Category: Philosophy & Society

Barnes & Noble Closing Over 400 Stores

Hey readers!  As we’ve come to know, books are ever more important now that we’re home-bound.  Maybe we’re not going out to book stores, but for those of you who are, Barnes & Noble is temporarily closing over 400 of their 627 U.S. stores in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Now, now, don’t panic.  Luckily for us, it’s just a temporary closure, but it still doesn’t feel good knowing that book stores are closing indefinitely.

 

image via the telegraph

 

A letter was sent to Barnes & Noble’s 23k+ employees on March 17 before the mass closure.  In it, CEO James Daunt warned, “with the closure of stores, we are obliged to make the hardest of choices,” citing that the company unfortunately doesn’t have the necessary resources to give paid leave to their employees as larger companies like Apple, Nike, or Microsoft, are able to.  He continues, “This is a devastating situation in which to find ourselves and we understand the personal impacts of such action.”

 

 

Daunt stated that as stores closed, people with less than six months of employment would be laid off.  Those that have been with the company longer than six months will be asked to used available paid time off, and those that have been with the company for over a year can receive up to two weeks of additional pay!

 

image via michael kozlowski on goodereader

 

Daunt states that “when a store is permitted to reopen, we will do so, and we intend to rehire.”  The mass closures most likely has to do with the social distancing measure that are being pushed very hard lately in an effort to slow down the coronavirus.

 

 

CEO James Daunt didn’t say anything about their website also being affected by the coronavirus, so that remains a viable option for those of you who want to get your hands on some books to read while you’re stuck at home.  As we push out more book content, we’re sure you’ll get lots of ideas on what to read.

 

featured image via usa Today

 

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CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS MAKES OVER 700 TEXTBOOKS FREE!

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cambridge University Press has made textbooks free to access in HTML format until the end of May on Cambridge Core. 700 and counting published books are available on Cambridge Core to assist students and readers in their academic courses and pursuits. The following subjects are provided: economics, law, politics, science, and much more! Please do not wait to take advantage of this!

 

Cambridge University Press made this public via Twitter with a tweet that reads, “We are committed to supporting our global community of teachers, researchers and learners during the coronavirus pandemic. From free textbooks and research, to advice, guidance, blog and more, visit our website”.

80 more books and journal articles related to coronavirus are also be provided for free. If we are going to be quarantined for a while, it is best that we take advantage of those published writings on coronavirus and get educated!

 

Featured Image Via Facebook

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Plagiarizing Authors Are Taking Advantage of You on Amazon!

The coronavirus seems to be worsening with each passing week. There may be something just as bad brewing in the book world, however. It’s name? Misinformation. An article published by Allison Flood on The Guardian highlights a recent uptake in self-published books.  “How is that bad?,” you may be asking.  Well, according to The Guardian, the books being published are ranging from children’s stories to plagiarized cut-and-paste guides of the official advice that we’re seeing from agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.

 

image via john roark / idaho post-reigster

 

As we’ve seen recently, there has been a lot of price gouging for various health-related items like face masks and hand sanitizer on Amazon. Now, Amazon is seeing lots and lots of books being put up for sale that don’t offer any real useful advice for those worried about coronavirus. It’s merely feeding off people’s fears for monetary gain.  #QuestionableEthics!

 

According to Flood, search results for coronavirus on Amazon on Thursday morning gave results like Corbi Yang’s Coronavirus, which allegedly copied most of its information off of a web page. As of right now, this book isn’t on Amazon anymore. Funnily enough, after typing ‘coronavirus’ into the search bar on Amazon, one book that stood out to me was titled “in the end you have to protect yourself at all times mask Notebook…”.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen a published notebook before. This notebook capitalizes on fear of the coronavirus by using an image of a mask in order to sway you into buying it (feel free to search for it on Amazon for fun, but I didn’t link to it to prevent people from mistakenly buying it).

 

image via amazon

 

Flood also highlights various books that were on Amazon that simply plagiarized off of official sources.  Such examples are “Wuhan Coronavirus,” which was published by Tracy Rinehart, or books by Dr. Kelsey Graham which drew information from the CDC.  Flood states that Rinehart’s book “features a girl in a face mask standing in front of a castle, which makes use of NBC News stories about the crisis.” It’s really disturbing to think that people are willing to plagiarize and exploit people’s fears to make money.

 

This isn’t to say that all the new books being published on Amazon are bad, though. If you were to search for ‘purell hand sanitizer’ on Amazon, you can get search results for many books on how to make your own hand sanitizer. Considering that there is a shortage on hand sanitizer, these books offer different solutions. Mari C Alvarez’s book “All Natural Homemade DIY Hand Sanitizer,”  is currently a best seller. Flood also links Amanda King’s “DIY Hand Sanitizer” book, which is another best seller on the website right now. As Flood mentions in her article, there is some original content being sold on Amazon, despite the plagiarism.

Amazon states that they are continuing to maintain their content guidelines for books and require sellers, authors, and even publishers to maintain correct information in not only their products but the product details on their sale pages. Amazon is currently providing a link above search results related to the coronavirus titled ‘Coronavirus protection’ for those who want detailed, accurate, and official information about the virus.

featured image via Reuters on ny post

 

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This New Book Challenges Race and Racism

There is a new book that talks about the construct of race, titled Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. The novel, published March 10, was written by Ibram X. Kendi, a historian and professor at American University. His new book is actually a new take on another that he had written before. Stamped From The Beginning is a much longer, more  academic book that serves as the parent of his newly released title.

