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Book News: Amazon May Be Called Before Parliament Over Taxes

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

  • Amazon faces a grilling from members of Britain's Parliament over its extremely low U.K. corporate tax payments, Reuters reported Friday. As NPR noted on Thursday, Amazon has the subject of intense scrutiny after it was revealed that the Internet retailer's U.K. unit paid only slightly more in taxes than it received in government grants because its sales are routed through Luxembourg. But investigations by The Guardian and Reuters found evidence that Amazon should be subject to a higher U.K. tax rate. Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, told Reuters, "We need to very urgently call back Amazon to question them around what you've uncovered; to look at that in relation to what they actually told us when they gave evidence to us and of course if they were economical with the truth or not totally honest in their evidence to us last time, that is a very serious thing."
  • The Nation magazine and AARP both announced this week they are launching ebook lines. The Nation's ebook publishing imprint, "ebook Nation," will kick off with State of the Union, National Essays, a collection of essays by the late Gore Vidal. Meanwhile, AARP has teamed up with RosettaBooks for a series of original ebooks on such topics as "caregiving, brain health, and driver safety," according to MediaBistro. Digital imprints are becoming increasingly common, particularly for media organizations – The New York Times and The Washington Post, for example, publish their own ebooks.
  • Booker Prize winning author Hilary Mantel spices up The New York Times' usually bland "By the Book" series: "I love Jane Austen because she's so shrewdly practical: you can hear the chink of cash in every paragraph."
  • Anne Applebaum argues that Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In is actually nothing new: "This is not a book that belongs on the shelf alongside Gloria Steinem and Susan Faludi. It belongs in the business section."
  • And, last but not least, Jen Doll reports on the dire state of the apostrophe for The Atlantic Wire: "The apostrophe has been forgotten or purposely left behind in an increasing array of words."
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