Round up #232: B&N closings, get better Jeff Bezos
The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.
Jeff Bezos airlifted from the Galapagos for medical emergency
Things have had a positive outcome, but this was a serious situation. I mention that, because there is a temptation to do jokes about this, which I am going to resist. Jeff Bezos has had a big positive impact on my life, and right now, I just wish Amazon’s CEO (Chief Executive Officer) a speedy recovery.
Jeff was apparently celebrating the new year in the Galapagos Islands. I’ve been there: amazing place! According to this
and other sources, Bezos had a kidney stone problem, and was helicoptered out by the Ecuadorian Navy to where the CEO’s private jet could rush back to the USA.
No surgery was required, and things look good.
There are a lot of non-surgical ways of dealing with kidney stones nowadays.
Best to Jeff Bezos and family!
I will comment on one thing…according to the article (and again, other sources), Jeff said, “Galapagos: five stars. Kidney stones: zero stars…”
That may confuse some people. It’s a reference to the rating system at Amazon…but you can’t give zero stars there (you have to go between one and five). I’ve seen people complain about that inability to give a zero. Obviously, buying a paper towel holder can’t have a negative effect on you like having kidney stones can, so perhaps that was the suggestion here.
Round of Barnes & Noble closures
It was quite a surprise recently when a local Barnes & Noble closed! There hadn’t been a big sale or anything, as far as I know…it was just gone. There is still one not too far away, but this is the one I would consider to be most local. Doing a quick Google search, looks like quite a few closed at the end of 2013 (I’ll link articles):
- Two closed in Fort Worth, Texas…one of them had been open since 1996
- One closed in Pasadena, California after doing business there for about twenty years
- One closed in Pleasant Hill, California after 19 years…according to the article, it was the last new bookstore (as opposed to used books) in that town
- One closed in Gainesville, Florida after about twenty years
- One closed in Kahala Mall in Hawaii (the link to the story didn’t work)
- One looked like it would close in Royal Oak, Michigan…the city appeared to be looking for other tenants
- Despite an online petition, one closed in Tracy, California, where, interestingly (but unrelated…it does no retail business), an Amazon fulfillment center recently opened
For balance, here is a nice article which quotes the manager of a Barnes & Noble that just opened in Princeton, New Jersey.
Is this the beginning of the end?
Probably not…Barnes & Noble has often closed stores at the end of the year. Most of these stories seemed to mention the rents going up. That’s something that is going to happen, particularly as some things in the economy appear to be improving.
However, that would have been less of an issue if they’d been stronger.
Interesting also how many of these opened about twenty years ago…
Is Sherlock Holmes in the public domain? Judge makes a statement
I’ve written extensively in this blog about copyright and public domain. The latter is what happens when a book is not under copyright protection (most commonly, because the term has expired). The book then goes into the “public domain”…it is owned by the public. At that point, anybody can do anything they want with the book, without getting the permission of the (former) copyright holders.
It gets much more complicated when a character appears in a series of books, though. There may be some books which are still under copyright protection, and some which are in the public domain.
The Conan Doyle Estate has been quite protective of Sherlock Holmes, and people doing new works based on the character (the Robert Downey movie, Elementary on CBS, the BBC series) typically pay the estate a license.
Leslie Klinger was concerned with what the estate wanted, and challenged the control (at least over the characters as they appeared in what are now public domain works in the USA, ones published before 1923).
Here’s an article that summarizes it:
What the estate argued was considered to be a stretch by some, but it is fascinating.
As I understand it, they basically said that works written about Sherlock Holmes are based on the “completed” character, which has to take into account things written after the 1923 cut-off…even if they don’t mention specific events from the later books.
I think I’ve come up with a good way to explain the argument.
When Superman started out, he didn’t fly…he could “leap tall buildings in a single bound”, but not actually fly. I’ve always thought that it showed brilliant management that DC allowed others to add to Superman’s “definition”. I wrote about that here:
However, for the sake of explanation, let’s pretend (and this is not true) that the Superman stories before he could fly were in the public domain, and the ones where he could fly weren’t.
Now, let’s further imagine that someone writes a story about Superman. In the story, Superman “arrives on the scene”, but it isn’t specified how. Wouldn’t you naturally assume Supes flew there? Sure, because that’s the Superman you know. I suppose that the writer could even have Superman say, “I just flew in from Metropolis.” That could have been in a plane, right? 😉
That was the basic argument, from what I can tell. You can’t write about Sherlock Holmes without benefiting from elements that are under copyright, even without mentioning them specifically.
While I still need to read
completely, the judge ruled against that argument (again, based on my understanding). The judge’s carefully ruled in favor of Klinger in regards to pre-1923 elements and against in terms of post-1923 elements.
I believe there could still be appeals here. We don’t have our next round of books going into the public domain in the USA until 2019, by the way…but that’s not true everywhere.
What do you think? Did your local Barnes & Noble close at the end of the year? If it did, will you miss it? While this is not at all the case here, how dependent do you think Amazon is on Jeff Bezos? If Jeff wasn’t able to be the CEO, what kind of impact would that have on the company and on your perception of it? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.