Notes: Paterson Succeeds Scieszka; Here Comes Apple
"I think of all the joy reading has given me. It is not just because it is good for you, but because it is good," Katherine Paterson, the Newbery-winning children's novelist who will succeed Jon Scieszka as the national ambassador for young people's literature today, told the New York Times.
In her new role--a joint appointment by the Library of Congress's Center for the Book and Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit group affiliated with the Children's Book Council--Paterson "will speak at Children's Book Week in New York in May and at the National Book Festival in Washington in September, and will travel the country to speak to children, parents, teachers and librarians," the Times wrote.
"I want people to be reading about children of other places and other races and religions," she observed. "I think novels are a wonderful way to do that because you get in somebody else’s psyche and you see things quite differently than the way you see things simply through your own eyes,"
James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress who officially appoints her today, called Paterson "kind of an extraordinary spirit. Wherever she goes, I think she's likely to say something that will not just be what she said the time before."
The Apple tablet rumor mill has gathered further momentum--the Wall Street Journal reported that the company "will unveil a new multimedia tablet device later this month, but isn't planning to ship the product until March.... While the device's ship date hasn't been finalized and could still change, people briefed on the matter said the new product will come with a 10 to 11-inch touch screen."
The Journal added that Yair Reiner, an analyst for Oppenheimer & Co., had said "in a research note last month that the tablet would be priced at about $1,000, citing sources. . . . Richard Doherty, director of technology consulting firm Envisioneering Group, said such a price could include a subscription to a nationwide wifi wireless service such as those run by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless"
In its profile of publishers Phaidon, Taschen, Steidl and Assouline, and their recent ventures into retail, Newsweek observed that "publishers of large-format, illustrated literature--once pejoratively dismissed as coffee-table books--have found that they are creating luxury products."
Phaidon "is one of a number of art-book publishers that are borrowing the retail tactics of the luxury-goods trade and opening high-end monobrand stores. That may seem counterintuitive at a time when independent bookshops are closing and big chains are hawking bestsellers. But inspired by an 'explosion of interest' in art books, Phaidon CEO Richard Schlagman has decided to use the downturn to try to sell directly to customers and control the retail experience," Newsweek reported.
"It was not something that we were desperately keen to do, but we are enjoying it," he said. "We are getting very good reactions and people are enjoying seeing the whole collection together; we do a lot to make our books very desirable, and a lot of that is lost with chain-store groups."
David Del Vecchio, owner of Idlewild Books, New York, N.Y., told USA Today that during the holidays, "Our top sellers by far were New York-related gift books and international short-story collections."
Half of the independent bookstores in the U.K. surveyed by the Bookseller reported a sales gain during the Christmas season compared to 2008. "Of the current survey respondents, just 22.7% reported that sales had been down, with 27.3% stating that sales were about the same," the Bookseller wrote.
What are the expectations for 2010? "As with 2009, I will take every day as it comes, try to be more imaginative with what I sell both in books and non-book stock," said Sarah Rees of Cover to Cover bookshop, Swansea. "I will also watch with interest how the e-book develops. The main threat comes from online bookselling and e-books. The main opportunities come from continually thinking of imaginative ideas to draw customers into a real book shop."
Book trailer of the day: It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, edited by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser (Harper Perennial, $12, 9780061719431/0061719439).
Obituary notes: The Guardian asked several contemporary authors, including David Lodge, Carol Ann Duffy, Colm Tóibín, John Banville, Margaret Atwood, Edmund White and Ian McEwan, to celebrate the work of some of the great writers who died during the past decade.
Book reviewers for the Guardian offered their picks for "the best of the publishers' lists for the first six months of the new year."
At Sterling Publishing:
- Frances Gilbert has been promoted to v-p, publisher, Sterling Children's Books, which includes Sandy Creek Press, Begin Smart and Flash Kids. Gilbert was previously v-p, editorial director, Sterling Children's Books.
- Margot Schupf is joining the company as v-p, Sterling Innovation, effective January 25. She was formerly senior v-p, editorial director, digital publishing, for the Morrow/Avon/Eos group at HarperCollins. She was also acquiring nonfiction for Morrow, focusing on lifestyle, diet and health.
- Harold Lee is joining the company as v-p, finance, effective January 7.
Effective January 16, Parthian Books, the Welsh independent press, will be distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Independent Publishers Group.
Parthian's publishes the Library of Wales imprint, which includes titles such as Raymond Williams's Border Country and Dannie Abse's Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve. The house won the Wales Book of the Year in 2009 with Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful. Parthian's 2010 list includes Into Suez, a new novel by Stevie Davies, who was long-listed for both the Orange and the Booker prize for previous work with Orion.