November 5, 2018

Imprint consolidation at big houses is a sign of changed times
The Idea Logical Company

On Monday morning, Simon & Schuster became the second major house in a week to announce that it was consolidating two imprints, effectively reducing by one the number of discrete publishing units within the conglomerate empowered to decide what to publish and how to promote it. They folded the Touchstone imprint into Atria and Gallery; last week Penguin Random House collapsed their Crown imprint into Random House (sometimes referred to as “Little Random”.)

The title explosion is part of a sea change in the world of book publishing that has taken place over the past quarter century. At the same time, sales have shifted in two dimensions: a big chunk of the books now bought and consumed are digital, not printed, and more than half the books consumers buy are not bought in brick-and-mortar stores. And the share for physical stores continues to shrink. Indeed, these trends are linked. The fact that books can now be delivered without inventory, without a sales force, and without a warehouse has made it possible for just about anybody to publish a book.

Can Diverse Books Save Us? In a divided world, librarians are on a mission
School Library Journal

That research, fielded in April 2018, revealed that the majority of librarians, 81 percent, consider it “very important” to have a diverse book collection for kids and teens. (Diverse collections, in this context, were defined as books with protagonists and experiences that feature underrepresented ethnicities, disabilities, cultural or religious backgrounds, gender nonconformity, or LGBTQIA+ orientations.)

Some libraries have adopted diverse content as part of the institutional mission. About half of all respondents (54 percent of public libraries and 50 percent of school libraries) have inclusive collection development goals stemming from their administration or district. This rises to 68 percent in urban communities and 65 percent in private schools.

But a significant driver here is individual conviction—of the 1,156 survey respondents (school and public librarians serving children and teens in the United States and Canada), 72 percent told SLJ they consider it a personal goal to create a diverse collection.

How to Write Consent in Romance Novels
The Atlantic

Guillory says one of the best compliments she received about The Wedding Date was that the book could serve as a model for young people who want to better understand romantic boundaries. A friend from law school read the book with her book club, which comprised several mothers of young children. “One of the women told me that she wanted her little girl, when she got old enough, to read my book to know what consent was and how a man should treat her,” Guillory said of the meeting, which she Skyped into. “It just really made me feel emotional, because I want girls to grow up thinking that they deserve to be heard, that their voices matter, that men should listen to them by default.”

The Proposal and The Wedding Date both depict consent as necessary and sexy, but they’re hardly the first books to do so. Guillory credits the world of romance with addressing the importance of uncoerced interest well before other genres or mediums were paying attention to the dynamics inherent in how people relate to one another.

“Romance writers have been thinking about this stuff for a long time and people haven’t really paid attention, and now people are paying attention, which I think is great,” she said. “I’m not going to pretend that all romance novels are perfect on this. There have certainly been books that I’ve read that I’ve been like, Ahh, I’m not sure about that. But I think they’re good examples of both what to do and what not to do.

“I think they’re good things for people to look towards to see how can we teach our daughters and how can we teach our sons to change their behavior to pay attention to women,” she added. “To know that you have a voice and that you matter. And I think romance can play a really big role in that.”

October 28, 2018

Religion Books for Kids Are On the Rise
Publishers Weekly

Recent growth in sales of children’s books has encouraged some publishers of religion and spirituality books to ramp up—or to create—children’s publishing programs. In 2017, publishers launched new imprints, grew through acquiring other companies, struck licensing deals, and beefed up their existing children’s imprints and lines. Now, a year later, are their efforts bearing fruit? A wide-angle lens reveals growth not only at evangelical Christian houses—which publish the bulk of children’s books in the category—but also at Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, and mainline Protestant presses, broadening choices for parents who want to teach their faith to children.

Signs of the uptick in interest in children’s religion books can be seen in Westminster John Knox’s new children’s imprint, Flyaway Books, launched in 2017. Associate publisher and editorial director David Dobson is optimistic about its future. He says that getting Christian children’s books into general trade stores has always been difficult, but “we have been very pleased by the response of independent ABA stores to Flyaway Books.” He adds, “While they are not as interested in the strictly religious titles we publish, such as our Growing in God’s Love story Bible, they are very interested in the values-based picture books we offer.”

The Great American Read
PBS

PBS revealed the results of The Great American Read in the finale which aired on Tuesday. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was voted America’s favorite read. Rounding out the top five were Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Ghost Story Persists in American Literature. Why?
The New York Times

Times critic Parul Sehgal examines why the ghost story remains such a mainstay in American literature, stating that “ghost stories are never just reflections. They are social critiques camouflaged with cobwebs; the past clamoring for redress.”

