• November 3, 2016

    Nick Denton

    Nick Denton

    Nick Denton confirmed yesterday that the court case that bankrupted Gawker Media has been settled—wrestler Hulk Hogan will receive $31 million. Additionally, in what Denton calls “the most unpalatable part of the deal,” three articles—about Hogan; a dispute over the invention of email; and the founders of dating app Tinder—will be deleted. Although the defendants were confident that the court’s original award of $140 million would be lowered significantly in the appeals process, Denton writes that the legal battle was too costly to continue, both financially and professionally. “The other protagonists — including Hulk Hogan and A.J. Daulerio, the author of the Gawker story about him — had much more at stake. That motivated a settlement that allows us all to move on, and focus on activities more productive than endless litigation. Life is short, for most of us.”

    The Wall Street Journal will release a new, consolidated version of the paper November 14. Besides reducing arts and culture coverage, the Journal will also combine the Business & Tech section with Money & Investing, and debut a new Life & Arts section.

    A recently-noticed change to pricing at Amazon’s physical bookstores has some speculating that higher prices may soon come to books on the website, at least for those who aren’t Prime members. Geekwire reports that Amazon’s Seattle bookstore sells books for the discounted price to Prime members, while charging list price to customers who haven’t joined the service.

    At the New York Times, Jim Rutenberg wonders if interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile’s recent resignation from CNN over information found in leaked emails will end the practice of hiring political operatives on network news shows. Rutenberg asks if it’s possible for political aides-turned-television personalities—like George Stephanopoulos and Corey Lewandowski—to separate their party loyalties from their journalistic ethics. “Even if CNN could stipulate those kinds of obligations in its contracts,” he writes, “there would be no way for it to know if the wolf it has invited into its henhouse was going to abide by them.”

    OR Books will publish a collection of Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches next January. Hillary Clinton: The Goldman Sachs Speeches will be comprised of the leaked transcripts of the Democratic candidate’s paid appearances, which OR Books co-publisher said are being printed without permission under the fair use doctrine. 

    Tonight at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, Eimear McBride reads from her new book, The Lesser Bohemians.

  • November 2, 2016

    Gannett has abandoned its bid to buy Tronc after the company was unable to secure outside financing for the purchase. The decision was made after Gannett’s quarterly earnings were announced, which showed “print advertising plummeting” and “raised concerns that the newspaper industry might be facing steeper challenges than previously thought.”

    The New York Times’s Radhika Jones has been named editorial director of the books section. Pamela Paul, the recently-appointed editor of the Times Book Review said that Jones “is not only a highly skilled editor and writer—she is a true book person.”

    Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark

    Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark

    British journalists Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy have signed with Bloomsbury to write a book on Osama bin Laden, using first-person accounts from family members and Al Qaeda associates. The Exile: The Explosive Inside Story of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight will be published next May.

    The manuscripts and letters of Alexander Hamilton will be up for auction at Sotheby’s next January. The archive, which also includes a lock of the Founding Father’s hair, has been held by the Hamilton family for the last two centuries, and is expected to sell for over $2 million.

    Radio and television host Charlamagne Tha God will be writing a self-help book with Touchstone. Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It will be published next Spring.

    Dwight Garner reviews performance artist Marina Abramovic’s new memoir, Walk Through Walls. “I knew I was going to dislike Ms. Abramovic’s memoir on Page 10,” he writes.

    The Los Angeles Times reports on a panel last week featuring Eileen Myles and Transparent creator Jill Soloway. The discussion was about queer representation in literature and on TV, but the LA Times was more taken by the women’s announcement that they are no longer dating. Soloway told the audience that the media attention to the relationship—Myles was mentioned in a New Yorker profile of Soloway, and called “the poet muse of Transparent” in the New York Times—made it complicated: “[Just] as we could see our relationship. . . coming out . . . it was also coming to an end.”

