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How To Maintain (Or Renew) Your Relationship With Shakespeare: Read Him

It’s certainly true that people have been reading Shakespeare’s plays for almost as long as they have been watching them. Within two or three years of his first, collaborative efforts on the London stage, Shakespeare’s first play in print was the gory tragedy Titus Andronicus (1594). Only one copy of this edition exists, now in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. That scarcity itself tells us something about reading: playbooks were small, consumable pamphlets often read into...
Tags: Art, London, Washington Dc, Words, Shakespeare, Folger Shakespeare Library, 04.01.20

Libraries As ‘Second Responders’ In The COVID Crisis

“When libraries closed their doors abruptly, they immediately opened their digital communications, collaborations, and creative activity to reach their public in ways as novel as the virus that forced them into it. You can be sure that this is just the beginning. Today libraries are already acting and improvising.” Deborah Fallows gives some examples of what they’re doing. – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, Words, Audience, Deborah Fallows, 03.31.20

Bookstores Had Staged Something Of A Comeback. And Now This

In a 2016 study, the median small business had enough cash to last just 27 days, while a 2018 survey found that 21 percent would fail after a month without cash flow. Bookstores run on even slimmer margins than the typical mom-and-pop shop—but the ones that have survived in the Amazon era have made it for a reason. – Slate
Tags: Amazon, Art, Words, 04.01.20

Penguin Classics Is Diversifying Its Line Of Classic Books

“The imprint at Penguin Random House [is] responsible for publishing some of history’s most canonical authors, from Homer and Marcus Aurelius to James Joyce and George Eliot. Elda Rotor, who has helmed the imprint for 14 years, said the shift to diversify the imprint’s vast catalog has been intentional.” – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Words, Penguin Random House, James Joyce, Marcus Aurelius, 03.30.20, George Eliot Elda Rotor

How Public Libraries Are Adapting To The Virus

When libraries closed their doors abruptly, they immediately opened their digital communications, collaborations, and creative activity to reach their public in ways as novel as the virus that forced them into it. You can be sure that this is just the beginning. Today libraries are already acting and improvising. Later, they’ll be figuring out what the experience means to their future operations and their role in American communities. – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, Words, 03.31.20

The Role Of Homes In Shaping Writers

The description of a house can vividly reveal the experience of childhood or the story of a relationship: “How a house is lived in can tell you everything you need to know about people, whether it’s the choice of wallpaper, the mess in the kitchen, the silence or shouting over meals, doors left open or closed, a fire burning in the hearth”. – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Words, 03.27.20

Public Service Or Piracy? Authors Battle Internet Archive Over ‘National Emergency Library’

With libraries and bookstores closed across the U.S., and with teachers searching for materials to use for remote teaching, the Internet Archive decided to lift all restrictions on access to the 1.4 million books — many still under copyright — that it has digitized. Teachers and academics are very pleased; authors and publishers, on the other hand, call the move a “copyright grab” that robs them of royalties and breaks the law. – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Words, Issues, 03.30.20

How A Magazine Of Debate Influenced Our Culture

For many who wrote for the magazine, attended its monthly discussion lunches or simply subscribed, involvement with Encounter was to take sides in an historic struggle in which the Anglo-American relationship was deemed crucial (which is certainly how Lasky saw things). It was this sense of engagement, reflected in the magazine’s title, that gave its pages their distinctive character. – The Critic
Tags: Art, Words, Lasky, 04.20

As The UK Public Saw What Was Coming, Book Buying Soared

Even as government officials seemed a bit cavalier about it all – talking about herd immunity, for instance – people sensed that a shutdown was coming. “Sales of fiction rose by a third, while children’s education went up 234% to the third highest level on record. Puzzle books, handicrafts and true crime also saw sharp rises.” – BBC
Tags: Art, UK, Words, 03.26.20

When Your Book About Getting Through Hard Times Comes Out In The Middle Of A Pandemic

Carmen Esposito’s Save Yourself was meant to be released on a book tour that saw the comedian and podcaster performing in cities across the country. But then, COVID-19. In the book, she writes, “Humans are scared out of our minds and want to be saved. We want to know why we are here, what we are supposed to do, and how to protect ourselves.” – NPR
Tags: Art, Words, COVID, 03.29.20, Carmen Esposito

