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We Need Diverse Books Partners With Penguin Young Readers on Writing Contest

We Need Diverse Books is partnering with Penguin Young Readers to launch a writing contest to find talented, ethnically diverse authors writing for readers ages 8–14.

The debut children’s fiction contest springs from a similar contest in 1974 sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books. Mildred D. Taylor was the winner of that contest’s African-American segment for the manuscript that became Song of the Trees (Dial, 1975). Taylor’s second book, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976), won the Newbery Medal.

The contest will begin accepting submissions in April 2016. Visit for more details and official rules.

Author Pat Conroy Dies at 70

Pat Conroy died on Friday, March 4, from pancreatic cancer at the age of 70, about a month after going public with his diagnosis. Conroy, who is recognized as a leading figure in Southern literature, was the author of 11 books. His novels, which have sold 20 million copies worldwide, include Beach Music, South of Broad, The Prince of Tides, and The Great Santini. The latter two books have been made into Oscar-nominated films.

Penguin Random House President of Sales Jaci Updike dedicated this week’s Penguin Random House national Sales Conference to Conroy’s memory. At the sales conference opening dinner, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle’s remarks included a remembrance of the author. 

“Pat was a wonderful partner and friend to Sales and to our booksellers,” Dohle said. “From the moment I met him, it was so clear and so obvious to me why he was such a treasured member of our publishing family: his openness, his goodness, his warmth, and of course, his stories.” 

Poll Examines Barriers Millennials Face in Starting a Business

A scientific opinion poll, conducted on behalf of the Young Invincibles and the Small Business Majority, shows that the majority of millennials (ages 18–34) who own a business or would like to start one at some point say student debt and lack of a retirement savings plan are barriers to entrepreneurship.

The poll, conducted from November 18–25, 2015, by North Star Opinion and published in January, found that 51 percent of millennials either own a business or organization, are planning to start a business, or would like to but do not currently have plans to do so. Forty-eight percent of millennials paying off student debt who currently own or have plans to own a business say their student loan payments have impacted their ability to start a business, while 38 percent of millennials who are interested in opening a business but have no current plans to do so say their student loan payments affect their ability to start a business.

Of those who are still paying off student loans, 43 percent of those who own or have current plans to own a business, and 38 percent who would like to own a business but have no current business plans, say their student debt affects their ability to invest in an organization or hire new employees.

The poll also found that 75 percent of millennials who own, plan to own, or would like to own a business say the lack of an employer-sponsored retirement plan is a barrier to entrepreneurship.

See the full poll report here.

28th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced

The finalists for the 28th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, also known as the “Lammys,” were announced on Tuesday, March 8.

One hundred literary professionals chose finalists in 25 categories, including the inaugural year for Transgender Poetry, from a record 933 submissions (up from 818 last year) from 321 publishers. Entries came from major mainstream publishers, independent presses, both long-established and new LGBT publishers, as well as from emerging publish-on-demand technologies.

“Being nominated for a Lammy is an outstanding achievement among such a crowded field of submissions and within an LGBTQ writing community rich with talent,” said Lambda Literary Executive Director Tony Valenzuela. “I’d also like to thank our judges whose passionate commitment is a tremendous contribution to our literary communities.”

Pioneer and Trustee Award honorees, the master of ceremonies, and presenters will be announced in April. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on Monday, June 6, 2016, at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

See the full list of finalists here.

Adam Johnson Wins 2016 Story Prize for Fortune Smiles

Adam Johnson, author of Fortune Smiles (Random House), is the winner of the 2016 The Story Prize, valued at $20,000. He is the first author ever to win both The Story Prize and the National Book Award for the same book.

The Story Prize website describes Johnson’s book as “a collection of six stories — set in locations as diverse as California, Louisiana, what was formerly East Germany, and South Korea — that present with pathos and humor characters in difficult predicaments.”

Johnson accepted the prize at The New School in New York City on March 2 after an evening of readings by and conversation with him and the Prize’s other two finalists: Charles Baxter for There’s Something I Want You to Do (Pantheon) and Colum McCann for Thirteen Ways of Looking (Random House). As runners-up, Baxter and McCann each received $5,000.

Prize Director Larry Dark and award founder Julie Lindsey selected the three finalists for The Story Prize from among 100 books entered in 2015, representing 64 different publishers or imprints.

2016 NAIBA Legacy Award Winner Announced

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA) has named Taylor Branch as the recipient of the 2016 NAIBA Legacy Award. Branch is best known for his landmark narrative history of the civil rights era, His civil rights trilogy’s first book, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–63, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989. The next two volumes also gained critical and popular success: Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963–65, and At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965–1968.

NAIBA established the Legacy Award in 2004 “in recognition of those individuals whose body of work contributed significantly to the realm of American arts and letters.” Candidates for this award were to either reside in the region served by NAIBA or be writers “who created work that reflected the character of the geographical area so represented, and the spirit of the independent bookselling community found therein.”

Branch will receive the award at the NAIBA Fall Conference Awards Banquet on Sunday, October 16.

Amazon Books to Open in San Diego Mall This Summer

Amazon will open its second physical bookstore this summer at Westfield UTC, an upscale outdoor shopping mall in San Diego, California, the San Diego Tribune reported on Saturday, March 5.

New signage recently posted in front of the e-commerce company’s future brick-and-mortar location, which will be called Amazon Books, confirms what’s been expected since early February, when Amazon first posted online job ads for Amazon Books store managers, booksellers, and device enthusiasts, the Tribune reported.

Located at 4545 La Jolla Village Drive, Westfield UTC matches the style and retailers of University Village, the Seattle-area mall where Amazon opened its first bookstore in November, according to the Tribune, and is home to other physical stores for e-commerce companies, including menswear retailer Bonobos and eyeglass company Warby Parker.

The new store is expected to resemble Amazon Books’ 7,500-square-foot Seattle location, which sells a limited selection of Amazon’s best-reviewed books and doubles as a showroom for Amazon’s Kindle, Fire TV, Fire tablets, and Echo devices.