Dog-Eared and Dispatched: August 31, 2014
We’re back on track this week as literary news starts to heat up for fall. We’ve got literary prizes (including our own Debut-litzer), as well as news from the Beijing International Book Fair, and a consideration of the book as an object. Our bête noire is lying low this week, but you can still find a brief mention of Amazon in the footnotes, as well as a few other exciting tidbits. Are you ready? Well get reading!
It’s still the season for literary prizes, and this week it’s Late Night Library’s own Debut-litzer prizes. The Debut-litzer for fiction goes to Sarah Gerkensmeyer, for her fabulous short story collection What You Are Now Enjoying, while the poetry prize goes to Lauren Shapiro for the powerful Easy Math; go check them out now! Speaking of poetry, The American Academy of Poets has also been doing some prize-giving. Robert Hass won $100,000 Wallace Stevens Award, for “outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.” On the new and emerging poets front, Wendy Chen has won the inaugural $1,000 Aliki Perroti & Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award (for student poets) for her poem “They Sail Across the Mirrored Sea,” while Hannah Sanghee Park’s manuscript, “The Same-Different,” was selected for the Walt Whitman Award, established to encourage the work of emerging poets, with a prize of $5,000 and publication by LSU Press. In other award news, The New Atlantic Booksellers Association have announced their “Books of the Year,” which include Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland and Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams (the backlash has begun). Finally, NPR will announce the National Book Award Finalists on the October 15 show of Morning Edition, the first time the finalists have received their initial announcement over the radio. [American Academy of Poets, Shelf Awareness, LNL, Boston Review, NPR]
It’s the book fair you’ve probably forgotten about, but this week was the 2014 Beijing International Book Fair, where publishers from across the globe try to finagle their way into the Chinese book market. Why should you care about the Beijing book fair? Because it’s where translation rights are negotiated (here’s hoping for some translations of new authors), and also where there’s a growing market that might keep your favorite publishers in business. Turkey (“a very mysterious nation”) was the country in the spotlight, but as Publishers Weekly reports, there’s lots of discussion about the future of publishing in China, and “the strength of academic publishing in China—both in demand and supply—is visible throughout the exhibition halls. Big booths representing local publishers and their overseas counterparts such as Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, Springer, Cengage, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley and Taylor & Francis are hard to miss.” The big news, though, is the growing popularity of children’s books and increasing importance of ebooks. Oh, just a reminder: here are some ways you can participate in banned book week coming up in September. [Combined Book Exhibit, Beijing International Book Fair, Publishers Weekly, Galleycat]
There are many ways to think about books, as ideas, emotions, and as objects, to name just a few. As producers of these chimerical objects, publishers have to meet the needs of their readers, their authors, their booksellers, and their own profit margins. Booksellers are trying to horn in on the production end of things by requesting that publishers stop printing prices on books. Steve Bercu, the president of the American Booksellers Association, has “felt for some time that taking the price off books would put bookselling in the same place as almost all other retail. Allowing flexibility in pricing gives the retailer the possibility of sharing changes in wages, theft, and occupancy costs with the consumer. Almost all forms of retail have this possibility, but booksellers do not.” The change might help independent booksellers fight back against steep (monopolistic?) discounting; then again, it might not. It would, however, be another step towards making books just like any other commodity, which…only leads to mixed emotions and rattled readers. Speaking of rattling the shelves, the earthquake in California this past week necessitated some serious shelf groom for bookstores and libraries in the Napa Valley. Here’s hoping New York’s Floating Library will have smoother sailing. [Publishers Weekly, Shelf Awareness, Galleycat, Floating Library]
- The wages of publishing went up 2.8% in 2013, which means that publishing wages are just ahead of inflation (except for the 19% of respondents who didn’t get a raise at all).
- Millions of images in the public domain, all gathered together. Hurrah!
- A copy of the first Superman comic sold for $3.2 million on eBay. I bet the guy who lost by $100 feels pretty silly.
- Hachette is looking for a publicity manager, must be able to point at Amazon press releases and laugh.
- Amazon is giving out scholarships to students who have signed up for its services (future Hachette publicity manager take note).
- Of course you want to learn more about Stefan Zweig, “the Pepsi of Austrian writing.”
- The National Book Festival took place on Saturday, and was a success, drawing in large crowds (organizers will tally up total attendance in the coming week).