Nabokov's Ode to America, Amazon's New Crowd-Sourced Publishing Platform, 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:

With the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week in full swing, NPR looks at one of the most banned books of the past two decades.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has created a series of infographics on the state of challenged books today—including which authors tend to be the most frequent targets of criticism and censorship.

“It is an America where language and event make a seamless web of wonders, terrors, revelations, and portents.” In honor of Banned Books Week, the New Republic has republished a 1957 review of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, a constantly banned and expurgated book that the reviewer—who was forced to use a censored excerpt in his original review—declared a work of genius and “a love affair with the real America.”

A previously unpublished poem by the late Ray Bradbury about Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw's garden spade—which the Fahrenheit 451 author, who died in 2012, once received as a Christmas gift—has been unearthed, and will be auctioned in Los Angeles this week alongside the spade. (Guardian)

“Lack of empathy was Thatcher’s fatal defect. Without it there is no shared humanity. Without regret there can be no contrition, there can only be an agenda which is prepared to sacrifice people for ideology.” The Millions interviews Hilary Mantel about her controversial new book, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher.

Amazon has confirmed that it is developing a new crowd-sourced publishing platform. A spokesperson for the retailer says that the "reader-powered" platform will offer authors the chance to have their work reviewed by readers, and those with the highest ratings will be published by Amazon. (Publishers Weekly)

Meanwhile, at a conference in Arlington, Virginia, over the weekend, the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association took aim against the Internet giant, calling upon independent bookstores to be the antidote to Amazon’s influence over readers. Andrew Keen, author of The Internet is Not the Answer, accused the retailer of creating the “cult of the consumer,” and charged indie stores with the task of fighting back. “You need to see your stores as not only places where you can have signings, you need to be creative,” Keen said. “No one trusts anyone online. Your opportunity is to be trusted. You need to build on that trust, not just by selling books.” (Publishers Weekly)