Updated at 5:30 p.m. on July 13, 2016
Senate Confirms Carla Hayden as Librarian of Congress
In a reversal, on Wednesday afternoon, July 13, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Carla Hayden to serve as the nation’s 14th Librarian of Congress by a vote of 74-18, according to the Baltimore Sun. Earlier in the day, the Washington Post and other news outlets reported on efforts by some Senate Republicans to place a hold on her appointment.
In April, Hayden, who is the chief executive of the Baltimore public library and a former president of the American Library Association, passed easily through a Senate committee hearing, which offered a unanimous recommendation that the Senate approve her nomination.
Although Hayden, who is African American, was endorsed by the leading library, technology, and entertainment trade associations, some Republicans criticized her nomination as evidence of a racial quota system promulgated by Obama, according to the Post. Others criticized positions she took as head of the ALA from 2003 to 2004, including her opposition to a federal law requiring libraries to install Internet filters to block pornography.
A letter sent last Friday by the 80 members of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Library Alliance urged senators to vote for a prompt confirmation of Hayden before their summer recess, the Post reported.
“We believe Dr. Hayden’s qualifications to serve as Librarian of Congress are unimpeachable,” the letter stated. “Further, we expressly reject — and urge you to do the same — the frankly insulting public suggestion that Dr. Hayden owes her nomination to ‘political correctness.’”
The Sun reported that Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin of Maryland sought — and ultimately won — a unanimous agreement to allow a vote.
NEA Big Read Announces New Focus
The National Endowment for the Arts, which over the past 10 years has supported more than 1,200 NEA Big Read community-wide programs that each explore a single book, has announced a new direction: The NEA Big Read library will now focus on contemporary authors and books written since the founding of the NEA, 50 years ago.
“We hope that this new direction will inspire folks to discover new books and enjoy talking about them with family and friends, neighbors and peers, and especially people they have yet to meet,” said Amy Stolls, NEA director of literature.
Available for community programming beginning in fall 2017, the book list will include 28 titles, 13 of which are new to the NEA Big Read. The authors hail from all across the country and represent a range of ages and ethnicities, with more than half of the books by female authors. The list also features a range of genres, including novels, short stories, memoirs, poetry, and books in translation. The full list of 28 titles is available here; more information on the books and authors is available at neabigread.org. Guidelines for applying for a 2017-18 NEA Big Read grant will be released in October 2016 and will be available at neabigread.org.
Christopher Myers to Launch Imprint with Random House Children’s Books
Award-winning author and artist Christopher Myers, son of the late, acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers, will launch his own imprint, called Make Me a World, with Random House Children’s Books.
The imprint’s name reflects Myers’ goal to publish diverse books “that open up new worlds, possibilities, and pathways for young readers of all ages,” written by thinkers and artists from all walks of life.
Myers cites the influence of his father’s commitment to fostering diversity in children’s literature in his mission for the new imprint. Make Me a World’s debut list will launch in 2018 with Child of the Universe by astronomer Ray Jayawardhana. Jenny Brown, vice president and publisher of Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, will oversee the imprint.
Carl Lennertz Named Children’s Book Council Executive Director
Longtime bookseller and industry veteran Carl Lennertz will join the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader as executive director.
Lennertz is a longtime publishing executive who did a stint as a senior marketing consultant to the American Booksellers Association and was most recently executive director of World Book Night U.S. He is also the editor of Unbridled Books’ forthcoming collection of regional essays by booksellers and the founder of the Turntable Project.
In his new position, Lennertz will report to both the CBC and Every Child a Reader’s boards and oversee the development and expansion of educational programming for members of the children’s publishing industry as well as national and local literacy-based community programming. He will also be responsible for existing events, campaigns, and programs, including Children’s Book Week, the Children’s Choice Book Awards, and the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Program.
“Carl’s love of the book business is legendary and I know I speak for the entire board when I say that we can’t wait to see the new directions he takes the CBC as it looks ahead to its 100th anniversary in 2019,” said CBC Board Chair John Anderson.
