Bookselling in the Twenty-First Century, “Instapoet’s” Book Becomes Best-Seller, 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:

A machine created by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology uses radiation to read books without opening their covers. The machine scans individual letters using terahertz waves, exposing the contents of ancient texts that are too fragile to handle. (PBS NewsHour)

Best-selling author Jennifer Weiner publicly expressed disappointment that Oprah Winfrey’s new book club pick, Glennon Doyle Melton’s memoir Love Warrior, was chosen over her forthcoming book, Hungry Heart, which deals with similar themes. Weiner’s reaction has sparked a conversation about the nature of white feminism and whether “raw honesty in the name of female empowerment [is] no longer its own justification.” (Jezebel, Huffington Post)

It’s not often that a poetry collection becomes a best-seller, but Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey has sold more than half a million copies, topping the Amazon poetry book list above Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf translation. Kaur gained a large following by publishing her poetry on Instagram. First self-published in 2014, Milk and Honey is now in its sixteenth printing from Andrews McMeel Publishing. (Guardian)

Writer and bookseller Stephen Sparks is launching a bi-monthly series at Literary Hub about the state of the independent bookstore called Bookselling in the Twenty-First Century. Sparks describes the series as one “in which my bookselling colleagues explain how it feels to live and work under this sense of unease, this lingering anticipation of the bottom falling out, and also, importantly, of the optimism that buoys us through dark times.”

Speaking of independent booksellers, Ariana Paliobagis is the first recipient of Europa Editions’ Europa International Book Fair Scholarship, which allows a bookseller to attend the international Frankfurt Book Fair. Paliobagis owns the Country Bookshelf bookstore in Bozeman, Montana. (Shelf Awareness)

Amazon announced that its Prime subscribers now have free access to Audible Channels, Audible’s new short-form digital programming service, as well as a rotating selection of more than fifty free audiobooks. (

At the Tin House blog, poet and memoirist Nick Flynn speaks with novelist Roy Scranton about Scranton’s new novel, War Porn, and the complicated poetics of the global war on terror.