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J D Salinger

J.D. Salinger Dies: Hermit Crab of American Letters

By Richard Lacayo

Take the austere little paperbacks down from the shelf and you can hold the collected works of J.D. Salinger — one novel, three volumes of stories — in the palm of one hand. Like some of his favorite writers — like Sappho, whom we know only from ancient fragments, or the Japanese poets who crafted 17-syllable haikus — Salinger was an author whose large reputation pivots on very little. The first of his published stories that he thought were good enough to preserve between covers appeared in the New Yorker in 1948. Sixteen years later he placed one last story there and drew down the shades.

From that day until his death on Jan. 27 at age 91, at his home in Cornish, N.H., Salinger was the hermit crab of American letters. When he emerged, it was usually to complain that somebody was poking at his shell. Over time Salinger’s exemplary refusal of his own fame may turn out to be as important as his fiction. In the 1960s he retreated to the small house in Cornish, and rejected the idea of being a public figure. Thomas Pynchon is his obvious successor in that department. But Pynchon figured out how to turn his back on the world with a wink and a Cheshire Cat smile. Salinger did it with a scowl. Then again, he was inventing the idea, and he bent over it with an inventor’s sweaty intensity.

Salinger’s only novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published in 1951 and gradually achieved a status that made him cringe. For decades the book was a universal rite of passage for adolescents, the manifesto of disenchanted youth. (Sometimes lethally disenchanted: After he killed John Lennon in 1980, Mark David Chapman said he had done it "to promote the reading" of Salinger’s book. Roughly a year later, when he headed out to shoot President Ronald Reagan, John Hinckley Jr. left behind a copy of the book in his hotel room.) But what matters is that even for the millions of people who weren’t crazy, Holden Caulfield, Salinger’s petulant, yearning (and arguably manic-depressive) young hero was the original angry young man. That he was also a sensitive soul in a cynic’s armor only made him more irresistible. James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway had invented disaffected young men too. But Salinger created Caulfield at the very moment that American teenage culture was being born. A whole generation of rebellious youths discharged themselves into one particular rebellious youth.(Read TIME’s 1951 review of The Catcher in the Rye.)

Salinger drew from Sherwood Anderson, Isak Dinesen, F. Scott Fitzgerald and especially Ring Lardner, whose wise-guy voice you hear chiming in the snappy banalities and sometimes desperate patter spoken by Salinger’s characters, a tone that found its way years later into the neurotic chatter of Woody Allen’s New Yorkers. But Salinger bent it all into something new, a tone that drew from the secular and the religious, the worldly and the otherworldly, the ecstatic and the inconsolable. It’s customary to assume that the seven Glass children — the Glass family, an intricate hybrid of showbiz and spirituality, was Salinger’s other enduring creation — make up a kind of group portrait of Salinger, each of them a reflection of his different dimensions: the writer and the actor, the searcher and the researcher, the spiritual adept and the pratfalling schmuck. That may very well be true. He made sure we could never be sure. Holden Caulfield says, "Don’t ever tell anybody anything." That’s one time you know it’s Salinger talking.


Jerome David Salinger was born in New York on Jan. 1, 1919. His mother was a Scots-born Protestant who changed her name from Marie to Miriam to accommodate her Jewish in-laws. His father Solomon was a food importer who was successful enough by the time Salinger turned 13 to move the family to Park Avenue and enroll his underachieving son in a Manhattan private school. Salinger flunked out within two years. He was then packed off to Valley Forge Military Academy, outside Philadelphia. It would later be the model for Pency Prep, the school Caulfield runs away from.

After graduating from Valley Forge, Salinger ran away from several schools. He managed only two semesters at New York University before dropping out. His father decided to take him into the family business and brought his boy along to Austria and Poland to learn all about ham. "They finally dragged me off to Bydgoszcz for a couple of months," Salinger wrote years later. "Where I slaughtered pigs, wagoned through the snow with the big slaughtermaster." Ham was not in his future. Back in the U.S., he made another halfhearted attempt at school, this time at Ursinus College in rural Pennsylvania. He lasted a semester, then drifted back to Manhattan.

By this point Salinger had a general destination in mind: he wanted to be a writer. In the fall of 1939, he signed up for a writing class at Columbia University taught by Whit Burnett, founder and editor of Story, a highly regarded, little magazine that had been the first place to publish William Saroyan, Joseph Heller and Carson McCullers. Burnett quickly took notice of his talented pupil and made sure that his magazine would be the first place to publish Salinger. In its March-April 1940 issue, Story carried "The Young Folks," a brief, acidic vignette of college students at a party, prototypes of all the disaffected young people who would appear in Salinger’s fiction.

Over the following months, Salinger broke through to mass-circulation magazines like Collier’s and Esquire and had a tantalizing first brush with the New Yorker, the magazine he wanted badly to appear in, the one that could validate him not just as a professional writer but also as an artist. By this time, he had written a story about a boy named Holden Caulfield who runs away from prep school. The New Yorker accepted it, then put it on hold. But Caulfield was a character close to the author’s heart, and Salinger wasn’t done with him.

