One of the changes over the summer that I was most excited about was a news feature that I introduced recently. As a girl planning on working in the publishing industry (and in love with all things young adult), I wanted to start a news feature. When I’m at school all day, I’ll come home to find Twitter ablaze with some new story, or article, or even just excited about deals I have to hunt down on Publishers Weekly.
I love reading articles and I love collecting them so I decided to make a feature out of it! The timing will change depending on the news, but I hope to do it at least once a month. There’ll be an articles section from official outlets, a notable blog posts section, and a deals section. Keeping up with the industry can be tricky and it’s always nice to read about something you may have missed! You can read my first post here.
Without further ado, here’s what’s been going on in YA and publishing.
The Amazon-Hachette Drama Continues
I waited a while to do this post hoping the Amazon-Hachette drama would die down so I could focus on some other news, but recent developments have proved that it’s still interesting, and still stands to shape much of the book industry in the coming years. In a recent article by Publisher’s Weekly, both publishers are shown to have upped the stakes. Sides have been taken.
Amazon recently launched a book service called Kindle Unlimited, a service where you can read 10 books on your Kindle at once and choose from over 600,000 reads in their library for $9.99 a month. The premise includes a public library-esque setting online where you can download books and return them. The glitch?
As the Wall Street Journal states, most public libraries already offer digital download services for free with the same concept. I myself use my public library’s Overdrive Media system all the time; I download audiobooks and they’re automatically returned when my time is up. Due to Amazon’s spat with the Big Five publishers, they have few titles in their Kindle Unlimited library from those titles; most of the books you see in the bookstore won’t find their way to Amazon’s KU shelves because Amazon’s having predictable difficulty in getting any of the publishers to sign a contract.
HarperCollins has taken several intense steps to fight Amazon in their own digital pursuits. HarperCollins recently announced a digital-and-print bundling service through BitLit where consumers can get both formats when they purchase books. Additionally, Harper has also launched a redesigned website where customers can order books directly, hoping to avoid the middleman that Amazon has become.
Other publishers and services also push back against the restrictions of Amazon, forming new concepts in the battle to reach consumers. Google and Barnes & Noble have joined forces against the giant, particularly in New York City. Google has been attempting to create a shopping/delivery service, and Barnes & Noble also benefits from the same-day delivery arrangement. One of the largest problems with fighting Amazon has been the pure want of customers to get their books that day and read them instantly. With Google’s fledgling service, there might be an alternate route.
Aside from services, authors, readers, and publishers have been taking their concerns to public grounds. In an open letter to Amazon in the New York Times, signed by over 900 authors, the authors attempted to state Amazon’s follies and rally the public against them. They mention Amazon’s boycott of certain publishers, delayed shipping, and harsh tactics that caused the conflict in the first place.
Amazon responded in an ironically-named Readers United website, claiming that their ebook pricing was fighting for self-published authors and that Hachette had been harming book culture by perpetuating higher prices. In an article about where self-published authors stand on the issue, Jeremy Greenfield helpfully explored the indie author mindset about the dispute.
The CEO of Hachette Book Group, Michael Pietsch, released a letter explaining the publisher’s pricing and that Amazon was attempting to gain more profit at their expense. During the conflict, Amazon also picked up a fight with Disney. Other publishers have come forward with complaints and struggles in contracts with Amazon, joining forces with Hachette. For example, small press Kensington released the information that it took eighteen months to negotiate a one-year contract with the giant.
The conflict doesn’t only exist between Amazon and Hachette, and the conflict doesn’t only exist in the United States. In fact, France recently passed a law outlawing free-shipping on discounted books. The French government says that this will hopefully give independent bookstores more of a chance, especially since the French book industry has a whopping 17% of sales attributed to Amazon.
How’s this all affecting sales? Well, bookstore sales are down 7.9% from the first half of the year. Luckily, Hachette Book Group released a statement indicating sales for them are up 5.6% during the second quarter. Amazon sales are up 23% although they’re experiencing tremendous loss in their profits. Amazon’s actions towards Hachette have also contributed largely to Hachette’s decision to halt their purchase of Perseus.
Related to the conflict is a ruling by a previous judge seeking mediation between Apple and the five major publishers in response to the 2010 price-fixing scandal that focused on agency-pricing. That meant that publishers set the price and Apple would have gotten a small percentage of the deal.
Meanwhile, Leonard Bershidsky argues that the Amazon war is ultimately pointless, that the book industry is largely following the path of the music industry. That would mean that book ownership – like song ownership – will cease to have meaning in upcoming years, so he thinks publishers should attempt to create a cloud-based model where people pay small fees for books they borrow.
The Rise of Indies & Publisher Outreach
Likely as part of their response to the Amazon spectacle, HarperCollins announced a fund for independent bookstores that spotlighted Harper releases. Qualifying accounts will have access to the fund throughout the year, and the move serves to both strengthen independent bookstores and encourage creative promotion of HarperCollins titles.
Meanwhile, other campaigns have been released to promote book-buying and borrowing. The New York Public Library recently created a hashtag #IReadEverywhere to promote literacy. Little, Brown created a campaign based around the groundbreaking story of Malala Yousafzai. Tweet it! I did.
