This month in publishing news, it’s been all about the publisher’s best friend: the indie bookshop! The 2017 Independent Bookshop Week got well underway towards the end of June with the announcement of its annual Book Award, with winner Sebastian Barry praising the importance of independent bookshops and the culture they help to build. Publishers, too, seem to have thrown their weight behind this year’s celebrations with more gusto than usual, and the whole industry was set abuzz by hundreds of offline events and online by the lively #IBW17 hashtag.
Though Independent Bookshop Week finished in early July, it’s been a month of promising news for bricks-and-mortar bookstores, with the BA and PA getting airtime in the House of Commons and sales in bookshops almost even compared to this point last year. Print has been widely reported to be continuing to rise, while digital doom apparently looms for eBooks because of a ‘Shelfie’ craze. Worse still, some of the digital retailers have decided it’s time to forget about fighting print and declared war on each other instead! However, while bookshops are stable, libraries are looking less happy, with cuts and growth across the UK continuing to cause chaos to the sector.
When it comes to publishers, PRH spread its international wings even further by completing its purchase of Ediciones B – and well it should with European publishing looking strong, as exemplified by reported 4.25% growth in the French market this year. Meanwhile, Pearson sold 22% of PRH to Bertelsmann. But it’s not all about merges and acquisitions: Canadian publishers are exploring ways to grow the numbers of in-house indigenous editors; Cressida Cowell has become Foyles’ first ever Literacy Ambassador; and the Reading Agency paired with the Society of Chief Librarians to launch a new initiative as part of the Reading Well Books on Prescription programme, curating a list of books for people with long-term mental health issues. But not everyone is satisfied, with Henry Jeffreys claiming publishing was a better industry when it was fuelled by long lunches and alcohol!
In author news, one of the oldest authors alive, Herman Wouk, released his latest novel at the phenomenal age of 102! Post-Harry Potter 20, JK Rowling revealed that she originally used her initials for her author name because her publishers’ said it would help to hide her gender. Two decades on, however, the opposite is becoming true, with many male authors stepping forward this month to say they have benefited from gender-neutral pen-names. Last but not least, one female author in particular revealed herself as a firecracker this month, as hidden letters from Agatha Christie revealed she had quite a temper!