    Tonight at Albertine, Jelani Cobb, Pap Ndiaye, Benjamin Stora, and Ta-Nehisi Coates open the Albertine Festival by asking: “When Will France Have its Barack Obama?”

  • November 1, 2016

    Peter Thiel spoke to the National Press Club in Washington, DC, about his role in Gawker Media’s bankruptcy. Thiel blamed Gawker for their editorial choices, calling the website a “singularly sociopathic bully.” He also noted that Hulk Hogan would not have been able to pursue his case against Gawker without Thiel’s financial backing: “If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system. It costs too much.”

    Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP chapter president who resigned after it was revealed that she had been lying about her race, has released the title and cover of her upcoming memoir. In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World will be released next March.

    Marlon James. Photo: Jeffrey Skemp

    Marlon James. Photo: Jeffrey Skemp

    Marlon James, author of the 2015 Man Booker-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, opens his Minneapolis loft to the New York Times Style section. James points to his TV-less living room as his favorite in the apartment, “filled with art, books, photographs, records and plants.” James says the clutter is intentional, and that sparsely decorated rooms make him uncomfortable: “It’s like going into a house with no books. I find it profoundly upsetting.”

    Rupi Kaur, the poet whose self-published collection milk and honey sold over a million copies, has signed a two-book deal with Andrews McMeel Publishing. Her currently untitled poetry book will be available next fall.

    Vanity Fair reports that the anticipated bidding war over Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly has yet to materialize. Although the network has reportedly offered $20 million to Kelly, other TV news networks aren’t interested in spending that kind of cash. “I don’t believe anyone is pursuing her other than Fox at this point,” an unnamed ABC employee said.

    The Boston Globe will be partnering with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation to hire a ten-month classical music critic for the paper. Zoë Madonna, winner of the 2014 Rubin Prize in Music Criticism, will be taking over the position.

  • October 31, 2016

    Bob Dylan has finally responded to his Nobel Prize win, but has not yet committed to attending the award ceremony. In an interview with The Telegraph, the songwriter said he’ll receive his prize in person “if it’s at all possible.”

    The Turkish government shut down fifteen news organizations this weekend, continuing its crackdown on independent media after a failed coup last summer.

    In testimony last Friday, founder and owner of Rolling Stone Jann Wenner said that he still stands by most of the now-retracted “A Rape on Campus” article, and blamed “Jackie” for the controversy over the story, saying “there was nothing a journalist could do ‘if someone is really determined to commit a fraud.’” Wenner also apologized to plaintiff Nicole Aramo, the University of Virginia administrator who is suing over her portrayal in the article: “I’m very, very sorry. . . . Believe me, I’ve suffered as much as you have.”

    After seventeen years in the borough, Barnes & Noble will close this year, leaving the Bronx with no bookstores. Andrew Boryga, who grew up in Bedford Park, reminisces about his family’s weekly outings to the store

    John Berger

    John Berger

    when he was young: “I was already beginning to take the idea of becoming a writer seriously, and Barnes & Noble was one of the few places where I could find peace and quiet among kids who looked like me, spoke like me, and enjoyed reading like me.” Boryga hopes that the bookstore’s closure will inspire independent booksellers to open shops in the area.

    The Rumpus talks to J. D. Vance, whose book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis examines the declining steel-working community of Middletown, Ohio.

    On the eve of his ninetieth birthday, John Berger talks with the Guardian: “If I am a storyteller it’s because I listen.”

  • October 28, 2016

    The American Library Association has announced the Andrew Carnegie Medals shortlist. Finalists include Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, and Michael Chabon’s Moonglow for fiction, and Patricia Bell-Scott’s The Firebrand and the First Lady, Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, and Patrick Phillips’s Blood at the Root for non-fiction. Winners will be announced in January.

    After buyouts and layoffs last summer, Politico reports that The Guardian is still struggling. The paper had “£48 million in negative cashflow” in the beginning of the last financial year, and despite reassurances from management and attempts to increase memberships, employees aren’t optimistic about the paper’s future. As one journalist put it, “We know that the trajectory is you just eventually run out of money.”

