Carlos Fuentes

Newly released intelligence documents reveal that the FBI and State Department monitored renowned Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes for more than two decades because of his friendship with Fidel Castro, and denied him entry to the U.S. on at least two occasions.

To help support local bookstores, French culture minister Aurelie Filippetti has proposed banning Amazon from offering free shipping and large discounts in France. While Amazon makes enough to be able to afford to lose money on free shipping, competitors have complained that because of their deals, “the competition is unfair.... No other book retailer, whether a small or large book or even a chain, can allow itself to lose that much money.” French law currently prohibits booksellers from discounting books more than five percent below the publisher’s price.

In an appearance on the Charlie Rose Show last week, New York Public Library trustee and head of the investment firm Blackstone Capital Stephen Schwarzman revealed that the NYPL plan to overhaul the library system had been years in the making. Schwarzman explained that before donating $100 million to the NYPL in 2008, he was told exactly what he would get in return: When “the head of the library came over to visit me [about the $100 million]” he told Rose, the NYPL trustees “knew how they were going to spend it...to reconfigure the library system.”

The Moby Lives blog highlights a Kickstarter project for a new book review called Double Blind Book Reviews, which would take a "scientific" approach to identifying literary significance: “Basically manuscripts submitted for review have the name of the author and the title removed and replaced by a number and the genre. This insures no personal bias on the part of the reviewer. Conversely no reviewer is connected to any reviews and all reviews will published only on our website.” So far, the approach doesn’t seem to have attracted many followers—the founders have raised $105 of the requested $20,000.

In an essay addressed to libertarians, Raiders punter Chris Kluwe explains why nobody should read Ayn Rand.

Is it possible to make a living as a freelance writer? The answer is no, for most people. At the Awl, Noah Davis looks at the economics of the new gig economy, and figures out how it can work for writers—they have to work constantly and try to land web assignments—and for magazines, who have typically put more money into their print magazines than their websites. But not all magazines follow that model—Davis singles out the New Yorker, which pays $250 per web piece. “Consider the economics: If NewYorker.com publishes eight pieces a day—not unreasonable at all—they pay out $2,000 a day. That's half a million a year, just in freelance, and also not an insignificant amount of money.”

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