2012 Pulitzer Prize Winners
The 2012 winners of the Pulitzer Prize, celebrating achievement in newspaper and online journalism, literature, nonfiction and musical composition, were announced recently in New York City. For the first time since 1977, the Pulitzer judges have opted not to award a prize in fiction. See the list of book winners below:
Fiction – No award
Drama – Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes
History – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, by the late Manning Marable (Viking)
Biography – George F. Kennan: An American Life, by John Lewis Gaddis (The Penguin Press)
Poetry – Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press)
General Nonfiction – The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt (W.W. Norton and Company)
$412 Superman Check Goes for Thousands
In 1938, D.C. Comics wrote a check for $412 to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as a payment to acquire the rights to Superman. Recently that same check sold for $160,000 at auction to an unnamed buyer. The check was up for auction on ComicConnect.com and received 56 bids. The check was used as evidence in legal disputes over copyright and almost got thrown out in 1973, when the copyright issue was settled.
Books-A-Million Sales Down
Sales of books and magazines fell 9.2% at Books-A-Million, to $345 million, in the fiscal year ended January 28, according to figures in BAM’s 10-k filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Earlier this year, the country’s second largest bookstore chain reported a 3.6% decline in total revenue and the drop in book and magazine sales was offset by gains in all other categories.
As Book Sales Grow, Publishers Flock to India
David Davidar recalls the advice once given to him by the writer R.K. Narayan about publishing books in India. “Don’t worry, you’ll be gone in a few years,” Mr. Narayan warned. “There aren’t enough writers here.” Mr. Narayan made his prediction more than 25 years ago, when Mr. Davidar was part of the team that launched Penguin India, now an industry leader. Mr. Davidar did leave for several years but has since returned to India to start a new publishing company, Aleph. With the printed word considered an endangered species in much of a rapidly digitizing world, India now represents one of the best English-language book markets in the world.
The New York Times
Apple Lawsuit Heading to Trial
Recently, at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the first since the filing of the anti-trust suit against Apple and five publishers by the Department of Justice, Apple attorney Daniel Floyd asked to go to trial. As reported by Reuters, Floyd told Judge Denise Cote, “Our basic view is that we would like the case to be decided on the merits. We believe that this is not an appropriate case against us and we would like to validate that.” According to the government suit, e-book price-fixing began in early 2010 when Apple introduced the iPad. This suit is part of a series of cases that includes a similar antitrust action by 15 U.S. states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as well as an earlier class-action suit over e-book pricing that was consolidated in the New York court. Three publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster—have already settled, or are in the process of settling with the U.S. government and with the states. The other two, like Apple, maintain that they have done nothing wrong.
Pottermore is a Smash
So it looks like waiting to sell your e-books until your fans are in a frenzy to have them was a good strategy for the Harry Potter empire. JK Rowling decided not to grant the digital book rights to her publishers and instead to sell the e-book versions through a dedicated Harry Potter website, Pottermore. The e-books went on sale and in just three days broken the £1 million mark, according to Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne, who was interviewed on a radio show called “The Naked Book”. Laura Hazard Owen at PaidContent calculated, based on the price of the e-books, that unit sales are upwards of 164,000. Not bad for three days.
Festival of Books Relocation a Success
If there were any doubts remaining about the Los Angeles Times’ decision last year to move the Festival of Books to the USC campus from UCLA, where it had been held for 15 years, they have since then been dispelled by the enormous crowds of readers, booksellers, publishers, and authors that gathered outdoors on the grounds of USC near downtown Los Angeles at this years festival. Total attendance was estimated at more than 100,000.
J.K Rowling’s Adult Dark-Comic Debut
J.K. Rowling's first book for adults will be a "blackly comic" novel set in an idyllic English town where all is not what it seems, its publisher recently announced. The title of the closely guarded 480-page novel by the prolific "Harry Potter" author will be "The Casual Vacancy." It will be available worldwide in English on September 27 in hardback, e-book and in audio form, Little, Brown and Company said in a statement. The publisher promised it will be "blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising," and offered some general plot details.
Huge Grant to Create Henry David Thoreau Video Game
The University of Southern California has received a $40,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to produce a video game based on the work of Henry David Thoreau. Here’s more about the project: “To support production costs for a video game based on the writings of Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond. The player will inhabit an open, three-dimensional game world which will simulate the geography and environment of Walden Woods. Once developed, the game will be available online.”