    Lincoln Michel, the author of Upright Beasts, has come up with a list of books to read after you’ve finished watching the TV series Black Mirror.

    Three computer science researchers told BuzzFeed that Facebook’s decision to fire its Trending editors team “made an already big challenge even more difficult” by putting fact checking in the hands of robots. Assistant professor Kate Starbird, said that the company’s reliance on algorithms is based on “an assumption that we’re more comfortable with a machine being biased than with a human being biased, because people don’t understand machines as well.”

    Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about the upcoming Albertine Festival, which he is curating. The program this year takes a cue from James Baldwin by using an excerpt from No Name in the Street in its promotional materials and focusing on issues of race and identity. But when asked about whether he spent his time in Paris visiting historical Baldwin haunts, Coates said, “I really didn’t. . . . The last thing I wanted to do was look like some poseur.”

    At BookRiot, Jessica Woodbury wonders if the Man Booker Prize is bucking the trend and becoming more relevant with time, rather than less. Woodbury writes that 2016 winner The Sellout, “a biting and gutsy satire about race that will make you raise your eyebrows,” doesn’t fit with her impression of the Man Booker Prize, which seemed to be “mostly about historical novels involving mostly-British tumult or middle-aged meditations on life written in thick prose.”

    Mysterious Press owner Otto Penzler says that although he owns an e-book publishing company, he doesn’t “possess a reading thingumajig.” Penzler also admits to owning “virtually all the books written by Ayn Rand.”

  • October 27, 2016

    Paul Beatty talks to The Guardian about his Man Booker win for his novel The Sellout. The book almost wasn’t in the running for the prize—it was rejected by eighteen publishers in the UK. “I get hurt when I meet editors who tell me about books they really liked but couldn’t publish,” said Beatty as he reflected on his past rejections. “I don’t know what that means.” Eventually, the novel was picked up by independent press Oneworld, who also published last year’s winner, Marlon James’s A History of Seven Killings.

    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be writing a book on global warming with former Sierra Club director and chairman Carl Pope. St. Martin’s Press will publish Overheated: How Cooler Heads Can Cool the World next April.

    Staff of TheRoot, another Univision property, have voted to unionize. The website will join Fusion and Gizmodo Media in being represented by the Writers Guild of America, East. In their announcement, the website stated that the choice to unionize “is not a declaration of war,” and looked to “the great James Baldwin, who once said, ‘I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.’ We would like to consider this public statement the beginning of a continual dialogue in which we all work together to make the organization better.”

    Quartz has made its first foray into foreign-language media with a new email newsletter, La Agenda. After starting English-language sites in India and Africa, senior editor Gideon Lichfield said the site was looking for underserved markets, saying that “Spanish seemed the most interesting.” The newsletter will be made up of both original content and pieces translated from their English-language Daily Brief.

    The Museum of Modern Art announced yesterday that the original 176 emojis will become part of its permanent collection. Created a decade before the more recognizable iPhone emojis, “the first pictographs to make their way into mobile communication” could be found on Japanese pagers in the 1990s. “Looking back at old emoji,” the New York Times writes, “feels a bit like trying to read pictographs from an ancient civilization.”

    Rabih Alameddine

    Rabih Alameddine

    Rabih Alameddine talks to John Freeman about rage as a motivator for his novels. “Usually what I write about are things that I’m obsessed with, and usually things that I’m obsessed with are things that I’m angry about,” said Alameddine, whose most recent novels are An Unnecessary Woman and The Angel of History. “So what usually comes out is uncomfortable for people. But my existence is uncomfortable for a lot of people.”

    Tonight at Albertine, Maaza Mengiste talks to Salman Rushdie about his most recent novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, which was recently published in France.

  • October 26, 2016

    Paul Beatty

    Paul Beatty

    Paul Beatty became the first American to win the Man Booker Prize yesterday. His novel, The Sellout, was chosen unanimously by the judges, who lauded the book for its “inventive comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice.”

