Fans go ballistic after book says Michael Jackson died a virgin

mjA new tactic has emerged in the book industry: Foes of new titles flood Amazon with one-star reviews to try to torpedo sales and even get books removed from the website, the New York Times reports.
Among the recent victims: Randall Sullivan, author of “Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson.”
In the book, according to a Times story published this week:

Sullivan writes that Jackson’s overuse of plastic surgery reduced his nose to little more than a pair of nostrils and that he died a virgin despite being married twice. These points in particular seem to infuriate the fans.

A group called the MJRapid ResponseTeam – mission: “Defending the king and promoting his legacy” – ran a campaign to trash the book, managing to get several favorable reviews “erased” and “even took credit for Amazon’s briefly removing the book from sale,” the Times said.
Trevor Pinch, a Cornell sociologist, has studied Amazon reviews. The Times quoted him as saying:

Books used to die by being ignored, but now they can be killed — and perhaps unjustly killed. In theory, a very good book could be killed by a group of people for malicious reasons.

Today in Introduction to Mass Communication, we’re going to talk about the book industry. The topic is covered in chapter 3 of Baran’s Introduction to Mass Communication. A few notes from that chapter are below:

    • Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Former book burner Guy Montag watches an old woman burn to death with her books. He says: “There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house…”

  • Books have traditionally been a powerful force of social and cultural change (Examples: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Our Bodies, Ourselves”).
  • Baran: “Books tend to encourage personal reflection… We are along when we read a book.”
  • Censorship. YouTube: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

National Endowment for the Arts: Reading proficiency is declining among people 15 to 24 years old. Time reading anything at all: 7 to 10 minutes per day. Time watching TV: 2 1/2 hours. NEA chair Dana Gioia: “Because these people read less, they read less well. Because they read less well, they do more poorly in school, in the job market, in civic life.”
Question for discussion: What are the consequences of a decline in leisure reading?

Impact of Internet and digital technology on book industry. Talking points:

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