Hello lovely readers! Welcome to your weekly installment of Book Beat, brought to you by editor Paige. Spring is in the air, and with it comes feelings of lightness and rejuvenation. In the ever-busy publishing industry, that means we have several interesting updates on previously discussed scandals. This new season also, unfortunately, means we have some less-than-exciting news about community bookstore and library issues. But as always, we will finish this Book Beat off with some positive upcoming book announcements, which will hopefully outweigh the bad. But don’t just take my word for it. Let’s dive right into the latest book news!
Nora Roberts vs. #CopyPasteCris
There really isn’t an author alive quite like Nora Roberts. The multi-award winning industry veteran is an unmatched juggernaut in the literary world, existing as a household name among even the most casual of readers. Plus, not for nothing, but Roberts is also one tough cookie. She’s taken on and successfully fought against numerous kinds of plagiarism claims, from authors who have stolen her work to authors who claim that Roberts stole their work.
The last major plagiarism accusation came late last year when author Tomi Adeyemi erroneously accused Roberts of stealing the title of her book. But in the last several weeks there has been a quiet storm brewing in the form of #CopyPasteCris, a situation where author Courtney Milan discovered that Cristiane Serruya has been self-publishing novels that blatantly stole text from several other romance authors. While Serruya has been doing this for years under the radar in Brazil, attention came thundering her way following her (short-lived) nomination for a prestigious RITA award.
Roberts was one of the many authors Serruya plagiarized from, and she was understandably just as outraged as others in the romance community about the situation. But while some of the hype has dwindled now that Serruya has been exposed, it appears that Roberts is refusing to back down. Roberts is now suing Serruya for copyright infringement on a “rare and scandalous” level. Her claim goes on to call Serruya’s work “a literary patchwork, piecing together phrases whose form portrays emotions practically identical to those expressed in the plaintiff’s books.” Roberts is asking for damages about 3,000 times the value of the highest sale price of Serruya’s books, which she plans to donate to a literacy program in Brazil.
On her part, Serruya is once again denying any accusations of plagiarism in her work. This is, of course, despite the fact that she already admitted to and apologized for stealing other authors’ works online once the whole #CopyPasteCris thing first happened. But I digress. And on my part, I will be grabbing some popcorn and eagerly waiting to see how this whole mess plays out.
Budget Cuts Strike a Blow in Ontario
As you know, we here at Bookmarked are passionate advocates about the importance of libraries in the literary world. That’s why we’re sad to report that there are some major changes coming to the libraries in Ontario, Canada. Due to budget cuts in the province that have reduced library funding by a whopping 50%, the Ontario Library Service is being forced to discontinue several services effective immediately. Disrupted services include the interlibrary loan and delivery program and some training programs for library staff and volunteers. These budget cuts might also specifically effect services for blind and visually impaired readers, and overall might also force libraries to cut staff as a means of saving money.
— CBC Toronto (@CBCToronto) April 18, 2019
As you can imagine, this decision will have some serious short-term and long-term effects on the state of libraries in Ontario, particularly for the libraries that serve rural and otherwise smaller communities. They already receive little funding as it is, and the province’s library service allowed them the opportunity to share and collaborate with much larger libraries for necessary services and resources. But these pains will undeniably be felt across the province, affecting literally every kind of reader and worker who view libraries as the important community centers for shelter, safe spaces, education, and personal and professional development. I sincerely hope that this decision will be challenged and reversed quickly, for the sake of the Canadian literary community.
D.C. Bookstore Event Disrupted by White Supremacists
Times had been a little tough in this turbulent era of Trump. His hateful rhetoric has emboldened an entire generation of bigots to proudly wear their prejudices on their sleeves, and daily we have had to deal with the dangerous fallout of their public displays of oppression.
The latest instance of this unfortunate time in American history occurred this past weekend in Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore nestled in the heart of Washington D.C. During a special spotlight event for Dying of Whiteness author Jonathan Metzl, white supremacist interrupted the event with racist chants and evocations praising known white supremacist groups.
While this is not the first time protests of this nature have occurred at the bookstore, Politics and Prose co-owner Bradley Graham condemned this recent display. “It’s regrettable that groups like this feel compelled to stage a scene,” said Graham. “Independent bookstores see their mission as providing forums for free and open discussion, but along with that comes—we would hope—recognition that exchanges need to be civil and respectful and need to follow certain rules of decorum.”
Further, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher stated that “any effort to interfere with the exercise of free speech is always disappointing. But, it points to the critically important role indie bookstores play in their communities.”
In response to the disruption, Metzl took the time to have an in-depth conversation with his audience about what just occurred and how it serves as a staunch reflection of the current sociopolitical landscape. So even though the circumstances for this discussion were not ideal, both Tiecher and Graham are right. Our local bookstores are vital spaces for these incredibly important discussions for communal advocacy and equity work, and no displays of hate can stop them.
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