This week! Books!
This is going to be the last “This Week in Books” of 2022, so here’s your “This Year in Books” roundup! Some quickfire thoughts:
- Booksellers will likely remember 2022 as the year of Colleen Hoover, who filled up the bestseller lists like she owned the joint. Her path to megabestsellerdom was also a bit uncharted. Rather than making a huge splash with her first few books, she plugged away for years until her books took off with BookTok, making her more of a grassroots bestseller.
- When you pair Hoover’s success with Brandon Sanderson’s brain-exploding Kickstarter in April, which raised over $41 million, I wonder if we’re on the verge of a bit of a paradigm shift in how authors grow popular and the options it affords them outside of the traditional publishing ecosystem. We still haven’t had a megabestselling author go wholly independent of traditional publishers. Is that about to change?
- Speaking of challenges to publisher power, has publishing consolidation peaked? After years and years of publishing consolidation that nearly led to a mega-publisher that dominated market share, Judge Florence Pan put an end to that by blocking Penguin Random House’s acquisition of Simon & Schuster. The trial featured countless nuggets that publishing types will be talking about for years to come.
- If you were an author in 2022, chances are it was the year of waiting. The pandemic threw publishing calendars out of whack and triggered pervasive burnout, which translated to authors waiting forever to hear from agents on queries, and agents waiting forever to hear from editors on submissions. Publishers are stretching their support staff past the breaking point and are dragging their feet on contracts and payments. Books that would have sold in the past in a few weeks or months are taking a year or more. It remains to be seen whether this is the new normal or if there will be relief on the horizon.
- And perhaps as a result of those increased burdens, publishing employees are speaking with a greater voice than ever before, whether it’s protesting the role publishers play giving politicians a platform, or striking for better pay and benefits.
And speaking of that strike, more than 250 HarperCollins workers are continuing to strike, including a rally today led by authors Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, R.F. Kuang, and Molly McGhee. The AALA (the agents association formerly known as the AAR) conducted a poll and found widespread support for the strike among literary agents ($ link).
The latest article to set publishing types’ tongues wagging was a recent article by Isabel Kaplan about how her ex-boyfriend, a writer, broke up with her for being a writer.
Always love this annual feature: LitHub’s 103 best book covers of 2022.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but move over, Oprah. Reese Witherspoon is the new queen of book clubs.
And sad news as literary magazine Bookforum, which was launched in 1994 and supporter so many authors and reviewers, is shuttering.
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
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
- The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
- Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- Surrender by Bono
Young adult hardcover:
- Long Live the Pumpkin King by Shea Ernshaw
- Five Survive by Holly Jackson
- The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera
- Lightlark by Alex Aster
- A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- The Christmas Pig by J.K. Rowling
- Odder by Katherine Patterson
- Two Degrees by Alan Gratz
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, I kept up my habit of listening to five new albums a week, and my favorite album of the year is “Blue Rev” by Alvvays. Any top ten list without it is incomplete!
Have a great weekend!
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Photo: The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA