The Year in GalleyCat: April

By Neal Comment

latfobpanel.jpg⇒I went to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and got into an argument with Andrew Keen about whether or not the Internet was going to hopelessly degrade civilization. Given that his book was called The Cult of the Amateur, you can probably guess where each of us stood on the issue.

⇒The Atlanta Journal-Constitution decided they no longer needed a book review editor, and the National Book Critics Circle found itself a cause (and, in the Internet, a convenient scapegoat). Pretty soon, people started adding their names to online petitions demanding that Teresa Weaver be given her old job back, lest Atlanta be turned into a cultural wasteland, with the rest of the nation soon to follow, citing the Chicago Tribune‘s decision to move its book reviews from the Sunday edition to Saturday’s paper to reduce printing costs, and the LA Times grafting of its reviews onto the back of its Sunday op-ed pages, as supporting evidence. (More skeptical voices suggested not every book review deserves saving.) All the fuss kicked up in Atlanta was somewhat derailed, though, when Weaver got a job somewhere else.

Howard V. Hendrix, the outgoing vice-president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, set off a firestorm when he described other writers who distribute their work online for free as “webscabs… rotting our organization from within.” That went over about as well as you’d expect, especially given the enthusiasm for giving away content to prime the marketing pump.

⇒An Arkansas father decided to sue his local government after his boys found a lesbian sex guide in the public library. He decided that $20,000 was adequate compensation for the emotional scarring that resulted from their perusal of the book, which left them “greatly disturbed… [and]caused many sleepless nights in our house.” Just think what would have happened if the book had mentioned scrotums.