Bookstore Owner Takes California to Court

Want a signed copy of your favorite author’s novel? Get ready to jump through some hoops. Plus, more of the day’s literary news

There’s good news and bad news on the literary front today: a new California law has really ticked off a bookstore owner, rare books by President Obama’s father were sold at auction, Chuck Palahniuk has been creating coloring books, and finally yes, this is really happening outside of Fahrenheit 451: more than 6,000 books were just burned in Libya.

New California law requires authentication of autographed merch

Getting an autographed book in California just got a whole lot tougher, and booksellers aren’t standing for it. According to a new law in the Golden State, every piece of autographed merchandise valued at more than $5 must be authenticated. The rule was initially intended to apply to sports memorabilia, but in effect covers anything with a signature on it. Bill Petrocelli, who co-owns Bay Area bookstore Book Passage, has decided to go ahead and sue the state over this new regulation. Book Passage is a beloved community locale that sells books and hosts over 700 author events. All autographed books are sold for their cover place (no premiums!), but now that practice could prove unworkable. In addition to producing certificates of authenticity, the law would require booksellers to keep detailed records of every (autographed) sale for seven years, with excessive penalties hanging over their heads if they fail to do so. Petrocelli claims this extensive process will both be an inconvenience and a breach of customers’ privacy rights. As someone who hates waiting in long lines and loves book signings, I wish Bill the best of luck with his lawsuit.

[NPR/Mandalit Del Barco]

SOLD: Obama Sr.’s books put up for auction

One little book decided the course of history. Books written by former president Barack Obama’s father (of an identical name) were put up for auction by Dutch online auction house Adams Amsterdam Auction and have now been sold. Written in the 1950’s and in Obama Sr.’s native language, Luo, the series of books was intended to promote adult literacy in Africa. Director of the program Elizabeth Mooney noticed the author’s talent and encouraged him to apply to an overseas study program at the University of Hawaii. As we all know, the rest is history…In Hawaii, he met Ann Dunham and married her; their union eventually graced us with future President Barack Obama. For this reason and also on account of their rarity, these books possess a special significance. The auctioned set was owned by a private Dutch citizen who bought the books to teach himself Luo when he was a volunteer in Africa. Besides this set, there are only two known copies: one owned by the Library of Congress, and the other by Northwestern University.

[NY Times/Nina Siegel]

Chuck Palahniuk is releasing his second coloring book novella

Chuck Palahniuk is a man of many talents. Besides being the award-winning Fight Club novelist and freelance journalist, the renowned author can now add coloring-book creator to his résumé. Last year, Palahniuk hopped on the adult coloring book bandwagon when he came out with Bait: Off-Color Stories For You To Color, which paired his stories with illustrations from various artists. His second novella (his first was Inclinations in 2015), Legacy: An Off-Color Novella For You To Color will be released on November 7th. It will feature artists such as Duncan Fegredo and Buffy the Vampire Slayer cover artist Steve Morris. According to Palahniuk, Legacy will be a fantasy story based in the modern world. And knowing Chuck, it should definitely be…interesting. (The first rule of coloring books is you don’t talk about coloring books. Or is that the second rule?)

[EW/Christian Holub]

Forces in Libya are seizing and burning books

Books, as popular conduits of society’s multitudinous ideas, often have to suffer the unfortunate consequences of closed-mindedness. Some people are even hellbent on eliminating ideas they find disagreeable. According to a video on a Libyan media platform, police forces in Benghazi, loyal to rogue general Khalifa Haftar, have now set fire to more than 6,000 books. The video shows a police officer claiming the tomes promote violence and the “ideas of Muslim brotherhood.” This is nothing new for Libya; authorities have been seizing books they deem “erotic” or “anti-Islamic” for quite some time now. In January, following a roundup of books deemed to advocate secularism, over 100 Libyan writers and a roster of international artists and academics condemned this censorship, calling it “intellectual terrorism.” This is all starting to sound a little too Fahrenheit 451 for our liking.

[Al Jazeera]

Double Take: Dan Chaon’s ‘Ill Will’ is the Darkest Novel You’ll Read This Year

About the Author

More Like This

Why It Matters That Amazon Shipped Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” a Week Early

The retail supergiant is big enough to ignore embargo agreements—and that's bad news for indie booksellers like me

Sep 6 - Lexi Beach

14 Authors Who Started Out as Booksellers

Their retail day jobs primed these writers for literary success

Aug 9 - Kathryn Jan Estavillo

In Memory of Brazenhead, the Secret Bookstore That Felt Like a Magical Portal

Michael Seidenberg, who died this week, created a real-life space that was like walking into a book

Jul 12 - Helena Fitzgerald