This week! Books!
Could the publishing industry finally be changing? For real this time?
The last few months have brought a huge amount of change to the leadership of some major publishers. Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy, Knopf publisher Sonny Mehta, and Random House publisher Susan Kamil passed away, and editor Nan Talese announced her retirement.
And in a huge, huge shift, the publishing industry is looking outside of its own ranks for more diverse leadership. Simon & Schuster hired Dana Canedy, formerly the administrator of the Pulitzer Prize, as its publisher, and this week Penguin Random House announced that National Book Foundation head Lisa Lucas will be the new publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books.
This is big for two reasons. For one, the lack of diverse leadership, the lack of turnover, and the publishing industry’s habit of promoting from within meant that, in the words of One World publisher Chris Jackson, “we’re really talking about a 20- or 30-year project to get those people into senior positions as they work their way up.” Essentially, a multi-decade gauntlet through a culture rife with micro-aggressions and systemic blind spots (at best).
It’s great that the industry is looking outside its own ranks to get there faster.
And secondarily, I’m hoping some fresh blood from outside the publishing industry will spur some fresh thinking and shake things up. Publishing has some truly insane practices that go unchallenged because of how thoroughly the industry is dominated by people who’ve never had another job and seen how things work elsewhere. It’s far too insular, and I’m excited by the prospect that it could change.
Meanwhile, there’s still a pandemic happening, and industry sage Mike Shatzkin posted about two initiatives that appear to be dramatic game changers in the post-pandemic industry: Ingram’s Guaranteed Availability Program, which ships virtually any book available to any account within 24 hours, and Open Road’s “Ignition” marketing program, an automated way to improve ebook sales.
Colson Whitehead became the youngest recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction lifetime achievement award. He’s only 50!
Donald Trump Jr. announced that he would be self-publishing his book attacking Joe Biden, which will be released during the Republican National Convention. Aside from resulting in horrendous typos on the cover, The New Republic considers how his move to self-publish could impact conservative imprints if it becomes a trend or whether it’s just an anti-establishment marketing gimmick.
And fresh on the heels of my interview with David Gaughran where he discussed the marketing opportunities afforded by Bookbub ads, L.E. Wilson detailed how she increased the sales of her series by offering the first book in the series for free.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
- 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
- Desolation Road by Christine Feehan
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- The Room Where It Happened by John Bolton
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
Young adult hardcover:
- Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
- Hawk by James Patterson
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- The Damned by Renée Adiah
Middle grade hardcover:
- The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
- Wonder by R.J Palacio
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison
This week on the blog
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Marketing tips for reaching your first readers from David Gaughran
- Help the reader get their bearings (page critique)
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
And finally, it’s interesting to think about what the time is going to be like after the pandemic, and Lawrence Wright wrote an interesting article on the impact the plague had on cultural renewal in the Middle Ages.
Have a good weekend!
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Art: Battery Park City and One World Trade Center. Photo by me. Follow me on Instagram!