Barnes & Noble Battle With Burkle, Keith Richards and Jay-Z at the NYPL, and More


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:

Barnes & Noble launched another volley in the ongoing battle for control of the bricks-and-mortar retailer, sending a letter to shareholders yesterday claiming that investor Ron Burkle "brings no relevant experience, no insight, no business plan, no strategy and no track record to Barnes & Noble." (Publishers Weekly)

The PEN American Center, based in New York City, released a statement yesterday supporting the Park51 Community Center project. The statement reads, in part: "As members of the American literary community who believe in the universality of human experience and human rights...and as PEN members pledged to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in our community and country, as in the world elsewhere, we stand with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with religious leaders of all faiths, with political leaders of both major parties, and with all our friends and neighbors who support and celebrate the freedom to construct the Park51 Islamic Community Center on its city-approved site in lower Manhattan." (Press Release)

The New York Times reports that the new Kindle is "almost ridiculously lightweight" and is "ingeniously designed to be everything the iPad will never be."  

The library at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where 176 prisoners are currently being held, has over eighteen thousand books and media items available for loan. Harry Potter books are among the most popular titles. (Time)

Not everyone in the publishing industry is excited about all the media attention Jonathan Franzen's Freedom has received. Bestselling authors Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult have voiced their frustration, with Weiner telling the Huffington Post:  "I think it's a very old and deep-seated double standard that holds that when a man writes about family and feelings, it's literature with a capital L, but when a woman considers the same topics, it's romance, or a beach book—in short, it's something unworthy of a serious critic's attention."

In a related story, NPR's Linda Holmes notes that several media outlets have referred to Weiner and Picoult as "chick lit" authors when reporting on their criticism of the Freedom coverage. Holmes calls the term "formless and dismissive," adding: "At this point, I think the only solution is to stay away from the term 'chick lit' as much as humanly possible, because it's become a term that means 'by and about women, and not something you need to take seriously.'"

MerchSource announced yesterday that it has developed the Literati, a low-cost dedicated e-reader that has something the Kindle and the Nook do not: a full-color screen. (New York Times)

Keith Richards and Jay-Z will both give talks at the New York Public Library this fall (though, sadly, not at the same event). (Yahoo! News