Apparently, Everyone Wants To Read Camus Right Now

That’s right, Camus’ The Plague is leading a wave of “pestilence fiction.” Get this: “The British publisher of The Plague, Penguin Classics, says it is struggling to keep up with orders. ‘We’ve gone from shipping quantities in the low hundreds every month to the mid-thousands.'” – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, Words, 03.28.20, Plague Penguin Classics

Online Buyers For Powell’s Are So Hungry For Books That Company Recalls 100 Laid-Off Workers

Some of the still laid-off Powell’s staff are unhappy with the way the company has handled the store closures and layoffs, but for others, the present is a little rosier. CEO Emily Powell wrote on Friday in a memo on the website, “Thanks to your orders on, we now have over 100 folks working at Powell’s again – all full time with benefits.” – The Oregonian
Tags: Art, Words, Powell, Emily Powell, 03.29.20

Online Buyers For Powell’s Are So Rapacious That Company Recalls 100 Laid-Off Workers

Some of the still laid-off Powell’s staff are unhappy with the way the company has handled the store closures and layoffs, but for others, the present is a little rosier. CEO Emily Powell wrote on Friday in a memo on the website, “Thanks to your orders on, we now have over 100 folks working at Powell’s again – all full time with benefits.” – The Oregonian
Tags: Art, Words, Powell, Emily Powell, 03.29.20

What Happens To This Spring’s Most Anticipated Books?

Remember last fall and winter? Well, there were plans: “Months ago, in what now feels like another era, publishers planning their 2020 schedules hoped to avoid releasing books in the fall, typically the industry’s biggest season. Editors and writers worried that new releases would be lost in the deluge of political news leading up to the presidential election, so publishers jammed some of their biggest titles into the spring.” – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Words, 03.27.20

What The Literature Of Plague Tells Us

Jill Lepore: “The literature of contagion is vile. A plague is like a lobotomy. It cuts away the higher realms, the loftiest capacities of humanity, and leaves only the animal. “Farewell to the giant powers of man,” Mary Shelley wrote in “The Last Man,” in 1826, after a disease has ravaged the world. “Farewell to the arts,—to eloquence.” Every story of epidemic is a story of illiteracy, language made powerless, man made brute. But, then, the existence of books, no matter how grim the tale...
Tags: Art, Words, Jill Lepore, Mary Shelley, 03.23.20

Out Of Another Plague And Quarantine Came A Priceless Record Of Pre-Conquest Mexico

“It is the middle of a plague — ‘a pestilence so great and universal, that already it has been three months since it started, and many have died and many more continue to die.’ This does little to stop a group of scholars who have sealed themselves off from the world in a Mexico City convent, where they toil on a series of volumes devoted to indigenous knowledge.” Carolina Miranda recounts the story of the Historia General de las cosas de la Nueva España, a 12-volume manuscript from 1576 now kn...
Tags: Art, Mexico, Mexico City, Words, Carolina Miranda, 03.26.20, Historia General de las cosas de la Nueva España

This Book Fair Isn’t Being Cancelled, It’s Making Itself Virtual

“Book festival Wordplay, originally slated to take place in Minneapolis in May, will now happen virtually in April and May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the original 100+ participants, including Alison Roman, Michael Ian Black, Charles Yu and Scott Pelley, are still slated to take part in the festival.” Steph Opitz, Wordplay’s founding director, tells a reporter how it’s coming together. – Forbes
Tags: Art, Minneapolis, Words, Scott Pelley, 03.24.20, Alison Roman Michael Ian Black Charles Yu, Steph Opitz Wordplay

Librarians: If We Can’t Lend Books During Lockdown, Let’s Make Our Buildings And Bookmobiles Wi-Fi Hotspots

“The [American Library Association] urged the FCC to waive E-rate restrictions so libraries could not only offer [free] Wi-Fi access via local libraries, but could also provide broadband service to disconnected communities via bookmobiles and mobile hotspots without running afoul of FCC rules.” – Vice
Tags: Art, Fcc, Words, Audience, American Library Association, 03.24.20

Woody Allen’s Memoir Gets A New Publisher

With little advance notice, the 84-year-old film-maker’s book arrives at a time when much of the world is preoccupied with the coronavirus pandemic. Arcade is an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing and a Skyhorse spokeswoman said no decisions had been made on whether Allen would give interviews. – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Words, Woody Allen, Allen, Skyhorse Publishing, Skyhorse, 03.22.20

Strand Bookstore Lays Off 188 Workers

“This is the first time in our history that we have had to have a layoff,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden Bass Wyden wrote in a statement. Employees will receive a week of pay in addition to payment for any vacation time they have accrued. “We are also working with our union and our providers to extend health insurance as long as possible.” – Publishers Weekly
Tags: Art, Words, 03.22.20, Nancy Bass Wyden Bass Wyden

Why Do People Read/Watch Apocalyptic Fiction In Crises?

