Today in books: Lady Gaga's Book Club is a sleeping giant, Apple and Macmillan will not negotiate, and the James Joyce-Kool Keith quote game is hard, but fair.
The Department of Justice is pressing ahead with a lawsuit against Apple and Macmillan over alleged e-book price-fixing. Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and RandomHouse settled their lawsuits earlier today, Bloomberg reports, while Apple and Macmillan have "refused to engage in settlement talks." So what was the government demanding of publishers? A source told Politico the Department of Justice wanted "a settlement that would ensure the publishers not only scrap their current agreements over pricing with Apple, but are truly acting independently," with contracts boobytrapped with "conditions or clauses that other publishers could not guess" to keep the terrain even. That would essentially do away with the current "agency pricing model," in which publishers set the price of their titles and Apple receives a 30% cut from every sale. [Politico]
Lady Gaga recently "liked" a book on Facebook -- The Drunk Diet by Lüc Carl, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend. A few hours later, the book had racked up more than 15,000 likes. And it doesn't even look like a very good book. (Obviously, you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But whoever heard of losing 40 pounds while drunk? It's nonsense. And that purple and black cover does not rock, it hurts our eyes.) Anyway: if Lady Gaga, who admittedly is a popular celebrity with more of 21 million Twitter followers, can get people interested in a silly stunt diet book, imagine the influence Gaga -- or a celebrity with an equally massive online fanbase -- could exert just by tweeting a link to a book they liked. It's the same basic principle that made Oprah's Book Club a juggernaut -- famous person tells others they should read a certain book, book becomes a big seller. If this is the criteria for inclusion in the hypothetical Gaga Book Club, it would be a windfall for small and independent publishing houses, the kind of folks who are in the business of shepherding titles like The Drunk Diet through the editorial process. She could be the oddball publishing industry's angel tweeter. [The Guardian]