The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.
- Apple has agreed to pay consumers $400 million to settle a civil lawsuit — but only if it is unsuccessful in appealing last year's conviction of e-book price fixing. If that ruling is overturned, Apple will pay nothing. And if the case is sent back to a lower court, the tech company will pay consumers $50 million. Apple agreed to settle last month, though company officials maintain that it has done nothing wrong. The settlement deal stems from U.S. District Judge Denise Cote's July 2013 ruling in a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department that Apple colluded with five major publishers to raise the retail price of e-books. In a statement Wednesday, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman called the potential settlement a "major victory," adding that "this settlement proves that even the biggest, most powerful companies in the world must play by the same rules as everyone else."
- For The New Yorker, Stephen Burt writes about trans literature moving into the mainstream and Ariel Schrag's new novel Adam: "Schrag's novel—and the publicity behind it—represents a giant step forward from the times when trans people were portrayed as objects of pity, or serial killers, or symbols of dreamlike weirdness, when we were portrayed at all."
- David Adams Richards speaks to Hazlitt, Random House Canada's literary blog: "One guy asked me years ago what's the difference between fiction and non-fiction, and I said, 'The lies are in different places.' "
- In The New York Times, James Parker argues that the last literary taboo is ... boringness: "In the forest clearing, the totems are all tipped over. Obscenity, Blasphemy, Profanity, those huge archaic figures — impious hands have pulled them down, and their faces stare out sideways in baffled fury. All with their mystery drained, their ancient powers canceled. All but one, that is. A gray shape, sitting on an upturned popcorn bucket, with a finger up his nose. He looks like somebody waiting for a piano tuner to arrive, to tune a piano he doesn't own. He is Boringness, last of the taboos, and the villagers won't touch him."
- A day after announcing that the new Thor will be a woman, Marvel says that the red, white and blue mantle of Captain America will be taken up by Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon). Wilson will be the second black superhero to be Captain America. For now, the changes will only take place in the world of comics — in Marvel's movies, Thor and Captain America will stay the same. Marvel editor Tom Brevoort says in the company's announcement: "[I]n his long history as the Falcon, he's earned a reputation for integrity and honesty and backbone that most of the super hero community have a respect for."