Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #264

Kathy Sandler
24 min readSep 25, 2023

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While I focus on Technology, Innovation, and Publishing, because I have a platform, I also flag items that I think are important and try to include a bunch of resources & opportunities. I’d love to hear what you think of this newsletter.

Important Items

Nebraska Mom Who Gave Teen Daughter Abortion Pills Sentenced To Two Years In Prison

MT @themaxburns People scoffed and said it was overdramatic to say that overturning Roe v. Wade would mean putting women in prison. Welcome to the new America.

Clarence Thomas Secretly Participated in Koch Network Donor Events

A ProPublica investigation has found that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas secretly participated in Koch network donor events — a breach of judicial norms that one federal judge said “takes my breath away.” The Koch network has brought multiple cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the most closely watched of the upcoming term. In 2018, Thomas flew to Palm Springs on a private jet and attended a dinner for the network’s donors. The justice was brought in, former network staffers said, in the hopes that such access would encourage donors to continue giving. That dinner happened during the network’s marquee fundraising event, typically open to donors who give at least $100,000 a year. Ethics experts said Thomas’ relationship with the network could call his impartiality in the case into doubt.

Iowa Republicans propose banning gay marriage in state Constitution

How Teachers Are Being Silenced on LGBTQ+ Issues and More

MT @PENamerica Being afraid to feature queer artists. Seeing a Mother’s Day reading canceled because of a picture book. Removing “Safe Space” stickers. These are among the consequences of educational intimidation laws being passed under the guise of “parents’ rights.”

Rockton (IL) residents react to drag protest expenses

MT @veronikellymars This perfectly encapsulates everything I’ve said now for almost 3 years: the bigots create a controversy, make it cost a lot of money, then turn around and complain about how their manufactured outrage proves how wasteful libraries are with tax money.

Biden to create new office of gun violence prevention

It’s about time! Hopefully something will be done!!

Women are returning to work, but there’s more to the story

After a 3-year period that saw their workforce participation plummet — so severe, it was labelled the “she-cession,” women’s employment has been rising, leading to current record numbers of women in the workforce — now topping pre-pandemic levels. Amid the encouraging news, the reality is women are returning to many of the same issues that have long plagued the workplace, well before the pandemic — and their future is more uncertain than men’s. The enduring lack of pay parity is one issue. Women still make just 83% of what men earn, and that figure widens for black, Hispanic and indigenous women as well as women 35 years and older. Also, in homes with male-female partnerships, much of the domestic labor still falls on women, just as it has in the past, regardless of whether they are in the workforce. The uncertain future of both the workplace and public health at large also means women are more vulnerable than men to future job loss: Even if women are able to retain their necessary remote work arrangements, they may be affected by proximity bias or flexibility stigma — phenomena in which bosses advantage in-person workers whom they can see, even unconsciously.

Pennsylvania Will Start Automatic Voter Registration

Wish all states did! Nearly half of all states have similar programs that combine getting a driver’s license or state ID card with registering to vote.

The Public Library as a Polling Place

Wish all libraries had this! Libraries make voting more accessible and inclusive.

VA Early Voting Has Begun

MT @imillhiser Early voting has begun in much of Virginia for the upcoming state legislative election, which is likely to decide whether Republicans have the votes to enact an abortion ban. If you want to vote early, this link will tell you where and when to vote.

‘I can’t believe we’re talking about polio in 2023’

MT @MikeSington COVID eroded trust in vaccines- the 2024 election may make it worse.

Type 2 diabetes rates in US youth rose 62% after COVID pandemic began

HT @Dakota_150

Federal government to start providing free coronavirus tests once again

MT @DrEricDing AMAZING — The US government will relaunch a program to provide free COVID19 home tests starting Monday September 25th, 2023. Officials say the tests are able to detect the latest variants.


DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.

The first wave of AI was classification of data, images, video, audio, language. the second wave is generative AI — users take input data to produce new data. The third wave will be interactive, where AI bots can carry out tasks by calling on other software & people to get stuff done

WTF is the fediverse?

Imagine posting a thought or piece of content on Threads and having followers from another platform, like Mastodon, like and comment on that post. It’s a possibility that’ll soon come to fruition if Meta keeps its promise to allow the nearly 10 million people who still use Threads to follow and interact with users on other platforms like Mastodon. This is all thanks to the fediverse, or the federated universe, which is best described as a group of social media networks that are independent but able to communicate with one another. The fediverse’s origins reportedly date back to the early 2000s. But in with an increasingly fragmented social media landscape, Twitter’s decline, data privacy concerns and a colossal creator economy, the promise of cross-platform communication in the fediverse has sparked curiosity for some in the industry, especially with Meta’s plan to make Threads part of it.


