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Take a walk through Ramona Quimby’s Portland with this self-guided tour.

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From The Seattle Times: A self-guided walking tour through sites in Beverly Cleary’s books…

A pack of kids on scooters race along the tree-lined streets like it’s 1955. A boy whizzes by on a bike — wait, was that Henry Huggins? The sidewalks are sprinkled liberally with chalk art, rope swings and Little Free Libraries.

This is Beverly Cleary’s Grant Park, the real-life northeast Portland neighborhood where the beloved author grew up and which was used as the setting for her classic children’s books. Before Portland was known for hipsters and foodies (and anarchists), it was where the fun-loving, irrepressible Ramona Quimby lived.

Cleary died this past March, three weeks shy of her 105th birthday. In addition to being a celebrated children’s author, she was a Husky, class of ’39. Cleary graduated from the University of Washington’s School of Librarianship and worked as a children’s librarian in Yakima. It was in Yakima when a little boy asked her where to find books “about kids like us.”

She decided to write them herself. “Henry Huggins” was published in 1950, “Ramona’s World” in 1999, and in between, generations of readers grew up with the gang of kids on Klickitat Street.

Read full post on The Seattle Times

The curious case of Emily Dickinson’s locks of hair (maybe), which have been quietly traded among a group of literary men for years (that part for sure)

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From LitHub: An Alleged Lock of Emily Dickinson’s Hair is Selling for $450,000… But Was it Stolen?

In a letter Emily Dickinson wrote to family friend and possible suitor Otis Lord, she posed a question: “dont you know that ‘No’ is the wildest word we consign to Language?” Indeed, Dickinson’s life and art may be read as an experiment in female refusal, one that would reveal something of both its powers and limitations.

Rejecting the roles prescribed to genteel white women of 19th-century New England, the so-called Belle of Amherst did not marry or have children. She shunned polite society, choosing a life of the mind that yielded 1,800 visionary poems. She eschewed fame and, by some accounts, declined to publish. “I had told you I did not print,” she wrote to mentor Thomas Wentworth Higginson. But between 1850 and 1866, ten Dickinson poems ran anonymously in newspapers. Even today, much of her now-canonical oeuvre appears in volumes that omit her trademark dashes and capitalizations, which her early publishers scrubbed in an effort to “regularize” her verse.

So it is unsettling but perhaps unsurprising to learn that a bit of questionably obtained Dickinson memorabilia has been quietly traded among a group of literary men for years: locks alleged to be the poet’s hair (some of which are now for sale on eBay for the astronomical sum of $450,000).

How the poet—who chose to cloister her living body from all but a few visitors—would feel about pieces of it making the rounds is anybody’s guess. The dead cannot give consent. But the alleged Dickinson hair may have arrived on the market by a type of violation: theft. That’s the theory of Mark Gallagher, the English faculty member at UCLA who’s trying to sell the hair on eBay.

Read full post on LitHub

How TikTok Makes Backlist Books into Bestsellers

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From Publishers Weekly: Books like Colleen Hoover‘s 2016 novel ‘It Ends with Us’ are blowing up with BookTok influencers—and seeing huge sales spikes that often send titles to the top of the bestseller lists.

In August 2016, Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us was published by Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books. By the end of its first month on the market, the novel had sold about 21,000 copies at outlets that report to NPD BookScan. The publicity was good—a nine-stop national book tour, blurbs from bestselling authors—but sales flatlined after that initial month. For several years, weekly sales rarely broke triple digits. Then something changed.

Libby McGuire, senior v-p and publisher of Atria, first noticed a sales bump in November 2020. By the summer of 2021, the bump became a surge: since the start of June, weekly sales have averaged about 17,000. McGuire said Atria has gone back to press 24 times since November to keep up with demand. “We are printing as quickly as we can,” she said, “and expect to go back several times through the fall.” The novel has sold more than 308,000 copies since the start of 2021—with sales peaking at just over 29,000 copies in the week ended August 14—and just shy of 450,000 since its 2016 release, according to BookScan.

It Ends with Us has become what Atria’s senior associate director of publicity, Ariele Fredman, called “the book of the summer”—despite the fact that it was published five summers ago. “Sometimes the book of the summer is not always the newest book,” Fredman said, noting that that jump in It Ends with Us sales is a good example of why publishers should maintain their backlist, “because [a book] can pop at any time.”

Read full post on Publishers Weekly

The Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books

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From The New Yorker: Increasingly, books are something that libraries do not own but borrow from the corporations that do.

Steve Potash, the bearded and bespectacled president and C.E.O. of OverDrive, spent the second week of March, 2020, on a business trip to New York City. OverDrive distributes e-books and audiobooks—i.e., “digital content.” In New York, Potash met with two clients: the New York Public Library and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. By then, Potash had already heard what he described to me recently as “heart-wrenching stories” from colleagues in China, about neighborhoods that were shut down owing to the coronavirus. He had an inkling that his business might be in for big changes when, toward the end of the week, on March 13th, the N.Y.P.L. closed down and issued a statement: “The responsible thing to do—and the best way to serve our patrons right now—is to help minimize the spread of covid-19.” The library added, “We will continue to offer access to e-books.”