    Philip Roth’s book collection will be arriving tomorrow at the Newark Public Library, the setting of his novella Goodbye, Columbus. Nearly four thousand books will be sent to the library from Roth’s home in Connecticut, where the collection “has more or less taken over the premises.” Roth says his decision to donate his books comes from his advanced age and lack of heirs. “I’m glad that my books are all going to be together.” Roth said. “I don’t know why. I’m not going to be together, but let them be together.”

    Bernard-Henri Lévy’s The Genius of Judaism, will be published in translation by Random House. The book will be available next January.

    Earlier this week, a video deposition from “Jackie,” the main subject of the discredited Rolling Stone story, “A Rape on Campus,” was played for jurors in the trial between University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo and journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdley. In the video testimony, “Jackie” said she felt pushed by the reporter to be quoted in the story, and that when she and a friend expressed their concerns about the way Eramo was portrayed, Erdely replied, “There’s no pulling the plug at this point—the article is moving forward.” In her deposition, “Jackie” said that although she has trouble remembering the details of her attack, she stands by what she told the magazine: “I believed it to be true at the time.”

    A. G. Sulzberger, the newly-appointed deputy publisher of the New York Times, talks to Poynter about the changing pace of journalism, impending layoffs, and the Times’s competitors. Although the Washington Post has been gaining on the Gray Lady after ample investment from owner Jeff Bezos, Sulzberger says they’re still nowhere near the same level: “When journalists come to the newsroom from other news organizations—including The Post—they’re always amazed by the resources and manpower we put behind their journalism.”

    Politico reports that Aaron Black, a former Occupy Wall Street organizer and liberal activist, coordinated with Breitbart during the Republican primaries as he disrupted candidates’ events. Black, who was known for dressing as Robot Rubio, allegedly alerted the Trump-supporting news site to which events he would be attending so they could coordinate coverage. Hadas Gold writes that Breitbart’s “willingness to work with a progressive activist perhaps goes to show how far they were willing to go to take down candidates” who weren’t Trump.

  • October 25, 2016

    In their November issue, Wired asks guest editor President Obama for his ten essential books. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, and Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History all make the cut. The magazine estimates that reading all ten books will take only eighty-nine hours.

    On the second anniversary of its shut down, the literary blog HTMLGIANT, which was in its previous incarnation a staunch supporter of independent-press writers and books, has returned. The site announced a column providing “anonymous advice on revenge, beauty, and life,” along with an essay on trash and aesthetics, and a glimpse of the home screens of various writers’ cell phones.

    Garnette Cadogan

    Garnette Cadogan

    Literary Hub announced the addition of four new staff members: Garnette Cadogan, Stephanie Anderson, Tommy Pico, and Stephen Sparks will join the website as contributing editors.

    The New York Times will pay over $30 million for The Wirecutter, an online consumer guide that makes money when readers purchase recommended products through online retailers. It may seem like a strange move for the paper, but Poynter explains that “rather than building its affiliate linking business from scratch, the New York Times decided to buy one.”

    A new collection of Shakespeare’s works from Oxford University Press will be the first edition of the playwright’s works to list Christopher Marlowe as a co-author on Henry VI, parts one, two, and three.

    Jonathan Goldsmith, better known as Dos Equis’s “most interesting man in the world,” has signed a book deal with Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House. “More than a memoir,” the still-untitled book will be published next May and consist of “stories about Goldsmith’s truly fascinating life both in and out of Hollywood: getting shot by John Wayne, competing with Dustin Hoffman, drinking with Tennessee Williams, and sailing the high seas with Fernando Lamas, and romancing many lovely ladies.”

    Gannett, the largest newspaper company in the US, announced layoffs of two percent of its staff in a memo yesterday. Politico speculates that the move may be in anticipation of the acquisition of Tronc, formerly Tribune Publishing, but note that “execs will say the two are unrelated.”