OpenAI’s new AI image generator pushes the limits in detail and prompt fidelity

OpenAI announces DALL-E 3, a next-gen AI image generator based on ChatGPT

GenAI Violated Copyright? No Problem

HT @DeepLearningAI_ Microsoft will cover the legal cost for any copyright violations that may arise from use of its Copilot generative AI features.

Amazon announces new generative AI version of Alexa

Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Will Limit Daily Number of New Titles Due to AI Junk

Amazon is “lowering the volume limits we have in place on new title creations” on its Kindle Direct Publishing platform amid efforts to limit AI-generated content.

Project Gutenberg puts 5,000 audiobooks online for free using synthetic speech

Project Gutenberg is dedicated to promulgating public domain literature in as many formats as possible. But it was only when they teamed up with MIT and Microsoft that they were able to perform the kind of code magic necessary to use AI-generated speech to bring these books to life. The problem with their archive is that the files are not uniformly formatted. They come from various sources, often error-ridden optical character recognition processes, and often are imperfectly edited and corrected by volunteers. “Each one of the e-books in Project Gutenberg is in its own idiosyncratic html format with lots of text you wouldn’t want to hear read aloud like tables, contents, indices, page numbers etc. The hardest part of the project was extracting the good text to read aloud.” explained project co-lead Mark Hamilton, affiliated with Microsoft and MIT. To solve this, they designed a system that worked through the archive and identified book files that were formatted similarly, then figured out which of those clusters were the best suited to being automatically read out.

The Authors Guild, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, David Baldacci, George R.R. Martin, and 13 Other Authors File Class-Action Suit Against OpenAI

Why media companies need to think like tech giants

HT @BoSacks Using AI in online and digital publishing

What the San Francisco AI Industry Boom Means for the Next Generation of Journalists, Authors and Screenwriters

YouTube Announces AI-Enabled Editing Products for Video Creators

YouTube will roll out a slew of AI-enabled features for creators, including tools to help w editing videos. For example, a generative AI “Dream Screen” will allow creators to add photo and video backgrounds to YouTube Shorts

Amazon continues to open up its logistics network

HT @benedictevans Amazon wants a piece of every single part of the supply chain: Amazon wants to monetize the vast network of warehouses and transportation it has built — even if that means helping merchants deliver goods to businesses that aren’t Amazon.

How the TikTok Shop pitch has gone down with marketers

TikTok Shop’s pitch to marketers is pretty straightforward: Don’t just buy ads on TikTok for products you’re selling elsewhere, actually sell them on the platform too. But marketers aren’t so sure just yet.

Publishing & Media

Can Private Equity Be … Nice?

The incoming owners of Simon & Schuster are giving employees a stake in the publisher. Is it corporate whitewashing, good capitalism, or both?

Does KKR Know that S&S is a Publisher?

MT @BookRiot At Slate, Megan Greenwell put the screws to a KKR executive in an interview about the private equity firm’s plans for newly acquired Simon & Schuster. Greenwell asked great questions, and Pete Stavros, KKR’s co-head of global private equity, answered them like a seasoned pro who has had extensive media training. Which is to say, he didn’t say much. Longtime publishing industry vet @KathMSchmidt offers a decoder ring for Stavros’s corporate speak in a new post at Publishing Confidential.

How TikTok Is Reshaping the American Cookbook

Booksellers Add TikTok to the Toolbox

The Best Writing Podcasts for All Aspiring Authors

MT @wordisdiversity Select your next writing podcast listen from this list by Audible:

Freelance Solidarity Project | Book Review Rate Sharing Survey

RT @mariskreizman Hi, I’m a freelance book critic and I know for sure that the more info we share with each other, the better! Help the Freelance Solidarity Project to better understand rates of pay for book criticism. If you’re a freelancer who covers books, click here:

For Hispanic Heritage Month, pick up a book highlighting Latinx writers and stories

There’s a Book for That: Hispanic & Latine Heritage Month for Young Readers


For Teens: Books You Should Read for Hispanic Heritage Month

42 Best Books On Disabilities Curated by a Disability Activist

Highest-Rated Books from Every Country

Fort Worth (TX) school creates clubs which has massively improved reading scores

HT @CherylRainfield @goodgoodgood

New Study Demonstrates the Importance of Diverse Books

MT @FirstBook Exciting news! We just released a groundbreaking study on the impact of diverse books in classroom libraries. Find out how these books are changing the reading habits of young students and boosting their reading scores. Learn more here!

