Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Machines Like Me, is a fiction about science – specifically, artificial intelligence. It is set in an alternative reality where Alan Turing does not kill himself but invents the internet instead; where JFK is never assassinated and Margaret Thatcher’s premiership ends with the beginning of the Falklands war. The near future of the real world becomes the present of the novel, giving McEwan the space to explore prescient what-ifs: what if a robot could think like a human, or human intelligence could not tell the difference between itself and AI?
Machines Like Me is not, however, science fiction, at least according to its author. “There could be an opening of a mental space for novelists to explore this future,” McEwan said in a recent interview, “not in terms of travelling at 10 times the speed of light in anti-gravity boots, but in actually looking at the human dilemmas.” There is, as many readers noticed, a whiff of genre snobbery here, with McEwan drawing an impermeable boundary between literary fiction and science fiction, and placing himself firmly on the respectable side of the line.
Pushing Diversity Forward in Publishing
People of Color in Publishing and We Need Diverse Books, two volunteer organizations focused on making the book industry more diverse, held a joint town hall meeting on April 11 in the auditorium of the Penguin Random House building to mark their progress and discuss plans for the future.
The meeting attracted a crowd of nearly 90 industry professionals for a panel featuring WNDB founder/CEO Ellen Oh that was moderated by POCinPub founder Patrice Caldwell. Along with Oh, the panel featured WNDB executive director Nicole Johnson and WNDB program director Carolyn Richmond. They updated town hall attendees on the impact of WNBD’s programs, as well as on the fast growth and development of POCinPub since its founding in 2017.
AAP Reports Publisher Revenue Up 7.2% in February 2019
The Digital Reader
AAP just issued the February StatShot Monthly report which includes data for the first two months of 2019.
Among the highlights:
- Overall participating publisher revenue was $754.0 million in February 2019, an increase of $50.8 million (+7.2%) compared to 2018.
- February 2019 saw strong gains for hardback books, with revenue increasing 18.0% from the prior year to $172.9 million, due to across-the-board increases in each of the trade categories.
- eBook revenues fell 3.5%, to $$166.5 million.
- Audiobook revenues rose 36.5%, to$90.5 million.
- In the first two months of 2019, publisher net revenue for trade (consumer) books was $1.06 billion, an increase of 3.2% from January-February in 2018.