Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grazie Italia!

It may be said that book printing, after its birth in medieval Germany, was carried to maturity in humanistic Italy. The printing press reached Italy very early (1462–63), via the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, near Rome, which had strong German connections and a famous scriptorium -  Encyclop√¶dia Britannica

I just heard that Italian rights for SHOOTING KABUL have been acquired! Another excuse for another trip (as if you need an excuse...) 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some Darn Good Books

Cynthia Liu, author (PARIS PAN and THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA) and frequent guest speaker recently put a call out to fellow writers to name what she titled "Contemporary Children’s and Teen Fiction Books Featuring People of Color Recommended by Authors of Contemporary Children’s and Teen Fiction Books Featuring People of Color." Quite a mouthful, but quite a list to! As she says in her blog, she presented at the Chicago Teacher-Librarians Association Breakfast about “Diversity within Diversity,” emphasizing the importance of seeking out books that feature contemporary kids and teens of color that don’t focus solely on race, cultural, or ethnic heritage. These books may also deal with other issues that today’s children and teens face, ranging from the serious to the light-hearted."
The list includes books for young readers, like ROSES IN MY CARPET by Rukhsana Khan & JACKSON JONES AND MISSION GREENTOP by Mary Quattlebaum; Middle Grade includes THE GREAT WALL OF LUCY WU by Wendy Shang & RICKSHAW GIRL by Mitali Perkins; and for older readers DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? by Randel Abdul Fattah & HATERS by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez.
This list is being updated regularly, and you can provide your input to. Here are her guidelines:
  • Books must feature a person of color (POC) as a main character.
  • These books are not solely about racial, cultural and ethnic heritage. These books may also deal with other issues that today’s children and teens face, ranging from the serious to the light-hearted.
  • Books must have been first published in 2000 or later. 
  • Books are set in current day times, or even in the future, so long as the character is from current day times (i.e. contemporary main character).
  • Books do not have to be award-winners or well-known. They just have to be winning books to the authors who recommended them.
  • Books must be published by a trade publisher listed in the CWIM or CBC.
  • If you are an author of a contemporary fiction children’s and teen book featuring a person of color and would like to recommend qualifying books for this list, please complete the form at http://www.cynthealiu.com/
Happy Reading!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Market Checkup

 AAP's mandate covers both the general and the specific — broad issues important to all publishers as well as issues of specific concern to particular segments of the industry. The Association's "core" programs deal with matters of general interest:intellectual property; new technology and digital issues of concern to publishers; Freedom to read, censorship and libel; international freedom to publish; funding for education and libraries; postal rates and regulations; tax and trade policy; international copyright enforcement. Directed by standing committees of the Association, these programs, along with a host of membership services including government affairs, a broad-based statistical program, public information and press relations, are the "core" activities of the Association.

The Association of American Publishers (AAP), the national trade association for US book publishing industry, reported children's book sales results for July, and the numbers are down from last year. Hardcover Children’s/YA sales are down 19.1 percent for the month with sales of $45.1 million in July, and year-to-date sales are down by 16 percent. Children’s/YA Paperback sales decreased 1.7 percent in July with sales totaling $50.0 million; sales fell 5.9 percent for the year to date.

In comparison, Adult Hardcover category was down 15.2 percent in July with sales of $74.1 million, although sales for the year-to-date are up by 10.2 percent. Adult Paperback sales decreased 10.1 percent for the month ($111.1 million) but increased by 8.6 percent for the year. Adult Mass Market sales decreased 11.0 percent for July with sales totaling $60.6 million; sales were down by 13.1 percent year to date.

E-book sales continue to grow, with a 150.2 percent increase over July 2009 ($40.8 million); year-to-date E-book sales are up 191.0 percent. Downloaded Audio Books also saw an increase of 38.4 percent over last year, with sales of $6.6 million this July; and the category was also up 35.3 percent year-to-date. Physical Audio Book sales decreased 35.6 percent in July with sales totaling $8.7 million; sales for the year to date are down 0.6 percent.

Higher Education publishing sales increased 0.2 percent for the month ($926.4 million) and increased 13.5 percent for the year. Finally, the K-12 elementary/high school category posted total net sales of $729.9 million, up 4.2 percent over the prior year, and year-to-date sales of $2.2 billion, a 13.5 percent increase over 2009.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Obamafiction

Regardless of your opinions on politics, right or left leaning, it is a fact that we've never had quite such a literary President. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, was followed by the AUDACITY OF HOPE: THOUGHTS ON RECLAIMING THE AMERICAN DREAM. His most recent work is due in November and is a children's book, OF THEE I SING: A LETTER TO MY DAUGHTERS. Not only does President Obama write, he is heavily written about in children's literature as well.

Philip Nel, professor in English and director of K-State’s program in Children’s Literature, presented the idea of "Obamafiction" in a lecture with the same title. He posited that books carry hope for youth and create a hero for children in the U.S.

"To write this piece, I pursued four main areas of inquiry,” Nel said. “I read some of the 57 children’s books about Obama — all of the picture books and comic books, plus a few of the others. I also did some work to situate my argument within the fields of children’s literature in general, and African-American children’s literature in particular.”

He stated that children’s literature is the critical because people read it before their ideas about the world are fully formed. And because of this, children's literature is inherently political. Supply and demand for these kinds of books plays a role -- the U.S. tends to idealize presidents as a hero and a role model, blurring the line between actuality and what people want. Surprisingly, few of these books were created for former president George W. Bush. At the end of the day, we know that literature has a powerful influence on young minds.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hint of the Future

Technology... is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other - C.P. SNOW, New York Times, 15 March 1971




Reading publishers weekly today, I was struck by two pieces of similar news, dealing with the collision course of publishing and technology. Rick Richter, former president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, is now heading Ruckus Media, a company that specializes in creating high-definition animation apps for children aimed at the mobile computing market. The next piece of news was about Random House Children's Books entering into a partnership with digital developer Smashing Ideas. The company creates book-based children's apps for mobile devices. Perhaps its a premonition of things to come down the road...