National coalition announces commitment at Clinton Global Initiative 2023 Meeting to distribute 600,000 diverse children’s books

MT @diversebks4all At the Clinton Global Initiative 2023 meeting, the Diverse Books for All Coalition announced their commitment to purchasing and distributing 600,000 new high-quality, affordable diverse children’s books over the next 18 months.

More than $1 Million Raised for Bookstore, Comics Shop Workers

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, in cooperation with Humble Bundle and 17 publishers, has raised more than $1 million over six years to support owners and workers at bookstores and comics shops across the country.

Northern Ireland libraries can no longer afford to buy books

A funding shortfall means the country’s library service will operate with reduced hours, and is ‘unable to purchase new books or take requests at present’

The Rise of Literary Friendships

MT @adriennemwest “As sales figures turn artists into numbers, a fitting reaction is for artists to treat one with a greater sense of humanity, to create friendships and communities defined by enthusiasm and mutual aid.”

New Guidelines for Evaluating Literary Translation in Hiring and Promotion Decisions

RT @tachtco If you’re in academia and also a literary translator, these guidelines are designed to help you advocate for how translation counts in tenure/promotion/reappointment. Please share widely, and sign on!

Lessons Learned From the Print Hub

New York Times Digital Journalist Tries Print: After a few months writing headlines for the print New York Times, one journalist has some takeaways: “The job of print editors is hard.”

Amazon Evicts More Creators

Is Quibi finally dead? Maybe…Podcast on Amazon’s decision to kill their periodicals business, putting more media companies and creators out of business.

Time doubles down on Opinion content

Sounds a bit like the Forbes model: Time Launches Editorial Platform for Opinions: Time’s new editorial platform, called Time100 Voices, is dedicated to elevating perspectives from global thought leaders.

Hearst Magazines’ Lisa Howard says advertiser requests for 2024 are on the upswing

Plenty can change in a year, particularly in the publishing industry. A year after the media business slipped into a downturn, the upswing seems to have started, at least for Hearst Magazines.

Elle magazine (Australia) returns to print as ‘readers tire of digital deluge’

HT @BoSacks

Advance plots new Gulf Coast news site after Times-Picayune sale

MT @sarafischer Local news giant Advance is plotting a new Gulf Coast news site, 4 yrs after it sold New Orleans Times-Picayune — That 2019 sale led to a talent bloodbath. 161 people were laid off.

Rupert Murdoch to Step Down as Chair of Fox and News Corp After Seven-Decade Career

92-year-old Murdoch will exit roles atop News Corp and Fox in November and be appointed chairman emeritus.

Hollywood is paying a steep price for never really figuring out the streaming model

Media Giants Yet to Find Model for Streaming: The media industry has been upended by the consumer shift to streaming, and legacy media giants are still figuring out how to make it work.

Schools saw a 33% increase in book bans last year

“Hyperbolic and misleading rhetoric continues to ignite fear over the types of books in schools. And yet, 75 percent of all banned books are specifically written and selected for young audiences,” explained Kasey Meehan, program director for PEN’s Freedom to Read Program. “Florida isn’t an anomaly — it’s providing a playbook for other states to follow suit.” “We should trust our teachers and librarians to do their jobs. If you have a worldview that can be undone by a book, I would submit that the problem is not with the book,” said YA author John Green. The average publication date of the most banned books is 2005, making them an average of 18 years old.

Banning of Native Voices/Books

MT @debreese Please share! Today I added three more Native-authored books to my log of Native writers whose books are being challenged or banned. Details at my site:

Book Bans Are Rising Sharply in Public Libraries

HT @KathMSchmidt Two years into a surge in book banning efforts across the country, restrictions that were largely happening in school libraries, where they affected children, are now affecting the wider community as well.

Book Challenges Are Having a Chilling Effect on School Librarians Nationwide

Katy ISD (TX) bans 14 more books, including Dr. Seuss title, after putting $93K in books in storage

MT @PENamerica Book banners who claim they are only targeting “pornography” have created a new, Orwellian definition of the word, so extreme that, in one Texas school district, it now includes Wacky Wednesday by Dr. Seuss and a book about a crayon that lost its wrapper.

Children’s book banned for some CMS (NC) students after parent complaints

HT @veronikellymars The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district banned “Red: A Crayon’s Story” after complaints about the content of the book were challenged under the Parent’s Bill of Rights. The book centers around a crayon with a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. The crayon teacher, parents, and classmates all try to help him be red. When this doesn’t work, a pair of scissors tries to help him be red by snipping his label. Eventually, the red crayon discovers what readers have known all along: It’s blue. The lesson, according to the book’s publishers, is finding the courage to be true to your inner self.

