Shakespeare's Birthday, World Book Night, 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:

The most recent episode of WNYC's On the Media takes a comprehensive look at the state of the publishing industry, including an interview with Magic Hours author Tom Bissell, who, as a young editorial assistant, revived Paula Fox's out-of-print novel Desperate Characters, and how, "paradoxically, that experience shook his faith in publishing."

The Wall Street Journal examines the criticism of the Department of Justice's antitrust suit. Senator Chuck Schumer says in an interview, "I feel absolutely befuddled by the lawsuit. For the Antitrust Division to step in as the big protector of Amazon doesn't seem to make any sense from an antitrust point of view. Rarely have I seen a suit that so ill serves the interests of the consumer."

New York magazine's Boris Kachka provides his insight on the lawsuit, writing: "But even if a judge eventually rules against them, it’s heartening to see publishers—the people who actually know how to curate, edit, design, and care for books in ways Amazon just doesn’t or won’t—counterattacking for a change."

Today, April 23, is World Book Night—volunteers will distribute five hundred thousand free paperbacks (of thirty chosen titles) to underserved locations across the United States. All thirty authors waived royalties, and many in publishing underwrote World Book Night's costs. USA Today writes "most of the publishing industry, including the two largest bookstore chains, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, is involved in some way. The one conspicuous exception: Amazon."

Flavorwire features ten beautiful literary box sets.

"Writing literature depends, therefore, just as much on knowing as not-knowing." Vanessa Blakeslee explains why she writes. (Green Mountains Review)

Today also marks the 448th anniversary of the birth of a glove-maker's son in the English hamlet of Stratford-upon-Avon. Byliner rounded up some relatively recent essays by Simon Schama, Ruth Franklin, Stephen Greenblatt, Garry Wills, and Stephen Marche—if you'd like to catch up on your Shakespeare.

However, Shakespeare also died on his birthday, in 1616, the same day as Cervantes. (OUPblog)

For National Poetry Month, Brain Pickings showcases book spine poetry.

On Alexander Chee's Tumblr, the author comments on distraction: "The rabbit hole isn’t real, it’s the force of your own rejected interests, in doing a dance with the Internet."