The Myth Of The Disappearing Book

Simone Natale, Loughborough University and Andrea Ballatore, Birkbeck, University of London

After years of sales growth, major publishers reported a fall in their e-book sales for the first time this year, introducing new doubts about the potential of e-books in the publishing industry. A Penguin executive even admitted recently that the e-books hype may have driven unwise investment, with the company losing too much confidence in “the power of the word on the page.”

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It’s Official: Inequality, Climate Change & Social Polarisation Are Bad For You

Jonathan Michie, University of Oxford

This year’s Global Risks Report from the World Economic Forum warns that rising income inequality and societal polarisation could create further problems if urgent action isn’t taken -– and that’s after the car-crash that was 2016. Amen to that. It is somehow appropriate that the report is published just days after the death of Tony Atkinson, the social scientist who did more than any other to point to the importance of income inequality as an issue, and to argue that action could and should be taken.

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Pharma Execs Arrested in Shockingly Organized Scheme to Overprescribe Notorious Opioid

On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that overdose deaths caused by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—the drug that killed Prince—rose by nearly 75 percent in 2015. On the same day, federal prosecutors in Massachusetts announced the arrest of six former employees, including a former CEO and two former vice presidents, of the Phoenix-based and NASDAQ-traded fentanyl producer Insys Therapeutics. The individuals are charged with bribing doctors and otherwise conspiring to induce the overprescription of a fentanyl product called Subsys.

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Can A Russian-Funded Cable Network Actually Promote Free Press In The U.S.?

Sophia A. McClennen, Pennsylvania State University

With the recently announced shutdown of Al Jazeera America, the alternative cable news scene is in flux.

Launched as a corrective to the politicized and spectacle-heavy programming of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, Al Jazeera America positioned itself as a fact-based, unbiased news source. Even though the network won awards for reporting, the Qatari government-funded channel suffered from the public perception that it had an anti-Western, pro-Islamic stance. Amid lowering gas prices and reports of other financial woes, the channel announced it would shut down its U.S. operations at the end of April.

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Why So Many Americans Think They're #Blessed

Joseph P. Laycock, Texas State University

Last month, my colleagues and I were moved by a beautiful and tragic New York Times editorial by Kate Bowler, a religion professor from Duke Divinity School who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

Bowler recently wrote a book – Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel – that has been hailed as the first monograph tracing the history of the prosperity gospel in America. The prosperity gospel, Bowler explains, is “the belief that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith.”

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Are We In The Midst Of A Public Space Crisis?

Zenovia Toloudi, Dartmouth College

Public space that encourages dialogue and welcomes everyone – regardless of age, wealth, race, religion or sexual orientation – is a core aspect of democracy. As artist and social activist Krzysztof Wodizko put it, these places exist for both “the privileged and the unwanted.”

But few of today’s public spaces adequately prioritize this mission.

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