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Book News: Wendy Davis' Book Tour Violates Ethics Code, Opponent Says

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Book tours have become a staple of many political campaigns, from Michele Bachmann's Core of Conviction to Hillary Clinton's new memoir (though, of course, she hasn't formally announced her candidacy). Wendy Davis, the besneakered Democratic candidate who rose to fame last year during her filibuster of a bill that would make it harder to get an abortion in Texas, has been accused by a political opponent of "convert[ing] political contributions to her personal use" by allegedly using campaign money on her book tour. The campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission on Thursday. "Sen. Davis' book promotion has gone from ethically questionable to outright unlawful," Abbott spokesperson Matt Hirsch was quoted as saying in The Houston Chronicle. "From her history of profiteering at the expense of Texas taxpayers while in the Legislature to using campaign funds to promote a book that enriches her personally, Sen. Davis has demonstrated blatant disregard for the ethical standards Texans expect from their candidates." Abbott's campaign has alleged that a recent trip to New York to promote her book was paid for by the campaign – but Davis' campaign called the complaint frivolous, saying the real purpose of the trip was fundraising and that the book events were incidental. The Chronicle notes that the Texas Ethics Commission has "publicly condemned political campaigns' use of publicizing complaints they made against an opponent."
  • This year's Root 100 — The Root's annual list of the year's biggest African-American influencers — celebrates authors including Mitzi Miller, Janet Mock, Roxane Gay, Attica Locke, Kiese Laymon, and Peniel E. Joseph.
  • Byliner, the publisher of e-book singles, has been acquired by the digital publishing company Vook. In a letter to Byliner authors, Vook CEO Josh Brody wrote, "Byliner has established a boutique literary brand that stands out in an increasingly crowded marketplace. As Vook's first in-house imprint, Byliner will continue to acquire and publish short-fiction and non-fiction by award-winning authors. Byliner authors will soon get access to Vook's new set of tools and services, expanding distribution and marketing opportunities for their titles." He also announced that Byliner authors would now receive 85% of their net royalties.
  • "He offered me some of their dinner: tuna fish from a Tupperware container. Even if I bought cars in department store parking lots, and even if I followed small children down wooded paths, I still knew better than to accept tuna fish from strangers in national parks." — in the Hairpin, The Middlesteins author Jami Attenberg describes a family she met while traveling across the country.
  • USA Today has an excerpt of James Franco's new book. It begins:
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"I am The Actor.

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I am The Writer.

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I am the creator of this book because I am the liver of this life, and at the same time the cut-and-paster of this life."