Little Free Library launches Indigenous Library Program

(Wed, 25 Jan 2023 20:08:24 -0600)

Little Free Library continues to fulfill its mission of providing access to books to underserved communities. Its latest initiative, the Indigenous Library Program, which launches this spring, will provide book-sharing boxes for installation on tribal lands, as well as in other Indigenous communities throughout the U.S. and in Canada.

The LFL boxes will be shipped at no cost to volunteer stewards and come with two starter sets of books. One set will include 25 books written and/or illustrated by BIPOC authors and artists, and the other set will feature 25 books with content centering Indigenous people and communities. Stewards subsequently will be responsible for keeping the boxes stocked with books.

The Indigenous Library Program is an outgrowth of LFL's Native Library Initiative, which was part of its Impact Library Program. The latter provides library boxes and starter sets at no cost to volunteer stewards in communities in the U.S. and Canada with limited or no access to books. To date, more than 1,800 boxes have been issued under LFL's Impact Library Program, and the starter sets feature more children's books than typical LFL starter sets.

YA author Meg Medina is the country's first Latina ambassador for young people's literature

(Wed, 18 Jan 2023 11:17:18 -0600)

The Library of Congress named Meg Medina the national ambassador for young people's literature for 2023-24. Medina is the first Hispanic named to the position, which will take her around the country to libraries and classrooms to encourage reading.

Medina, 59, has plenty of stories to tell, many that have served as foundations for the biculturalism and multiculturalism of her well-known characters and their worlds in her award-winning books.

She said she hopes she can spread to parents, families, children and their caretakers her mother's wisdom of finding ways to connect children with books and libraries and encourage them to keep reading.

Digital Book World 2023: The future of AI writing and audio

(Wed, 18 Jan 2023 11:14:40 -0600)

Digital Book World, a conference focusing on publishing innovation, offered insight into how technologists, and some publishers, are planning to implement AI into their workflow. Asked about AI and the use of ChatGPT, which automates writing, Mary McAveeney, CEO of Abrams, was skeptical of its ability to write books. She conceded, "It might be good for catalog copy."

Earlier in the conference, organizer Bradley Metrock asked publishers Laini Brown, director of Publicity for the Nashville office of Hachette Book Group, and Lisa Lucas, senior vice president and publisher of Pantheon and Schocken Books, what they thought of the news that the next iteration of Chat GPT will be able to produce a 60,000 word book in 20 seconds. Neither publisher chose to respond.

The conference has demonstrated that technologists, absent of input from publishers, are keen to co-opt the practice of publishing as much as possible. ChatGPT in particular is being touted as tool to revolutionize writing, or as it might better be described, the production of "content." Numerous speakers throughout the conference touted the potential benefits of using AI to streamline writing...

Who wins in the HarperCollins Union labor dispute?

(Wed, 18 Jan 2023 11:11:44 -0600)

As the HarperCollins labor dispute rolls into a new year, the company's unionized employee strike is now the longest in the union's more than 80-year history at the top publisher. Since the initial employee walkout on November 10, the dispute has caught the attention of all publishing sectors, with many anticipating the outcome as a test case for how labor unions could change business operations. But for many publishing industry veterans, whether that change is positive or negative remains to be seen.

Indeed, some smaller independent publishers—mostly outside of New York City—are concerned that the public nature of the strike, with wage demands made public, is raising unrealistic financial expectations. Smaller publishing operations can't afford to match wages at the Big Five publishing companies. Moreover, despite the double-digit profit margins that the publicly-traded publishers have posted in recent years, publishing is generally a low margin business. Sales gains during the initial years of the COVID-19 outbreak notwithstanding, the industry typically has marginal growth in annual sales, and "flat is the new up" has long been an unofficial business slogan. A lengthy, very public strike only adds to the industry's challenges, with many agents and authors wanting the dispute to be resolved quickly and immediately so the industry can get back to business...

Debut author talks about conflicted feelings being published by HarperCollins while employees are on strike

(Tue, 17 Jan 2023 15:52:24 -0600)

Today, my first novel is being published. It's the culmination of seven years of work and, uh, a large number of years of dreaming of writing a novel. Publication day for a debut novel can be a little overwhelming, I'm told—you've got all those TV news producers begging you for interviews. (They haven't called me yet, but I assume they will soon.) Overall, though, pub day ought to be a time of joy, if slightly nervous joy: A thing you made, and care deeply about, is finally making its way into the world!

