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When thugs win

So, the sorry little dictator in charge of North Korea wins Round 1.

He hacks Sony and spreads its laundry all across the web. Then he wins Round 2: He scares movie-house owners into believing he'll targe them if they play a movie that has his assassination as a central plot point. Then he wins Round 3: He gets Sony to abandon the film altogether.

For Round 4, he now threatens the United States with -- well, something -- if we retaliate for the hack attack.

So, what should the world's most powerful nation do?

Maybe take a play from Israel's game dealing with Iranian nuclear weapons manufacturing plants.

And take a play from Putin's game dealing with powerful internal enemies.

Surely there's a way to deal with the little man and his minions that Silicon Valley could figure out.

President Obama is right: He can't be allowed to get away with telling us what to publish.

No surprise

This week's report about the closing and opening of magazines during 2014 contained no surprises at all.

MediaFinder.com said 190 magazines were launched this year, compared to 185 last year. Ninety-nine magazines closed, compared to 56 in 2013.

Among those that were closed was USA Weekend, a bit of fluff that's been around for about 20 years or so.

USA Weekend was a competitor for Parade magazine. Newspapers could buy one of the publications for Sunday distribution. The idea was that a Sunday magazine would be a bonus for weekend editions.

I would imagine that Parade is on its last legs. It sure looks like it when I open the pathetic little effort out of the American-Statesman's Sunday paper.

I'm not surprised, either, that so many monthly publications are closing. The idea of receiving a magazine once a month is just plain quaint in this day and age. I only subscribe to one these days, and I read it online, which is not a good way to access the material.

Most of the magazines launched this year were regional in subject matter, like California Home & Design. That makes sense. You're less likely to run across information like that offered in regional publications in online sources.

Print's future in the magazine realm may well be in things like Texas Monthly, not in things like The Nation and Time and Newsweek.

The top books

Amazon released its list of best-selling books for 2014 today.

The top-selling book overall was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. The top-selling kids/teen book was The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.

In addition to those, Amazon said the most wished for book of the year was All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. And the most gifted book was Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinne.

We ran some numbers for the books most checked out during 2014 from the Wimberley library, and found that No. 1 was Carnal Curiosity by Stuart Woods, followed by Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins, The Finisher by Baldacci and Moving Target by J.A. Jance.

The top-circulating junior fiction book was Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not So Glam TV Star. The top-circulating picture book was Frozen.

By the way, that last one was no surprise at all. The Frozen franchise is crazy.

Tops in Boston -- why?

Just for a little while I was scratching my head over the list of the top 10 most-borrowed titles at the Boston Public Library for 2014.

At No. 1: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. And at No. 2: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Nos. 8, 9 and 10 are Catching Fire, Mockingjay and The Hunger Games, all by Suzanne Collins.

So, what's going on here, I wondered.

I conferred with young-adult librarian Kristina Minor, and we noodled it out: Five of the top 10 came out as movies this year. The other five didn't, but they were long-time best-sellers. No. 3 was The Goldfinch, No. 4 The Cuckoo's Calling, No. 5 Inferno, No. 6 Fifty Shades of Grey and No. 7 And the Mountains Echoed.

If Frozen had come out as a book, it would be in the list, I'm guessing.

So, does the movie drive people to the book? Or does the book drive people to the movie?

I have no idea, although I sure have seen some movies that I would never have understood without having read the book first (Hunt for Red October comes immediately to mind).

 

Must-see TV?

Darn.

I live the life of a librarian, but you'd think I'd come out of my shell long enough to know that a major movie channel has produced an entire series based on what I and my colleagues here do for a living.

Somehow I missed "The Librarian," the TNT show that aired last Sunday in prime time.

TNT's website says the show "centers on an ancient organization hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library dedicated to protecting an unknowing world from the secret, magical reality hidden all around."

Under the library?

Secret reality?

In the advertisement I saw for the series there IS an old guy in a suit, wearing a bow tie, and there's another Anglo guy wielding an automatic rifle who ... well, if you hold your mouth just right and squint ... DOES look a lot like me with spiky hair!

Who knew!