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Book News: Justice Department Says Apple Led Price-Fixing Ring

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • The Justice Department says Apple took the lead in an ebook price-fixing ring with five major publishing houses, according to a court filing Tuesday. The houses — Penguin, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette — have all agreed to settle, but Apple is scheduled to go to trial June 3. One email included in the filing and quoted in The New York Times has Apple's Steve Jobs asking James Murdoch of NewsCorp (which owns HarperCollins) to "throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99."
  • Maria Popova excerpts George Orwell's rules for making the perfect cup of tea: "First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it."
  • For The New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey experiments with the ancient practice of "Sortes Virgilianae" — using randomly selected lines of Virgil as a form of divination.
  • Last week, NPR's Alan Greenblatt examined the question of who deserves a burial, connecting Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the unburied Polyneices from Sophocles' Antigone. Now, Daniel Mendelsohn takes a closer look in an essay for The New Yorker: "In the end, what entitles [Polyneices] to burial has nothing to do with what side he was on — and it's worth emphasizing the play is not at all shy about enumerating the horrors the dead man intended to perpetrate on the city, his own city, the pillage, the burning, the killing, the enslavement of the survivors — but the fact that he was a human being, anthropos."
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NPR

Is It All Greek To You? Thank Medieval Monks, And The Bard, For The Phrase

Ben Zimmer, language columnist at The Wall Street Journal, explains the origin of the phrase "it's all Greek to me" — and shares a few variants from other languages.
NPR

Do Try This At Home: 3 Korean Banchan (Side Dishes) In One Pot

If you've ever eaten at a Korean restaurant, you're used to the endless side dishes that come out with the meal. They're called banchan, and they're remarkably simple to make for yourself.
WAMU 88.5

Cutting Local Taxes in The District

The D.C. Council has taken steps to accelerate tax cuts for all income earners. They're part of a broader overhaul of the city's tax levels, but some council members argued there wasn't enough time for a rigorous debate about the new schedule. We explore the debate over cutting taxes for D.C. residents and how it affects the city's ability to pay for critical local services.

NPR

Reddit CEO Says Miscommunication Led To Blackout Protest

A user revolt briefly shut down the social site last week after a key employee was dismissed. Interim CEO Ellen Pao says the company has "apologized for not communicating better" with site moderators.

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