 

image via goodreads

 

Kendi’s new book discusses race in a way that makes it understandable and enjoyable for young readers today.  In a news podcast by NPR News, Elissa Nadworny speaks with Kendi on the challenges of writing this book.  Kendi says that his motivation for creating this book was that he spoke with young black students.

One student, Amanee James, a 10th grader in Washington, D.C., says that she has only learned about notable black figures in American history like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X., or Harriet Tubman, for example.  As Nadworny states in the podcast, most students “only learn broad strokes about slavery.”  Amanee then says that with history, people cut off the parts that they don’t want to tell, that people won’t tell young people the deeper and darker stuff about slavery, and for no good reason. History is entirely subjective, and not all of it is reported and taught in the textbooks that we read as children and emerging adults.  Parts certainly could be omitted to create a certain image about the United States.

 

image via amazon

 

Kendi discusses this in the podcast and states that we [society] think that we protect young people by not teaching them the deep stuff about race and slavery, but it is in fact more harmful by doing that. This is when Kendi got the idea to make Stamped From The Beginning more accessible to younger readers. He reached out to Jason Reynolds numerous times to try and convince him but Reynolds refused to help him. Finally, Kendi was able to convince Reynolds to help publish a new version of his book by saying the task was translation.

 

Reynolds then spoke in the podcast, saying that the challenge was to convert large amounts of complex information, which is okay in an academic book, into something that young people (including anyone else) can break apart and digest. To do this, Kendi used cultural touch points in his new book, like Queen Latifah or Public Enemy, or even modern day song lyrics, in order to make the book relatable and understandable.

Kendi says that there are three kinds of people: people who believe race isn’t an issue anymore, that it was left in the past, people who believe that race is like an animal that never went extinct, but in reality survived and evolved into something else, and then people who know that race is everywhere.

 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You goes further and proposes three categories that people can fall into: Segregationists, Assimilationists, and Antiracists. Kendi says that Segregationists are those that are haters, the racists that express hatred toward races they deem different. Assimilationists are those who are complacent, or “fake.” These people want to like other races on the basis that they are like them.  Then there are the antiracists, who stand against the first two groups and believe that everyone is equal.

 

image via npr

 

Nadworny then goes into climate theory, the idea that if African people lived in cooler climates, their skin would become white. This historically persistent theory originally came from Aristotle and even the people who wrote the U.S. constitution believed this theory. Kendi then informs that many leading figures in early America believed in this theory and they were considered smart for it. The ideas that Kendi presents in his book serve to challenge things like the climate theory, even if it was debunked. Kendi’s book simd to get people thinking about race, and to the extent in which it’s present in our society.

 

featured image via yahoo tv

 

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Amazon Knows What You’re Reading and How You’re Reading It

In an article by The Guardian, Kari Paul discusses a new discovery she’s made about how Amazon has logged not only what books she’s read on her Amazon Kindle, but the things she’s highlighted, excerpts she’s copied from books into her iPhone’s clipboard, and even looking up definitions of words in the Kindle’s dictionary.  I am probably as shocked as she is.  Paul was only able to discover this, as she starts off in her article:

 

“When I requested my personal information from Amazon this month under California’s new privacy law, I received mostly what I expected my order history, shipping information, and customer support chat logs.  But tucked into the dozens of files were also two Excel spreadsheets, more than 20,000 lines each, with titles, timestamps and actions detailing my reading habits on the Kindle app on my iPhone.”

 

image via apple insider

 

This disturbing revelation, according to Paul, revealed the moments she highlighted excerpts from The Deeper the Water and Uglier the Fish on February 15, or another, Severance, started on November 3 of 2018.  She then states that she made highlights in an excerpt from the third installment of The Diary of Anais Nin on May 21, 2019, or an excerpt from Leslie Jamison’s The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath on August 23, 2018.  Amazon even recorded her changing the color of this excerpt!

 

 

You may be asking why Amazon even needs this information from you.  According to their privacy page, they collect things like search or shop for products in their stores, adding or removing items in your cart or placing orders, downloading, streaming, viewing, or using content on your device through their services, providing information in Your Account, and much more.  Amazon says that they use this to personalize your shopping experience and make proper recommendations to you when shopping (this would explain why if you search ‘phone cases’ and then buy one, you suddenly see Amazon recommending you tons of other phone cases “you may like”).

 

image via mage plaza

 

Paul states that “Amazon says it does not share what individual customers have highlighted with publishers or anyone else,” according to a spokeswoman.  “The highlights are logged to sync reading progress and actions across devices.”  This seems to make sense, but Amazon is logging almost everything done while reading on a Kindle.  What is all that extra data used for, then?

 

Paul has an answer through Alastair Mactaggart, someone who advocated for the California Consumer Privacy Act. Mactaggart states that “though Amazon says it is not currently sharing the insights gleaned from reading habits with anyone else, that the company holds on to the data shows it could be used in the future.”

 

 

For anyone who reads on a Kindle, this will be worrying for them.  It definitely doesn’t feel good knowing that everything you’re doing on a Kindle is being logged and recorded, all for no good reason. Amazon is just collecting all this data and holding onto it.  Paul quotes Evan Greer, the director at the privacy act group Fight For the Future.  He makes a good point when he says, “There is no reason Amazon or any other company needs to collect that kind of information to provide you with the service, which is simply reading a book.”

 

This discovery of data collection could be yet another drawback to using technology to read books.  Amazon definitely won’t be tracking what you read and what you mark through a good ol’ paper book.

 

Featured image via the verge

 


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