Since 1977, New Yorkers have relied on indie stalwart St. Mark’s Bookshop for their zine, small press and hard-to-find theory needs; as well as for the store’s excellently curated (if somewhat cramped) reading series. But the Lower East Side institution, like many brick-and-mortar bookstores, is in dire financial straits: with book sales down, owners Bob Contant and Terry McCoy are facing the threat of closure unless they can talk Cooper Union into lowering St. Mark’s rent.

Last June, the Villager reported that over the past year, St. Mark’s has laid off almost all of its part-time workers and reduced full-time employee hours through New York’s shared work program. To maintain their own regular salaries, Contant told Bookforum that he and McCoy have been forced to draw from social security funds. While the owners will meet with Cooper Union landlords next Wednesday to renegotiate their rent, the story is already getting attention on Twitter: as of mid-afternoon Friday, an online petition to “Save St. Mark’s” (which you can sign here) had gathered over 2,600 signatures.

E-book founder Michael Stern Hart, courtesy of Boing Boing

Michigan-based sci-fi publisher Subterranean Press is incurring Shakespearean wrath—or at least, the wrath of angry Shakespeareans—after re-releasing Orson Scott Card’s interpretation of Hamlet featuring the aging king as a child molester.

Michael Stern Hart, the founder the e-book (they were invented in 1971!), died at the age of 64 at his home in Urbana, Illinois.

They look like pianos, sewing machines, and medieval torture devices: Slate rounds up a slideshow of vintage typewriters.

He probably won’t be helping San Franciscans decide where to eat, but Yelp reviewer Cormac M. will at least be giving fans of his Western gothic namesake something to discuss over dinner. Here, his review of the Heart Wine Bar in the Mission District:

Karl nodded toward the untouched mason jar of wine.
You best drink up son, he said.
The young drifter looked away. I can’t.
Yeah you can. Go on.
The boy went silent once more, turning to the window, to the city street wet with night fog. Somewhere, a train whistling

Knopf has changed the US release date for Julian Barnes's Man Booker Prize-nominated novel, Sense of an Ending, to this October—months ahead of the original 2012 pub date.

What would a BBC-style “American World Service” look like?


Aaron Swartz, the 24-year-old hacker indicted on data theft charges for leaking JSTOR documents, courtesy of ragesoss

After a 24-year-old hacker was indicted for leaking over 5 million JSTOR documents online, JSTOR has partially lifted its paywall and made all of its 500,000 out-of-copyright journal articles free worldwide.

Capital New York rounds up the books that hip New Yorkers will be ostentatiously reading on the subway this fall. Read about a number of them—including Jeff Eugenides' The Marriage Plot, Joan Didion's Blue Nights, and Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding—in our fall issue.

Amazon is reportedly testing a new, tablet-friendly website design, spurring rumors that the online retail giant is preparing its own Amazon-branded tablet to compete with the iPad. TechCrunch claims that the 7-inch tablet will be the first Kindle with a color screen, will cost about $250, and should be on shelves by October.

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan has joined Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan as the newest cast member of Baz Luhrmann's 3-D adaptation of The Great Gatsby, which just went into production in Australia.

Karen Russell in conversation with Gary Shteyngart and Colson Whitehead; Janet Malcolm chats with Ian Frazier, and Geoff Dyer talks with Rebecca Mead: the 2011 New Yorker Festival lineup is now live.

Before Michel Houellebecq scandalized people with his novels, he scandalized people with his poetry.

Conan O’Brien adds a new, youth-friendly segment to his show: Famous Authors on Ziplines.

The Huffington Post has published its first e-book, “A People’s History of the Great Recession,” based on reporter Arthur Delaney’s blogging about the economic crash.


Patrick DeWitt

Odds are on Julian Barnes to win the Man Booker Prize this year for his novel, The Sense of an Ending. But we’re betting on dark horse candidate Patrick DeWitt; though he’s facing steep 8-to-1 odds, we thought his neo-Western The Sisters Brothers was dark, hilarious, and oddly heartfelt.

Note to novelists: Don’t pitch your book this week.

Former Slate media critic Jack Shafer has found a new home at Reuters, where he’ll join Felix Salmon in the Opinion section. Salmon, meanwhile, just launched Counterparties, a curated news site that lets readers consume Salmon’s news diet by culling the best articles from his Twitter and Google reader feeds.

