One of the changes that I’m most excited about is a new feature that I’m planning on introducing here at Words Like Silver. 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! It’ll likely be bi-weekly. 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!
Without further ado, here’s what’s been going on in YA and publishing.
The most important thing that I’ve learned from the Amazon-Hachette dispute is that I’ve been mispronouncing Hachette my entire life (ahem – apparently it is not pronounced like “hatchet”) but there have been multiple perspectives on the subject. It’s an issue that I’ve been following with scrutiny, as closely as possible.
Starting with a helpful timeline, Publishers Weekly was right on top of the dispute from the beginning. Most agree that the entire debacle started when Amazon started delaying shipments and discouraging consumers from purchasing Hachette titles as they were unhappy with the contract negotiations with the publisher. This started an uproar in the publishing community.
L. Gordon Crovitz from The Wall Street Journal claims in an article that the only reason Amazon’s been exerting its power as such is due to a ruling by the Justice Department that allowed Amazon to build up more power by ruling against publishers. The Justice Department sued three major publishers and Apple for “conspiring to raise ebook prices”. That ruling arose when Amazon behaved similarly in an issue against Macmillan in 2010, when it removed Macmillan listings from the site and stopped selling titles by the publisher. The issue had popped up when Macmillan announced that it would begin to set its own ebook prices, deviating from the prices that Amazon controlled.
In a recent opinion post by The New York Times, letters to the editor went back and forth about possible solutions to the problems with Amazon, and discussed the various implications that these could have on the future of publishing. Some argued that strong-arming tactics as employed by Amazon only serve to add to the monopoly of the company, that publishers need to stay firm in their resistance to avoid the overhaul of the market. Others point out the royalty issue – that Amazon gives higher royalties to writers in their e-book markets and that publishers should step up and do similarly.
While many articles degrade Amazon’s actions in stunned disbelief, one of their articles spoke about the confusing double standard that the “Big Five” publishers seemed to have. Comparing the Amazon-Hachette dispute to the B&N clash with Simon & Schuster last year, Calvin Reid asks questions about why this specific negotiation has the publishing world in an uproar. Why was nobody in frenzied support of S&S authors last year? Is the hassle of the trade not a regular part of negotiation rather than something to get worked up about? In comparison, he also mentions the necessity of selling straight to consumers, which is something publishers might need to learn from Amazon.
In summation, the dispute could lead to innovations in publishing. It raises questions about the changing e-book market and the increased view of Amazon as a major power. How much power will publishers continue to have in coming years? How will the virtual market and convenience change the fundamentals of sales?
Additionally, Hachette announced a round of layoffs. 28 positions have been cut. Hachette says that the cuts have been in place for a while and recent stats back up that statement.
ADULTS WHO READ YOUNG ADULT
If you’ve popped in on Twitter recently, you’ve probably seen some mention of “that Slate article” or the adults feverishly recommending their favorite young adult reads under the hashtag #PromoteaYAInstead in the hopes of promoting the genre.
The controversy arose when an opinion piece on The Slate was published, a piece demeaning young adult literature and saying that adults have no right to read those books. It points out that young adult books are read as escapism and for nostalgic purposes, but that the adult audience should be ashamed at the trashy nature of YA lit. She says that to enjoy young adult, one must put aside any mature insights or experiences, and that’s why adults should be horrified to find themselves treating the genre like any literary fiction.
In contrast, a response by Maddie Crum at The Huffington Post explains a bit of what the Slate article may have been getting at, while arguing against its crucial points. It mentions commencement speeches by famous writers detailing that “happiness often isn’t enough” and that one of the most fundamentally incorrect concepts of the article is that people should be ashamed of what they find pleasurable. Literature is seen to increase empathy and nostalgia is correlated to self-identity. Both are prominent in YA, which only serves to reiterate why YA matters, especially as an adult.
For those who attended BookExpo America in the past week, the third day of the conference had a new addition this year: BookCon. This hotly anticipated event was for readers and the non-professional demographic, with responses ranging from frenzied to thoughtful. Between the annoyed responses from bloggers and the overwhelming crowds to the publishers’ excitement to hand-sell books amongst the chaos, multiple news outlets covered it from several angles especially from a business perspective.