But for me, and for a lot of other authors this winter, publication day is feeling a little bittersweet. That's because we're being published by HarperCollins.

About 200 HarperCollins publishing employees, primarily younger assistants and associates, have been on strike since November. Their demands are not outlandish and reflect the issues facing junior employees across publishing: They want the company's minimum starting salary increased from $45,000 to $50,000. They want the publisher to address diversity issues at the company. They also want to ensure all eligible employees are in the union.

The HarperCollins Strike Approaches 50 Days: '$45K Is Just Not Enough to Live on in NYC'

(Tue, 17 Jan 2023 06:00:00 -0600)

When Wednesday arrives, 200-odd members of the HarperCollins union will have been on strike for 50 days, the latest action in an industry that has in recent years seen workers call for (and sometimes win) higher pay, amidst a broader push for racial equity within publishing.

The demands of the HarperCollins union, part of Local 2110 of the UAW, are simple: higher pay for entry-level employees, a greater commitment to diversifying its workforce, and an end to the union's status as an open shop, which currently bars the union from collecting dues from all employees who are eligible to join. HarperCollins, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, is the only one of the "Big Five" publishers whose workers are represented by a union, some form of which has been in place since the 1970s. (Some things never change: In 1977, the last time the union went on strike, workers held signs reading, "Editors can't eat prestige.") 

Unlike the union's strikes in the '70s, which ended after a few weeks, management today seems determined to wait out the striking workers. Recently, we spoke with Laura Harshberger, the union chair and a senior production editor with HarperCollins's children's books division, on what the union wants, how the strike has impacted HarperCollins, and why the stakes of this strike are much bigger than just pay issues at the company. As Harshberger put it, "We believe that this is our only opportunity to make real change in this industry."

"Spare" breaks sets new first day sales record for Penguin Random House

(Thu, 12 Jan 2023 06:00:00 -0600)

The English-language edition of Spare, the memoir by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, sold more than 1,430,000 million units in all formats and editions in the United States, Canada, and the U.K. on January 10, its day of publication, according to publisher Penguin Random House. This was the largest first-day sales total for any nonfiction book ever published by PRH, the company said.

Obituary: Russell Banks

(Mon, 9 Jan 2023 06:00:00 -0600)

Russell Banks, "whose vivid portrayals of working-class Americans grappling with issues of poverty, race and class placed him among the first ranks of contemporary novelists," died January 7, the New York Times reported. He was 82. The author of 21 works of fiction and nonfiction, Banks "brought his own blue-collar background to bear in his writing, delving into the psychological pressure of life in economically depressed towns in the Northeast, their stark reality often shadowed by the majestic Adirondacks of northern New York State."

Fan outrage at Susan Meachen, the romance novelist accused of faking her death

(Sun, 8 Jan 2023 06:00:00 -0600)

In September 2020, a Facebook post from someone claiming to be the daughter of indie romance author Susan Meachen announced the writer had died by suicide.

Ms Meachen wrote what she described as "perfectly flawed" romance novels and had fostered a tightknit online community of readers and fellow authors who supported each other's work...

Then rumours began to spread online that Ms Meachen had been bullied.

"All the finger pointing started and it drove a huge wedge in the community that lasted for months," author Samantha A Cole told the BBC...

Then, out of the blue, this week, more than two years later, Meachen announced on social media that her suicide had been staged. "There's going to be tons of questions," the post said, according to screengrabs shared online. "Let the fun begin."

Her shocking and abrupt revival has left her online community stunned and angry...

Filippo Bernardini: Italian admits stealing unpublished books

(Sun, 8 Jan 2023 06:00:00 -0600)

An Italian man has admitted stealing more than 1,000 unpublished manuscripts, many written by high-profile authors.

Filippo Bernardini impersonated figures from the publishing industry to trick people into handing over their works. He used his inside industry knowledge, having been employed by the publishing giant Simon & Schuster in London.

Bernardini, 30, pleaded guilty in New York to wire fraud, but his motive has never been clear. Manuscripts were not found to have been leaked on the internet, nor were any ransom demands made.