Nonhuman Writing, To Kill a Mockingbird Is England's Favorite Book, 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:

A recent article in the New York Times reports that many companies use computer-generated text compositors rather than human writers. One such business is the Big Ten Network, a sports website partially owned by Rupert Murdoch.

An international coterie of writers, together with the Author's Guild, is suing five universities regarding the Google Books initiative, accusing them of copyright infringement by allowing Google to scan the texts and store them in their vast archive, causing "the widespread, unauthorized and irreparable dissemination" of millions of books. (Guardian)

When the news broke that the storied bookstore, St. Mark's Bookshop, located in New York City's East Village, may be shuttering, an online petition to save it began to circulate. The New Yorker asks, "Should we fight to save indie bookstores?"

Poet David Orr takes a closer look at copyright law and the stultifying permissions process when attempting to reprint sections of poems in other books. He says, "No one has any idea exactly how much of a poem can be quoted without payment." (New York Times)

In a survey of over six thousand readers held for World Book Night, Harper Lee's novel of Scout Finch's Alabama childhood, To Kill a Mockingbird, edged out British stalwarts such as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as the United Kingdom's "best-loved book." (Guardian)

Novelist Rick Moody reveals his obsessive fandom for the underground rock band the Feelies who broke up in 1992, and offers thoughts on their inevitable reunion tour. (Rumpus)

German bookstores, in an effort to keep the publishing industry healthy, fix their pricing. The Millions wonders if that would be a good idea to aid the book market in the United States.

If you'd like to wield the jewelry-encrusted dagger once owned by the nineteenth-century Ottoman poet Adile Sultana, it will be auctioned by Bonhams in London on October 4 as part of an Indian and Islamic sale. The knife is expected to fetch around six thousand dollars. (Art Daily)