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Republic Day Book Exhibition


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25-29 January 2010

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Lab study by
Sapna Johnson, Nirmali Saikia, Ramakant Sahu, H B Mathur and H C Agarwal
Reported by
K Dinkar and Bharat Lal Seth

Courtesy: Down To Earth

Toys can be dangerous. Laboratory analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment shows the presence of phthalates, a highly toxic chemical, in toys sold in the Indian market. Worse, and almost predictable now, the Indian government does not regulate or monitor the use of these inimical chemicals, putting children at risk.
While phthalates are nowhere on the radar of Indian authorities, they have made a few botched attempts to regulate other safety aspects of toys like mechanical and chemical properties and presence of certain heavy metals. Domestically, these standards remain voluntary. But since January last year, the authorities, mostly under pressure from a vigilant judiciary, have tried to regulate the quality of toys being imported. First they banned the import of toys from China, one country notorious for the poor quality of its toys.

Then they issued notification asking for all Chinese imports to conform to Indian standards and then broadened this notification to cover imports from all countries.
But the government is on a sticky wicket here. While making it mandatory for imports to conform to standards, it does not ask of its own industry to meet the same. This is clearly a non-tariff barrier to trade, and officials know it. They have been fortunate no one has complained till now.
The regulation on imports expires on January 23. The government has two options. Either regulate all toys, both domestic production and imports. Second, and the easier option, let the order expire and leave the entire market unregulated. As things stand now, the government does not want to make the effort to make standards mandatory for all. End-January we will know whether the government is serious.

Something for parents to chew on

Eighteen-month-old Ishleen gets a toy almost every week. Whenever her parents visit markets in west Delhi they pick up something for her. Ishleen has a collection of squeezies, soft toys and rattles. “She began teething a year ago. So she chews on just about anything,” said her mother Manjeet Singh. Her husband Jaspal Singh inspects the toys before buying them but she agreed they did not give much thought to health effects. Chances are when Ishleen chews on these toys she ingests tiny doses of chemicals. One of them is phthalates that makes plastics flexible but can interfere with the reproductive system.


Romila Bahl, mother of two children now adult, knows toys can be toxic. "I’m not a scientist but as a mother I knew what was good for my children, especially knowing it may go into their mouth," said Bahl, who runs a flower business in Delhi. "I always asked my eldest sister in Chicago to bring toys for my children," she said.Her children, Omar and Mandira, would eagerly look forward to their aunt’s annual visit.
"I didn’t mind shelling out an extra buck because I never trusted the cheap imports." But she has not heard of phthalates, which were not banned in the US when she used to get toys from Chicago some 15 years ago.

Aparna Pandey, a kindergarten teacher in Delhi, gave birth to a girl three months ago. Although her child responds to the rattles Pandey bought from a crafts bazaar, she is too young to hold on to them. But once she begins to, Pandey is clear what kind of toys she will buy. “I love India’s toymaking traditions,” she said. “Luckily, you can still find them in Delhi. I would only buy those using natural vegetable dyes, meeting food grade standards.” Parents often give in to their child’s demand for flashy plastic toys.

Pandey, still on maternity leave, said she always warned parents about the potential health hazards of playthings for their children.

When Shoom Gupta, 63, walked into the oldest toy shop in Delhi he was overcome with nostalgia. He had last visited the store, Ram Chander & Sons, in Connaught Place, 35 years ago before moving to Copenhagen. Growing up in India during the 1950s he played with toys made of terracotta, wood and clay. “I used to buy slingshot model planes made of balsa wood,” he recollected.
The Danish toy company Lego, he said, began by making toys from leftover wood when he was still working as a carpenter. But Lego no longer uses wood. With the introduction of plastic softeners and moulding agents, plastic became the medium of choice. Then came the Chinese manufacturing revolution.

Gupta’s two daughters Maya and Carolina grew up playing with Lego toys. The name comes from the first two letters of the Danish words leje godt , meaning ‘play well’. “Till the time the manufacturing unit was in Denmark, I was not really worried when children put the plastic pieces in the mouth,” Gupta said. But with manufacturing moving to China and lack of quality control standards, he is no more sure of toys’ safety.
Shop owner Satish Chander agreed. “Quality standards in the US and EU differ from those in Latin America and South Asia.



Don’t touch

Half the toys tested have unsafe phthalate levels

They lurk inside plastics, and from there migrate to air, food, human body and even unborn babies. Phthalates or phthalate esters are organic chemicals commonly used as plasticizers to make plastic supple. They are responsible for plastic products being cheap, easy to clean—and toxic.
Phthalates can damage the male reproductive system, impair the lungs and affect the duration of pregnancy. They also reach babies through breastfeeding. Animal studies have shown phthalates cross the placenta barrier. Children under three years are more likely to be exposed to phthalates because they tend to chew and suck on plastic toys. Since their metabolic, endocrine and reproductive systems are immature, they are more vulnerable.
Phthalates are produced by removing water molecules from petrochemicals.

