The Most Powerful People in Books Don't Write Many Books

Plus: Mark Twain's 105 year ban from a Massachusetts library is over

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Today in books: The Guardian ranks publishing's 100 most powerful people, what America's unbanning on the eve of Banned Books Week, and Bill Clinton has written a new book to save the economy.

  • The Guardian published its Books Power 100 list today and like most lists that aspire to rank the hundred "most influential people of the moment" in a given industry, it's only possible to enjoy it once you concede, yes, the criteria for what makes someone "powerful" is vague and arbitrary. If you can get past that initial top 100 list snobbery and the fact many of the names are U.K-specific, it's a fascinating read, and a thorough look at the various places power can rest in publishing. (Spoiler: not with the author. Only three--J.K. Rowling, Jamie Oliver, and James Patterson--made the top 10.) [The Guardian]
  • Saturday marks the start of Banned Books Week, the commendable annual campaign to remind all Americans that banning books is ridiculous, and makes you appear stupid in the eyes of others. If anything, the Republic, Missouri school board's decision Monday to end its two-month ban on Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer is worse than the original removal, since according to the Springfield News-Leader the texts will be "stored in a secure section of the [Republic High] library and only [be] accessible to parents." Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library executive director Julie Whitehead was not impressed with the new policy, describing the decision as "tantamount to the banning of books" in a press release, and standing by the library's offer to provide any Republic student with a free copy of Vonnegut's book. On a lighter note, the trustees of the Charlton Library in Massachusetts formally voted to end the library's 105 year ban on Mark Twain's story "Eve's Diary," which you can read on Gutenberg.  The decision to outlaw the story stemmed from a nude illustration of Eve, but it hasn't been a "real" ban for years. The Guardian notes it would have been lifted earlier, but it took library trustee Richard Whitehead three years to track down a copy of the story with the offending illustrations. [The Guardian]
  • As we noted yesterday, Knopf will publish a new book by former President Bill Clinton called Back to Work in November. According to the publisher, Clinton will "make the case for why government matters, explaining his ideas on energy, job creation and financial responsibility," which admittedly does not sound like the world's most scintillating read. A source says Clinton "wrote the book without any assistance over the last several months," which is how all the former presidents say they're writing these days. [Arts Beat]
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