re the author of e-books.

In the NYT piece, Turow writes:

Last month, the Supreme Court decided to allow the importation and resale of foreign editions of American works, which are often cheaper than domestic editions. Until now, courts have forbidden such activity as a violation of copyright. Not only does this ruling open the gates to a surge in cheap imports, but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties.

This may sound like a minor problem; authors already contend with an enormous domestic market for secondhand books. But it is the latest example of how the global electronic marketplace is rapidly depleting authors’ income streams. It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.

Turow is president of the Authors Guild. In December 2012, he gave a speech at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC., in which he said:

New technology often brings conflict over copyright issues, but there is more money at stake than ever before. Google and others have made free use of copyrighted works under the increasingly expansive rubric of fair use—a use in which the corporate entity makes a profit while authors make nothing. 

To read more about it, see this article on the Authors Guild site.

Copyright is one of those topics that can make eyes glaze over. But, to all of us who care about books, copyright — and the wrongs it prevents — matters.

Enough even to bring this blog out of inactivity.