Today in books and publishing: Apple and publishers settle with EU anti-trust regulators; Nate Silver gets a books sales bump; R.I.P. Patrick O'Connor; hallucinating with Oliver Sacks.
Amazon wins in EU e-book price-fixing settlement. It's been looking like Apple and four major publishers would agree to ease pricing restrictions on their e-books in Europe for some time, and now the anti-trust case is finally coming to a close. Reuters' Foo Yun Chee cites two sources for her exclusive report, maintaining that EU antitrust regulators and Apple's agency-pricing cohort have reached a settlement. "It's certainly another win for Amazon," says Smashwords founder Mark Coker, who distributes his e-books through Apple. "I have not seen the terms of the final settlement, but my initial reaction is that it places restrictions on what publishers can do, slowing them down just when they need to be more nimble." The fight rages on in the U.S. though, with Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin scheduled to contest the DOJ's price-fixing allegations in court. [Reuters]
Nate Silver parlays predictions into big book sales. Everyone seems to agree that if anyone stole Obama's thunder last night, it was FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver, whose statistical model predicted the electoral results just about perfectly. When he knew he'd nailed it, Silver gloated by tweeting a link to his book The Signal and the Noise. Whether they got the idea from Twitter or not, lots of people decided to buy Silver's book last night. On the day before the election, Silver ranked at No. 18 on Amazon's list of best-selling books. As of this writing, The Signal and the Noise is sitting pretty at No. 2. [GalleyCat]
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Oliver Sacks' Hallucinations. In some ways, it was a bad year for popular science writing. Not that there was lack of interesting books. The category just received a lot of negative attention when one of its highest-profile (if not its most respected) practitioners, Jonah Lehrer, turned out to be fabricating parts of his book Imagine and drawing conclusions that stretch the reality of what science can tell us about creativity. For some, this cast doubt on whether or not popular writing about neuroscience can accurately capture the complexity of the field while still appealing to normal readers. Oliver Sacks is a writer who's always been great at that, avoiding easy conclusions while still taking a broad view that incorporates strong narratives and references to art and culture. This neurologist author fortunately has a new book out, Hallucinations, which continues his ongoing fascination with the visions people experience due to mental illness, drugs, or a host of other factors. Talking with Fresh Air's Terry Gross, Sacks says he wanted to write this book because "'I was fascinated that one could have such perceptual changes, and also that they went with a certain feeling of significance, an almost numinous feeling. I'm strongly atheist by disposition, but nonetheless when this happened, I couldn't help thinking, 'That must be what the hand of God is like.'" [NPR]
R.I.P. Patrick O'Connor. You may not recognize Patrick O'Connor by name, but you'll certainly be familiar with the authors he edited, including libertarian patron saint Ayn Rand and bestselling priest/fiction writer Andrew M. Greeley. O'Connor, who died recently from pneumonia at age 87, served as editor-in-chief at Washington Square Press, Pinnacle Books, Popular Library, and Curtis Books, also working as a senior editor at the New American Library and Warner Books imprints. He championed E.F. Benson, getting his comedic British Mapp and Lucia novels in print by lying to his higher-ups about the BBC's (nonexistent) plans to film the stories. And he helped usher books by Edwin Denby, Janet Flanner, and Lincoln Kirstein into print. 1978 he released his own book of poetry, No Poem for Fritz. [Publishers Weekly]