For those curious about the path that Chad Harbach’s debut novel, The Art of Fielding (which comes out today), took from MFA classroom, to splashy six-figure book deal, to breathlessly positive review in the New York Times, fellow n+1 editor Keith Gessen (who received similar treatment when his debut novel was published in 2008) has all the details in a new Vanity Fair e-book, How a Book Is Born. Not surprisingly, the press release reports that “at each step of the way several vivid characters fought tooth and nail to ensure the book’s survival,” including a “passionate” agent, a “renowned” editor, and a “tireless” designer. All in all, just a bunch of swell guys, but we wonder if the book’s early praise and hype will elicit a Franzenfreude-style backlash or just high-fives all around.

At the Rumpus, Brian Spears tries to make sense of the “death and resurrection” of BlazeVox, and the debate over the indie press’s business practices.


Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding

In February, Melville House will reissue Renata Adler's long-out-of-print Speedboat and Pitch Dark, reminding us that Adler, now best known for trashing her New Yorker colleague Pauline Kael, was also a formidable novelist and stylist. Reviewing Speedboat, John Leonard wrote: "Nobody in this country writes better prose than Renata Adler's."

n+1 editor Chad Harbach’s anticipated debut novel, The Art of Fielding has received rave reviews from Judith Shulevitz at Slate and Michiko Kakutani at The New York Times.

The Guardian has published a short work of fiction by Geoff Dyer, in which the author ponders September 11, death, and the Burning Man festival: “When you wake up in the morning the world is as you find it. What's happened in the night is history or dream. That's the only way I can account for the weird feeling that I sort of missed 9/11.”

At The Atlantic, Sarah Horowitz is writing a series of posts about freelancers, the industrial revolution of our time, and the "post-cubicle economy."

The American author Bill Bryson steps into British politics by opposing government plans to re-write environmental planning laws.

Amazon launches @author—an an “author-focused community page” that lets writers connect with their readers.


Citing concerns over “office space,” the Washington Post has announced plans to close nine of their eleven regional bureaus sparing only the Virginia and Annapolis newsrooms.

At the Nieman Journalism Lab, Maria Bustillos and David Roth debate whether David Foster Wallace “prefigured the voice of blogs,” shaping how people write online.

Russia’s richest man and former Yukos oil CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky has begun writing prison dispatches: “Khodorkovsky begins his column with the grisly tale of Kolya, who disembowelled himself and threw his intestines at guards for being set up for a crime he did not commit: grabbing a purse from an elderly woman.”

Julian Assange has accidentally leaked hundreds of thousands of WikiLeaks’ unreleased State Department cables. Without this secret cache, John Cook argues, Assange “is little more than a poorly groomed blowhard under house arrest.” In Bookforum's spring issue, Cook wrote how Assange’s persona has always been his Achilles’ heel.

In what’s becoming a depressing annual tradition, the Seattle Public library will close between August 29 and September 5 to save $650,000 from its $50 million budget.

At the New York Review of Books blog, Charles Simic wonders whether boredom still exists in the internet age.

Glossing Dick Cheney’s memoir: He claims he’s a good chef, he once got out of interning for Ted Kennedy by strategically deploying a few martinis, and he felt really bad about shooting his hunting buddy (etc.)


Lawrence Wright, author of a New Yorker profile of ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis.

Too soon? Qaddafi has been out of power for less than two weeks, but Salon has already asked eight writers to fictionalize his fall.

A new study finds that positive words outrank negative ones in the English language.

“The New Yorker, What a Load of Balderdash!” say Scientologists who are handing out anti-New Yorker pamphlets outside of the magazine’s headquarters. The protesters are pointing interested parties to a long expose on the Church’s website, which claims that during the exhaustive fact-checking process of the New Yorker’s February profile of ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis, “the Church demonstrated that 59 percent of the facts he was ‘checking’ from his finished article were utterly and irrefutably false.”

DC Comics is upending its comic-book universe by “re-setting” all 52 of its fictional series, starting with the next issue of Justice League.

Johnny Depp is starring in the film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary, and the trailer is now online.

Luc Sante on Jean Vigo’s influential 1934 film L’Atalante.

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