Wylie Asks Authors to Unite Against Amazon, Gaiman and Palmer Celebrate Indie Bookstores, 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:

Literary agent Andrew Wylie, whose client list bears some of the most well known names in literature, is asking his writers to join the group Authors United in its battle against Amazon. Among those who have agreed are heavyweights Philip Roth, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, V. S. Naipaul, and Milan Kundera. “It’s very clear to me, and to those I represent, that what Amazon is doing is very detrimental to the publishing industry and the interests of authors,” Wylie told the New York Times. “If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.” As reported last week, Authors United intends to bring complaints against Amazon and its tactics against Hachette throughout the companies’ ongoing e-book pricing impasse to the Department of Justice, as early as this week. 

Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly reports that Amazon has reached a new deal with Perseus Book Group over e-book prices. The agreement will affect not only all of Perseus’s imprints, but the more than four hundred independent presses that use Constellation, the publisher’s e-book distribution service.

The American Booksellers Association has recruited author Neil Gaiman and his wife, musician Amanda Palmer, to serve as spokespeople for this year’s Indies First campaign, an initiative launched last year by Sherman Alexie that celebrates independent bookstores. As part of the event, which takes place on Saturday, November 29, authors will serve as volunteer sellers at their favorite indie shops across the country. (GalleyCat)

“You know when a novel’s done, but not so much with short stories. In fact, short stories [are] a venerable form, but it’s diabolically hard to master.” Author Paul Theroux, whose latest story collection, Mr. Bones, is released this week, talks to NPR about the short form.

Thomas Pynchon, the legendary and elusive novelist who rarely makes public appearances (and whose photo hasn’t been published in more than fifty years) might soon appear on the big screen. In the first authorized film adaptation of Pynchon’s work—Paul Thomas Anderson’s forthcoming Inherent Vice—the Gravity’s Rainbow and Mason & Dixon author could be making a cameo. (New York Times)

Last night at KGB Bar in New York City, PEN American Center hosted a reading with the five finalists for this year’s PEN/Bingham Prize, given annually for works of debut fiction. The finalists, whose readings can be heard in their entirety on the PEN website, include Anthony Marra, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Ian Stansel, Shawn Vestal, and Hanya Yanagihara. The winner will be announced tonight at the 2014 PEN Literary Awards ceremony.

To fight the Monday doldrums with a little literary prowess, a new Buzzfeed quiz asks, How well do you know the first lines of classic books?