Today in books and publishing: E-book buyers notified about refunds; de Sade ban struck down in South Korea; California high school bans Stephen King; Ian McEwan likes his books short and sweet.
A tale of two emails. If you bought e-books from Hachette, HarperCollins, or Simon & Schuster over the last few years, check your inbox. Amazon and Apple notified their e-book customers this morning about impending refunds they may receive as part of the settlement the DoJ made with three of the industry's major publishers over e-book price fixing. E-books priced under the agency model were artificially inflated according to the settlement, and customers are likely to receive refunds of anywhere between $0.30 to $1.32 per e-book, according to Ars Technica. The three publishers involved in the settlement have pooled together a $69 million fund for the pay-outs. Customers will receive very different emails depending on whether they bought e-books through iTunes or the Kindle store. While Apple's email feels obligatory—getting straight to the point with the most formal prose possible—Amazon's email is positively gloating. "We have good news," it opens cheerfully, and closes, "Thank you for being a Kindle customer." Penguin and Macmillan will soon join Apple to fight the DoJ in court, hoping to avoid such refunds. [GalleyCat]
South Koreans now free to read The 120 Days of Sodom. A Korean translation of the Marquis de Sade's brutally explicit 18th century novel The 120 Days of Sodom didn't stay on shelves long before it was promptly banned. In September, South Korea's Publication Ethics Commission outlawed the book—notorious for its graphic orgy scenes, fixation on rape, and other graphic content—believing it stoked "violent excitement." But the authorities now realize that they may have been too hasty. Upon re-reading the book, official Jang Tag-Hwan found that the book contained literary merit for trying "to delve into the inner side of human greed." The monthlong ban has now been lifted, so Koreans who wished Fifty Shades were more twisted, aristocratic, and French have something to sink their teeth into. [The Washington Post]