Atavist Books to close up shop

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It lasted hardly more than two years: Atavist Books will close at the end of 2014.

The venture was backed by a couple of big entertainment names -- Barry Diller and Scott Rudin -- and an announced investment of $20 million. The publisher’s name came from its content partnership with the Atavist, which specializes in long-form multimedia e-books, mostly nonfiction.

The Atavist itself will continue; it and Diller’s company IAC will absorb the Atavist Books properties going forward.


Atavist Books’ titles were a mix of digital-only and print. They include the novels “Dear Thief” by Samantha Harvey and “A God in Every Stone” by Kamila Shamsie; the novellas “Sleep Donation” by MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Karen Russell and “The New World” by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz, as well as Hari Kunzru’s “Twice Upon a Time: Listening to New York,” described by our book critic David L. Ulin as a “digital tone poem.”

A representative for IAC told Publishers Weekly, “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.”

And yet the Atavist has had its greatest success with its most recent story, September’s “The Trials of White Boy Rick” by Evan Hughes. The story has been optioned for a reported six figures by Joseph Kosinski, director of “Oblivion.”

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