Todd Bol, founder of the Little Free Library dies aged 62

Todd Bol, founder and executive director of the Little Free Library who "spent much of the last decade working towards his vision of a world where neighbors know each other by name, and everyone has access to books," died October 18. He was 62. LFL noted that he "was heartened by the network of more than 75,000 Little Free Library stewards around the world dedicated to literacy and community." LFLs now exist in 88 countries.

In 2009, Bol "hammered together the first Little Free Library. Then he built a movement around it," the Star Tribune wrote, adding that he "believed the now-ubiquitous little boxes of books--and the neighbors who cared for them--could change a block, a city, the world. So he brought them to front yards all over, often installing them himself."

Posted on 19 October 2018 | 6:07 pm

Eleven San Francisco bookstores get cash assistance from city

Nearly a dozen San Francisco bookstores received a special gift from the city this week — $103,000 in total grant money to help them through a time when books can be delivered to one's door at the click of a mouse.

And that's exactly why the funding is so important, says Joaquin Torres, the director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. "There's nothing online that can recreate the experience of walking into a bookstore — the art you see on the walls, the performances that take place, the cultural conversations," he said...

The money is part of the Bookstore SF Program, a pet project of the late Mayor Ed Lee, aimed at funding bookstore "revitalizations" that emphasize their roles as social hubs rather than simply places to purchase reading material...

Posted on 18 October 2018 | 6:17 pm

Random House and Crown Publishing Groups Merge

The Crown Publishing Group has joined the Random House Publishing Group in a newly-combined division reporting to current Random House president and publisher Gina Centrello, who has been named president and publisher of the new supergroup, Penguin Random House US CEO Madeline McIntosh wrote today in a letter to staff. As a result of the merger, Maya Mavjee, president and publisher of Crown, will leave the company at the end of the year. The imprints will retain their distinct editorial identities, McIntosh continued in the memo, and the change is effective immediately.

At least for the moment, the two groups will retain their existing names: the Crown Publishing Group and the Random House Publishing Group. The change has no impact on PRH's other adult publishing groups, the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and the Penguin Publishing Group, or its two children's divisions.

Posted on 18 October 2018 | 6:05 pm

Milkman by Anna Burns, wins 2018 Man Booker Prize

Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her third novel, Milkman. Burns, 56, is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the Booker. She accepted the prize tonight at a lavish ceremony in London.

Burns's dark, experimental novel is about a bookish 18-year-old girl caught up in the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Originally set to be published in the United States next fall, Graywolf Press announced tonight that Milkman will be released on Dec. 11.

Posted on 16 October 2018 | 10:00 am

Alternative Nobel Prize awarded to Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé

The New Academy Prize in Literature 2018 has been awarded to Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé. She is the author of about 20 novels, including I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem; Tales from the Heart: True Stories from My Childhood; Windward Heights; Victoire: My Mother's Mother; and Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?

The New Academy Prize in Literature was created earlier this year by more than 100 Swedish writers, actors, journalists and other cultural figures in response to the Swedish Academy's decision not to award a 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature in the wake of a highly-publicized scandal. The New Academy will be dissolved in December.

Posted on 15 October 2018 | 10:00 am

Cyber criminals attempt to steal manuscripts from major publishers

A spate of global phishing scams attempting to access agencies' and publishers' manuscripts and other sensitive information prompted Penguin Random House North America to issue an urgent warning to all staff.

The PRH email was circulated with the subject line "Important: New Phishing Alert" and reads: "We have recently seen an increase in attempts to steal our manuscripts. This has occurred in multiple locations across the globe. The individuals attempting to access these manuscripts have a sophisticated understanding of our business. We need to protect ourselves from these threats."

The Bookseller understands PRH UK has been similarly targeted, with fraudsters posing as literary agents and foreign-rights staff from seemingly legitimate email addresses. Other houses have also been affected. Pan Macmillan revealed it had also been targeted by scammers trying to access manuscripts, and has issued an internal briefing to staff. The head of another global publisher said that while there have long been scams targeting confidential information such as contracts, seeking manuscripts is a new development.

Posted on 12 October 2018 | 11:52 am

Great American Read Top 10 announced

The deadline is approaching to cast votes for the USA's best-loved novel. To date, more than 3.8 million votes have been cast.

Organizers of The Great American Read have released a Top 10 list of the leading candidates. The winning book will be revealed in the "Grand Finale" episode on October 23 on PBS stations nationwide.

Viewers can vote for their favorite titles each day through October 18 via Facebook, Twitter, text and phone. Click the link below for full details.

The Top Ten are:
• Charlotte's Web
• Chronicles of Narnia series
• Gone with the Wind
• Harry Potter series
• Jane Eyre
• Little Women
• Lord of the Rings series
• Outlander series
• Pride and Prejudice
• To Kill a Mockingbird

Posted on 12 October 2018 | 10:00 am

The number of self-published books topped 1 million in 2017

The number of self-published books topped the 1 million mark for the first time in 2017, according to Bowker's annual report on the number of ISBNs that were issued to self-published authors. The total number of ISBNs issued last year rose 28% over 2016, to 1,009,188.

It is important to note that these figures represent book editions not book titles - for example, a book that is published in three different formats (say hardcover, paperback and audio), would count for three ISBNs.

The gain was due entirely to the increase in the number of print ISBNs issued by Bowker last year: 879,587, an increase of 38% over 2016. The number of ISBNs issued for e-books released by self-published authors fell 13% from 2016, to 129,601.

While Bowker noted that the 2017 decline is the third consecutive year the number of ISBNs issued for e-books fell, the drop is more likely due to authors moving to Amazon's KDP self-publishing platform than an overall decline in the number e-books that were self-published last year. Because KDP uses Amazon's own ASIN identifiers rather than the industry standard ISBNs, KDP's titles do not appear in the Bowker data. Amazon does not disclose the number of KDP titles that it releases annually.

Posted on 11 October 2018 | 10:00 am

The 2018 National Book Award finalists are in, including a new category for translated literatures

The finalists for the National Book Award are in, and this year, there's more of them than ever before.

For 2018, the National Book Foundation has added a new category for translated literature, in what seems to be an attempt to push back against the idea that Americans don't read books from other countries. It doesn't spotlight only unfamiliar names, though: The finalists in this category include Trick, translated by Namesake author Jhumpa Lahiri, who has written extensively about her decision to begin reading and writing in Italian after years of being celebrated for her beautiful English sentences.

Posted on 10 October 2018 | 10:00 am

Need a handbag or a tie to land your first job? Borrow one with a library card

Handbags, briefcases and ties can be checked out for up to three weeks at a time at the Riverside branch of the New York Public Library, as part of a pilot program dreamed up by Michelle Lee, a young adult librarian...

Posted on 9 October 2018 | 10:00 am