Notes: Rowling Blocks Lexicon; Penguin's eSpecial
A federal judge in New York City has ruled on the side of J.K. Rowling®, author of the Harry Potter series©, in her suit against librarian Steven Jan Vander Ark and RDR Books concerning The Harry Potter Lexicon(no©), a book based on a website that the author had maintained for some time. According to the New York Times® and ©, Judge Robert P. Patterson Jr. found that "plaintiffs have shown that the Lexicon copies a sufficient quantity of the Harry Potter series to support a finding of substantial similarity between The Lexicon and Rowling's novels."
The judge blocked pubiication of the book, and Rowling and co-plaintiff Warner Brothers® won $6,750 in damages.
In a statement, RDR Books commented: "We are encouraged by the fact the court recognized that as a general matter authors do not have the right to stop the publication of reference guides and companion books about literary works. As for The Lexicon, we are obviously disappointed with the result, and RDR is considering all of its options."
For her part, Rowling issued the following statement:
"I took no pleasure at all in bringing legal action and am delighted that this issue has been resolved favourably. I went to court to uphold the right of authors everywhere to protect their own original work. The court has upheld that right.
"The proposed book took an enormous amount of my work and added virtually no original commentary of its own. Now the court has ordered that it must not be published.
"Many books have been published which offer original insights into the world of Harry Potter. The Lexicon just is not one of them."
The New York Times surveys children's bookstores in Manhattan, mentioning Books of Wonder ("a children's bookstore with a conscience") and the Bank Street Bookstore ("slightly more cerebral") but giving the most e-ink for the Scholastic store, run by the publisher.
The store features a magic bus, a dinosaur and a 16-ft. high Clifford cutout along with all the Harry Potter one can devour. The Times continued: "The SoHo store has an added attraction that others do not: celebrities. Perhaps because of its location, the SoHo store seems to hold a strange attraction for the famous, who have always dropped by since it opened about six years ago."
Today Penguin Group is publishing its first Penguin eSpecial, in this case an electronic version of the prologue that former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan wrote for the paperback edition of The Age of Turbulence, which also goes on sale today.
The eSpecial costs $5 and is available in Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle, Adobe Acrobat and other formats. Future eSpecials will update nonfiction titles. Prices will vary.
In a statement, John Fagan, eBooks marketing director at Penguin, said, "With the eSpecial, Penguin will have the ability as a publisher to provide eBook readers with the most current and up-to-date information as it unfolds. In this launch case, we know that many who read the hardcover or eBook edition of The Age of Turbulence would be interested in the new material written by Dr. Greenspan without having to buy the whole book again."
In another unusual joint project, Penguin Classics and the Union of Concerned Scientists are inviting aspiring authors and photographers to submit "their personal stories and images about global warming" for a new online book, Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming, which the Union will publish next year.
Potential contributors will submit a 200- to 500-word account of global warming--for example, a place they want to protect or steps they are taking to stem global warming--or can send an appropriate photo. Winning submissions will be included in the online book and in a limited-edition hardcover edition. Contributors can submit material to ucsusa.org/americanstories. The deadline is November 15.
The company is providing booksellers easels and free bookmarks to publicize the project, which will also be supported by a print and online publicity campaign, a 25-city radio satellite tour and national and trade advertising.
From the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" Dept.
The Los Angeles Times offered a list of "happiness books" that have been published in recent months. According to Margot Schupf, associate publisher for Collins Publishing Group, "We're seeing more books on happiness because the market hasn't been satiated on the subject and because the documentation behind happiness is so much better. Authors are beginning to report real science and aren't just talking about a warm, fuzzy feeling."
Amy Tan: The Opera. Stewart Wallace's The Bonesetter's Daughter will have its world premiere September 13. The work, commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, was inspired by both Tan's novel as well as her birthday.
Bloomberg reported the opera "started as a short work that Wallace wrote in 2002 to honor the 50th birthday of a friend, the writer Amy Tan. To personalize it, he used the first lines of her novel The Bonesetter's Daughter, a book he hadn't even read at the time." Later he did read it, and the rest is, or soon will be, music history.