The sudden shift to e-books had enormous practical and financial implications, not only for OverDrive but for public libraries across the country. Libraries can buy print books in bulk from any seller that they choose, and, thanks to a legal principle called the first-sale doctrine, they have the right to lend those books to any number of readers free of charge. But the first-sale doctrine does not apply to digital content. For the most part, publishers do not sell their e-books or audiobooks to libraries—they sell digital distribution rights to third-party venders, such as OverDrive, and people like Steve Potash sell lending rights to libraries. These rights often have an expiration date, and they make library e-books “a lot more expensive, in general, than print books,” Michelle Jeske, who oversees Denver’s public-library system, told me. Digital content gives publishers more power over prices, because it allows them to treat libraries differently than they treat other kinds of buyers. Last year, the Denver Public Library increased its digital checkouts by more than sixty per cent, to 2.3 million, and spent about a third of its collections budget on digital content, up from twenty per cent the year before.

Read full post on The New Yorker

A new short story collection starring Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple is coming next year from William Morrow

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From Publishers Weekly: Morrow Unveils Agatha Christie Collection

HarperCollins’s William Morrow imprint has acquired world English rights to an as-yet-untitled new Agatha Christie short story collection, to be written by a collection of international authors and coedited by Julia Elliott in the U.S. and Anna Herve in the U.K. The deal was struck with Agatha Christie Ltd., and the book will be fully authorized by the author’s estate. Set for a simultaneous release in the U.S. and U.K., in September 2022, the book will contain 12 original stories featuring Christie’s detective Miss Marple, who was first introduced to readers in a 1927 short story. Morrow said: “Each author included in the new publication will reimagine Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.” Among the authors contributing to the collection are Leigh Bardugo, Karen M. McManus, Kate Mosse, and Ruth Ware.

Read full post on Publishers Weekly

What are the fastest selling books in U.S. publishing history? Let’s dig into those numbers.

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From Book Riot: Can you name any of the fastest-selling books of all time? In the United States? Maybe. But people tend to focus on the best-selling books, which is slightly different.

The best-selling books, like the ones the New York Times Best Seller List covers every week, are the ones that sell the highest number of total copies, while the fastest-selling books are those that fly off the shelves at top speed. Among the best-selling books of all time are The Bible, Don Quixote, and The Lord of the Rings. But did you know, that among the fastest-selling books in the U.S. are political memoirs and a certain magical boy?

Sales are important in the publishing industry because it’s a business. And first week sales number are considered a pretty big deal, whether they’re good or bad. There are, however, books that pick up steam over time, and have enough sales to be considered successful by the industry. But a high and/or record-breaking first week of sales is still desired. It makes headlines.

Let’s take a look at the books that sold the fastest during their first week of U.S. sales. Some of these books are among the best-selling books of all time, while others aren’t. I told you it was different.

Several of the fastest-selling books are part of the Harry Potter series, all written by author J.K. Rowling. As more of the books were published, and the blockbuster movies released, the books became more popular.

According to USA Today, President Bill Clinton’s memoir My Life sold well the first week. Released in 2004, it discusses the breadth of his career to that point, his role as a husband and father, details of the presidency, and more. With sales numbers of about 1 million copies sold in eight days, it’s one of several presidential memoirs to sell so quickly.

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer began in 2005 with the publication of the first book, Twilight. The story revolved around a love story between a human and a vampire, but it’s difficult for them to be together. Readers follow the events from the viewpoint of the human, Bella Swan.

Read full post on Book Riot

A mysterious manuscript thief has spent the past five years stealing books prior to publication.

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From Vulture: For years, a mysterious figure has been stealing books before their release. Is it espionage? Revenge? Or a complete waste of time?

On the morning of March 1, 2017, Catherine Mörk and Linda Altrov Berg were in the offices of Norstedts, a book publisher in Sweden, when they received an unusual email. A colleague in Venice was asking for a top-secret document: the unpublished manuscript of the forth-coming fifth book in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium” series. The books, which follow hacker detective Lisbeth Salander, have sold more than 100 million copies. David Lagercrantz, another Swedish writer, had taken over the series after Larsson’s death, and his latest — The Man Who Chased His Shadow — was expected to be one of the publishing events of the year.

Norstedts was guarding the series closely. Lagercrantz wrote his first “Millennium” book on a computer with no connection to the internet and delivered the manuscript on paper, at which point Norstedts mailed a single copy to each of the book’s international publishers. With the new title, Norstedts wanted to streamline the process — Lisbeth Salander’s publisher, they figured, should be able to protect itself from hackers and thieves. Mörk and Altrov Berg, who handle foreign rights at Norstedts, consulted with other publishers of blockbuster books. The translators working on one of Dan Brown’s follow-ups to The Da Vinci Code, for instance, were required to work in a basement with security guards clocking trips to the bathroom. Norstedts decided to try sharing the new “Millennium” book via Hushmail, an encrypted-email service, with passwords delivered separately by phone. Everyone would have to sign an NDA.

The unusual email came from Francesca Varotto, the book’s Italian-edition editor, and arrived shortly after Norstedts sent out the manuscript:

Dear Linda and Catherine,

I hope you are well. Could you please re-send me the link to the manuscript of The Man Who Chased His Shadow?

Thank you!



Minutes later, and a few blocks away from Norstedts headquarters in Stockholm, Magdalena Hedlund, the agent representing the book, received a similar email from Varotto. It was strange that Varotto had lost something so valuable, but she and Hedlund were old friends, and the email struck a familiar tone. Plus everyone was scrambling: The book was set for release in 27 countries simultaneously, and the translators had to get started. Hedlund sent her friend the link to the manuscript.

Read full post on Vulture