They look like clear vegetable oil and are odourless. Till recently di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) dominated the use of plasticizers in toys. After scientific studies showed DEHP as toxic, di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) has become the most commonly used plasticizer. Studies show DINP is also harmful. The EU and the US strictly regulate the use of phthalates in toys but in India there are no checks on their use.
Delhi NGO Centre for Science and Environment tested 24 toy samples of major brands for the presence of phthalates. In October 2008, it randomly purchased toy samples from markets in Delhi. Fifteen were soft toys and nine hard toys made in four countries. Tests showed all samples contained one or more phthalates—DEHP, DINP, DBP ( di-n-butyl phthalate) and BBP (benzyl butyl phthalate), all harmful—in varying concentrations.


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Eleven samples (46 per cent) had phthalates exceeding the EU limit of 0.1 per cent by mass of plasticized material. The threshold limit cannot be set lower than 0.1 per cent as phthalates can be found below this level as contaminants in the manufacturing process even if not used as plasticizers.
DINP was detected in nearly 42 per cent of the samples. In 29 per cent of the samples it exceeded the EU limit. The highest concentration of DINP, which is restricted in the US and EU in toys that can be put in the mouth, was found in the squeaky toys made by Indian company Funskool India. At 16 per cent concentration it was 162 times the EU limit.
DEHP was detected in 96 per cent of the toys but in concentrations below the EU limit, except in a teether and two toys: inflatable bop bag dinosaur (0.2 per cent, twice the EU limit) and bath duck (2.6 per cent). The baby teether ostensibly made of non-toxic, food-grade silicone rubber had DEHP at a concentration three times the EU limit. It was made by a company in Taiwan.
DBP was found in soft and hard biters at levels two times the EU limit.
The majority of the toys, which contained high levels of phthalates, were made in China. Six squeeze toys from China contained phthalates two to 80 times above the EU limit. Four of these were made by Lovely Collection, which did not even bother to mention the address of the manufacturer and the date of manufacture on the package.

How harmful?

DEHP: It is considered one of the most toxic phthalates and has been banned in toys in several countries. Exposure to it via house dust is known to cause asthma and allergy in children. In mammals it has been found to interfere with male and female reproductive systems such as early development of testes. It has also been found responsible for poor semen quality, genital defects and premature breast development in humans, and reduced testosterone in male rats. Exposure to DEHP during pregnancy has also been linked to pre-term birth in human beings.
DINP: Prenatal toxicity studies on rats have shown slightly increased rates of skeletal retardation and occurrence of soft tissue and skeletal malformations. When fed to rats it leads to increased liver and kidney weights.
DBP: It has been linked to poor semen quality in men, premature breast development in females and asthma and allergic symptoms in children. In male rat pups developmental defects similar to the testicular dysgenesis syndrome have been documented. Genital defects and reduced anogenital distance—between the anus and the base of the penis—a sign of reproductive disorder, in male rats have also been observed.

A free ride

India and China, largest toy producer, do not regulate phthalates

Phthalates have pervaded the toy market without raising much alarm. China that has cornered 70 per cent of the global toy market does not regulate their use. International standards dealing with toy safety ignore them. While EU took the lead in imposing limits for phthalates in toys, the US has only recently passed the law regulating phthalates.
EU was the first to regulate the use of phthalates in toys. In 1999, it temporarily banned six phthalates used in childcare articles and toys made of soft PVC that can be put in the mouth by children under three.
In 2005, it decided to restrict the use of three phthalates— DEHP, DBP and BBP— in all childcare articles and toys to 0.1 per cent concentrations by mass of the plasticized material. Toys containing these chemicals in higher quantities cannot be sold in EU countries.
The EU proposed the same limit for three more phthalates— DINP, DIDP and DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate) —but only in toys and childcare articles meant to be put in the mouth by children. Other toys were exempted from this restriction for want of more evidence of the toxicity of the three phthalates. The EU, however, noted that the three pose a potential risk if used in toys.
The restrictions came into force from January 16, 2007 and shall be reviewed by January 16, 2010.

