Sitting in a coffee shop just around the corner from the publishers, Canongate, of which Christopher Bland had once been chair, members of Christopher’s family and of the Royal Society of Literature were brainstorming a title for the new prize to be announced in his name. “Late writers” risked conjuring up the dead, while “older writers” raised the question of what, in an industry that is often obsessed with youth, would be considered old: Google this query and you will find writers over 30 bemoaning the fact that they will soon be over the hill.
In the end we opted for a prize in Christopher’s name, to be awarded to a first novel or work of non-fiction published when the winner is 50 or older. Not before, however, we had worried about the quality of future entrants: what kind of writer, we wondered, apart from Christopher, who published two novels while in his 70s, would be eligible for such a prize?
Print Unit Sales Up in 2018 to Date
Three-quarters of the way through 2018, unit sales of print books were up 2.5% over the January through September period in 2017 at outlets that report to NPD BookScan.
The adult nonfiction segment, the largest of the major book categories, posted a solid gain, with units up 5.7%. The category has the biggest seller to date, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, which is the only print title to crack the one-million-copies-sold level so far this year. Another political book was not far behind Fury: Bob Woodward’s Fear sold more than 760,000 copies since its release in September, making it the third-biggest seller so far this year. In between those two titles is another adult nonfiction book, Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines, which sold nearly 980,000 copies. And in fourth place on the year-to-date bestseller list is Girl, Wash Your Face, a self-help title by Rachel Hollis. Overall, 10 of the 20 bestselling books so far this year are in the adult nonfiction category.