No one seems to fully agree on why reading books or watching movies about apocalyptic pandemics feels appealing during a real crisis with an actual contagious disease. Some readers claim that contagion fiction provides comfort, but others argue the opposite. – The Conversation
Tags: Art, Words, 03.20.20

Writers Want To Help You, Parents Trying To Deal With Your Kids 24/7, And Here’s How

Mo Willems, Grace Lin, Gene Luen Yang, Amie Kaufman and so many others are offering drawing lessons, read alouds, virtual book tours and so much more online. Oliver Jeffers: “We are all at home, but none of us are alone. … Let’s be bored together.” – The New York Times
Tags: Art, Words, Oliver Jeffers, 03.20.20, Mo Willems Grace Lin Gene Luen Yang Amie Kaufman

Actors And Others Read Us Sonnets Online

This story came out before Sir Patrick Stewart performed “Let us not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments” (aka Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116) on Instagram, but there are plenty of other actors and regular folks performing sonnets, in a move started by actor Michael Gaston. – LitHub
Tags: Art, Words, Shakespeare, Patrick Stewart, Audience, 03.20.20

Waterstones Boss Finally Admits Staff Are In Danger And Closes Bookstores

After days – and lots of angry tweets, posts, and other pushback from staff who said they had no masks, no gloves, no hand sanitizer, and were still being forced to take cash – and the CEO saying “his stores are ‘no different to a supermarket or a pharmacy’ as he vowed to keep the book chain open,” he has at last closed for the duration. – The Guardian (UK)
Tags: Art, Words, 03.22.20

How To Hunker Down And Actually Read Right Now

You can read an awful lot for free through libraries’ online services. Also, here are some tips on how to find reading community when your book group can’t meet in person. – The Washington Post
Tags: Art, Words, 03.20.20

The Art Of Culturally Relevant Crosswords

Crossword editors are strange arbiters of cultural relevance. Read tweets by Awkwafina or Olivia Wilde on learning that they’ve been immortalized in the black-and-white grid—it’s the bookish version of handprints on a slab outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. But any pub-trivia attendee—exposed to categories on craft beer or things that smell like sourdough or whatever the emcee is into—will tell you that personnel is policy. – The Atlantic
Tags: Art, Words, Olivia Wilde, Grauman, Awkwafina, 03.19.20

Hay Literature Festival Cancelled, With Future In Doubt

“Organisers will struggle to recoup the large infrastructure costs they have already committed to, as 70% of the festival’s income comes from ticket and book sales on site. In a statement on Thursday, the festival said the not-for-profit event was now in ‘immediate financial jeopardy’ and would need to raise funds in 10 days to ‘plot a sustainable route forward’.” – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Words, 03.19.20

Rare Copy Of Newton’s “Principia Mathematica” Found In Corsica

Newton published his findings on the laws of motion in the 1687 book Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Now, by sheer accident, a rare first-edition copy of this groundbreaking book was found in a library on the French island of Corsica. (Fun fact before we continue: Newton made his discovery while “socially distancing” himself during the Great Plague of London in 1665. He was a 20-something Trinity College student at the time.) – Hyperallergic
Tags: Art, London, Corsica, Words, Newton, Trinity College, 03.18.20

Mighty Powell’s Books Goes Down

“We have been forced to make the unthinkable decision to lay off the vast majority of you in the coming few days. Many people have spoken publicly demanding we pay our employees and extend health insurance for the duration. No one can possibly know how much I wish I could make that happen. We are simply not that kind of business – we run on duct tape and twine on a daily basis, every day trading funds from one pocket to patch the hole in another.” – Powell’s
Tags: Art, Words, Powell, 03.17.20

Macmillan Gives Up Its War With Libraries Over E-Books

“In a surprise announcement today, Macmillan abandoned its controversial embargo on new release e-books in libraries, effective this week. ‘There are times in life when differences should be put aside,’ reads a brief memo from Macmillan CEO John Sargent addressed to librarians, authors, illustrators, and agents.” – Publishers Weekly
Tags: Art, Macmillan, Words, John Sargent, 03.17.20

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