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France’s Patrick Modiano Wins 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2014 was awarded to the French author Patrick Modiano on Thursday, October 9, for “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

Many of Modiano’s more than 30 works are semi-autobiographical, or based on events that took place during the German occupation. The material for his stories is sometimes extracted from interviews, newspaper articles, or his own notes.

Among his works translated into English are Dora Bruder (University of California Press); Catherine Certitude, Missing Person, and The Honeymoon (David R. Godine); and Out of Dark (University of Nebraska Press).Yale University Press is scheduled to publish Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas by Modiano in November 2014.

A select bibliography of his works in French and in translation is available on the Nobel website.

Mary Rasenberger Named Executive Director of Authors Guild

Mary Rasenberger, a six-year Copyright Office and Library of Congress veteran and a partner at the media law firm Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams and Sheppard, has been chosen to succeed Paul Aiken as executive director of the Authors Guild. She will start in her new position on November 3.

Aiken, who announced a year ago that he has ALS, said, “I’m delighted to hand the reins to someone of Mary’s caliber. I’ve known her for years. She’s energetic, very smart, and knows her way around Washington. She’s a perfect fit for the job. And I have a new cause.”

Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson said, “Mary brings with her exactly what the Guild needs today. She’s a proven leader, a brilliant copyright lawyer and — especially important to us — a devotee of the written word.”

Aiken will work as a consultant for the Guild for the next two years.

Policy Research Institute Says Amazon Should Collect Sales Tax in Ohio

A recent report by Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit, nonpartisan state policy research institute, urges legislators to require Amazon to collect and remit sales tax in the state. The tax policy paper reported that Ohio could lose out on “tens of millions of dollars a year” in revenue under a deal, approved by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority (OTCA), for the Amazon subsidiary Vadata Inc. to open up a data center in the state.

The September report “Why isn’t Amazon collecting sales tax in Ohio?” said that the deal hurt “Ohio’s ability to finance needed public services, and privilege[ed] Amazon with a continued price advantage over Main Street Ohio retailers.”

Tax breaks for the $1.11 billion Vadata cloud computing facility, which would employ 120 workers, are valued at $81 million over 15 years. Though the proposed data center would give Amazon a physical presence in the state, the state will not require Amazon to collect and remit sales tax on purchases made by Ohio residents.

“Ohio is not merely hosting an Amazon facility, it is providing what is likely to be more than $80 million in tax breaks,” the report noted, and added: “Providing major benefits to the company while allowing it to maintain its tax advantage over Ohio mom-and-pop retailers that must charge the tax represents a huge missed opportunity. Ohio has not finalized its deal with Amazon…. Ohio should go back and renegotiate to ensure that the company is forced to compete on a level playing field with in-state retailers by collecting Ohio state and local sales tax.”

Free Speech Groups Caution Waukesha School Board

In an October 7 letter to Wisconsin’s Waukesha School District Board of Education, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the American Library Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators urged the Board not to adopt red flags for John Green’s Looking for Alaska, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, and Chris Crutcher’s Chinese Handcuffs. The letter follows two similar letters sent to the school district in July and August regarding proposals to remove the three books from school libraries and curricula. In all three cases, Consideration Committees recommended that the books be retained.

“We strongly urge you to retain the books, as recommended by your own Consideration Committees, and to reject the idea of attaching warning labels to books containing certain types of content,” the latest letter argued. “Decisions about instructional materials should be based on sound educational grounds.”

After the Consideration Committees voted to retain all three books, the complainants issued appeals to the Board, asking that they reconsider the removal requests and implement content warnings, or red flags, on the books.

“In essence, red-flagging is equivalent to putting a scarlet letter on the book covers,” said NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin. “Flagging books for ‘objectionable’ content influences how readers read and understand texts. It will inevitably discourage the use of these books in the classroom, depriving students of valuable educational experiences.”

Ingram Content Group Opens POD Facility in California

On October 3, Ingram Content Group celebrated the opening of its first print and distribution facility in California. Located in Fresno, it is Lightning Source’s second facility to use automated print-on-demand (POD) technology to quickly print and distribute books to customers.

“Ingram is pleased to continue investing in the future of books with the addition of a new print-on-demand facility in Fresno,” said John R. Ingram, chairman and CEO of the Ingram Content Group. “Having a print and distribution presence on the West Coast is critical to our ongoing growth and expansion of services for clients and customers. Fresno’s central location allows us to quickly reach major population centers in California and the West, and we’ve found great talent here to support our operations.”

John Ingram and Shawn Morin, Ingram’s chief operating officer, were joined at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new facility by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, U.S. Congressman David G. Valadao, and community members.

As part of the event, Ingram presented the Fresno County Public Library with $2,500 to purchase books and materials. Ingram also made a $2,500 donation to the United Way of Fresno County to support the organization’s local community outreach efforts.

Winners of European Union Prize for Literature Announced at Frankfurt

Thirteen winners of the 2014 European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL) were announced at the Frankfurt Book Fair on Wednesday, October 8.

The recipients of the prize, which recognizes the best new and emerging authors in Europe, are Ben Blushi (Albania), Milen Ruskov (Bulgaria), Jan Němec (Czech Republic), Makis Tsitas (Greece), Oddný Eir (Iceland), Janis Jonevs (Latvia), Armin Öhri (Liechtenstein), Pierre J. Mejlak (Malta), Ognjen Spahić (Montenegro), Marente de Moor (the Netherlands), Uglješa Šajtinac (Serbia), Birgül Oğuz (Turkey), and Evie Wyld (United Kingdom).

Each winner receives €5 000, and their publishers are encouraged to apply for European Union funding to have the winning books translated into other languages to reach new markets.

The prize is open to the countries that participate, or will participate, in the new Creative Europe program (including the 28 European Union Member States, plus European Free Trade Association/European Economic Area countries and an increasing number of EU candidate or potential candidate countries).