Book Beat: Publisher Merger, Passing of Little Free Libraries Creator, and An Incident at Vancouver Writers Fest

Hello all! It’s Emily here again. I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful week and are keeping warm amid the cooling temperatures. I’ve already spotted some flurries in the air this October, if you can believe it. But the cool weather just gives me an excuse to read some books and write from the warmth of my blankets and comfy sweaters, so I can’t complain too much. If you’re in the same boat, I invite you to cozy up with your own blankets and a mug of your hot beverage of choice as you read the latest in book news. And if you’re someplace warm, read on anyway—there’s lots of interesting news to discover below.

Random House and Crown Publishing Groups Merge

The publishing landscape is changing once again. This time with the merger of the Random House and Crown Publishing Groups.

The Crown Publishing Group officially joined Random House Publishing Group on October 18th, as reported by Publishers Weekly. The newly combined division will report to Gina Cenrellow, who has been named president and publisher. Rather than instigate an immediate reinvention, for now the groups will retain their existing names while imprints will retain their editorial identities.

Penguin Random House U.S. CEO Madeline McIntosh said this merger is the result of shifting book buying patterns, which have brought new opportunities for growth “in the non-fiction categories in which Crown already has a strong foothold: food, lifestyle, health, wellness, business, and Christian.”

McIntosh also wrote that the merged group “will be able to offer its authors and readers even more robust service and selection across literary and commercial fiction, and narrative nonfiction, than ever before.”

Todd Bol, Creator of Little Free Library, Dies

Todd Bol

If there’s a Little Free Library in your area, you may soon see it decorated with a silver or white ribbon to mark the passing of Todd Bol, the creator of the mini-library project.

In 2009, Bol created the first free mini library as a memorial to his late mother. He used wood from his garage to build a one-room schoolhouse shaped box that would store some of his parent’s favourite books. He set the box outside his house with a “Free Books” sign.

The personal project soon inspired the Little Free Libraries project, and by 2012, Bol had reached his original goal of establishing 2,510 libraries. Now, there are Little Free Libraries in every state and in 88 countries. The project has also sparked programming like the Action Book Club, an initiative to place Little Free Libraries in under served communities free of charge, and countless imitation community boxes to hold other products and necessities.

Though the project has not been without critics, Little Free Libraries have brought joy to many. So if you’ve used, built, or seen a Little Free Library in your neighbourhood, you can thank Todd for their presence.

The Hate U Give Adaptation Earns Wide Release

Amandla as Starr Carter holding a sign reading The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas continues to find its way onto bestseller lists more than a year after its publication, and now its movie adaptation has finally hit theatres after an initial limited release. According to Forbes, the film earned $7.5 million during its debut weekend and was screen in 2,300 theatres.

Though a YA adaptation doesn’t quite fit the mold of traditional Academy award winner, there’s already been some discussion. Buzzfeed reported that Thomas hopes the Academy will consider Russell Hornsby (Mavrick Carter), Amandla Stenberg (Starr Carter), George Tillman (director), and the late Audrey Wells (screenwriter) for multiple appropriate award categories.

At the time of this writing, the movie has a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. As someone who just saw it this weekend, I can tell you it’s well worth the price of admission.

TWUC Investigating Vancouver Writers Festival Incident

Lest the success of novels like The Hate U Give lull you in to a sense of progress, an incident at Vancouver Writers Fest is a reminder that racism is still an ongoing issue within literary communities.

The Writer’s Union of Canada membership and engagement coordinator Rebecca Benson, who is Tuscarora from Six Nations, was outlining TWUC’s new equity policies, programming, and subsidies for writers to the Writers Fest audience. She was mid-land acknowledgement when author Alan Twigg interrupted.

According to Métis author Cherie Dimaline (The Marrow Thieves), Twigg claimed he was being lectured on how to think. Several authors also said his voice was raised and described him as hostile.

Others in the room called Twigg out during the incident, and Writers Fest artistic director Leslie Hurtig was called to the scene. She addressed the crowd afterward, reiterating support for the equity policy and acknowledging the land once again.

Still, the incident soured a lot of attendees’ experiences. Author Dave Bidini said the room was “immediately traumatized” by Twigg’s actions.

Twigg claims his free speech was denied and says that the event organizers should have let attendees know “there was an agenda underway.” However, Hurtig says she invited him to share his thoughts via letter, rather than at an event hosted to roll out the equity policy.

In any case, this goes to show the need for an equity coordinator in the writers’ union.

New Releases

Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
I’ll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Friday Black

Happy Thursday!