In this new feature I will be rounding up some of the latest news in the book and publishing industry in one place for you to check out.
Books increase in popularity
Of course being the first week of 2022, most of the articles in the news have been dominated by “best of” lists of 2021 and looking to the future for new releases coming in 2022, such as this list of 26 from Buzzfeed. It has also been a massive year for sales of books, with 825.7 million physical copies sold last year, an 8.9% increase on 2020, according to NPD BookScan. With young adult fiction seeing the biggest increase, with a 30.7% increase in sales. In America, there has also been an increase in people reading eBooks, with 30% of adults stating they have read one over 2019’s 25%.
One factor believed to be involved in the rise is BookTok, TikTokker’s who post content related to books, in a similar way to Bookstagram on Instagram with specific titles such as It Ends With Us [by Colleen Hoover] showing a 75% increase in sales thanks to exposure on the social media platform, as reported in Forbes magazine. It is fantastic to see that more people are taking up reading as a hobby as it has a huge amount of benefits for people.
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary
Another big story has been the 20th Anniversary of the release of the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorcerer’s Stone in the US), release in 2001. I was a huge fan of the series growing up and actually can’t quite believe it is now 20 years ago as I can remember my Uncle taking me and my cousins to see it when I was 6 years old!
Anyway there was a documentary on HBO Max (shown on Sky in the UK), entitled Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts to celebrate the anniversary but due to J.K. Rowling being recently embroiled in a row over transphobia over the author chose not to participate and is referenced 10 times in the 102-minute special.
Furthermore, the Harry Potter series hit the headlines again later this week when former US talk show host Jon Stewart hit out at “anti-Semitic” imagery in the first film and book, namely the goblins who run Gringotts play up to Jewish stereotypes.
‘Book thief ‘ arrested for having 160 manuscripts
Filippo Bernardini, 29, was arrested by the FBI for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for conning authors into sharing manuscripts for their latest books, including Margaret Atwood and Ethan Hawke in a fraud scheme which dated back to 2016.
Apparently the fraud involved him impersonating gents, publishing houses, literary scouts and editors to acquire pre-publication manuscripts, and other materials related to forthcoming books and novels. He also duped a Pulitzer Prize winner into sharing a manuscript of their forthcoming book in 2020.
ITV’s Anne’s lead to surge in book sales
ITV’s drama series Anne, telling the story of campaigner Anne Williams, whose 15 year old son Kevin died in the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 had fought for many years for justice for him and the other 96 football fans who tragically died at the match.
The disaster happened at the FA cup semi-final between Liverpool vs Nottingham occurred when police match commander David Duckenfield ordered exit gate C to be opened, leading to an influx of spectators into the match just before kick-off and a human crush at the fence, resulting in the deaths of 94 people on the day, three more dying in the years later.
Initially the deaths were ruled accidental after the police leaked false stories of hooliganism and drunkenness among the Liverpool fans. It was only in 2016 that the initial inquiry’s result was overturned and ruled that the supporters were unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and ambulance services to fulfill their duty of care.
The documentary has lead to an increase in interest in Anne Williams’ book With Hope in Her Heart with copies on some sites selling for £69.
Rare Toni Morrison short story turned into book
Toni Morrison was a famous American novelist who wrote many beloved pieces of literature during her career, including Sula, Beloved, Paradise and The Bluest Eye.
The author also experimented with poems, plays and short stories during her career. One of these, Recitatif, a short story she wrote in the 1980’s and depicts the contrasting lives and fortunes of two women as they grow from children to adults, is being turned into a book and published on 1st February.
The story was included in Confirmation: An Anthology of African American Women, published in 1983 and edited by poet-playwright Amiri Baraka but has been out of print, now though the story will be in print once more.
Usborne's 1980's programming books available online
On a similar note, publishing giant Usborne who have published computing and programming books for decades, have posted many of their historic books online for free covering early computers such as the BBC Micro and Commodore 64.
As someone who works in web design in my day job I am very excited about these and the geek inside of me wants to go on a nostalgia trip and deep dive into these books.
Which story is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.