The EU is now considering evidence that shows phthalates acting together harm health in ways each by itself would not.
Denmark has gone a step ahead and placed a ban on the sale and import of toys and childcare articles meant to be put in the mouth that contain phthalates, not covered by EU regulations, at levels exceeding 0.05 per cent. To ensure that toys available in the country are phthalate-free, the Danish government has also negotiated an agreement with retailers to voluntarily refrain from selling phthalate-containing toys (like musical instruments) meant to be put in the mouth by children between three and six years.
Denmark taxes PVC —plastic used in toys—and phthalate-containing products, domestic and imported.
EU regulations say products using phthalates do not have to mention their presence or carry a warning on the packaging. Only containers with more than 0.5 per cent of DBP, BBP and DEHP have to be labelled with the skull and crossbones symbol for the purpose of handling, according to the Phthalates Information Centre Europe, an industry body.
The EU also has a rapid alert system for non-food consumer products, under which member nations can access information about steps being taken by other member states and economic operators with regard to products posing a serious, long-term risk to health and safety of consumers.
The US Congress enacted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August 2008, prescribing restrictions broadly similar to those in the EU on toys and childcare articles sold in US markets. The ban on DINP, DIDP and DNOP is interim.
The Act stipulates two types of restrictions on phthalates. The first part of the regulation, which came into force last February, permanently bans manufacturing for sale, distribution and importing of children’s toys and childcare articles containing more than 0. 1 per cent of either DEHP, DBP or BBP.
A toy is a product meant for a child of up to 12 years, while a childcare article refers to a product that a child of three years or younger uses for feeding, sleeping, sucking and teething.
The second part of the regulation seeks an interim ban on DINP, DIDP and DNOP(above 0.1 per cent) from being used in childcare articles or toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth. By definition a toy or part of a toy can be placed in a child’s mouth if in one dimension it is smaller than five centimetres. Toys that can only be licked are not covered under the regulation. The threshold levels are prescribed only for individual chemicals; no composite threshold is prescribed for more than one phthalate present in toys. The Act does not mandate labelling toys to indicate compliance with phthalate standards.









































A seven-member Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel of scientists established under CPSIAwill look at health effects of the full range of phthalates, individually and in combination, used in children’s products.
The panel has 18 months to complete its study. After this the Consumer Product Safety Commission, tasked with implementing the Act, will evaluate the findings and consider banning products containing phthalates as hazardous.
The commission has devised detailed testing methods to identify the presence of phthalates. Under these methods the manufacturer is required to provide a certificate testifying its products have been tested for compliance with the commission’s guidelines. Since September 2009 the testing is specified to be done by an accredited third party laboratory. But the commission has stayed general certification until a panel of accredited labs is established. So the law is yet to be implemented effectively.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has issued three sets of standards covering safety aspects of toys but none covers phthalates. These standards deal with safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties and flammability and specify the maximum acceptable levels for eight metals in toys (see table: Indian standards for toys ).
Even these standards are voluntary in nature. The bureau is revising these standards to align them with the international ISOstandards, a BIS official said. The process began in June 2008 but has taken a backseat. The agency is drafting standards covering the use of phthalates in toys.
According to the Toy Industry Association, China follows international standards dealing with safety aspects of toys related to mechanical and physical properties. Phthalates are not covered under these standards.

Double Standards

Safety regulations are for imported toys only

India faces a challenge: how to keep alive its only measure ensuring safety of imported toys. Its ban on import of toys not meeting specified safety standards lapses on January 23. Since Indian toy makers are not required to adhere to any mandatory safety standards it will be discriminatory to impose them on others; it would be a non-tariff trade barrier. One way is to put in place mandatory standards for domestic manufacturers but that is yet to be done.
It goes to show how serious the government is about toxicity in toys.
The ban was imposed last year and at the time applied only to China. Following worldwide concerns over the toxicity in Chinese toys, the directorate general of foreign trade under the department of commerce banned import of Chinese toys in January 2009 for six months, including wheeled toys and dolls. Soon it realized it cannot continue with the ban. In March it announced import of Chinese toys which conformed to international or Indian standards would be permitted.

Conforming means the toy importer has to ensure two things. One, it has to produce a third party certificate that imported toys meet standards prescribed byASTM International under the Standard Consumer Specification for Toy Safety meant to prevent injuries from choking, sharp edges and other potential hazards, including those from chemicals like lead. ASTM International is one of the world’s largest voluntary standards development organizations and has members from over 100 countries. Else, the importer can show the toys conform to the safety standards prescribed by India or the International Organization for Standardization. All three standards are similar, but they do not cover phthalates.
Two, the manufacturer should have a certificate stating that a representative sample of the toys being imported has been tested by an independent laboratory accredited to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC)-Mutual Recognition Arrangement and found to meet the required specifications.ILAC is a network of laboratory and inspection accreditation bodies formed to remove technical barriers to trade. It has 66 members, including India’s National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories.
Indian customs officials only check whether importers have the required document, said a customs official requesting not to be named. There is no regular testing done by the Indian authorities to confirm whether the imported toys meet the specified standard or not.
Following threats from China that it will challenge the import restrictions at WTO, India expanded the restrictions in June to cover toy imports from all countries. It also extended the restrictions till January 23, 2010.
A source in the commerce department admitted the import requirements are discriminatory and the department is likely to withdraw them if China mounts more pressure. “We are biding time hoping the government would mandate standards for the domestic industry as well,” he said.
The commerce department is looking to the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), the nodal department for toys, to issue a quality control order making toy safety standards mandatory. Once that happens both domestic and foreign manufacturers would be have to adhere to them.
Even if the quality control order was formulated it would not have covered standards for phthalates because the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is not ready with them. Officials at BIS say the standards are not a priority for the agency because it is preoccupied with other tasks.

