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Congress Raises SBA Lending Ceiling

This week, the U.S. Small Business Administration resumed its 7(a) Loan Program after Congress raised the program’s annual loan ceiling to $23.5 billion. Last Thursday, SBA had to suspend the loan program when it reached its then $18.75 billion annual loan ceiling. The increase was approved by Congress as of Monday, July 27.

U.S. Small Business Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet thanked Congress for authorizing the loan ceiling increase and said in a statement: “The SBA’s flagship lending program is back on track. We have seen record levels of lending this year, showing us that America’s small businesses are thriving and yearning to grow. We have streamlined our processes, reduced fees, and bolstered our outreach to our lending partners.”

Contreras-Sweet said that the SBA will continue to work with both chambers of Congress to ensure that it “continues to empower American small businesses as they grow and create jobs to strengthen the nation’s economy.”

Man Booker Prize Announces 2015 Longlist

The longlist for the 2015 Man Booker Prize announced on Wednesday, July 29, includes 13 novels: three from the U.K.; five from the U.S.; and one each from Ireland, New Zealand, India, Nigeria, and Jamaica. This is the second year that the annual prize has been open to writers of any nationality who are writing original works in English that are published in the U.K.

This year’s longlist, or the Man Booker “Dozen,” selected by a panel of five judges from a pool of 156 books, features:

  • Bill Clegg (U.S.), Did You Ever Have a Family (Jonathan Cape)
  • Anne Enright (Ireland), The Green Road (Jonathan Cape)
  • Marlon James (Jamaica), A Brief History of Seven Killings (Oneworld Publications)
  • Laila Lalami (U.S.), The Moor’s Account (Periscope, Garnet Publishing)
  • Tom McCarthy (U.K.), Satin Island (Jonathan Cape)
  • Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria), The Fishermen (ONE, Pushkin Press)
  • Andrew O’Hagan (U.K.), The Illuminations (Faber & Faber)
  • Marilynne Robinson (U.S.), Lila (Virago)
  • Anuradha Roy (India), Sleeping on Jupiter (MacLehose Press, Quercus)
  • Sunjeev Sahota (U.K.), The Year of the Runaways (Picador)
  • Anna Smaill (New Zealand), The Chimes (Sceptre)
  • Anne Tyler (U.S.), A Spool of Blue Thread (Chatto & Windus)
  • Hanya Yanagihara (U.S.), A Little Life (Picador)

The prize’s shortlist of six finalists will be announced on September 15, and the winner will be revealed on October 13 at a televised ceremony at London’s Guildhall.

Earlier this month, the Booker Prize Foundation announced a change on the horizon for another of its prizes: in 2016, the Man Booker International Prize, previously presented biannually, will become an annual award that focuses on the best translated fiction published in the U.K.

BookBrowse Publishes “Book Clubs in the USA” White Paper, the online magazine for book lovers and book clubs, has released “Book Clubs in the USA,” a white paper that focuses on trends among book clubs in the U.S.

The 20-page paper’s findings are based on an April 2015 survey of 3,600 adults who read at least one book a month. The survey results were combined with years of BookBrowse’s interviews with book club members, findings from previous surveys, and social networking feedback.

Some of the white paper’s key takeaways include:

  • Eighty percent of book clubs read local authors at least occasionally.
  • Book club participation increases most during the empty nesting and retirement phases of life.
  • A third of book club members belong to more than one club, while one-fifth belong to an online book club.
  • More book clubs are reading books close to their publication dates. Specifically, four out of 10 book clubs choose their books at least four months in advance. 
  • Among the 14 criteria that clubs take into account when making their book choices, the three most important ones are that the book is well-written, will provoke good conversation, and will be enjoyable. 
  • A quarter of the men surveyed have positive opinions about book clubs, but most said they would not consider joining one.

The complete white paper can be downloaded at

AAUP Responds to Closure of University of Akron Press

The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) has expressed its shock at the University of Akron’s announcement on Tuesday that it would be closing the University of Akron Press as part of a series of budget cuts.

In an effort to trim its budget by $40 million before the start of the fall semester, the university has laid off Thomas Bacher, the director of the press for the past seven years, and two additional staff members, including Mary Biddinger, the editor of the Akron Series in Poetry, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.

In a July 30 statement, AAUP noted that closing a university press is not the answer to an institution’s budget crisis and cited the press’s sound financial footing and widely respected publishing program.

“Such a top-down approach produces breached contracts, alienated faculty and staff, and culturally impoverished communities,” AAUP said. Noting that the University of Akron has indcated that it is willing to explore alternatives to closure, AAUP added, "We pledge our full resources to helping them find a better outcome for their authors, their employees, and the people of Akron.”

The University of Akron Press, founded in 1988 and an AAUP member since 1997, publishes a small list in the areas of regional history and culture, politics, business, and poetry. Its recently released fall catalog includes two titles that explore the legacy of the 2012 presidential election, as well as the essay collection Public Space, Public Policy and Public Understanding of Race and Ethnicity in America.

New England Book Awards Winners Announced

The New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) has announced the three winners of its 2015 New England Book Awards as chosen by its member booksellers.

The winners are:

  • Fiction: Blue Horses: Poems by Mary Oliver (Penguin)
  • Nonfiction: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (Metropolitan/Macmillan)
  • Children’s: Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll (Candlewick Press)

To be eligible, books had to be published between September 1, 2014, and August 31, 2015, and be about New England or set in New England; books written by authors who live in New England were also eligible.

The winning authors, who will receive $250 each to donate to a literacy charity of their choice, will be honored during NEIBA’s annual awards banquet on October 6 in Providence, Rhode Island.