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After Protest, Booksellers Are Victorious Against Amazon Subsidiary

SAN FRANCISCO — A worldwide strike by antiquarian booksellers against an Amazon subsidiary proved successful after two days, with the retailer apologizing and saying it would cancel the actions that prompted the protest.It was a rare concerted uprising against any part of Amazon by any of its millions of suppliers, leading to an even rarer capitulation. Even the book dealers said they were surprised at the sudden reversal by AbeBooks, the company’s secondhand and rare bookselling network.The uprising, which involved nearly 600 booksellers in 27 countries removing about four million books, was set off by the retailer’s decision to cut off stores in five countries: the Czech…

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Nonfiction: Where Trolls Reigned Free: A New History of Reddit

WE ARE THE NERDS The Birth and Tumultuous Life of Reddit, the Internet’s Culture Laboratory By Christine Lagorio-Chafkin Illustrated. 492 pp. Hachette Books. $28.Five years ago, it seemed like a swell idea for Mark Zuckerberg to connect every human being on the planet, because we would all sit around singing “Kumbaya” and ordering from Amazon. Journalists revered Twitter for giving a megaphone to oppressed groups like, well, journalists. Google, figuring it had solved the problems of the living, launched a venture to defeat death.Even then, at a moment of techno-optimism we are unlikely to see again in our lifetimes, Reddit was a toxic swamp. It was the…

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Computer Stories: A.I. Is Beginning to Assist Novelists

BERKELEY, Calif. — Robin Sloan has a collaborator on his new novel: a computer.The idea that a novelist is someone struggling alone in a room, equipped with nothing more than determination and inspiration, could soon be obsolete. Mr. Sloan is writing his book with the help of home-brewed software that finishes his sentences with the push of a tab key.It’s probably too early to add “novelist” to the long list of jobs that artificial intelligence will eliminate. But if you watch Mr. Sloan at work, it is quickly clear that programming is on the verge of redefining creativity.Mr. Sloan, who won acclaim for his debut, “Mr. Penumbra’s…

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State of the Art: Silicon Valley’s Keystone Problem: ‘A Monoculture of Thought’

Consider, for instance, how women are treated in “The Big Disruption.” Anahata is egregiously misogynistic, which Ms. Powell said was inspired by her time at Badoo more than Google (though Google, of course, has had its own well-documented struggles hiring more women).There are no women of importance in Anahata’s ranks, and the company exploits its few female employees in ways that make Uber look good in comparison. Still, the only female character in the book, a Friedan-spouting feminist, buys into the company completely. She’s happy to paper over Anahata’s problems by offering some high-minded, fanciful justification for terrible behavior today — because to get ahead in tech…

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Nonfiction: The Father of Personal Computing Who Was Also a Terrible Dad

The reader is left to wonder whether Lisa is fully aware of just how disturbing this dynamic was. In another instance that would have benefited from perspective, she recounts a moment when she is 14 and tries to be close to Steve by sitting, uneasily, on his lap, trembling with fear, excitement and a “quaking electric love,” wishing they could relate like normal daughters and fathers. At one point she calls his behavior “inappropriate,” but at the end of the book she assures him that he had been “good about sex.” Was she trying to appease the aggressor, or does she not understand the scenes she has…

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What to Read While You Wait for That Memoir of Steve Jobs to Hit Stores

AdvertisementLisa Brennan-Jobs’s “Small Fry” comes out Sept. 4. In the meantime, here are other memoirs about complicated family dynamics that you might want to pick up.By Susan EllingwoodAug. 24, 2018ImageCreditFrances F. Denny for The New York TimesIn her profile of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Times reporter Nellie Bowles offers this insightful comment about Steve Jobs’s oldest daughter whose memoir, “Small Fry,” hits shelves next month: Ms. Brennan-Jobs wants readers to know that she didn’t intend the book to be a “tell-all exposé,” and that she “has absolved” her father for his vicious treatment of her.“Ms. Brennan-Jobs’s forgiveness is one thing,” writes Ms. Bowles. “What’s tricky is that she wants…

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Profile: In ‘Small Fry,’ Steve Jobs Comes Across as a Jerk. His Daughter Forgives Him. Should We?

‘I Hope Thanksgiving’s OK’None of that, of course, was imaginable when Ms. Brennan-Jobs was born on May 17, 1978, on a commune farm in Oregon. Her parents, who had met in high school in Cupertino, Calif., were both 23. Mr. Jobs arrived days after the birth and helped name her, but refused to acknowledge that he was the father. To support her family, Ms. Brennan cleaned houses and used government assistance. Only after the government sued Mr. Jobs did he agree to pay child support.“Small Fry” describes how Mr. Jobs slowly took a greater interest in his daughter, taking her skating and coming over to her house…

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Tech We’re Using: When a Tech Reporter Doesn’t Use Much Tech

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? David Streitfeld, a technology reporter in San Francisco, discussed the tech he’s using — and not using.For a tech journalist, you don’t use a lot of tech.One of the great victories of the tech industry was insisting that if you didn’t love its products, and by extension the companies themselves, you were not fit to cover it. I never understood how that edict gained traction. We don’t think that crooks make the best crime reporters.I took my inspiration from writers I admired — Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guin, Don…

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Amazon’s Curious Case of the $2,630.52 Used Paperback

The wild book prices were in the remote corners of the Amazon bookstore that the retailer does not pay much attention to, said Guru Hariharan, chief executive of Boomerang Commerce, which develops artificial intelligence technology for retailers and brands.Third-party sellers, he said, come in all shapes and sizes — from well-respected national brands that are trying to maintain some independence from Amazon to entrepreneurial individuals who use Amazon’s marketplace as an arbitrage opportunity. These sellers list products they have access to, adjusting price and inventory to drive profits.Then there are the wild pricing specialists, who sell both new and secondhand copies.“By making these books appear scarce, they…

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Book Entry: Review: ‘In Praise of Wasting Time’ Speaks Ominously of a Digital ‘Grid’

The M.I.T. professor Alan Lightman has produced a highly personal polemic targeting the subversive impact on civilization of the increasingly frenetic pace of life. His book, “In Praise of Wasting Time,” proposes “that half our waking minds be designated and saved for quiet reflection.” Failure to heed his recommendation, Professor Lightman warns, will result in the collective destruction of “our inner selves and our creative capacities.”In reaching this conclusion, Professor Lightman, an eclectic physicist, novelist and essayist, draws on personal experience and historical anecdotes as well as research on a variety of topics like creativity and loneliness, productivity and meditation. The common culprit behind “today’s time-driven, wired…

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