Critical Linking: June 13th, 2012

Furthermore, two-thirds of American counties — 66 percent! — had exactly 0 bookstores. It was a relatively tiny business centered in the urban areas of the country. Did some great books come out back then? Of course! But they were aimed only at the tiny percentage of the country that was visible to publishers of the time: sophisticated urban elites.

Damn hard to buy a book in 1931. Of course, the Depression didn’t help.

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Young people have long been a primary market for popular music. Young people also tend to have the spare time, the tech savvy, the obliviousness to risk, the constrained wallets, and the passion for music required to do a whole lot of bootlegging. Books tend to be sold to older people. Older people make lousy pirates. That’s another crucial reason why book publishers have been sheltered from piracy in a way that record companies weren’t.

If there is a silver lining to the young people don’t read as much cloud, then I guess this is it.

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To be a good writer, one doesn’t need to exercise good judgment about what to read at a reading, what to wear to work as a barista, how to address a sexually abusive boss in a law office, how to deal with the sudden literary fame of a college acquaintance one doesn’t respect, how to choose a summer camp, whether to go water-skiing, or whether to give one’s boyfriend the key to one’s apartment—one needs to write well, and one needs a little help.

As has been said, the rest is noise.

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The decision to lower the prize sum, from SEK 10.0 to 8.0 million, is related to the assessment that the Board of Directors makes today of the potential for achieving a good inflation-adjusted return on the Nobel Foundation’s capital during the next several years. Another part of the picture is that during the past decade, the average return on the Foundation’s capital has fallen short of the overall sum of all Nobel Prizes and operating expenses.

Times are tough for everybody.

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