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.
(It’s especially nice for weeks like the last, in which “real life” takes over and I return to blogging with a renewed desire to understand what’s going on in publishing and the book world.)
Without further ado, here’s what’s been going on in YA and publishing.
Amazon and Hachette reached an agreement in their dispute, a long process of negotiations that have been going on for months. The deal itself “broadly follows a deal Amazon worked out with Simon & Schuster recently.” Essentially, the deal gives Hachette the freedom to set its own prices on Amazon, but offers generous incentive for publishers to set lower prices that follow Amazon’s previous structure. In quarterly earnings, Amazon’s suffered immensely with losses up from 7 cents to 74 cents a share. and so both parties were eager to finally have reached an agreement. It’s not the end-all though, because when both powers are in a similar situation, it will only follow a similar timeline. There’s a great article on Publisher’s Weekly detailing some reactions to the end of the conflict. We’re all grateful that we can stop covering the squabble though!
Additionally, the lawsuit claiming that Apple was the ringleader of a mega-conspiracy in which they persuaded major publishers – among which were Macmillan, Hachette, Penguin, and more – to switch to an agency model that would avoid Amazon’s set $9.99 prices was settled. Apple has started paying off the millions in fines.
Hachette recently agreed to buy Black Dog and Leventhal, with them becoming an imprint for Hachette in the coming months. Hachette’s been doing a lot recently to increase profits, including their recent switch to cubicles instead of private offices. While many publishers still operate with floor plans that include small offices for editors and other personnel, Hachette made the switch to cubicles to due to “their profit margins being squeezed by Amazon and electronic books” and so that “We need to save as much money as we can and still have a nice office.” Michael Pietsch was largely responsible for the switch, the chief executive officer who has been responsible for recent negotiations with Amazon.
HarperCollins has had a lot going on as well. In a continuation of a previous Grind story, HarperCollins is moving Harlequin nonfiction to Morrow after its acquisition. Related to the Apple law suit, another judge ruling in a case for HarperCollins over digital rights denied them $1 million in fines. Publishing Perspectives reports that Harper’s print-ebook bundling decision was tested with Australian booksellers and features a digital code with certain books that allows consumers to download the title from a Kobo store and gift books easily “without fear of what device (if any) someone reads on.”
Daniel Handler’s misconduct at the NBAs and how he fixed it
At the National Book Awards last week, the speaker and host Daniel Handler – also known as Lemony Snicket – made an ill-conceived remark at the expense of Jacqueline Woodson. His comments regarding her allergy to watermelon, and the “irony” of being a black writer with this affliction, were regarded with sharp criticism and uneasiness. Columnists and critics immediately called him out on what they call “blatant racism”. While quiet immediately following the misconduct, he apologized later with well-placed and sincere comments that alleviated many of the people who were outraged at his comments.
What did he do to ease the disgust of his comments? He came clean and also, in addition to donating 10K to We Need Diverse Books, pledged to match donations for 24 hours up to $100,000.
On its website, the National Book Foundation (host of the National Book Awards) released a statement saying that “On Wednesday evening, November 19, 2014, at the National Book Awards, comments were made by the master of ceremonies which were entirely inappropriate, were not authorized by the National Book Foundation and which do not in any way represent the views of this organization. We regret the incident and apologize to all offended by the remarks, especially Jacqueline Woodson.”
Personally, I think Daniel Handler – while obviously at fault – fessed up and did a good job of handling it. I’ve included articles from multiple sources on here, so read for yourself and form your own opinion!
Audible ain’t the only audiobook service anymore
So Audible‘s been long-established as Amazon’s subscriber audiobook service. I, myself, have debated a subscription once or twice but only desist because of my dislike of the corporation. Luckily for me, there have been several developments in audio recently. Scribd has created an unlimited access audiobook catalog and Barnes & Noble is also getting into downloadable audio.
Why is this exciting? As an audiobook listener, your only feasible options used to pretty much be between iTunes and Amazon. My library (and probably yours!) offer a wonderful selection of many different audio titles, but as I become more of an “audiophile”, I look for copies I can re-listen to, or purchase. Because of Amazon’s recent stigma, it’s been unfortunate to try to find copies of audiobooks.
The Nook Audiobook app provides over 50,000 titles and “offers a clean and simple design focused on consumption and discovery”, according to B&N’s VP of digital content, Kashif Zafar.
Scribd’s online catalog has 30,000 titles, a number which far exceeds Kindle Unlimited’s offering of 2,500.
Another start-up, called “Netflix for Audio”, recently launched from a company called Skybrite. Unlike Audible and Amazon’s other audiobook ventures, Skybrite uses streaming for their audiobooks and not the downloading model. Skybrite also incorporates comedy stand-up, interviews, and other audible content to offer more to the subscriber.
