We’re really into the newly launched Public Books, a “curated monthly review” on books and the arts put out by the Institute for Public Knowledge. If the site’s stylish design doesn’t do it for you, perhaps writing by Lawrence Weschler, Judith Butler, and Sudhir Venkatesh will.

A Reddit “Ask Me Anything” interview gets to the bottom of the troubling economic logic of independent bookstores. “We’d clear 200 on a good day,” one bookseller wrote. Another lamented, “We’re at roughly $1,300 a day, and it’s still not profitable. The worst part is, since we’re independent and a specialty store, people come in and ask me for recommendations, then go to Barnes & Noble or download it on a kindle for slightly cheaper.”

The New York Review of Books has made Joan Didion’s 1988 account of the Democratic and Republican national conventions available to read on their website. It’s aged remarkably well. On the people she encountered at the conventions, Didion notes that this “new kind of managerial elite . . . tend to speak of the world not necessarily as it is but as they want people out there to believe it is. They tend to prefer the theoretical to the observable, and to dismiss that which might be learned empirically as ‘anecdotal.’ They tend to speak a language common in Washington but not specifically shared by the rest of us.”

Readers too embarrassed to carry back issues of Playboy around on the subway will be pleased to learn that the mag is releasing fifty of its best interviews for free as Kindle Singles over the next fifty days.

At Salon, Laura Miller considers how a book’s length can, mysteriously, affect its quality.

Zadie Smith recently sat down for lunch with Jay-Z in New York's West Village. Smith will be reading at Greenlight bookstore in Brooklyn later this month (not so far from Jay-Z’s own Nets stadium) but until then, check out Parul Seghal’s review of NW, and our interview with Smith.