This month in publishing, there has been much news from across the pond as BookExpo took place, with tweaks promised for 2018 to try to find the right balance between Expo and Con. The big books of the BookExpo show have been slightly overshadowed, however, by the continuing fuss over the size of advances being paid to American politicians for their books, including $795k for Bernie Sanders and former FBI Director James Comey is looking at a rumoured $10m bidding war.
In bookselling, once again author James Patterson has partnered with the American Booksellers Alliance for his Holiday Bookseller Bonus program, which this year will give even more ‘bonuses’ to individual bookshops in America. For one bookshop, however, no bonus is needed, as they just sold a first edition James Bond book for a whopping $22,500!
Paris, too, has dominated news in June, with Emma Watson hiding copies of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale in various locations around Paris, and one French entrepreneur handing out children’s books to help change poor young people’s lives for the better.
In digital, it’s become clear that the Mexican ebook market is slow to grow, not because of a lack of enthusiasm on the readers’ part, but because of risk aversion on the publishers’. Meanwhile, the longevity of Amazon’s bubble of success is once again questioned (this time by Seeking Alpha), YouTube has also partnered with the Readalong campaign, to help encourage young people to read more, and audiobooks have gained market share once again.
The world of fantasy fiction has had an unusually big month, with JRR Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien finally seeing publication after 100 years, and Harry Potter celebrating its 20th anniversary, complete with emoticon and emotions! Unsurprisingly, given this news, JK Rowling this year reached number three in the Forbes rich list.
Speaking of wealth, during June as Amazon announced it’s Top 20 Books of 2017 so far, CEO Jeff Bezos has come forth to Twitter to ask his fans how to donate part of his wealth – so if you’ve got some ideas, now’s the time to shout about ‘em!
Finally, authors have stepped up to the political plate in a number of unusual ways this month. Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are amongst 200 authors who have stepped forward to support PEN International’s 3-year plan to promote work by censored and persecuted writers. As the UK reels after surprising election results and numerous tragedies, Philip Pullman is set to name a character in his book after a Grenfell Tower victim, in order to raise money for survivors of the fire. Lauren Child, who has been named the new Children’s Laureate, has expressed serious concern about equality in children’s books. After an author pulled out of Chalke Valley history Festival in protest, there has also been uproar about it’s problematically white – and predominantly male – line up of speakers.
Let’s hope that in amongst all this, we can keep our heads as cool as calm as Indian cricket captain Mithali Raj did when she read a book right before batting in a tense match against England!