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James Patterson Calls On President Obama to Support Reading

In a new effort to inspire a stronger focus on literacy in the U.S., author James Patterson has released a provocative 30-second video of a mob burning books. It’s his hope that the video will draw attention to a White House petition that asks President Obama to demonstrate strong support for books and reading.

If the petition garners 100,000 signatures by December 24, the White House will respond. The petition asks for the President to take action at least once a month for the remainder of his term in the form of appearing in public carrying a book, going to a library or bookstore to get a book, or going on record to express his concern about the state of reading in the country.

In an interview with the Daily Beast, Patterson noted that children aged six to 18 are most at risk for being a drain on the American public due to the lack of interest in reading. “If they don’t become competent readers by middle school, how are they going to get through high school?” he asked. “How do they get jobs? So they just become a big drag on everybody, on the local community, who wind up having to take care of these people — and one of the reasons is that they can’t read.”

The goal of the petition, Patterson said, is to get prominent politicians to “to stand up in Congress and say they’re concerned about reading in this country. I’d love every Congress member in the country to say that and then it breaks as a news story. I’d love it if the President and First Lady would make a point of carrying a book around one day a month.”

HarperCollins to Offer Samples of Bestsellers to JetBlue Customers

Beginning November 26 and continuing throughout next year, customers on JetBlue flights equipped with the airline’s new inflight content platform, Fly-Fi, will have free access to excerpts from a selection of more than 20 of HarperCollins’ bestselling titles. HarperCollins is the exclusive book content partner for the launch of the platform, which is currently available on 35 percent of JetBlue’s fleet.

Included at launch will be titles from Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Anthony Bourdain, Patti Smith, Joyce Carol Oates, and others. Customers will have the option to buy the titles, which will change monthly, from a variety of retailers through a buy button on the screen.

“We are thrilled to be working with JetBlue on their Fly-Fi Hub,” said Angela Tribelli, chief marketing officer for HarperCollins. “We, like JetBlue, are committed to being at the forefront of our industry, so collaborating with them on this innovative consumer experience was a natural fit.”

Ursula K. Le Guin Delivers Show-Stopping Speech at National Book Awards

Author Ursula K. Le Guin, who received the 2014 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th annual National Book Awards on November 19, surprised the crowd during her acceptance speech by delivering an unwavering defense of her fellow writers in today’s industry, reported NPR.

Of the recent battle between Amazon and the Hachettte Book Group, in which the industry saw a “profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa,” Le Guin said, “I see a lot of us, the producers, accepting this — letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant and telling us what to publish and to write.”

The speech resounded among attendees at the ceremony, NPR noted, with Jynne Martin, associate publisher at Riverhead Books, calling it, “the most ferocious speech ever given at the National Book Awards.”

See Le Guin’s speech in full below.