Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg Is Writing a Book; Google Settles with Publishers

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Today in books and publishing: Silicon Valley exec will tackle gender in the workplace; Google and publishers make peace; Kakutani hatchets Helprin; an all-female issue of Armchair/Shotgun.

Does Facebook's COO have it all? Well, she definitely has a book deal. Alfred A. Knopf has announced the release of Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead in March 2013. The book will cover gender in the workplace, an issue reflected in some of the most discussed magazine pieces in recent memory, including Ken Auletta's profile of Sandberg in The New Yorker last year and Anne-Marie Slaughter's July/August cover story in The Atlantic. Spectators look to the few women in top positions at major Silicon Valley companies for clues about how companies of the future will address gender and family. Yahoo's new CEO Marissa Mayer plans to work through her maternity leave, but Sandberg takes a more family-first approach. Sandberg is known for a more family-first approach, leaving the office at 5:30 everyday to have dinner with her kids. [BetaBeat]

Publishers pull out of Google Books lawsuit. Google now has one less opponent to worry about in the lawsuit it faces for scanning library books into its Google Books database without receiving explicit permission from rights-holders. The Association of American Publishers has settled with Google, agreeing to drop their charges as long as the company "acknowledge[s] the rights and interests of copyright-holders." They maintain that publishers can "choose to make available or choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project." Publishers might be ready to put this behind them (the settlement was conducted privately, so no word on whether they received a huge buy-out from Google), but authors still aren't backing down. The Authors Guild plans to go forward with its case, seeking a massive $2 billion in copyright infringement damages. [Publisher's Weekly]

Recommended Reading

Michiko Kakutani throws shade on SunlightThe New York Times' book critic Michiko Kakutani has not been pleased with the galleys crossing her desk for review lately. Her latest smackdown is directed at Mark Helprin's new novel In Sunlight and Shadow, which strikes her as little more than grocery store romance fare. "If In Sunlight and in Shadow did not have Mark Helprin's name plastered on the cover, a reader might surmise that the author was someone desperately trying to imitate Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts," Kakutani writes. "Written from the hero's rather than the heroine's point of view, this 700-plus-page tome is a bad romance novel, driven by a preposterous, melodramatic plot and filled with some truly cringe-making prose." Burn! I haven't read In Sunlight and Shadow, so I can't defend Helprin, but I have to take issue with Kakutani's review. No matter how bad Helprin's writing may or may not be, "cringe-making prose" is still the most cringe-making prose I've read this week. [The New York Times

An accidental all-female issue of Armchair/ShotgunBrooklyn literary magazine Armchair/Shotgun didn't intend to make a big statement about female underrepresentation in literary culture in their new issue, but by focussing on talent and talent alone, they've done just that. The magazine selects stories and poems from a slush pile, stripping authors' names and other biographical identifiers before determining whether to publish a piece or not. Simply by picking the fifteen best submissions for their upcoming issue, they ended up choosing only female writers. What's surprising is that the majority of submissions in total came from men. "When we looked back at all the submissions, we saw a lot more traditionally-male names there than female," writes editor Laura McMillan. "The women’s work was just better this time." It looks like it's only getting harder for mainstream publications to hide behind meritocratic excuses for their huge byline disparities. [Armchair/Shotgun]

Those nominated for the 2012 Samuel John Prize for non-fiction include Katherine Boo (Behind the Beautiful Forevers), Wade Davis (Into the Silence), and Steven Pinker (The Better Angeles of our Nature). Salman Rushdie, whose new memoir Joseph Anton just came out, was notably excluded. [The Telegraph]

How publishing has evolved, from 1440 to 2012. See the progression from Gutenberg's printing press to Twitter, all in one handy infographic. [Search News Media]

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