October 21, 2018

Why Buying Books Will Not Save Our Beloved Bookstores
Electric Lit

While it may be easy to slip into a kind of dangerous daydream of the better days of yesteryear — ”when people still bought books” — you shouldn’t do that. Because while buying books is important, that “call to action” distracts us from the real problem. Capitalism is not good for small, low return-on-investment businesses that we need in our community. So what are we going to do about that?

Luckily, we have bookstore proprietors like Lexi Beach, the co-owner of Astoria Bookshop in Queens, New York. In a tweet thread on Tuesday, Beach declared: “At a certain point, buying books from the store you love is not going to be enough to keep it open.” She went on to explain that the bigger problem lies in the relationship between capitalism, the commercial real estate market, and the toxic marriage between the two for low-margin businesses like bookstores.

The Number of Self-Published Titles Cracked 1 Million in 2017
Publishers Weekly

The number of self-published books topped the 1 million mark for the first time in 2017, according to Bowker’s annual report on the number of ISBNs that were issued to self-published authors. The total number of ISBNs issued last year rose 28% over 2016, to 1,009,188.

The gain was due entirely to the increase in the number of print ISBNs issued by Bowker last year—879,587, a jump of 38% over 2016. The number of ISBNs issued for e-books released by self-published authors fell 13% from 2016, to 129,601.

While Bowker noted that the 2017 decline is the third consecutive year the number of ISBNs issued for e-books fell, the drop is more likely due to authors moving to Amazon’s KDP self-publishing platform than an overall decline in the number e-books that were self-published last year. Bowker’s e-book numbers are based on ISBNs issued, and since KDP uses Amazon’s own ASIN identifiers, KDP’s titles do not appear in the Bowker data. Amazon does not disclose the number of KDP titles that it releases annually.

Booker judges shouldn’t blame editors for overlong novels
The Guardian

Every year, there is a controversy at the Man Booker prize; this year, it is all about the work of editors. Or rather, the supposed lack of work that editors are doing.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, chair of the judges, implicitly blamed editors for the poor quality of some of this year’s submissions while announcing the 2018 shortlist: “We occasionally felt that inside the book we read was a better one, sometimes a thinner one, wildly signalling to be let out.” Fellow judge Val McDermid went further by suggesting modern editors don’t know what they’re doing. “I think,” she said, “young editors coming through are not necessarily getting the kind of training and experience-building apprenticeship that happened when I was starting out.”

As an editor, my immediate reaction was to bite back. Yes, I’ve read a few saggy titles over the past few months. (Two of them crime novels endorsed by none other than Val McDermid.) And when you read a book you think is overlong, it’s hard not to wonder why it wasn’t cut into shape. But I’d still caution against the reflexive tendency to blame editors. A title belongs to an author, first and last. We at the publishing end are there to make suggestions, not to implement changes with an iron rod. If an author is determined to save a few darlings that we want to slaughter, it’s their call. We can’t force a writer to do anything. Nor should we try.

October 10, 2018

Why we need an award for writers who start later in life
The Guardian

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
Publishers Weekly

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.

September 18, 2018

How Apps Are Changing the Fiction Market – and Why Thrillers Lead the Way
Tech.co

Telling stories has been an essential part of the human experience since the dawn of time. But the way we tell those stories has changed hugely along the way. The ebook, the audiobook and even the novel were all brand-new formats once. With the rise of mobile, there’s a new format in the world of storytelling – interactive fiction apps.

The fiction app can take many different forms, but it runs on the same principles that power the rest of the internet. The stories tend to be fast-paced and delivering more dynamically than just words on a page. Readers can interact with the story in some way, either through video and audio options or by impacting what happens next.

We explain how fiction apps work, how they are monetized, and why the horror and thriller fiction genres are ideal for this new form of story-telling.

September 10, 2018

Traditional Publishers Are Selling Way More Non-Fiction Than Fiction
Forbes

In the publishing industry, adult non-fiction revenues are soaring above fiction revenues and have been widening the gap for the past five years. Adult non-fiction revenue totalled $6.18 billion across the publishing industry in 2017, while adult fiction revenues reached $4.3 billion, according to Penguin Random House, using data from Association of American Publishers (AAP), the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Bookscan.

