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Updated: 2 hours 14 min ago

Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond dies aged 91

7 hours 47 min ago
Michael Bond, the genial British author who created Paddington Bear, the polite, good-natured but disaster-prone little hero of children's novels, picture and activity books, television series, and films, died at his home in London on Tuesday. He was 91.

In a 2014 interview with the London newspaper The Guardian, Mr. Bond said that the character had partly been inspired by his memories of child evacuees passing through Reading from London. "They all had a label round their neck with their name and address on and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions."

Mr. Bond also wrote books about Olga da Polga, a guinea pig, and a mouse called Thursday, and for adult readers about Monsieur Pamplemousse, a culinary detective with a dog named Pommes Frites.

Oprah picks Behold the Dreamers for book club

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 05:00
Imbolo Mbue's debut novel Behold the Dreamers is the latest "summer" pick for Oprah's Book Club. In a statement first available at Amazon, Winfrey says, "It's about race and class, the economy, culture, immigration and the danger of the us versus them mentality. And underneath it all pumps the heart and soul of family love, the pursuit of happiness and what home really means."

Heaviest users of public libraries are Millennials

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 05:00
Millennials in the U.S. are more likely to have visited a public library in the past year than any other adult generation. In a Pew Research Center survey from fall 2016, 53% of 18 to 35 year-olds said they had used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months, compared to 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 36% of those in the Silent Generation. Millennials are also more likely to have used a library website (41%) than other adult age groups.

Stories about disability don't have to be sad

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 05:00
The term "thought provoking" is over-used but that does describe eighth grader Melissa Shang's opinion piece in the New York Times in which she asks why "there are very few stories about kids in wheelchairs, and there are even fewer with a disabled person who is cheerful and happy." Her powerful article questions why "disability is always seen as a misfortune, and disabled characters are simply opportunities to demonstrate the kindness of the able-bodied protagonists."

Tracy K. Smith named poet laureate of the United States

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 05:00
Tracy K. Smith has been named the 22nd poet laureate of the United States. Smith's poetry has won her such top awards in her field as the James Laughlin Award, an Academy of American Poets Fellowship, and, for her 2011 collection Life on Mars, the Pulitzer Prize.

Finding the Right Balance Between BookExpo and BookCon

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 10:48
For many years, the publishing industry's major annual event, BookExpo, was aimed at publishing insiders only. A few years ago, organizers ReedPOP, started experimenting with allowing in more readers, which morphed into a separate one-day event in 2014 called BookCon which immediately followed BookExpo. In 2015, BookCon moved to two days; then in 2016 back to one day.

This year, BookExpo's show floor was reduced from three days to two and BookCon's expanded back to two days. While engaging with fans is seen as positive by many in the publishing industry, the shows' continuing evolution is causing headaches for some, particularly the smaller, specialized publishers who wished to exhibit at BookExpo but not BookCon and thus found themselves relegated to a separate exhibit area at the Javits Center in New York.

Dr. Seuss museum opens in Springfield, MA.

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 17:00
An Amazing World of Dr. Seuss museum opened in Springfield, MA last weekend. Springfield is the home town of Theodor Geisel – better known by his pen name Dr. Seuss - who wrote and illustrated dozens of rhyming children's books including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. The museum features interactive exhibits, artwork never before displayed publicly and explains how his childhood experiences in the city about 90 miles west of Boston shaped his work.

Helen Dunmore dies aged 64

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 05:00
Helen Dunmore has died aged 64 of cancer. She authored 12 novels, three books of short stories, numerous books for young adults and children and 11 collections of poetry.

She was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Chair of the Society of Authors until shortly before her death. She lived in Cliftonwood, Bristol – the setting for her poignant last novel, Birdcage Walk (2017). Although she knew she was dying only at the editing stage she suggests, in an afterword, that she must have known subliminally because the novel was "full of a sharper light, rather as a landscape becomes brilliantly distinct in the last sunlight before a storm".

Bob Dylan's Nobel speech: Can song lyrics be literature?

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 18:12
On Monday, the Nobel Foundation released Bob Dylan's lecture (which he gave just shy of the 6 month deadline in order to receive the award and cash prize of US$900,000. In his 27 minute speech, Dylan opined on the topic that was on many people's minds when he was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, can song lyrics be literature?

"The speech is extraordinary and, as one might expect, eloquent," Sara Danius, the Swedish Academy's permanent secretary, wrote in a blog post. "Now that the Lecture has been delivered, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close."

Forever Stamp to celebrate Henry David Thoreau bicentennial

Sun, 05/28/2017 - 15:03
The U.S. Postal Service is honoring Henry David Thoreau (b. July 12, 1817) during the bicentennial year of his birth with a Forever Stamp. A first-day-issue stamp dedication ceremony took place last week at the the Walden Pond State Reservation Visitors Center in Concord, Mass.

Denis Johnson, award winning writer, playwright and poet has died aged 67

Fri, 05/26/2017 - 17:12
Denis Johnson, the award-winning fiction writer, poet, and playwright whose best-known and most influential work, the story collection Jesus' Son, turned 25 this year, has died. He was 67. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.

