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Book News: Just Months In, A Publisher That Promised Innovation Ends Its Run

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Despite high hopes and executives with a record of success, Atavist Books didn't last long. Less than a year after its launch, the multiplatform publisher has announced that it's planning to close.

Hatched under the name Brightline and helmed by Hollywood mega-producer Scott Rudin, InterActiveCorp Chairman Barry Diller and former Picador publisher Frances Coady, the company didn't lack for ambition. Promising "not the usual model," the publisher partnered with the Brooklyn-based multimedia monthly The Atavist and aimed to emphasize e-books first.

"We have to stop treating digital as the bastard offspring of print," Coady told Publisher's Weekly in 2013. "Where we do print, we will do digital first."

Atavist Books launched in March of this year with Karen Russell's novella Sleep Donation, following it up with titles from other young writers, including Kamila Shamsie. But the publishing house struggled to gain traction.

"While we are very proud of the quality of the titles produced by Atavist Books to date, we have identified that the market for highly innovative enhanced full length literary e-books still heavily relies on a print component and has yet to emerge," an IAC spokesperson told Publisher's Weekly on Tuesday, in a statement that brought the news full-circle.

Unlike its short-lived publishing arm, though, The Atavist remains alive and well.

E-Books, En Route: The San Antonio International Airport is bringing the city's public library straight to travelers. Jessica Soto of KSAT reports that the city introduced two digital kiosks Tuesday at which travelers can download books and music — and, yes, charge their electronics. San Antonio is just one of several cities lately to help airport passengers to public libraries on the go.

Just One 'Blue Night': Tony Award-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave plans to bring to Broadway an adaptation of Joan Didion's memoir Blue Nights. As David Ulin of the Los Angeles Times reports, the one-night-only reading is something of a follow-up to Redgrave's 2007 adaptation of Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. Proceeds from the performance — which is to be held Nov. 17 at the Cathedral of St. john the Divine in Manhattan — will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Cathedral Community Cares.

How To Read The Eire: Care to take a trip to Ireland? Well, no help there — but here, have a map. Electric Literature's handy infographic points to us a number of Irish towns and cities, then dives into the ways that more than a dozen Irish writers, from W.B. Yeats to Colm Toibin, have expressed their mixed feelings on home.

From The Archives: A somewhat absurdly detailed investigation of how and where to keep, well, your archives. In the compendium Atlas of Transformation, the late French novelist Georges Perec explained the conundrum of collecting books, complete with algebraic coefficients and a self-seriousness that borders on satire. "It is extremely rare to find books in a bathroom, even though for many people this is a favorite place to read in," Perec notes at one point. "At the most, you may find in a bathroom a medicine cupboard and in the medicine cupboard a small work entitled What to Do before the Doctor Gets There."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: October 21, 2014 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous version of this post wrongly said Evan Hughes' work was published by soon-to-be-shuttered Atavist Books. Hughes' book The Trials of White Boy Rick was actually put out by The Atavist, which is not closing.
Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.
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