Is Social Media Influencing Book Cover Design?
The Guardian

For a time, it seemed that eBooks and kindles would displace their physical counterparts, but this didn’t quite come to pass. Like the recent revival of zines, the encroach of digital has resulted in a renewed appreciation for the physical – and beautiful. Part of this has been in direct response to eBooks; a tactic to boost the sales of physical books is to remake them as desirable objects, and a way to make objects desirable is, of course, to make them aesthetically appealing. But social media – specifically Instagram, which promotes the coveting of beautiful covers on hashtags such as #bookstagram – is putting a new emphasis on cover aesthetics. We no longer need to go home with someone in order to see their bookcase.

“With social media, people display their books in more places than their personal libraries at home. They’ve almost become an accessory in some cases,” says Rachel Willey, a designer behind covers including Patricia Lockwood’s Priestdaddy (the title takes the form of a nameplate necklace against a freckled chest) and Melissa Broder’s merman-romance The Pisces (a woman passionately embracing a fish).

New Tax Deduction for Authors

Authors, Take Advantage of the New Tax Deduction

The Authors Guild

As we continue to monitor the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we wanted to bring you up to speed on an important, new tax break for authors. As you may recall, the new tax code, effective this calendar year, provides that owners of certain pass-through entities may take a 20% deduction on their qualified business income—whether earned through a pass-through entity such as an S corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or as an unincorporated self-employed individual. The question has been: can authors take advantage of this deduction, and if so, to what extent?

August 6, 2018

Amazon’s New ‘Buy For Others’ Kindle Feature Lets Authors Buy Giftable Ebooks

Forbes
Amazon just gave authors the ability to buy bulk quantities of their ebooks as a way to provide free copies to readers. Amazon hopes this will help authors better market their books through giveaways and advance reviews. However, many are not convinced. There are plenty of other, much cheaper ways for an author to get someone a copy of their ebook, and some believe this feature will only give people the ability to manipulate bestseller lists.

How to Write a Book Without Losing Your Mind

The Atlantic
“How to write that book” advice is everywhere, but how to do so without completely losing it is another step entirely. Here, The Atlantic offers honest advice on dealing with procrastination and commentary on the mental burden it can bring. One of their tips might help with your next undertaking.

High Court Could Give Copyright Lawyers’ Advice Extra Strength

Bloomberg
A case headed for the Supreme Court could change the future of copyright lawsuits. The case will decide whether someone can sue for copyright infringement the moment they submit the application for a copyright or if they have to wait until that application is accepted. Not requiring the lengthy wait would allow creators greater ability to protect their work.

July 20, 2018

Only 1% of Children’s Books Have BAME Main Characters—UK Study

The Guardian
A recent UK study conducted by Arts Council England found that only 1% of children’s books have a main character who is black or minority ethnic. Additionally, those that do are disproportionately focused on political issues. The director of the study called the findings “stark and shocking.”

Writing a Book or Article? Now’s the Time to Create Your ‘Author Platform’

The Chronicle of Higher Education
Even if you’re more interested in reach than sales, success requires effective marketing—and that requires the intense involvement of the author. Not having a well-developed author platform means missing out on one of the best ways to ensure the success of your work. Just relying on your publisher to get your name out is never enough.

Book Sales Boom but Authors Report Shrinking Incomes

The Guardian
Despite UK publishers’ record-breaking £5.7 billion in sales for 2017, authors’ earnings are down, and publishers are not necessarily seeing higher profits. Overpaying celebrity authors and underpaying those who write for a living is one part of the problem. Others accuse Amazon “of using its power to keep book prices artificially low, which had undermined authors’ incomes.”

July 9, 2018

Book Clubs Are Really Having a Moment Right Now

Fortune

It’s not just Oprah Winfrey or even your friends trying to coordinate a suitable date on a never-ending reply-all Gmail thread anymore. Book clubs are more popular than ever, with bookworms meeting up through more and more social media-based communities moderated by publishers, celebrities, popular newsletters, and even “influencers.”

While book clubs themselves are nothing new and a rather old school version of socializing, there has been a proliferation as of late for book clubs as a method for connecting with readers (a.k.a. consumers) while boost branding, whether it be for a company or personality. With some book clubs being advertised on city subways and even national TV shows, lucrative opportunities are ripe for marketers, publishers, and authors.

What Audiobooks.com’s CEO Thinks of the Industry’s Double-Digit Growth

Forbes

Ian Small, CEO of Audiobooks.com, speaks on the current success and future promise of audiobooks: “With the more recent adoption of smartwatches, smart home speakers and other connected devices, audiobooks are able to integrate with people’s lifestyles more than ever before, and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon.”