Today in publishing and literature: The company is rumored to be opening a "small boutique" store in Seattle later this year, Jonathan Franzen praises The House of Mirth author in a very long New Yorker essay, and more hand-wringing about the popularity of "genre fiction" on e-readers.

Citing a "source to the situation," the blog Good E-Reader reported over the weekend that Amazon is planning to open a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle within the next few months. Per the source, the company plans to take the "small boutique route" and sell e-readers, tablets, and various accessories, plus books from their newly-launched Amazon Publishing imprint. If the store clears a profit, others would apparently follow. If nothing else, the timing would be appropriate, since Books-a-Million and Indigo, a Canadian bookstore chain, both announced they'd be taking Barnes & Noble's lead and refusing to stock Amazon Publishing titles in their stores. [Good E-Reader and The Bookseller]

Faber paid a "six figure sum" for the U.K. rights to Birth School Metallica Death by music writers Paul Brannigan and Ian Wood. The planned two-volume (!) text is being touted as the "definitive" history of the thrash metal trailblazers, and will apparently hit stores next year. [The Bookseller]

It's no secret that "genre fiction" titles (read: horror, romance, erotica) sell well on e-readers, but what does that mean? Nothing, publishers insist: customers who would be buying pulpy paperbacks have just switched over the pulpy e-books. That doesn't stop The Guardian from fretting that the anonymity of e-readers (no racy covers!) and the ever-improving search function may be enough to usher in a golden age of "downmarket fiction."  [The Guardian]

Jonathan Franzen may not care for e-readers or cats, but he loves the novels of Edith Wharton, for reasons he details in a long -- very long -- piece in this week's issue of The New Yorker. While the bulk of the piece is spent extolling the virtues of The House of Mirth, Franzen also manages to get in nice little jab at post-1900 audiences while praising The Age of Innocence, which he argues is brilliant precisely because it's inaccesible and "denies the modern reader the easy comfort of condemning an antiquated arrangement." Burn! [The New Yorker]

There's a letter being offered at auction by a London rare books dealer that details Virginia Woolf's role in a "shriekingly funny" prank that resulted in Woolf and painter Duncan Grant being given access to the HMS Dreadnought in 1910, when they "donned beards and costumes to disguise themselves as Abyssinian princes" and demanded to see the ship. It's easily the best prank we've ever heard of involving Virginia Woolf and the British naval fleet. [The Guardian]