Nova Scotia schools remove The Hate U Give from Grade 8 curriculums due to profanity

Elo Agbada, who is in Grade 11 at Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford, said she read the book for class and it led to some insightful discussions, despite some classmates never having heard of police brutality. Damini Awoyiga, also in Grade 11 at Charles P. Allen High School, said the book should be taught in classrooms because it provides much-needed context about how Black people are affected by racial discrimination and police violence in their day-to-day lives. “It had a really big impact on me, and it made me really think that if a book that has that much impact on me is taken away from other students that could perhaps learn from that experience, then it would be a really negative thing that would happen.”

Texas teacher fired after assigning an illustrated Anne Frank book

RT @jonfreadom Another teacher fired. This time for assigning students to read an adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank.

Middle school students cannot borrow Fahrenheit 451 or any YA books without parental permission in Dripping Springs ISD (TX)

Her students reported her for a lesson on race. Can she trust them again?

Read the gift article. Mary Wood’s school reprimanded her for teaching a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Now she hopes her bond with students can survive South Carolina’s politics. HT @lydiakiesling SC is 1 of 18 states to restrict education on race since 2021, per an Education Week tally. At least 1/2 the country passed laws that limit instruction on race, history, sex or gender identity, per WaPo analysis.

Library books have faced challenges for decades, but a recent shift has become more organized as a proxy culture war

Florida leads states for book bans as some parents seek more review of students’ reading materials

RT @smtravis “These books are not being banned from the schools,” a Moms for Liberty parent says. She said you can still get the books at public library or Amazon. But isn’t that still being banned from schools? No one’s saying Amazon is banning books, Schools are.

Email exchanges show attorneys’ confusion and frustration over Florida’s new education laws

MT @FLFreedomRead “I don’t know how we protect staff here without banning every single book that has any type of coming of age story line.” This is why “err on the side of caution” = censorship.

Open Books, Open Minds

HT @PENamerica Per Jesmyn Ward: “This erasure of different voices feels as if it is pushing us ever closer to a more desolate tomorrow — one where even more kids feel unseen, where the magical and necessary work of story is stymied while the Wipers rend and gnash and deprive brave, deeply feeling, sensitive children of the stories they need the most.”

In a Blistering Opinion, Judge Officially Blocks Texas Book Rating Law

Hillsborough County (FL) school votes to keep book in library under the first challenge this year

MT @FLFreedomRead When books are read in their entirety, debated in good faith through a committee, and the author’s intent for the work is considered, the books are more than likely to stay. That’s why they want to circumvent the review process.

Ariana Grande, Guillermo del Toro, Padma Lakshmi and More Sign Open Letter Denouncing Book Bans and Their “Chilling Effect”

“It’s only a matter of time before regressive, suppressive ideologues will shift their focus toward other forms of art and entertainment,” warns the letter, headed up by LeVar Burton and MoveOn Political Action.

Student Groups Against Book Bans

Via @veronikellymars Although book censorship impacts every single one of us — it impacts our democracy on a nationwide level — it is the students who are most impacted. They are the ones who lose the ability to access materials that educate, enrich, and entertain and more, given that the vast majority of books being banned right now are those by or about people of color and queer people, students know, see, and feel the impact of these decisions on them beyond the covers of those books. Marginalized teens see themselves being labeled inappropriate, disgusting, and more, all of which takes a tremendous toll on their mental health. Take the opportunity to get to know these teenagers doing important, relevant, and vital work in their schools and communities more broadly. Follow them on social media and offer them the encouragement and support they deserve.

‘Reading is resistance’: students and parents take on DeSantis’s book bans

Florida governor’s constant attacks on the education system have led to an increasing backlash from a wide range of people

New S&S Program, Books Belong, Takes Aim at Book Bans

Simon & Schuster is introducing a new “multi-platform education and resources program,” Books Belong, as part of an effort to expand the publisher’s response to the book bans and challenges.

BPL Borrowed and Banned Podcast

MT @BKLYNlibrary We launched a new podcast series to help you understand what’s going on with book bans, and what you can do about it. Over 7 episodes Borrowed and Banned will tell the story of America’s ideological war with its bookshelves.

New guidelines urge UK libraries not to avoid controversial books and ideas

‘In a polarised world, it is important our sector is clear in its opposition to censorship’ says the Cilip report, published as services increasingly asked to remove books

Children’s Books Ireland launches reading campaign in response to anti-LGBT protests

Children’s Books Ireland has launched the Reading Matters campaign in response to anti-LGBTQ+ book protests held by right-wing groups.