The article “A Loud Start to BookCon” on Publishers Weekly described it as loud and bustling, pointing out the eager fans and the publisher-reader relationship. BookCon sold 10,000 tickets and the crowds were crammed in between the booths. Despite the complaints related to crowd control, the organizers cite that as a “good problem” because learning the passionate demographics can only increase sales for struggling publishers. Another article, “Book Con off to a Mostly Good Start“, detailed the logistical issues, pointing out that small presses were physically taken aback by the crowds. Due to the lines for larger booths, they found it difficult for consumers to access their booths. Despite the challenges to work out, organizers are excited for the possibilities that the conference creates particularly with the scheduling for next year.
When BookCon announced a lineup of white authors back at the beginning of the organization, a campaign was created. Readers, authors, and others were outraged by the lack of diversity within the panels, and decided to do something to change that. That led to the creation of the We Need Diverse Books campaign led by Ellen Oh. It provoked earnest discussion over Twitter, recommendations for books with diverse characters, and the eventual gain of a BookCon panel by the WNDB group. The cry for diversity in books – through gender, race, ability, etc,. – is growing in the young adult market and made a splash at BookCon.
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE
In an elegant solution to the logo issue that emerged from the Penguin Random House merger as announced in 2013, the company announced its decision: they would use a simple typeface format to plug beside the imprints. Penguin Random House U.K. also announced that it would create a singular children’s division, crediting this to its desire to maintain focus and brilliance in its children’s literature.
The Blog Posts
1) Kelly Jensen’s response to the Amazon-Hachette drama describes the luxury of a brick-and-mortar bookstore, and how those in more rural areas don’t have access to the indie bookstores that publishers encourage consumers to buy from in light of the Amazon crisis. (However, you can support Powell’s by ordering online, because they ship everywhere.)
2) Rachel from Fiktshun responded to the previously-mentioned Slate article, detailing her hesitation to get involved in any drama but that she was ashamed that Ruth Graham – author of the article – would attempt to turn anybody away from reading. Whether or not it’s a literary book, or simply an enjoyable one, shouldn’t be an issue as long as literacy is encouraged. It’s a passionate article.
3) Jennifer Mathieu wrote a list of YA books dealing with slut-shaming and sexuality on The Perpetual Page Turner. Reads dealing with rape, feminism, sexual identity, and all are piled onto a good starter list.
A YA anthology with authors such as Sara Zarr, Dan Wells, Brandon Mull, Lauren Oliver, and more banded together to benefit Robison Wells, author of Variant and others. Due to Robison’s mental illness, he was laid off from his job and the authors are all helping him out with the resulting debt.
Some 30 YA writers who donated their contributions to the anthology, which was compiled in support of fellow author Robison Wells, who has fallen on hard financial times as a result of severe mental illness that caused the loss of his job.
Due out in September from Dragonsteel Entertainment, an imprint started by Sanderson, Altered Perceptions is one component of a broader fundraising campaign to help Wells pay outstanding student loans, back taxes, and other debts.
Namrata Tripathi at Dial Books for Young Readers took North American rights, at auction, to Cassie Beasley’s Circus Mirandus, in a two-book deal. The Penguin children’s imprint said the novel, about a circus that alters the life of a young boy and his grandfather, is “Peter Pan meets Big Fish.” Tripathi beat out four other bidders for the book, which was sold by Elena Giovinazzo at Pippin Properties. The publisher said the novel follows a boy named Micah, who, when his grandfather becomes sick, goes in search of the magical circus, and a special performer, that he has only heard about in family stories. What Micah finds, the publisher said, is not what he expected. Beasley lives in Georgia and has an M.F.A. in children’s writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Circus Mirandus is set for a summer 2015 release.
In another deal coming out of HarperCollins, Jessica MacLeish, at the publisher’s children’s division, took world English rights, in a three-book deal, to Lindsey Klingele’s debut YA novel, The Marked Girl. Klingele, who was represented by Reiko Davis at the Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency, is a writers’ assistant on the ABC Family show Twisted. Davis said the book is about a group of royal teens who are ousted from their “Game of Thrones-esque” world and dropped in modern-day Los Angeles. There, they befriend a street-smart girl who is torn about helping them find their way home, since she’s fallen for the charming bad-boy prince of the group.
*info directly from Publishers Weekly
That’s a wrap! What are y’all excited for?