In a letter on Tuesday, Amazon said they would give Hachette authors 100 percent of profits of e-book sales. Hachette said to accept the offer would be “suicide.” Amazon said it would be no such thing. But the online retailer, which has been trying to extract better terms on e-book sales from Hachette for months, has little to lose; giving away e-books would cost Hachette far more. The public bickering follows a letter signed by hundreds of writers demanding that Amazon “stop harming the livelihood of the authors on whom it has built its business.” Roxana Robinson, the president of the Authors Guild, told the Times that the proposal is an attempt to get writers to take sides against their publishers. She’s critical of Hachette too. “From our publishers we want a fairer share of e-book revenues; from Amazon we want an end to predatory practices that unfairly threaten their competitors, as well as the continued existence of the printed book.”
Beginning June 21 and continuing for three months, all New Yorker articles published since 2007 will be free online. With the promotion, the magazine hopes to attract new readers and learn about those readers’ habits, in preparation for a new paywall for online subscribers.
The latest documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the NSA and FBI have been secretly monitoring emails of prominent Muslim-Americans, “including a political candidate and several civil rights activists, academics, and lawyers—under secretive procedures intended to target terrorists and foreign spies.” The “FISA recap” spreadsheet in the Snowden documents shows 7,485 email addresses monitored between 2002 and 2008. If that’s not winning domestic hearts and minds, a three-month investigation by the Intercept reveals in the practice of authorizing such NSA surveillance “wide latitude in spying on US citizens.”
Virginia Woolf once refused to sit for a portrait she thought destined for the National Portrait Gallery in London—its walls, she lamented, “filled with men.” Her boycott notwithstanding, opening today at the NPG is “Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision,” an expansive exhibition that includes 140 objects. Among the archival materials are portraits by Bloomsbury Group contemporaries, letters, diaries, Woolf’s walking stick, and photographs such as the iconic 1902 Beresford print of a 21-year-old Virginia in profile. Also in the exhibition is the last photograph of Woolf, which gets a salty mention in her diary: “No getting out of it…my afternoon is gone in the way to me most detestable and upsetting of all.” It’s also the only color photograph we have of the writer. At the BBC, listen to the only surviving recording of her voice.
Capital New York reports that Dean Baquet’s first digital initiative as Executive Editor at the New York Times is to add deputy-level digital editors. In a letter to staff, Baquet writes, “These new editors will give us added firepower and expertise to take the digital report to the next level.” In May, Buzzfeed published the Times Innovation Report, criticizing the paper of record for lackluster digital strategy. Baquet assumed the Executive Editor position upon Jill Abramson’s controversial firing in May.
This week NPR distributed a memo quaintly warning staffers to behave on their personal social media accounts: “Though the words may be on ‘personal’ Twitter or Facebook accounts, what we say can reflect on NPR and raise questions about our ability to be objective.”
Al Jazeera America has “out-CNNed the old CNN,” according to Jack Shafer at Reuters, but the cable news channel draws only 15,000 viewers during prime time. (By comparison, Fox has an average of 1.6 million.)