“While pressure from Amazon forced Borders out of business in 2011, indie bookstores staged an unexpected comeback. Between 2009 and 2015, the ABA reported a 35% growth in the number of independent booksellers, from 1,651 stores to 2,227.” Professor Ryan Raffaelli read this surprising statistic and decided to study what exactly independent bookstores were doing in order to reinvent themselves and thrive. He found it has to do with indies embracing the three Cs; community, curation and convening. The full report will be released in 2018 but you can glimpse a preview here. Three cheers for indies!
Coincident with the release of her new novel, Marie-Helene Bertino published an excerpt in the latest issue of Granta. It features, among other things, a character using the phrase “better-him-than-me kind of park.” You could also read Bertino’s interview with Jessica Gross, which followed the publication of her debut book of short stories.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
In every country except France, the copyright for The Little Prince expired at the end of last year, which explains why Turkish publishers chose the first two weeks of January to publish a huge number of new translations of the book. At the LRB blog, Millions contributor Kaya Genc writes about the flood of new editions, remarking on the significance of a passage about a Turkish astronomer.
“I can tell you that it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero.” Roald Dahl‘s widow says that he intended for the eponymous hero of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be “a little black boy.” Pair with our own Jacob Lambert‘s fond recollection of reading Dahl to his son.
John Sunyer checks in with Franco Moretti at the Stanford Literary Lab. Moretti, a 63-year-old professor of English, is the author of Distant Reading – a book in which he lays out his long-held belief that “literary study doesn’t require scholars to actually read the books.” Rather, he believes in a “new approach to literature [that] depends on computers to crunch ‘big data,’ or stores of massive amounts of information, to produce new insights.”
Tonight marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, a three-day Muslim holiday commemorating Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son, Ishmael. The annual event draws over two and a half million Muslims on Hajj to Saudi Arabia. It makes for an incredibly moving sight, and this year, thanks to Google’s partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, you can check out a live stream of the pilgrimage from the comfort of your own home.