As more audiobook services sprout up, it’ll be interesting to see how they battle it out, and what readers will flock to in the end.
Other fun (and interesting) news
Recently, there hasn’t been too much coverage on one or two stories but there are quite a few articles covering an array of events and announcements in the publishing/YA world.
Melissa de la Cruz – author of the bestselling Blue Bloods series and the Witches of East End – is writing a YA spinoff of her Witches of East End series. After its success in the TV world, readers have been clamoring for a teen version of the world she’s created.
Publishing Perspectives wrote a great article on the FutureBook Conference 2014 – and how Penguin Random House was a mega-topic of discussion.
BookExpo America and Book Con 2015 will indeed have separate dates this year – a smart response considering many bloggers’ and attendees’ complaints about overcrowding and frenzy. As I’m actually attending BEA 2015, this is a move that I hope will keep the conference under control (although I’d love to see both sides)!
Amazon won the rights to sell domains with the endings .book. This win was in response to a claim filed against them that their control of the .book domain would counter the public interest.
Ladybird over in the U.K. stopped branding their children’s books as “for boys” and “for girls”. Personally, I think that’s awesome.
Elena from Novel Sounds wrote about why she likes unlikable characters
Publishing Trendsetter wrote about the recent transition of YA nonfiction
Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner wrote about the sacrificial lamb book
Nova Ren Suma – author of Imaginary Girls – wrote about the magic fix in a novel
MissFictional wrote about hijabs on book covers and NOT being oppressed
Lee & Low Books wrote about Daniel Handler – and how his blunder impacts publishing
from Publisher’s Weekly
Kristin Rens at HarperCollins imprint Balzer + Bray has acquired Gretchen McNeil‘s (Ten; Get Even) next YA novel, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, about a math-minded control freak who loses her boyfriend to the quirky new girl in school, and then sets out to reinvent herself to win him back. It’s scheduled for fall 2016; Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown sold North American rights.
Liesa Abrams at Simon Pulse has acquired world rights to the tentatively titled Strange Girl by bestselling teen thriller author Christopher Pike. His new story is told from the perspective of a boy in love with a mysterious girl who seems to have an unearthly ability to heal, but the ability carries quite a cost. Publication is planned for December 2015; Jennifer Unter negotiated the deal for world rights.
Andrew Harwell at HarperCollins has acquired Prettyboy, a debut novel, and a second untitled novel, by Karen Hattrup. When Frannie eavesdrops on her parents fighting, she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. When he arrives, they embark on an extraordinary eight weeks, a summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets. Publication is set for 2016. Steven Chudney at the Chudney Agency brokered the deal for world English rights.
Regina Griffin at Egmont USA has acquired The Innkeeper’s Daughter, the first YA novel by Cindy Trumbore, co-author of the Sibert Medal-winning Parrots Over Puerto Rico. Set in the mid-sixth century, when the clash between paganism and Christianity was at its height, the novel is a retelling of an epic Irish legend, in which an innkeeper’s teenage daughter is swept up in court intrigue, a dark prophecy, and a choice between honor and love. The projected publication date is spring 2016; Susan Cohen at Writers House sold world rights.
Ruta Rimas at McElderry Books preempted world English rights to two YA fantasy novels by Sarah Fine. The deal was brokered by agent Kathleen Ortiz at New Leaf Literary, and the first book is set for spring 2016. In the novel, currently untitled, a 16-year-old who has been training her whole life to become queen finds that, when coronation day arrives, she has not inherited the magical powers of her predecessor. Ortiz elaborated: “Cast out, she’s thrust—powerless—into a world with outlaws who want to overtake the kingdom, and her only redemption is to search for the person who did inherit the former queen’s magic.”
Joy Peskin at Farrar, Straus and Giroux took North American rights to Nicole McInnes’s YA novel, 100 Days. McInnes’s YA debut, Brianna on the Brink, was published by Holiday House last year. Dystel & Goderich agent Stacey Glick, who brokered the FSG deal for McInnes, said that 100 Days is about a high school sophomore who suffers from progeria, a genetic condition that produces the effect of profound aging in the young. Agnes Delaney, Glick explained, is “trapped in the body of an 85-year-old.” When tensions flare between Agnes and her best friend, after the two become closer to the class loner, Agnes’s health suddenly deteriorates. Then, Glick said, in one ”final night together, the three of them must find a way back to connection or risk losing each other forever.” The novel, which, Glick added, has “strong adult crossover appeal,” is set for spring 2016.