Jana Partners Acquires Over 6 Million Shares of Barnes & Noble
Jana Partners, described in various media reports as a hedge fund known for taking an activist role in companies in which it invests, acquired 6.59 million shares of Barnes & Noble, giving the firm an 11.6% stake in the company. News of the investment, made in a recent Securities & Exchange Commission filing, resulted in an 18% boost in B&N’s stock price. Jana has an option to acquire another 250,000 shares. The investment makes Jana the fourth largest stakeholder in B&N, following Chairman Len Riggio, Liberty Media, which made roughly a $200 million investment after talks about possibly buying B&N, and Ron Burkle. Among the companies where Jana has negotiated for change is the McGraw-Hill Cos. which is in the process of splitting the company in two. B&N has been exploring the possibility of spinning off its Nook group into some kind of separate company. A decision is expected later this spring.
Harvard Library to Become More Accessible
The Harvard Library took another step toward making research materials and library resources more accessible when it recently announced that it will make more than 12 million bibliographic records for a wide range of materials—including books, images, videos, and manuscripts—available to the public. The announcement represents an official University effort to increase the availability of library resources at a time when open access to academic materials has become a hot topic in the publishing community at large.
The Harvard Crimson
McGraw-Hill Revenue Falls
Revenue at McGraw-Hill Education declined 2%, to $296 million, in the first quarter ended March 31, but the operating loss was cut to $65 million from $75 million in last year’s first period, parent company McGraw-Hill Cos. The drop in revenue was attributed to continued weakness in the school group where sales fell 10%, partially offset by a 2% revenue gain in the higher education, professional, international group. The improvement in operating loss was due in part to a fourth quarter restructuring that cut 540 jobs.
Lack of Fiction Pulitzer Prize Didn’t Hurt Sales
While no Pulitzer Prize was awarded for fiction this year, it didn’t hurt book sales as many booksellers worried. In fact, the controversial press may have helped sales for Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace- all of which were nominated. The New York Observer has more: “Thanks to the coverage surrounding the non-awarding of the 2012 Pulitzer, sales of all three finalists were spiking; one of those titles, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, had even sold out in hardcover on Amazon. (My own informal canvass of half-a-dozen Manhattan bookstores last week likewise failed to turn up a single copy of Train Dreams.) These initial returns suggested two healthy correctives to the general publishers’ alarm.”
Disney Publishing Worldwide Moves to California
Just short of five years after it relocated most of its New York City employees to nearby White Plains, N.Y., Disney Publishing Worldwide is again embarking on another move, transferring over 100 DPW employees to Glendale, Calif., where they will be with Disney Consumer Products and Disney Interactive and close to Disney headquarters in Burbank. Moving back to New York City will be most of the employees who work for the Disney Book Group. The company expects to complete the transfers by September 30 at which time the White Plains office will be closed.
Entry Guidelines for The National Book Awards
The National Book Foundation has issued entry forms and guidelines for the 2012 National Book Awards. The organization has also released the names of the 20 judges who will be choosing the award winners of the four prizes: fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's literature.
Film Society of the Lincoln Center to Host Hackathon
StoryCode, a non-profit organization and the Film Society of Lincoln Center are bringing together writers, filmmakers, tech gurus, publishing experts, advertisers and designers in its first annual ”story hackathon,” a 36-hour multimedia writing competition called Story Hack: Beta. The event will take place for 36 hours at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, during which time creatives will have to write theme-based narratives using three different media platforms that are output into one platform. StoryCode’s CEO Aina Abiodun explained in the release: “We can no longer afford to think of narrative content as objects to be stuffed through a static electronic (or analog) pipeline. StoryCode’s goal is to provide a space where story and technology germinate side-by-side to produce the best experiences for demanding and savvy audiences. The Story Hack came into being as a practical way to begin this incubation process. By engaging the many talented minds in our community, we have set up a challenge which will provide glimpses into the future of storytelling.”
Skylight Books to Close Temporarily for Mayday “General Strike”
Skylight Books in Los Angeles will close its storefront from 2 to 5 p.m. on May 1 so that its staff may travel to the planned Occupy activities and attend demonstrations downtown. The store’s arts annex will be closed for the entire day in support of the call for a general boycott in the city. Those who are interested in participating in the Occupy movement will gather at Skylight at noon to meet members of the bookstore staff as well as artists affiliated with the Occupy movement. The staff will then lead them via public transit to converge with other groups who will all march downtown for two Occupy L.A. rallies. Skylight will also serve as a community gathering point of information throughout the day. Books that highlight the history of May Day and the labor movement will be displayed throughout the store, and when it reopens at 5:00 p.m. light refreshments will be available.
LBF 2012: Little, Brown’s Kent Gets Ready to Roar Off
Book fairs are always about hellos and goodbyes. This year’s marks the last for Little, Brown UK’s Chief Operating Officer, David Kent, who is leaving the business after 38 years with the company. The last few months have been something of an extended leaving party for Kent. He has visited Little, Brown’s offices around the world, saying his farewells, something that the firm alluded to at his “official” leaving party in London recently.