    BuzzFeed reports that Donald Trump supporters have found a new word to shout at journalists: Lügenpresse. Translated as “lying press,” it was first used in Germany in the mid-1800s and later became a Nazi phrase used to attack the media. Reporter Rosie Gray first heard the phrase at a Trump rally last weekend in Ohio, when a man started yelling it at the press. Another attendee “started shouting it too, then . . . made a self-deprecating remark about not pronouncing it right.”

    Tonight at the Strand Bookstore, Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson reads from her new book Carry This Book. Lena Dunham will join for a Q&A.

  • October 24, 2016

    The New Yorker has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president: “It will be especially gratifying to have a woman as commander-in-chief after such a sickeningly sexist and racist campaign, one that exposed so starkly how far our society has to go.”

    Donald Trump has gained his first endorsement from a major newspaper: the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The paper writes that Clinton will “cuddle up to the ways and perks of Washington like she would to a cozy old blanket. Mr. Trump instead brings a corporate sensibility and a steadfast determination to an ossified Beltway culture.” The paper was purchased late last year by Sheldon Adelson, a “casino magnate and GOP mega-donor” who has been complimented by Trump in the past.

    Lucia Perillo

    Lucia Perillo

    Poet Lucia Perillo, author of Dangerous Life and Spectrum of Possible Deaths, among others, has died. She was 58.

    After the majority of Fusion’s editorial employees signed union cards, management has been attempting to discourage organizing at the company. Employees report that meetings outlining the drawbacks of unionizing—including changes to benefits, less communication, and capped salaries—have been held at offices in New York, Miami, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Caitlin Cruz, an associate features editor, told the Wall Street Journal, “If a place tells you ‘don’t organize,’ there’s probably a reason you should.”

    Facebook has decided to allow more offensive and graphic content, as long as it’s newsworthy. The decision comes after the social media site was criticized for removing a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph from the Vietnam war, as well as the video of Philando Castile’s death after he was shot by police. “In the weeks ahead,” writes Facebook VP Joel Kaplan, “we’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest—even if they might otherwise violate our standards.” The fight over censorship has also been an issue for employees concerned about Donald Trump’s posts on the site, which some argue violate the company’s hate speech policies. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that censoring the candidate would be inappropriate.

  • October 21, 2016

    After Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos told a panel that he’s doesn’t think paywalls and subscriptions are the best way for publications to make a profit, the paper announced it will remove its paywall for Election Day. The paper will also be hosting an “invite-only, cocktail laden watch party” at their DC offices.

    BuzzFeed reports that political Facebook pages, both left- and right-wing, that publish the most inaccurate information received the most shares, likes, and comments on the social media site. “The best way to attract and grow an audience for political content on the world’s biggest social network,” BuzzFeed found, “is to eschew factual reporting and instead play to partisan biases using false or misleading information that simply tells people what they want to hear.”

    The Los Angeles Review of Books examines Trump: The Art of the Deal to try to figure out why the Republican candidate so often makes outlandish, false statements. Pointing to Trump’s friendship with Roy Cohn, a New York lawyer who, according to Jon Wiener, “was the personification of evil,” Wiener writes that Cohn “taught young Donald Trump two simple precepts: Always hit back. Never apologize.” It seems like Trump might be wavering on one of those precepts: New York Times editor Dean Baquet says the newspaper hasn’t heard anything more about the libel lawsuit threatened by the candidate’s lawyers since their retraction demand last week.

    Custom House, part of the William Morrow imprint, will be posthumously publishing a book by Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. No Room For Small Dreams will be available April of next year.

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s campaign for the British makeup brand Boots No7 launches today. The novelist told Vogue UK that she hopes the advertisements will change how the beauty industry communicates with women: “I think much of beauty advertising relies on a false premise—that women need to be treated in an infantile way, given a ‘fantasy’ to aspire to… Real women are already inspired by other real women, so perhaps beauty advertising needs to get on board.”

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