Book Beat: Greg Younging, Chronicle Books Turns to Audio, and the ABA Responds to Baker & Taylor News

Hello, bookish friends! Welcome back to Book Beat, your weekly update on the literary world. With the weather getting warmer and convention/festival season getting underway, there’s lots going on. Unfortunately, not all news is good news. I’ve got a few upsetting updates, but I’ve also got new releases to share as well.

Rest in Peace Greg Younging

Canada’s literary and Indigenous communities lost an important figure recently. Greg Younging, publisher of Canada’s oldest Indigenous publishing house Theytus Books, passed away on May 3. Younging was a member of the Opaskwyak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba. He also acted as an assistant director for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and he authored Elements of Indigenous Style: A Guide for Writing By and About Indigenous Peoples.

Theytus books announced his passing last week, saying that he was surrounded by family at the time of his death. The news was met with much sadness, with authors and editors lamenting the loss on social media and in public. He was mentioned several times at the Festival of Literary Diversity in Brampton this past weekend, with Moon of the Crusted Snow author Waubgeshig Rice leading a moment of silence for Younging during the Saturday night Indigenous Showcase. A service honouring Greg Youning was also held on Tuesday.

Chronicle Books Ventures Into Audio

As the audiobook industry continues to grow, Chronicle Books has decided to get in on the action. Partnering with Hachette Audio, Chronicle Books will create audiobooks that will be marketed under the Chronicle Books Brand, starting with the release of adult nonfiction digital audiobooks.

While Chronicle is starting with just four titles, it expects to have an output of ten to fifteen audio titles each season. These titles will be released simultaneously with their print editions.

Hachette already distributes Chronicle’s physical books, and with this change it will now also handle production, sales, and distribution of these new audiobooks. Meanwhile, Chronicle will handle marketing.

ABA Responds to Baker & Taylor News

Last week Baker & Taylor announced that it would be closing its retail wholesale business. B&T is one of two national wholesalers in the United States, so losing this retail wholesale business has many booksellers concerned. Competitive wholesale has played an important part in the resurgence of indie bookstores, after all. While B&T and its parent company has said it will work with publishers and booksellers to transition their business to other companies, and that it will not rush the process, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) is also working to limit the damage.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher released a statement providing details about how the industry is responding to the B&T announcement. Ingram and other wholesalers are preparing to increase stock levels in warehouses. Publishers are exploring ways to establish more direct accounts and increase their own distribution. And the ABA itself is offering a special introductory offer for stores to switch to their e-commerce platform.

Teicher said that ABA will provide updates as this situation develops. He also said, “Indie bookstores have demonstrated their resilience many times before, and I’m confident that this resilience—coupled with all the efforts by our industry partners—will get us through a challenging time once again.”

Out This Week

The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Kings, Queens, and In Betweens by Tanya Boteju
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

Happy Thursday!