Dog-Eared and Dispatched: July 19, 2015
With the hubbub about Go Set a Watchman reaching a crescendo this week, important events like the sale of Books-A-Million and the unanimous callout of Amazon were almost drowned out. We also have footnotes for the women you most want to get lunch with: Cheryl Strayed, Lena Dunham, Ida B. Wells. Ready? Set? Read!
With months of anticipation leading up to the publication of the first chapter and the New York Times leak, the release of Go Set a Watchman lived up to the hype. Over 200 people attended the launch party in Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, AL. Partygoers dressed as characters from the book, and the store ordered more than 10,000 copies of the book.
One retailer, however, broke the embargo on the book. A Walmart store in West Monroe, AL, displayed Go Set a Watchman on July 10 and was contacted by HarperCollins after a librarian saw the display and called the publisher’s publicity department. Barnes & Noble’s VP of adult trade and children’s books, Mary Amicucci, announced that Go Set a Watchman was likely to be their best seller for the year. She also said that the pre-orders increased after the negative and mixed reviews began running on Friday.
It looks like conversations won’t let up soon either. With the “heartbreaking” revelation that Atticus Finch is not a saint and the staggering first week sales numbers, no wonder publications are reporting on everything from the Mockingbird nostalgia of famous writers, to the man behind the cover font. If you are already tired of Harper Lee and her Watchman, you’re going to have a very long summer indeed. [Publishers Weekly, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, US News, Mobylives!, Galleycat]
Books-A-Million has been purchased by executive chairman Clyde Anderson and his family. The $21 million transaction gives power to Anderson, who already had shares of 58.2% of the company. Anderson believes the transaction “is a positive result for everyone, most importantly the company’s shareholders. The special committee and its advisors have done a thorough job to assure that all terms and conditions are arms’ length, and we are pleased to have come to a fair and balanced agreement.” Under the Books-A-Million, Books & Co., Bookland and 2nd & Charles names, Books-A-Million has over 250 stores and also sells online. Despite the recent purchase, Books-A-Million stock has remained unchanged. [PR Newswire, Marketwatch]
In a show of unanimity, U.S. booksellers, authors, and agents called upon the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Amazon’s business practices. In their letter, Authors United requested that “the Antitrust Division investigate Amazon’s power over the book market, and the ways in which that corporation exercises its power, bearing in mind the very special constitutional sensitivities that have historically been applied to any business that has established effective control of a medium of communication.”
Founder of Authors United, Douglas Preston, has spoken to the New York Times and Salon, saying that “disruption is healthy, an inevitable byproduct of a world that changes. But there isn’t a single example in American history where the concentration of power in one company has in the long run benefited consumers.” Even the bestselling authors at the top of the heap are joining the conversation, one that promises to be long and complex. [Bookweb, NY Times, Salon, Paste]
- Allecia Vermillion posts “Why Powell’s Bookstore Will Outlive the Kindle.”
- The Authors Guild pushes for a 50% royalty rate on ebooks.
- Spinoff, Barnes & Noble Education is set to open on August 2nd.
- The ever quotable Cheryl Strayed has a deal with Knopf for an anthology of quotes.
- Unsubscribe from everything else—Lena Dunham is starting a daily email blast with feminist news, style, and politics.
- Prime Day disappointment takes to social media, reminding us that even Amazon can have bad days.
- Google honors the birthday of civil rights journalist Ida B. Wells.
- Nerdy and adorable child Flash is just one of the stars of Comic-Con 2015.