In 2007, Consumer Welfare Association, a non-profit in Mumbai, had filed a public-interest petition in the Bombay High Court, seeking a ban on the import of toys made in China on the ground that they are toxic. “Our main idea was to wake up the government,” said A M Mascarenhas, secretary to the association.
The court has directed the government to file a report detailing interim measures taken to curb imports of toxic Chinese toys, informed Rajiv Chavan, the counsel for the NGO. At the last hearing on December 2, 2009, the court asked the government to submit a report on toxicity of toys.
The government has, in turn, asked three organizations—All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, National Institute of Occupational Health in Ahmedabad and National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad—to establish the presence of heavy metals, phthalates and their leaching in toys in the Indian market, said sources.
The study is likely to be completed in 8-10 months, said a scientist involved in the study.
Indian toymakers are ready to adhere to standards for phthalates, Rajesh Arora, general secretary of the Toy Association of India, claimed. Arora argued the Indian toy industry, which clocked 20 per cent growth in exports in 2008-09, is already meeting Western standards for phthalates. Only for export products.

Courtesy: Down To Earth

Filed under: Article of the Week, , , , ,



1. According to ComScore, Inc, US shoppers spent a whopping $27 billion online in the holiday season with the second most productive day being ‘Cyber Monday’ with sales of $887 million after the December 15 sales which saw $913 million being spent. When was ‘Cyber Monday’?

2. If the signalling rate for USB 2.0 is 480 Mbit/s, what is it for the new USB 3.0?

3. Teenager David Nelson, the founder of a music service, was chastised by Vevo which asked him to stop using the service’s content and trademark. Name the teenager’s site.

4. Name the game that has broken many records, earning the distinction of being the ‘most pirated game of 2009′ with downloads exceeding 4.1 million times till end December since its early November launch.

5. The team from which prestigious varsity won a $40,000 online, nine-day challenge in early December, proposed by the US government’s DARPA, in just nine hours?

6. According to Netcraft’s December 2009 Web Server Survey, how many million sites were there across all domains: 225, 234 or 240?

7. Why is February 4, 2004 a significant date in the online world of social networking?

8. Which OS has the default browser NetPositive (often called Net+)?

9. Which dangerous worm has/had the aliases ‘Simpsons’, ‘Kwyjibo’ or ‘Kwejeebo’?

10. The popular video capture and video processing utility for Microsoft Windows written by Avery Lee is called..?



1. November 30.

2. 4.8 Gbit/s

3. Muziic

4. ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2′.

5. MIT

6. 234 (from about 12 million in 1999).

7. Facebook, initially named ‘thefacebook’, made its appearance.

8. Be Operating System (BeOS).

9. Melissa

10. VirtualDub.

Courtesy: V V Ramanan, Business line

Filed under: YW-Cyber Quiz

e-Books: Averting a Digital Horror Story

O’Reilly: "We see ourselves as canaries in the coal mine" Eric Millette

By Spencer E. Ante courtesy:

Click here to find out more!

On Christmas Day, for the first time in its history, (AMZN) sold more digital books than the old fashioned kind. It was a watershed moment for the book industry—but it’s scaring the hell out of traditional publishers. Even though they make the same amount on sales of both kinds of books, they see Amazon’s digital dominance as a looming threat to their business, and with good reason. Their big worry: Amazon will end up with the same kind of pricing power in books that Apple (AAPL) has in music, and that the book industry will suffer the same kind of bruising decline.

One goal for publishers is to dilute Amazon’s power. Hachette is selling e-books through more than a dozen partners, including Sony (SNE), Apple, and small retailers such as Fictionwise. By partnering with multiple outlets, publishers hope to regain control over pricing and gather purchasing data that could fuel future sales. They’re unhappy Amazon has dropped the price of some new digital best-sellers to as little as $7.99, compared with $35 for hardcovers. Hachette and Simon & Schuster plan to delay the release of certain digital books for several months to avoid undercutting the sale of best-sellers. "We are giving away the family jewels," says David Young, chairman and chief executive of Hachette Book Group, which publishes authors Malcolm Gladwell and Walter Mosley.

Publishers are typically paid about half the hardcover’s retail price, whether a digital book or hardcover is sold. But Amazon has been pushing to pay them less, and many publishers think cheap digital books will open the door to lower industry revenues in the future. Amazon, for its part, says publishers’ concerns are overblown. "We are selling a lot of books for publishers. We feel like that relationship continues to be a good one," says Ian Freed, Amazon’s vice-president for the Kindle business.

Several publishers are trying to reinvent their businesses before Amazon, or someone else, does it for them. "We are thinking very hard about what opportunities there are to prevent our business from being destroyed," says Young.

Next year Hachette is coming out with a digital version of Sebastian Junger’s War that will include video clips, a first for the company. (The book, scheduled for release in May, is based on the author’s reporting in Afghanistan and the footage will feature firefights and interviews with soldiers.) HarperCollins is selling a collection of classics on the Nintendo (NTDOY) DS handheld gaming device. Meanwhile, O’Reilly Media, which produces software user manuals, is testing completely new pricing schemes. Instead of selling individual books, it’s offering unlimited access to 10,000 titles, videos, and pre-publication manuscripts on the Web for $42.99 a month. "Our mission is not making books," says Tim O’Reilly, the company’s CEO and founder. "It’s changing the world through spreading the knowledge of innovators."

