Melville House’s HybridBooks, Bell Jar Turns Forty, and More

Evan Smith Rakoff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today's stories:

While Apple has accepted updates to apps from other e-bookstore competitors (including Amazon and Google) to make them better comply with Apple’s reportedly strict subscription policies—namely forbidding companies from linking to their own bookstores—it has rejected Sony's e-reader app despite Sony's insistence that all features linking to Sony's online e-bookstore have been removed. (CNET)

Melville House announced yesterday that it will publish a new line of “innovative” titles called HybridBooks, which, according to the New York City–based publisher of independent literature, will “give print books the features of enhanced eBooks.” Owners of smartphones who scan bar codes printed inside print books will be provided access to supplemental material, including essays, maps, illustrations, and other "ancillary digital materials." (Observer)

Charles Dickens scholar John Drew assigned himself the Herculean task of digitizing all issues of Household Words and All the Year Round for which Dickens was editor for forty years, and asked for help from Dickens enthusiasts, via crowdsourcing, in determining the authorship of 30 percent of the articles contained in the two weekly publications—the response was overwhelming. (Guardian)

In a reverse of recent trends, a Georgia-based online bookstore, Avid Books, is opening a brick-and-mortar shop. (Athens Banner-Herald)

On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Sylvia Plath’s posthumous novel, The Bell Jar, Emily Gould, former Gawker editor and author of And The Heart Says Whatever, revisits Plath's work and life. (Poetry Foundation)

Nigerian author A. Igoni Barrett reflects on his time at a four-week residency at the Norman Mailer Writer's Colony in Provincetown, Massachusetts. (Warning to writers about to depart for a summer stay at a colony: He didn't write anything while there.) (Electric Lit)

If you go to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles during lunchtime any Thursday between now and this coming autumn, you are likely to hear a novel, such as Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union, sung out loud. The Sing Your Favorite Book events are a companion to the museum's current exhibition of paintings by Ed Ruscha, which feature text from Jack Kerouac's On the Road. (Los Angeles Times)

In book-to-film news: Cast photos were released yesterday from the new adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (Entertainment Weekly), and Kenneth Branagh is being pursued to direct The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, an adaptation of the New York Times best-selling novel written by aunt-niece duo Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. (Variety)