This week! Books!
Massive, massive news for the publishing industry, and, in truth, for all US antitrust law as the DOJ successfully convinced Judge Florence Pan that Penguin Random House’s proposed acquisition of Simon & Schuster would create a monopsony that would harm authors. This is particularly notable because antitrust precedent over the past 50 years has typically focused on harm to consumers, rather than producers.
Where do Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster go from here? Jessica Toonkel and Jeffrey Trachtenberg at the Wall Street Journal report that Penguin Random House wants to appeal the ruling, but all eyes are on Paramount for their decision on how they want to move forward.
Publishing industry sage Mike Shatzkin suggests that because the ruling would seem to imply that none of the Big 5 could acquire one another, we may have reached a high water mark for publisher consolidation. It also, he argues, puts the publishers on an uncertain path to growth, particularly in an environment where they struggle to reliably publish new titles profitably.
And do you hear that rumbling in the distance? Franklin Foer argues that Amazon is next in the crosshairs.
The world’s richest person has acquired Twitter, is swinging the sword of Damocles over half its workforce, and appears to be imminently introducing a new version of Twitter Blue that would charge users for their blue checkmarks. Anecdotally, writing and publishing types in my timeline seem to be fleeing in droves. I’m not exactly an Elon Musk fan, but I personally think charging $8 a month for verification is actually a good idea that could improve conversations. But we’ll see if, like everything else in social media since GamerGate, the changes just get coopted by forces for evil.
Has multiverse storytelling ruined the movies or is it the right device for our fractured times? Stephanie Burt traces a fascinating history of the multiverse plot device, particularly its rise in fall in 20th century comics, and writes, “Our fears about the future, and our hopes for the children who will inhabit it, may be a final reason that twenty-first-century audiences welcome tale after tale of multiple Earths, and why alternate time lines are flourishing in our time.”
Google AI has debuted a new prototype tool called Wordcraft designed to help you write fiction, but per The Verge’s Victoria Song, it’s not quite all there yet. (Also, if you’re out there AI writing people, please let me test these things).
And P.N. Hinton has a round up of nine books highlighting Black joy.
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:
- It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover
- No Plan B by Lee Child and Andrew Child
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- The Boys From Biloxi by John Grisham
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Radio’s Greatest of All Time by Rush Limbaugh with Kathryn Adams Limbaugh and David Limbaugh
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
- And Then There Was Light by Jon Meacham
- Waypoints by Sam Heughan
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
Young adult hardcover:
- Long Live the Pumpkin King by Shea Ernshaw
- The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera
- Hocus Pocus: The Illustrated Novelization by A.W. Jantha
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Hocus Pocus Spell Book by Eric Geron
- Odder by Katherine Patterson
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Two Degrees by Alan Gratz
- Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
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, Tressie McMillan Cottom has a fascinating essay on the decline of late night comedy and what it says about our fractured times, particularly in an era when outrage seems to be more profitable than satire.
Have a great weekend!
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