Stacy Schiff, photo by Sheva Fruitman

Why did indie publisher Soft Skull Press close its New York offices after seventeen years in the city? The Observer investigates.

As the debate about Amazon's sponsorship of the Best Translated Book Awards continues, the online bookselling giant has announced the first release of its new translation imprint, AmazonCrossing: Guinean author Tierno Monénembo's The King of Kahel, a novel based on the life of Olivier de Sanderval, an early colonizer of West Africa.

New York magazine has taken the iPad plunge with its new app, which integrates print content with live feeds from their blogs.

Tonight, Barnes and Noble hosts biographer Stacy Schiff, whose Cleopatra: A Life depicts the Queen of Kings.

In "E-book Readers Come of Age" the gadget blog Ars Technica sings a hymn praising the Kindle 3, with one dissonant note: "It's not all good news. The Kindle interface still feels like something that escaped from 1985 and time-traveled into the future."


Dave Eggers's World Series sketch for San Francisco's Bay Citizen.

George W. Bush will be the headliner at this year's Miami Book Fair. On November 14, he'll give a straight-shooting talk about his memoir, Decision Points, which comes out a week from today. In the Drudge Report's exclusive preview, we learn that Bush's book begins with a trope found in so much of great literature, namely, a drinking binge: "Can you remember the last time you didn't have a drink?"

MobyLives airs some behind-the-scenes grumbling from the National Book Critics Circle Award, posting this remark from a dispirited anonymous board member: "Things are just as problematic at the NBCC as everywhere: none of the members have read all the submitted books, anything edgy or politically incorrect has no chance (since it always offends someone), and often the winners are books that the board members are merely 'okay' with."

Author and McSweeney's founder Dave Eggers sketches the World Series-winning San Francisco Giants and their fans.

An interview with Jay Rubin, Haruki Murakami's translator, who is at work on the Japanese author's latest book, 1Q84, set to be released in the US in fall 2011.

Hillary Mantel, the author of the 2009 Booker-winning novel Wolf Hall, writes a diary for the London Review of Books detailing a recent medical operation, considering the language of illness, and sparring with Virginia Woolf: "When Virginia Woolf’s doctors forbade her to write, she obeyed them. Which makes me ask, what kind of wuss was Woolf?" For those curious about Woolf's On Being Ill, here's a review by Francine Prose from the spring 2003 issue of Bookforum.


Joy Division, from Kevin Cummins's new book of the band, published by Rizzoli.

Last week, Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson announced that he was withdrawing his imprint's books from the Best Translated Book awards because the "predatory and thuggish" Amazon.com is sponsoring the contest. Open Letter publisher Chad Post, who secured the Amazon funding for the prize, has responded to Johnson, writing that the judges may go ahead and award a Melville House book anyway, and wonders if Johnson is "also withdrawing support from PEN America, the 92nd St. Y, and all of these other organizations that have received funding from Amazon."

Novelist Arundhati Roy’s Delhi house was surrounded by protestors who chanted, "Take back your statement, else leave India." Roy is at risk for arrest for saying that the disputed territory of Kashmir was not an integral part of India.

Perhaps impelled by longtime rival Mario Vargas Llosa's recent Nobel Prize win, Gabriel García Márquez is writing a new novel.

Post-punk band Joy Division's look was as influential as their music to scores of bands that followed. Trim dress, minimalist record sleeve design, and rich black-and-white photographs of the dour quartet accentuated their austere sound, conveying an aesthetic that captivated legions of fans looking for an alternative to the excess and posturing in both pop and punk music of the time. In a new book, photographer Kevin Cummins unearths his photos of the band from the late 70s, presenting stark and elegant portraits of the Manchester lads posing in snowy landscapes, playing in bleak practice spaces, and—best of all—conveying the intensity of the band's determined and electric live performances.

Tonight New York's Poets House is hosting an evening with the acclaimed Syrian poet Adonis.

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