African-American-Owned Bookstores on the Rise

Written by Katie Martinez

The number of bookstores owned by African Americans has increased recently from around fifty-four in 2014 to about one hundred and eight today, according to an article in Publishers Weekly.

As many people continue to turn to the internet with sites like Amazon for their literary needs, many of these smaller bookstores are learning how to compete and thrive in the constantly changing market. One bookstore in Washington, D.C., provides tablets to patrons in the store in order to help them find the book they’re looking for. Even the nation’s oldest African-American-owned bookstore is adapting to the increasingly tech-centered industry by emphasizing its online presence. Along with implementing these adaptations, the rise of African American bookstores has also often been associated with the visibility and success of African-American-centered politics.

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Jennifer Egan Champions Freedom of Expression as the New President of PEN America

Written by Katie Martinez

According to Publishers Weekly, PEN America recently announced that Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer Jennifer Egan will be the new president of the organization. Egan will be taking over the position after Andrew Solomon, who has served as the organization’s president for the past three years.

For more than nine decades, PEN America, as a center for PEN International, has advocated for and protected the writer’s freedom of expression; it consists of impressive networks of novelists, editors, publishers, and many others. Working at the “intersection of literature and human rights,” PEN centers work to support persecuted writers and promote literary culture through programs such as their Free Expression Program, the Prison Writing Program, and others like the PEN Writer’s Fund, which provides financial assistance for professionally published writers and editors who need it.

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Rear Window Meets Gone Girl in This Editor-Turned-Author’s Novel

Written by Katie Martinez

Daniel Mallory’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window, recently claimed the number-one spot on the New York Times Best Seller list. The novel is published under the pseudonym A. J. Finn by the publishing house William Morrow, which also happens to be where Mallory himself worked as an editor. According to a feature that appeared in the NYT, Mallory had always planned to submit the manuscript under a pseudonym as he felt his own authors may be disconcerted to see their own editor’s name splashed across a hardback in a bookstore.

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Queer Feminist Bookstore Opens in Water Valley, Mississippi

Written by Katie Martinez

Conservative Water Valley, Mississippi is now the home of a queer feminist bookstore named Violet Valley Bookstore. The volunteer-driven, nonprofit storefront was opened this month by Jaime Harker, a professor and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi. Violet Valley Bookstore’s stock is primarily from donations and includes authors such as Rita Mae Brown and Fannie Flagg. Funding for the bookstore was raised with a Kickstarter campaign that began in October and reached the goal of $5,000 in only four days!

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Prison Book Program Donates 450 Dictionaries

Written by Katie Martinez

As MobyLives recently reported, the Prison Book Program (PBP) has recently raised $1,800 from sixty donors that will go towards providing prison libraries with 450 dictionaries. According to the PBP’s fundraising site, each four-dollar donation buys one college-level dictionary. Dictionary drives just like this one have supplied more than 10,000 prisoners with dictionaries over the past five years. Dictionaries are one of the most highly requested books by prisoners, as they’re an incredibly useful tool that helps inmates improve their own literacy skills.

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