Young believes people are interested in paying for variations on the standard book, say a single chapter or a searchable database. In late September, two authors, a few editors, and a technologist gathered in Hachette’s New York City office to work on an iPhone application based on the popular food book, What to Drink with What You Eat. The heavily illustrated volume will have to be adapted for a screen smaller than a playing card. Gurvinder Batra, chief technology officer of Kiwitech, a Washington (D.C.) startup Hachette hired to develop the app, handed out printed shots of the screen and navigation. "To get to the right info I should not do more than two or three clicks," said Batra.

The team decided the app should be like a virtual sommeliercum food critic, featuring food and wine pairings and tutorials on flavor balancing. Then they moved on to the touchy subject of pricing: Should they charge for the app? Most iPhone apps are free or very cheap. "We are in publishing," said Siobhan Padgett, digital sales and marketing manager at Hachette. "We have to make money." The hardcover of What to Drink with What You Eat lists for $35, and the Kindle edition goes for $19.25. Hachette editors eventually decided to charge $4.99 for the app, which is coming out in January. "We think we can sell a whole lot of these at this price," says Padgett.

Hachette doesn’t disclose how much revenue it pulls in from its digital efforts, but the company is doing well. Strong sales of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, Teddy Kennedy’s True Compass, and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers helped boost revenues 15% over the first nine months of the year.

Harlequin Enterprises, the 60-year-old publisher of romance novels, started offering all its books in electronic form in 2007 and is now experimenting with several new digital formats. One, called Spice Briefs, seeks to publish short-form erotica, running 5,000 to 20,000 words long, as e-books. Another involves publishing short digital prequels, which bring in extra revenue and tend to pump up print sales. Gena Showalter, a popular author of young adult novels, wrote a prequel for her Lords of the Underworldseries that came out one month before the first print book and sold for $2.99. The book, The Darkest Night, debuted at No. 8 on The New York Times bestseller list and has sold 220,000 copies, vs. 130,000 copies of her previous book.

Harlequin CEO Donna Hayes says electronic books account for about 6% of total sales now, but she expects that to double in a few years. She says digital sales appear to be adding to the company’s revenue, rather than cannibalizing traditional sales. Harlequin’s revenues rose 7% over the first nine months of the year, while U.S. book sales were up 3.6%. "It has grown our business so far," says Hayes.


Tim O’Reilly may be pushing experimentation further than anyone. His company’s decision to sell monthly subscription access to all its user manuals and other materials has been a hit with companies, universities, and training organizations, growing to 20% of overall revenue. "We see ourselves as the canaries in the coal mine," says O’Reilly.

Today, O’Reilly is trying out several new digital products, including one he calls the "networked book," an attempt to get readers involved in the creation of books through interaction over the Web. The company began by letting readers review authors’ original manuscripts several months prior to a book’s publication and now is allowing readers to post comments on manuscripts.

In the company’s San Francisco office, engineer Keith Fahlgren fired up his laptop to show off a Web site for a book called The Real World Haskell, a user guide for a computer programming language. Software that Fahlgren created let 750 people post 7,000 comments for the authors to read. Many reader postings influenced the final version of the book. "This chapter seems a little bit too much like an essay," wrote one reader. "Follow the old rule, show, don’t tell." Co-author Bryan O’Sullivan wrote on his blog that the feedback had "a profound effect" on the book. "We have used your input to make our coverage both more correct and more accessible," he said.

O’Reilly and other publishers are cultivating Apple as an alternative to Amazon. One reason: More than 50 million people have the company’s iPhone or iPod Touch, which can be used to read digital books, compared with just four million who have electronic book readers. O’Reilly says his company is generating far more sales from Apple customers than Kindle users. O’Reilly currently offers 500 books on the iPhone, compared with 350 Kindle titles. Another 500 iPhone titles are in the works.

O’Reilly is already reaping the benefits of his investments in technology. But Young and other publishers acknowledge they don’t know how all this experimentation will pay off. Still, they know they need to figure out the digital future before they lose out to Amazon or another aggressive newcomer. "We’ve got a long way to go before we can recoup our digital investments. The costs have been huge," says Young. "But I am optimistic, provided we sustain a healthy industry."


Filed under: Article of the Week, , ,

Website of the week : O’Reilly


Tim O’Reilly is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. In addition to Foo Camps ("Friends of O’Reilly" Camps, which gave rise to the "un-conference" movement), O’Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics, including the Web 2.0 Summit, the Web 2.0 Expo, the O’Reilly Open Source Convention, the Gov 2.0 Summit, and the Gov 2.0 Expo. Tim’s blog, the O’Reilly Radar, "watches the alpha geeks" to determine emerging technology trends, and serves as a platform for advocacy about issues of importance to the technical community. Tim’s long-term vision for his company is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. In addition to O’Reilly Media, Tim is a founder of Safari Books Online, a pioneering subscription service for accessing books online, and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, an early-stage venture firm.

