The Two-Way
6:29 am
Fri January 24, 2014

Book News: Amazon Says It Hopes Polish, Czech Workers Won't Unionize

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

  • As Amazon expands into Poland and the Czech Republic, it says it hopes its workers won't unionize. "In terms of unions themselves, we don't see a need for that," Tim Collins, director of Amazon's EU logistics operations, tells The Financial Times' beyondbrics blog (registration required). He adds, "Any friction that gets between us and our associates slows down innovation, slows down change, slows down improvements on the shop floor, and we don't see that as being good at all." Marek Lewandowski, a spokesperson for the Polish trade union Solidarity, tells the FT: "It's up to the workers to organize themselves, but we're here to help. Amazon won't scare us off." In Germany, thousands of Amazon workers recently went on strike over a pay dispute.
  • Mick Jagger tells The Hollywood Reporter that he won't be writing a memoir: "I think the rock 'n' roll memoir is a glutted market. I'd rather be doing something new. I'd rather be making new films, making new music, be touring. If someone wants to know what I did in 1965, they can look it up on Wikipedia without even spending any money."
  • Vintage Books will publish Guardian journalist Luke Harding's book about Edward Snowden, titled The Snowden Files. According to a press release, the book hopes to "tell the story of the individuals behind the biggest intelligence leak in history and the forces that tried to stop them." The book is slated to come out Feb. 11.
  • Chang-rae Lee talks to The New York Times about his reading habits: "Like most people, I'm fascinated by characters who are completely flawed personalities, riven by anguish and doubt, and are psychologically suspect. Wait a minute — basically that's everybody, isn't it, in life and on the page? As a writer, I'm drawn to characters who, for one reason or another, seem to find themselves desperately out of joint, alienated but not wanting to be, and ever yearning to understand the rules of the game."
  • Amazon plans to launch a Christian publishing imprint, Waterfall Press, "that will specialize in faith-based non-fiction and fiction." One of its first titles will be The Quiet Revolution by Jay Hein, who was director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives under President George W. Bush. According to a press release, the imprint's non-fiction "will aim to provide spiritual refreshment and inspiration to today's Christian reader, while fiction will include stories in the romance, mystery, and suspense genres."
  • In Harper's, Jesse Barron argues that novelist Jennifer Weiner's complaints about the insular and male New York literary world help to make it seem relevant. He writes, "Successful commercial romance writers have economic power in their relationships and in the world. They have sales, fans, and control over the marketing of their product. Few of them see any reason to lose sleep over New York. Few even mention it in conversation. The literary industry is lucky Weiner is so pissed off at it. At least her anger is attention. And she'll have a platform in the literary world as long as she keeps tweeting to her 81,000 followers that she isn't taken as seriously as Franzen, because someone has to spread the news of the cultural relevance of the institutions that created him. It's not Weiner's desire for inclusion that should scare New York. It's the threat of her indifference."
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