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Book News: Justice Department Proposes Punishments For Apple

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

  • Following its successful antitrust lawsuit against Apple, the Justice Department is ready to mete out punishment. It has asked a court to force Apple to end existing deals with five publishers and submit to broad oversight intended to "reset competition to the conditions that existed before the conspiracy." An external monitor, to be paid for by Apple, would ensure the company was not engaging in anticompetitive behavior. The proposal also states Apple must "for two years allow other e-book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to provide links from their e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing consumers who purchase and read e-books on their iPads and iPhones easily to compare Apple's prices with those of its competitors." And Apple "will be prohibited from entering into agreements with suppliers of e-books, music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple's competitor retailers may sell that content." Of course, Apple wasn't happy about the proposed punishments, calling them "a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple's business, wildly out of proportion to any adjudicated wrongdoing or potential harm."
  • Caroline Alexander tries to make sense of Homer's famous phrase "the wine-dark sea" in a broad-ranging essay for Lapham's Quarterly: "The phrase is alluring, stirring, and indistinctly evocative. It is also, strictly speaking, incomprehensible."
  • James Folta and Luke Burns imagine "Fragments from the Ancient Gospels of 'The Church of a Pretty Good God' " in the literary magazine McSweeney's: "The Lord said, 'Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.' And the people replied, 'No other Gods? Even that one God with a crocodile head?' And the Lord conceded that the God with the crocodile head was hard to compete with."
  • In The New York Times, Jodi Kantor considers Portnoy's Complaint and the rise of the Jewish sex scandal: "Nearly half a century after the publication of 'Portnoy's Complaint,' politics is finally catching up with fiction, as libidinous, self-sabotaging politicians are causing grimaces among fellow Jews and retiring outdated cultural assumptions — that Jewish men make solid husbands and that sex scandals belong to others."

The Best Books Coming Out This Week:

  • Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems is Thomas Sayers Ellis' stingingly intelligent, heart-thumpingly lovely collection of poems on the broad theme of race and identity — though Ellis strives to defy categorization. In the opening poem, he writes, "These genres these borders these false distinctions / are where we stay at / in freedom's way."
  • The Goddess Chronicle is Natsuo Kirino's feminist reinterpretation of Japan's creation myth. Although the translation occasionally seems stiff and unskilled, the dark power of the story still manages to shine through.
  • NPR contributor Alan Cheuse writes that Robert Pinsky's Singing School is a " career-crowning book" and "a magnificent anthology of, as Pinsky defines it for us, poems to inspire — each of them with his brief and brilliant, offhand notes about how to read them."
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