This website and other related websites of Tim O’Reilly foundation are the mines of technological information and resources. If you are tech savvy, exploring this site is a must.

Filed under: Website of the week,

Quiz Time


1. To celebrate which influential thinker’s birthday is January 12 i.e. today observed as ‘National Youth Day’ in India?

2. What distinction has the prodigy Magnus Carlsen achieved recently?

3. Which Asian country will host the inaugural Summer Youth Olympic Games in August 2010?

4. Fill in the blank: The United Nations has declared 2010 to be the ‘International Year of ______’

5. ‘Makara Sankranthi’ celebrates the transmigration of Sun from which ‘rashi’ (zodiac) to which Makara rashi?

6. What was the surname of the siblings Barry, Robin and Maurice who made up the popular band Bee Gees?

7. The State Peace and Development Council runs the affairs in which of India’s neighbours?

8. Joseph Nicephore Niepce is considered an inventor and a pioneer in which now common field of visual communication?

9. If Antananarivo was your Capital city, in which country are you in?

10. After which drug were the two Anglo-Chinese Wars fought in the 19th century named?

11. Aptenodytes forsteri is the scientific name of which big flightless bird?

12. Playing for which club did James Vaughan set the record for being the youngest scorer in the EPL at 16 years and 271 days?

13. Leveret is the young of a…?

14. What is the nationality of the popular actress Catherine Zeta Jones?

15. Which South American country is called ‘Corazon de America’ or ‘Heart of America’ because of its central location?


1. Swami Vivekananda
2. He has become the youngest ever chess player to be ranked world No.1
3. Singapore
4. Biodiversity
5. Dhanu
6. Gibb
7. Myanmar
8. Photography
9. Madagascar
10. Opium
11. Emperor penguin
12. Everton
13. Hare
14. She is Welsh
15. Paraguay


Courtesy: V V Ramanan, The Hindu

Filed under: Young World Quiz,

Stieg Larsson



Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) was a Swedish writer and journalist.

Prior to his sudden death of a heart attack in November 2004 he finished three detective novels in his trilogy "The Millenium-series" which were published posthumously; "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest". Altogether, his trilogy has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide (summer of 2009), and he was the second bestselling author in the world 2008.

Before his career as a writer, Stieg Larsson was mostly known for his struggle against racism and right-wing extremism. Starting in the late 1970’s, he combined his work as a graphic designer with holding lectures on right-wing extremism for the Scotland Yard. During the following years he became an expert on the subject and has held many lectures as well as written many novels on the subject. In 1995, when 8 persons were killed by neo-Nazis I Sweden, he was the main force behind the founding of the Expo-foundation, a group intended on exposing neo-Nazi activity in Sweden. From 1999 and on, he was appointed chief editor of the magazine Expo.

During the last 15 years of his life, he and his life companion Eva Gabrielsson lived under constant threat from right-wing violence.



Stieg’s grandfather, an inspiring role model

Stieg Larsson was born in Västerbotten in northern Sweden in 1954. At the time of his birth, his parents were too young and too poor to keep him, so he was raised by his grandparents in a small village in the north of Sweden. Stieg’s grandfather, Severin Boström, became the male role model for the young Stieg. Severin was strongly anti-fascist and during the Second World War he was imprisoned in the work camp in Storsien for his anti-Nazi opinions. Had he been Danish, he would no doubt have been placed in a German Concentration Camp. The fate of his grandfather deeply affected and shaped Stieg’s character. He wanted to protect equal rights and fight for democracy and freedom of speech in order to prevent history, and what happened to his grand father, from repeating itself.


Youth, left-wing movement and far travels

When Stieg was nine years old, his grandfather died and he moved to live with his parents and his younger brother. Stieg was given a typewriter for his 12th birthday, and he spent most nights of his youth staying up writing, keeping his family awake with the drumming sound. At 18 years of age he met Eva Gabrielsson at an anti-Vietnam War meeting in Umeå. Eva was to become his life long companion. With some short exceptions, mainly due to the fact that Stieg was sometimes too obsessed with his work, they lived together until Stiegs death the 9th November 2004. After his military service, Stieg travelled in Africa and has been described as "an early backpacker". He rarely had enough money on his travels, in an interview with Norra Västerbotten in 2006, his father describes how he had to work as a dishwasher and sell his clothes to afford a ticket home from Algeria.

Stieg Larsson was also interested in Science Fiction. Among other things was he the chairman of the Scandinavian science fiction society and published two magazines.

A life under constant threat

During the last 15 years of his life, he and his life companion Eva Gabrielsson lived under constant threat from right-wing violence. When a labor-union leader was murdered in his home by neo-Nazis in 1999, the police discovered photos of and information about the couple in the murderer’s apartment. So it was not without reason that the couple took precautionary measures. They were never seen together outside the house, they moved mirrors in the hall and they always kept the blinds down. Those are just a few examples. Stieg was an expert in the area, and wrote a book of instructions on how journalists should respond to threats for the Swedish Union of Journalists ("Överleva Deadline", 2000).

