This Week In Books

Self-Published Books to Be Sold in Barnes & Noble: This Week in Books

Self-Published Books to Be Sold in Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble has been sort of slow to get in the self-publishing game, but they have an ace that other players don’t: a whole bunch of physical bookstores. In a bid to make themselves more attractive to self-published authors, B & N is going to make shelf space available to a limited number of self-published authors who have sold more than 500 ebooks of a title via Nook and submit a print copy for review. Now, this clearly would be interesting to the authors, but will customers be interested? I guess we’ll find out.

Book Vending Machines in “Book Deserts”

JetBlue held a competition to place a number of book vending machines that will give away free books to kids with limited access to books and Detroit came out the winner, with more than 48% of the vote. Aimed to serve kids in “book deserts,” the Soar with Reading program is a partnership with Random House and allows kids take as many books as they want. Interested in having next year’s round of book machines in your city? Voting is already open.

Amazon to De-emphasize Online Discounts

Deep discounting, especially in books, has been Amazon’s most enticing, and most controversial, strategy from day one. Now, Amazon seems to be interested in making discounts, or at least the prominence of discounts, less a part of what makes Amazon, well, Amazon. The familiar practice of showing the list price struck through and the Amazon price presented as a discount is already starting to go away for some products.

Why might Amazon do this? Two reasons. First and most practically, Amazon has gotten into trouble with claims of misleading discounts. Second, as Amazon reaches something like market saturation, they have the leverage to increase prices and make the Amazon shopping experience more about convenience, service, and selection than about cheap stuff.

The Best Books of 2016…So Far

We’ve crossed the half-way point for 2016, so it’s a good time to pause and take a look at how the year in books is shaping up. On the most recent edition of the Book Riot Podcast, Lisa Lucas, Executive Editor at the National Book Foundation, and Kevin Ngyuen, deputy editor at GQ, joined our own Rebecca Schinsky to talk about their favorite books of the year. If you like podcasts and books, I highly suggest you check it out.


This Week in Books is sponsored by Slade House by David Mitchell.

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the residents extend a unique invitation to someone. But what really goes on inside Slade House?. . . From David Mitchell, bestselling author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas, this intricately woven novel will enchant readers with a blend of mystery, realism and the supernatural.


This Week In Books

Amazon Bookstore Coming to New York City: This Week in Books

Amazon Bringing Physical Bookstore to the Big Apple

To this point, Amazon’s handful of physical bookstores have been limited to the West Coast (California, Washington, and Oregon), but that is set to change by the end of next year. Amazon is opening a store in the heart of U.S. publishing: New York City. The store will be part of the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan, but not much else is known about it yet. One thing is for sure: expect to hear a lot of noise about this when it finally does open. The twist here is that physical bookstores are doing well enough and are valuable enough that Amazon is now fully in the game. Be careful what you wish for, eh?

The Curious Case of Gay Talese’s New Book

Gay Talese wrote an amazing magazine article about a voyeur who for decades spied on the customers of his hotel. The dynamite story now forms the center of a whole book, with just one little problem: it’s unclear what, if any of it, is true. Real estate records show that the owner didn’t actually own the hotel in all the years he said he did, and other discrepancies are now coming to light. And after initially disavowing the book after these revelations, Talese is now un-disavowing it. Every few years we get a reminder that most publishers don’t fact check most non-fiction books, and every few years we get these sort of disastrous messes.

Neil Gaiman’s New Book

In what sounds like a match made in Valhalla, Neil Gaiman’s next book will be a spin on Norse mythology. Gaiman was approached by Norton to do the book (give someone a raise for sheer pluck over there), and it will come out in early 2017. The exact nature of the book is a little sketchy: “an almost novelistic retelling of famous myths about the gods of Asgard.” I am not exactly sure how a book is almost something that has qualities of a novel, but I guess we are going to find out.

Hero of the Week

Tyler Fugett of Clarksville, Tennessee decided to spend his summer allowance buying books for a local prison. He got the idea after seeing his stepfather in and out of jail, and as of this writing has bought more than 100 books to donate. He is nine years old.


Dream_Jumper_-_Google_DocsThis Week in Books is sponsored today by Dreamjumper by Greg Grunberg and Lucas Turnbloom.

Ben’s dreams are all nightmares . . . And his nightmares are real!  He can also jump into other people’s dreams. So when his friends start falling victim to an evil dream-monster that prevents them from waking, Ben knows he has to help them. With help from a talking rabbit-companion who has a mysterious past, Ben might just be able to defeat the monster and save his friends . . . if he can figure out how to harness the power within him against his enemies. 

Find out more and start reading Dreamjumper here.

This Week In Books

The Bestselling Books of 2016…so far: This Week in Books

Book Buyers Begin Receiving Price-Fixing Settlement Credits

Credits from the settlement of Apple’s ebook price-fixing lawsuit started hitting reader accounts this week. Amazon was the first out of the gate. (I got $25.67.) Barnes & Noble and Kobo said that their customers’ credits should be coming soon. Basically, if you bought ebooks from any of the major U.S. retailers over the last few years, go check your accounts. You get a credit of $6.73 for every NYT bestseller and $1.57 for all other ebooks. I’m not sure why popular books are so disproportionately reimbursed, but that’s the deal they struck. You have a year to use them up, so get to it.


The Best-Selling Books from the First Half of 2016

Business Insider plumbed Amazon’s depths to find the 20 best-selling books of the first six months of 2016. As is often the case, seeing a list of the books that people are actually buying shows just how scattered (and backlist-heavy) the titles are. Business, cooking, coloring books, children’s: in general, not the books that get talked about in book circles, but the books that provide the money that makes the publishing world go round. Strangely, the best-selling book hasn’t even been released yet. Can you guess? (Check your answer here).


