Happy 150th, Publishers Weekly

It’s not every day you turn a century and a half. Enjoy yourself, PW, but be sure to follow medical advice on how to protect those hips.

Over the course of 150 years—an inarguably impressive lifetime—Publishers Weekly has grown from a weekly trade circular edited single-handedly by Frederick Leypoldt from his offices at 712 Broadway in Manhattan into a publication that has recorded the history of the American book publishing business for a century and a half, with a staff roughly 50 times that of its original. (Geographically speaking, on the other hand, we haven’t gone too far: PW’s new offices on West 23rd Street are only a bit further than a mile from its original home.) This magazine has, at one time or another, taken on all of the efforts described above. Sometimes, it even did so all at once.

Neglected gems

There are plenty of books that should have done better than they did, not only in terms of sales, but interest and longevity. Writers love trading recommendations on these sorts of things. The Irish Times looks at a bunch here, but I wonder what your recommendations would be. Books that should really still be getting attention, or should have on release, but are relegated to the remainder bin of history. I think Beautiful Losers by Cohen is one of these. Too profane for its time, but I’m surprised more young people aren’t reading it now. In general, there’s no way to really tell which books will stand the test of time (how many reviews for super popular authors have called their subjects “timeless” or “masterpieces” only to have the author disappear into relative obscurity two decades later. Hell, there are writers who were THE SHIT when I was first starting to write who aren’t, by appearances, around anymore. Neglect happens in real time, but it’s only from a distance that you can see exactly how much damage has been done. So, support the books you love and put them in the hands of others!

Amazon is now the official face of corporate evil

Listen to this bullshit: Amazon is making it so that their employee chat app will block and flag words like “union”, “ethics”, and “restroom”. They are also apparently going twist oil into their mustaches and tie any dissenting employees to the train tracks just as the old 5:15 comes in from Albuquerque. Scumbags. Solidarity with the workers, people! (Get a load in the quote below of what passes for communications damage-control at Amazon: WE’RE JUST TRYING TO HELP.)

AMAZON WILL BLOCK and flag employee posts on a planned internal messaging app that contain keywords pertaining to labor unions, according to internal company documents reviewed by The Intercept. An automatic word monitor would also block a variety of terms that could represent potential critiques of Amazon’s working conditions, like “slave labor,” “prison,” and “plantation,” as well as “restrooms” — presumably related to reports of Amazon employees relieving themselves in bottles to meet punishing quotas.

“Our teams are always thinking about new ways to help employees engage with each other,” said Amazon spokesperson Barbara M. Agrait. “This particular program has not been approved yet and may change significantly or even never launch at all.”

Deal alert

Hey all, my main gig is now teaching poetry through my school Walk the Line, but as a supplement to that I’ve also developed an online community space just for poets of all levels called Front of the Line.

It’s basically a stripped-down, subscription-based social media platform where poets support each other and post links, articles, poems for comment, comments on poems, tips on craft, book recs, crows about success and questions about process, contest announcements, reading periods and calls from poetry markets, etc. It’s like a cross between an ongoing asynchronous workshop and a poetry clubhouse. Anyway, I’ve moved much of Bookninja’s poetry-related content there.

That said, if you want to check it out, but are hesitant about signing up for a monthly fee without knowing how it works, I’m offering a no obligation free 10 days for the rest of April (National Poetry Month). Sign up, and if you don’t like it, no harm, not foul — just cancel before the 10 days ends and you won’t be billed. Do like it? You’ll just roll right in to a monthly subscription.

There are dozens of members already inside working away and sharing info, working at their own pace, and dipping into and out of the conversation and live events as they have the time. (We even have a reading series starting, featuring members from the group, but open to viewings by the public. First one is April 21!)