Inaugural Edition of Buzz Books: Romance Released
Publishers Marketplace has launched the inaugural edition of Buzz Books: Romance, which provides pre-publication excerpts from 20 forthcoming romance titles. Featured authors include Sharon Page, Janet Dailey, Colleen Coble, Mary Balogh, and Lindsay McKenna.
U.S. Publishing Industry’s Annual Survey Reveals $28 Billion Net Revenue in 2015
The results of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) StatShot Annual survey reveal that the U.S. book and journal publishing industry generated $27.78 billion in net revenue for 2015, representing 2.71 billion in units.
However, revenues and unit volume experienced a decrease of 0.6 percent from $27.96 billion in revenue from 2014, and a 0.5 percent increase in units from 2.70 billion units in 2014. StatShot Annual found that the decline in 2015 was largely due to a challenging year in the education markets, which comprise about one-third of revenues tracked by the survey.
The AAP survey also found that unit sales of e-books declined 9.7 percent in 2015, with revenue down to $2.84 billion, compared to $3.2 billion in 2014. At the same time, however, sales of print books were up overall in 2015. Paperbacks were the most popular format for units sold, with revenue totaling $5.23 billion in 2015, compared to $5.09 billion in 2014.
StatShot also revealed that revenue and unit volume for trade books grew slightly in 2015. The largest area of growth was adult books, which in 2015 grew by 6.0 percent, from $9.87 billion in revenue in 2014 to $10.47 billion in 2015. For the second consecutive year, adult nonfiction books, which includes adult coloring books, sold the most units and provided the most revenue in the trade category.
The StatShot survey also found that children’s/YA books declined from $4.42 billion in revenue in 2014 to $4.27 billion in 2015. Digital audio grew 37.6 percent in revenue from 2014 and 41.1 percent in units sold.
Malaprop’s Owner Discusses Post-H.B. 2 Decline in Business in Washington Post
In an interview with the Washington Post, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café owner Emoke B’Racz discussed how economic fallout after the passage of H.B. 2, aka the “bathroom bill,” has negatively affected her store.
Criticizing the economic boycott that stemmed from the law, B’Racz said that the Asheville, North Carolina, bookstore’s sales have suffered since the state legislature passed the bill back in March. The law mandates, among other provisions, that transgender individuals use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates.
A decrease in tourism has hurt Malaprop’s and other Asheville businesses where out-of-town visitors are essential to revenues. Authors canceled their appearances, and sales slumped in April and May “at a time when they’re up for other independent bookstores,” B’Racz told the Post. “Our business is off on a day-to-day basis.”
The store has taken measures to stem the damage and raise awareness about the ways small businesses are suffering as other businesses leave the state and tourism slows. In April, store manager Linda-Marie Barrett wrote a New York Times op-ed, and in May, on the evening of a canceled reading by Sherman Alexie, a gathering of local authors headlined a benefit that raised $5,000 for LGBT groups.
“I don’t think we should be punished for the government’s stupidity,” B’Racz told the Post. “I think we should protest the government’s stupidity every chance we get.”
In the meantime, B’Racz said she plans to “be frugal” in the store’s operation to make up for lost sales.
Longlist for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Announced
The Center for Fiction has announced the longlist for its 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.
The award is given to the best debut novel published between January 1 and December 31 of the award year. The author of the winning book will receive $10,000 while each shortlisted author will receive $1,000. Winners will be announced at the Center’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on December 6 in New York City.
PEN America Introduces PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers
PEN America’s newest literary award, the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers, will be offered for the first time during PEN’s 2017 awards cycle.
The new award will recognize 12 emerging fiction writers for their debut short story published in a literary magazine or cultural website in 2016. Each of the 12 winners will receive a $2,000 cash prize and will be honored at the annual PEN Literary Awards Ceremony in New York City.
In addition, the independent book publisher Catapult will publish the 12 winning stories in The PEN America Best Debut Short Stories. The annual anthology comes out next spring.