Additionally, Tiffany Razzano (from my very own Tampa, FL) has officially created Florida Bookstore Day. What is it? Well, it’s November 15 and is planned to be a celebration of used and indie bookstores, independent authors, and small presses. Razzano is planning to organize open mics, panels, and signings across the state. If you’re in the area, she plans to have an after party at Venture’s Compound in St. Petersburg.
After the close of World Book Night, attempts to revive and continue supporting independent bookstores have been even more prevalent.
Indie projects themselves have also become pretty popular in the book world recently. Book bloggers and readers are currently raising money for LitRate – “the better Goodreads” – on Kickstarter, a platform that promises to cut down the spam and snark of Goodreads, providing a more satisfying social media experience. Meanwhile, the Vampire Academy fans are out in droves to raise money to create the sequel, Frostbite, on the big screen. While the Vampire Academy flopped in theaters likely due to how it strayed from the book, potential screenwriters for the sequel promise to keep it true, if only they can raise enough to make it.
Read Me Away discusses the components of books with dual plot lines as well as their pros and cons
Awkwordly Emma interviews a boy and asks about his taste in “girly” books
Pages Unbound talks about why book reviews are an important aspect of book blogs
Alexa Loves Books shows us her organization system (which I am very jealous of)
Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner speaks about what constitutes a spoiler
Late Nights with Good Books talks about losing the ability to browse as a blogger
Sofia Li has a great post about her opinion on Kindle Unlimited
taken from Publishers Weekly
Stephanie Kuehnert, a staff writer at Rookie magazine, an online teen publication, sold a memoir to Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton Children’s Books. The book, which Dutton said will be “zine-style,” will chronicle the author’s transformation, during her teen years, “from geek to grunge to goth to grrrl.” Through prose, as well as things like lists and zine pages, Kuehnert will also tackle darker material, discussing her struggles with self-injury and a relationship that spiraled into emotional abuse. Adrienne Rosado at Nancy Yost Literary represented Kuehnert, who has also written the YA novels I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia. Strauss-Gabel said the memoir is “pull-no-punches raw” and delivers an “original and candid story of resilience.” Tavi Gevinson, founder of Rookie Magazine, will provide an introduction to the book.
FSG Goes Six Figures for Middle-Grade Debut
Grace Kendall at Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers took North American rights at auction to Kate Beasley’s debut, Gertie. The middle-grade novel was sold by Emily van Beek at Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management in a two-book, mid-six-figure deal. The novel follows a girl who, van Beek said, is attempting to be the best fourth grader possible, in order to “show her distant mother that she doesn’t need her a bit.” The title character’s scheme hits a roadblock, though, when the daughter of a famous movie director arrives in town. Speaking about the novel’s plucky young heroine, van Beek said that when she encountered the character, she “couldn’t help but think she’s the kind of girl who would get along just beautifully with Ramona Quimby and Sheila Tubman.” Gertie is set for fall 2016. Beasley, who lives in Georgia, has an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Shaftesbury Films acquired television rights to the Wondrous Strange trilogy by Lesley Livingston. HarperCollins began publishing the novels, about a woman who learns she is the heir to the Faerie realm, in 2008. Jennifer Weltz at Jean V. Naggar Literary brokered the deal.
Jandy Nelson, author of the popular YA novel The Sky Is Everywhere, sold her third book, Fall Boys & Dizzy in Paradise, to Jessica Garrison at Dial Books for Young Readers. Garrison bought North American rights from Holly McGhee at Pippin Properties, and the novel is tentatively slated for fall 2017. In Fall Boys, Nelson follows a trio of siblings—two boys and a girl—whose father disappeared years earlier under mysterious circumstances. The story takes off when, the publisher explained, “an enigmatic girl shows up and turns their lives into tumult.” Nelson, who has a B.A. from Cornell and an M.F.A. in writing for children from Brown, won a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults award for The Sky Is Everywhere. Her forthcoming YA effort, I’ll Give You the Sun (Dial, Sept.), was optioned for film in July by Denise Di Novi and Alison Greenspan (who are behind the upcoming adaptation of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay). The Sky Is Everywhere has also been optioned for film, with Selena Gomez currently attached to star.
Alvina Ling, the executive editorial director at Little Brown Books for Young Readers, bought U.S. rights to Dawn Kurtagich’s debut YA novel, The Dead House, as part of a two-book deal. The psychological thriller was also acquired, simultaneously, in the U.K. by Jenny Glencross at Indigo (Orion’s YA imprint). Greenhouse Literary’s Sarah Davies orchestrated the U.S. sale, while Polly Nolan handled the U.K. one. Dead House, which is set for fall 2015, is about the discovery of a diary in the ruins of a high school that burned down a quarter-century earlier. The diary was written by the twin sister of a student who disappeared in the fire. LBYR said the novel is a “dark and compelling tale of lies, mystery, and deceit that will keep readers guessing until the very end.” The second book in the deal is currently untitled and unscheduled. Kurtagich, who lives in Wales but grew up in Africa, writes for YA blogs and is a member of the YA League.