Jean Fritz, author of ground-breaking historical biographies for children, died aged 101

Fri, 05/19/2017 - 09:33
Jean Fritz, an award-winning writer whose work helped transform historical biographies for children from leaden recitals of battles and dates into warm, human narratives full of quirks and crotchets and satisfyingly strange facts, died on Sunday at her home in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. She was 101.

The author of more than four dozen books, Mrs. Fritz was known in particular for her biographies of many of the signal figures of 18th- and 19th-century American history.

Businesses unite to advocate to retain federal library funding

Wed, 05/17/2017 - 11:24
America's libraries got a major boost this week on Capitol Hill as a group of leading publishing, information, software, and other businesses unveiled an organized effort to advocate for federal library funding. The move comes in response to the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate virtually all federal library funding, and the agency that distributes those funds to all 50 states.

Margarita Engle named Young People's Poet Laureate

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 10:38
Margarita Engle has been named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Awarded every two years, the $25,000 laureate title is given to a living writer in recognition of a career devoted to writing exceptional poetry for young readers. The laureate advises the Poetry Foundation on matters relating to young people's literature.

Suite Francaise, adapted from Irene Nemirovsky, will premiere on Lifetime May 22

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 05:00
Suite Française, adapted from the bestselling book by Irene Nemirovsky will premiere on the Lifetime network May 22.

California bookstore files suit against a state law preventing stores selling autographed books or hosting author events

Sat, 05/13/2017 - 10:49
Represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, Book Passage--with stores in Corte Madera, Sausalito and San Francisco, Calif.--and co-owner Bill Petrocelli have filed suit against a state law that, the plaintiffs say, "will make it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell autographed books or host author events."

Petrocelli said that the law's "expensive mandates--with voluminous reporting requirements and draconian penalties--create a nightmare for independent booksellers that thrive on author events and book signings. Consumers will also suffer. The tradition of author events at bookstores, with opportunities for direct interaction between writers and readers, will be shattered. The cost of record-keeping and major liability threaten to make book signings impossible, and stores such as mine do not want to engage in the massive intrusion on customer privacy that is mandated by the law's reporting rules."

Publishers and author organizations join the many others criticizing Amazon's new policy

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 09:34
Several publishers and authors organizations have officially joined the many book world people criticizing Amazon's new policy allowing third-party booksellers to "bid" for the primary spot in buy buttons.

A statement from the Authors Guild called the move "deeply disturbing" and said it "has the potential to decimate authors' and publishers' earnings from many books, especially backlist books." It noted, too, that the policy might be connected with Amazon's desire to force publishers to use its print-on-demand services, if POD availability will essentially guarantee a top spot on buy buttons. Such an arrangement, the Guild wrote, "looks an awful lot like a 'tying' arrangement under the antitrust law."

The statement concluded: "Amazon has already done enough damage in the book industry. It has devalued books by setting the price and consumer expectations for e-books and hard copy books artificially low, even taking a loss to do so. And it extracts an unreasonable fee from the sale of any book through its site, as compared to the services it provides, and charges extra for things it calls 'marketing services,' such as making a book discoverable on its site. Amazon gets away with this because it has monopoly and monopsony power over the retail book industry. Without a fair and open publishing marketplace, publishers will soon lose the ability to invest in the books that advance our knowledge and culture."

Amazon allows third-party book re-sellers to "win" buy buttons on book pages

Tue, 05/09/2017 - 12:00
A new program from Amazon is drawing a range of reactions from those across the publishing industry, from fear to downright anger. The e-tailer has started allowing third-party book re-sellers to "win" buy buttons on book pages. The program, publishers, agents, and authors allege, is discouraging customers from buying new books, negatively affecting sales and revenue.

Granta announces its once in a decade Best Young American Novelists list

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 03:18
Just once every 10 years Granta issues a special issue focued on new American fiction, "showcasing the young novelists deemed to be the best of their generation--writers of remarkable achievement and promise, still in their twenties and thirties."

It's Best of Young American Novelists of 2017 list includes "21 outstanding writers who capture the preoccupations of modern America." The authors are: Jesse Ball, Halle Butler, Emma Cline, Joshua Cohen, Mark Doten, Jen George, Rachel B Glaser, Lauren Groff, Yaa Gyasi, Garth Risk Hallberg, Greg Jackson, Sana Krasikov, Catherine Lacey, Ben Lerner, Karan Mahajan, Anthony Marra, Dinaw Mengestu, Ottessa Moshfegh, Chinelo Okparanta, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Claire Vaye Watkins.

Robert Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, dies aged 88

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 10:46
Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died yesterday at age 88.

First published in 1974 by William Morrow, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values was a spectacularly popular philosophy book that was loosely autobiographical, tracing a father-son motorcycle trip and flashbacks to a period in which the author was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Its thesis was that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought. Pirsig called this system of thought the Metaphysics of Quality.

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