Writing as a relaxation

The situation created a contrast between Stieg’s work at Expo and his night-time novel writing. He regarded his writing of detective novels as relaxing. Keeping track of loose ends, characters and made up conspiracies posedno problem since it was, after all, fiction and no one would threaten either Eva or himself because of it.

Activist and journalist

Larsson was initially a political activist for the Kommunistiska Arbetareförbundet (Communist Workers League), a photographer, and one of Sweden’s leading science fiction fans. In politics he was the editor of the Swedish Trotskyist journal Fjärde internationalen. He also wrote regularly for the weekly Internationalen. As a science fiction fan, he was co-editor or editor of several fanzines, including Sfären, Fijagh! and others; in 1978-1979 he was president of the largest Swedish science fiction fan club, Skandinavisk Förening för Science Fiction (SFSF). He worked as a graphic designer at the largest Swedish news agency, Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå (TT) between 1977 and 1999.

Larsson’s political convictions, as well as his journalistic experiences, led him to found the Swedish Expo Foundation, similar to the British Searchlight Foundation, established to "counteract the growth of the extreme right and the white power-culture in schools and among young people.He also became the editor of the foundation’s magazine, Expo. Larsson quickly became instrumental in documenting and exposing Swedish extreme right and racist organizations; he was an influential debater and lecturer on the subject, reportedly living for years under death threats from his political enemies.


Larsson died in Stockholm at the age of 50 of a massive heart attack. Rumours that his death was in some way suspicious, because of death threats received as editor of Expo, have been denied.

In May 2008 it was announced that Larsson’s 1977 will, found soon after his death, declared his wish to leave his assets to the Umeå branch of the Communist Workers League (now the Socialist Party). As the will was unwitnessed, it was not valid under Swedish law, with the result that all of Larsson’s estate, including future royalties from book sales, went to his father and brother.His long term partner Eva Gabrielsson,who found his will, has no legal right to the inheritance, sparking controversy and exposing what many media considered a flaw in Swedish inheritance legislation.They never married because Swedish Law required married couples to make their addresses publicly available; marrying would have been a security risk.Vanity Fair’s recent article exposes the bad treatment of Eva by the author’s father and brother (with whom he had little contact in his life). She is quoted as wanting the rights to control his work, so it could be presented in the way he would have wanted. She claims, as his life partner, to know better than his father whom he "disliked" and rarely saw.

The novelist

At his death, Larsson left the manuscripts of three completed but unpublished novels in a series. He wrote them for his own pleasure after returning home from his job in the evening, making no attempt to get them published until shortly before his death. The first of these novels was published in Sweden in 2005 as Män som hatar kvinnor ("Men who hate women"), published in English as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was awarded the prestigious Glass Key award as the best Nordic crime novel in 2005. His second novel, Flickan som lekte med elden (The Girl Who Played with Fire), received the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award in 2006. He also left the unfinished manuscript of the fourth novel, and synopses of the fifth and sixth in the series, which was intended to contain an eventual total of ten books.

The primary characters in the Millennium Trilogy series are Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth is an intelligent, eccentric woman in her 20s with a photographic memory whose social skills are rather poor. Blomkvist is an investigative journalist, a celebrity in his own right.

A television series based on the three completed books is in production by Yellow Bird Films of Ystad. Each book will be covered in two episodes (making a total of six 90-minute episodes). The first two episodes were released as a motion picture in February 2009, while the subsequent episodes were released directly on DVD in December 2009. The series will be broadcast on Swedish television in 2010.


Through his written works as well as to the press, Larsson openly admitted that a significant amount of his literary influences come in the form of American and British crime/detective fiction authors. In his work, he makes a habit of inserting the names of some of his favourites within the text – sometimes by making his characters read the books of his own influences. Topping the list are Sara Paretsky, Agatha Christie, Val McDermid, Dorothy Sayers and Enid Blyton. However, one of the strongest influences originates from his own country – Pippi Longstocking by Sweden’s much-loved children’s author, Astrid Lindgren. Larsson explained that one of his main recurring characters in the Millennium series, Lisbeth Salander, is actually based on Pippi Longstocking and in his books is reimagined as a grown up version of her.


  • Stieg Larsson, Anna-Lena Lodenius: "Extremhögern", Stockholm, 1991
  • Stieg Larsson, Mikael Ekman: "Sverigedemokraterna: den nationella rörelsen", Stockholm, 2001
  • Stieg Larsson, Cecilia Englund: "Debatten om hedersmord: feminism eller rasism", Stockholm, 2004
  • Richard Slätt, Maria Blomquist, Stieg Larsson, David Lagerlöf m.fl.: "Sverigedemokraterna från insidan", 2004

The Millennium series:

image image image

Periodicals edited
  • Svartvitt med Expo, 1999-2002
  • Expo, 2002-2004



Courtesy:  , WIKIPAEDIA

Filed under: Author of the week, , , ,


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