Today in publishing and literature: a reappraisal of The Atavist, Amazon has charmed Waterstones, and Texts from Bennet will soon be a book.
David Carr checks in on the progress of The Atavist, the tiny publishing house that's producing very good pieces of long journalism for paying customers. Mainly, it's kind of a mea culpa on Carr's part for calling The Atavist a “tiny curio of a business" now that Google's Eric Schmidt, Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, and the Founder Fund, led by Peter Thiel and Facebook's Sean Parker have all ponied up $1.5 million in seed money for the publisher. According to Carr, they're going to release a free version of their software this summer. While there will probably never be a ten-figure Atavist IPO, it at least shares a similar origin story. The three founders -- New Yorker Web editor Nicholas Thompson, Wired contributor Evan Ratliff, and book Website designer Jefferson Raab -- created something "meets a need that its founders had in their own lives, much the way Facebook did for its founders, and was not conceived in a bald effort to exploit a market." The upside might not be as high as Facebook, but there's a definite niche. [The New York Times]
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has officially gone ahead and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today in Manhattan. Earlier in the year, the Boston-based publisher -- which once upon a time was the literary home of J.R.R. Tolkien and Mark Twain -- made major internal changes last year to try and restructure the company, which apparently weren't enough to ward off today's filing. [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
This is a significant piece of overseas publishing news: Waterstones -- or Waterstone's, if you're a traditionalist -- is going to stock books from Amazon's publishing arm, unlike Barnes & Noble. Since Waterstone(')s is the United Kingdom's largest brick-and-mortar book retail, this counts as a win for Amazon. [The Guardian]
Today, in book deals based on Tumblr or Twitter accounts: Mac Lethal, the Missouri rapper responsible for Texts from Bennet, has signed a deal with Gallery books for a “modern epistolary novelization" of the screenshot blog. Terms weren't announced. [The New York Observer]