10 Ways to Get Involved in Your Local Public Library

HT @jbakernyc Hand out copies of this “10 Ways to Get Involved in Your Local Public Library” flier in your community (and do those ten things!). Please spread the word/get involved!

Here’s how you can help fight censorship

Resources & Opportunities

Celebrating Latina Storytellers

Hope to see you at this in-person event that I helped plan! New speakers announced: Check out the AWESOME line-up for this power panel of Latina storytellers! Authors, agents, editors, magazines, books, podcasts, journalism — we’ve got it covered!! 10/3 5:30–7:30pm ET NYC. $20 for WMG members, $25 non-members. REGISTER ASAP!

Gail Papp and Rose Styron Talking Memoirs

MT @WMG_NYC Sign up today for a special event with Gail Papp and Rose Styron on the #memoir writing process, the challenge of writing about lives lived in public, and tips for aspiring memoir writers. This event is free for WMG members and $15.00 for non-members.

CharityBuzz Auction Item to Support WMG: Custom Dog Portrait

MT @JulieBlattberg Support the Women’s Media Group by bidding on a custom pup portrait, generously donated by Steve Alpert.

Authors for Voices of Color Auction to Support We Need Diverse Books

The fourth annual Authors for Voices of Color silent auction will be held September 26–October 3.

Why your voice matters, even as censorship increases

MT @pbromberg Don’t miss this free, virtual Banned Books Week panel discussion with BookRiot’s Kelly Jensen and EveryLibrary’s John Chrastka.

#PitBlk is Back

RT @_Pitch_Blaque UPDATE: The 2nd annual #PitBLK has been moved to 10/17/23 from 8a-8p EST!! We’ve migrated the event to a new platform where participants can upload up to 3 pitches by 10/14/23 at 5p EST. Visit the new platform for more info on the rules and process!

Latine-Owned +/or Managed Bookstores

HT @wordisdiversity Celebrate Latine-owned and/or managed bookstores during Latine Hispanic Heritage Month (9/15–10/15).

The McGraw Fellowship for Business Journalism

MT @womenjournos Are you an experienced journalist with an idea for a high-impact story that “follows the money?” The McGraw Center via Newmark J School is accepting applications for its fall fellowship until Oct. 6.

ALA 2024 Scholarship Application Now Open

RT @ALALibrary Need some 💰 to help pay for library school? More than $300,000 is available annually through the ALA Scholarship Program. Submissions are open through March 1, 2024. Get your application in early!

2024 Kweli Fellowship Program

HT ⁦@marcelalandres

The Litowitz MFA+MA Program in Creatie Writing and English

MT @sarahschulman3 Applications are open for the Northwestern three year dual degree MFA/MA. FULLY FUNDED plus health insurance, plus $35,000 a year stipend for all three years. We are taking 2 students in Poetry and 2 students in nonfiction this year. Deadline: December 12, 2023.

Penguin Random House Internships

Note: I can’t help with this. MT @MarindaOnline 📢📢📢 Applications for Penguin Random House internships are live!🐧🏠📚 Roles are available for production editorial, design, publicity, and more!

🗓️10 weeks

🕒28 hrs/week



You do not need to be a current student to apply! #teamPRH

Brooklyn Book Festival Schedule is Live!

9 days of events from September 24th — October 2nd, starting with our Virtual Festival Day on September 24th. Plus, our citywide Bookend events kick-off that day. The Festival Day and Literary Marketplace, the city’s largest free literary celebration, is October 1st and kids can meet and create projects with the favorite authors on Children’s Day September 30th. This year’s participants include Hilton Als, Jamel Brinkley, Nicole Chung, Roxane Gay, Ibram X. Kendi, Karl Ove Knausgård, Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates, Emma Straub, Jeff VanderMeer, Colson Whitehead, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Authors & Writers Out Loud series

HT @bronxisreading

ADCOLOR x Brainlabs NYC: “No Me Digas” Panel & Celebratory Reception

MT @ADCOLOR In celebration of Latine & Hispanic Heritage Month, ADCOLOR and Brainlabs invite you to attend No Me Digas (“Wait, don’t tell me…”), a hybrid panel and celebratory reception!

Jumpstart a Career in Film & TV Production

Free event 9/27 6:30–8pm at SVA Theatre 333 West 23rd Street.

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Kathy Sandler

Sr Mgr, Content Applications, Penguin Random House * Innovation * Technology * Publishing * Opinions expressed are my own