This week! Books!
Thanks to everyone who attended the Comic-Con panel I moderated yesterday, which covered everything from publishing professionals’ experience of the last few years, the rise of feel-good content, a shift back to blockbuster theatrical releases, and how working from home has slowed things down in part from super prosaic things like agents doing all their own envelope-stuffing when they need to mail stuff. I learned a ton!
About one hundred HarperCollins employees went on a one day strike on Wednesday demanding better pay and benefits as well as more commitment to diversifying staff. The Local 2110 United Auto Workers, which is representing the workers, has not yet reached an agreement with HarperCollins management.
The book that will in all likelihood be the blockbuster of the holiday season has been announced: Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry, which will be released in November. As Ron Charles points out in his newsletter, this is the type of book that can lift the sales of others as well because it draws people into bookstores.
Real life quidditch, based on the fictional game in Harry Potter whose scoring makes absolutely no sense, is actually a real thing and it’s getting a rebrand. For reasons both practical (avoiding trademark disputes) and ethical (distancing the real life sport from the “anti-trans positions” of the author who created it), the International Quidditch Association announced that the real life sport is now called quadball.
I don’t know if I’ve seen more utter and total skepticism of blockchain than I have in the writing and publishing community, but some new projects are forging ahead nonetheless. Elle Griffin at Esquire profiles startups such as Readl, which aims to facilitate fans buying “stock” in book projects, turning a trip to the bookstore into an investment opportunity, and author Emily Segal, who invited blockchain investors for her second novel. I’m pretty amused by this stretch of the article, which captures the way tech people have a way of believing they are inventing something when they’re just renaming something that already exists with babbling jargon. Isn’t this just… copyright, rights licenses, and sales/royalties?):
Think of NFTs like a pictographic way to ensure that one person is the only owner of a particular item—like how a deed ensures that you are the only person who owns your house. In this case, the NFT represents a book’s intellectual property—as in, whoever owns the NFT actually owns the rights to the book… In this scenario, owning a book becomes more like owning a Picasso: many can view it for a low fee, but only one (very rich) person truly owns it, increasing the value of their investment by loaning it out.
Author and scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. is embarking on an ambitious project to create an Oxford Dictionary of African American English, which aims to trace the history and contributors over the years who, in Gates’ words, “reinvented [English], to make it reflect their sensibilities and to make it mirror their cultural selves.”
In the LA Times, David L. Ulin argues in favor of so-called “inappropriate books” and Liska Jacobs examines what artists and fans actually owe each other.
Alexandra Alter surveys a new crop of books by authors of color using satire and surrealism to examine race and identity politics.
And in writing advice news, I enjoyed this post by Lisa Hall Wilson on identifying your characters’ emotional triggers.
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:
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
- The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci
- Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Tanqueray by Stephanie Johnson and Brandon Stanton
- Thank You For Your Servitude by Mark Leibovich
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- Battle for the American Mind by Pete Hegseth with David Goodwin
- Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris
Young adult hardcover:
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Family of Liars by E. Lockhart
- Blade Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
- Loveless by Alice Oseman
- You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao
Middle grade hardcover:
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Refugee by Alan Gratz
- Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman
- Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordon
- The Fort by Gordon Korman
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Don’t count on agents and publishers to polish your diamond in the rough
- The specifics are everything (query critique)
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
And finally, I’m a train aficionado and have made the trip across the country on the California Zephyr twice. I loved this recent feature by Marta Giaccone showing it’s still going strong.
Have a great weekend!
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Neil Larkins says
Sorry this is off-topic, but I had to comment about the striking workers at HarperCollins. To find out that they belong to the United Auto Workers reminds me of when in 1976 I was a floor-covering installer (ok… a carpet layer) and decided to join a union. There was only one union that represented carpet layers at that time, and it was the Painters and Decorators union. Before that, I’d never thought of myself as being a “decorator” but I guess I was. Nevertheless, I joined and went out with some crews. Those guys were the worst installers I’d ever seen in the eight years I’d been at the trade! I felt embarrassed being associated with them. (“Who me? Um… no, I’m not with that bunch butchering your carpet.”) After only a few days I dropped out. In the same way, I wonder how a union that represents auto workers can represent printers, but perhaps it has more to do with machine operation than other aspects of the business.
Thanks for indulging me. Back to your regularly scheduled comments about writing (wink-wink).
J R Tomlin says
My eyes hurt from rolling them so hard in the whole “turning a trip to the bookstore into an investment opportunity” thing.
I keep trying to talk the family into a train trip from Chicago to Seattle. On the Empire Builder, I believe. I hear mixed things about this kind of travel. Sounds like you are recommending? Seems like it could be amazing.
I love that there will be Oxford Dictionary of African American English!
Nathan Bransford says
It’s been a long time since I’ve done it, but I really enjoyed the California Zephyr. The scenery is unbelievable and you meet some interesting people.