Barnes & Noble: Hanging in There, Just

The still champ of U.S. brick and mortar book sales released its 2015 financial results this week, which are interesting to book lovers for one reason: we want to know if B&N is going to make it. The long and short of it seems to be: probably? Nook continues to be a millstone around B&N’s neck, but the stores themselves are holding up OK. I can’t help but wonder if Amazon’s recent push to try their own physical bookstores in a few affluent suburbs that are B&N’s bread and butter isn’t the corporate version of a vulture circling a struggling wildebeest.

Thanks to Sober Stick Figure by Amber Tozer for sponsoring This Week in Books:


Sober Stick Figure is Amber Tozer’s unflinchingly honest account of her three-decade long romance with alcohol, the eventual end of her addiction, and how booze almost destroyed her – all told with the help of subversively child-like stick figures. Amber writes about (and illustrates) the crazy, harsh, sometimes laughably ridiculous truths regarding addiction, denial, and getting sober. Dubbed by The Chicago Tribune as “a powerful and often hilarious reminder that we’re at our best when we’re not afraid to be ourselves,” Sober Stick Figure is the story of a long road to recovery, at once sweet, tragic, funny, and ultimately inspiring.


This Week In Books

Reading Makes You More Attractive to Online Daters: This Week in Books

Bookstore Sales Gains Outpacing Retail Sector

Like many others, I have been following the rebound in physical bookstore sales with surprise and delight. My optimism has been cautious as I have wondered if the gains could be mostly attributed to the general economic improvement over the last few years. But a new survey says that bookstore sales to this point in 2016 have outperformed the broader retail market. For the first four months of the year, bookstore sales are up 6.8%, significantly outperforming the 3.9% growth for retail in general.

We’re still left with the question of why. Are people really returning in a significant way to physical books? Are people rediscovering their love of physical bookstores? Are coloring books enough of a draw to get people in the door? I suppose the most reasonable response is probably “a little of each.”


A  Syrian Refugee Opens a Bookstore for Refugees

Samer al-Kadri opened the first Arabic language bookstore in the Turkish city of Istanbul with the express purpose of serving the more than 3 million Syrian refugees like him now living in Turkey. A heart-warming and inspiring story about books, community, and outreach.


Expressing an Interest in Reading Might Make You More Attractive in Online Dating

Data released last week from the online dating service MyBae suggests that including reading-related interests in your online dating profile might make you significantly more attractive to other users. MyBae said that 21% of their matches had reading-related interests in common, much higher than the average of 15% for other entertainment categories.

What’s more, users who include reading were also much less likely to engage in problematic usage of the site. And if you are a romance reader (and say so in your profile), you are more likely than other readers to get a match.


This_Calls_For_A_Drink_-_Google_DocsThis Week in Books is sponsored by This Calls for a Drink by Diane McMartin, published by Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

This Calls for a Drink by Diane McMartin is an inspired drinking guide that matches wines and beers to the significant—and not so significant—events in life. Binge-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Try a Riesling, refreshing but with depth. Dumped a jerk? Celebrate with a sparkling rosé. Here are hundreds of unexpected recommendations delivered in a voice that is fresh, hip, full of attitude, and as solidly informative as it is entertaining. It’s everything you need to know to drink like an adult, even if you don’t always behave like one.

This Week In Books

A Rotten Tomatoes for Books?: This Week in Books

Here are the three big stories in books and reading that broke last week:

Book Marks: A Rotten Tomatoes for Books

LitHub launched Book Marks, which takes the idea of Rotten Tomatoes and applies it to books. Book Marks aggregates and assigns a grade to reviews of books and then averages those grades into a final grade. As you can see in our own deep dive, there are many questions about this strategy, from implementation to reader demand. Is this a service that a meaningful number of readers want? We’ll find out.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Opens

On Wednesday night, the first preview of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was performed in London. Anticipation for the play is intense and perhaps even more so for the script being published on July 31. Reactions seem to be excited with an underlying strain of wariness, though the sample size is too small to have a sense of what the emerging consensus might be. For those of us who have no shot at tickets for the London production (and that is literally almost everyone), take heart. Rowling said that touring productions will be coming sooner than you might expect.

A New Face of Censorship

As distressing as book banning in schools and public libraries is, it tends at least to be public, discussed, and oftentimes overturned. Last week, a new form of book censorship, or at least new to me, bubbled up into the literary world. Kate Messner had been invited to talk about her book, The Seventh Wish, to fourth and fifth graders at a Vermont school. The day before she was scheduled to appear, she was disinvited, because the school’s principal thought her visit would bring up questions and conversations that the school wasn’t prepared to discuss. The Seventh Wish, as Messner says, “uses magic to explore something many families are afraid to talk about with kids – addiction.”

And not only was Messner disinvited, but the school said that it would return the books it had already ordered. But, thanks to the heroic efforts of local librarians and advocates, The Seventh Wish will be available for students to read, consider, and inconvenience their teachers and administrators with. This specific case is distressing in its own right, but the larger lesson here is that books and ideas are censored, erased, and generally trod upon in a variety of ways that don’t quite rise to the level of “banning,” but are nevertheless hugely damaging. There are tens of thousands of kids out there whose lives are affected by addiction. I don’t think it is too much to ask our schools and libraries to let them see their stories and ask their questions.

My thanks this week to Book of the Month for sponsoring This Week in Books. Use offer code “JUNERIOT” to get 30% off a three-month subscription.



This Week In Books

The Most Well-Read Cities in America: This Week in Books

The summer book news slowdown is upon us, but there were still a few stories of note this week. Here we go.

Goodreads Gets a Makeover

Goodreads sure doesn’t seem to be taking summer Fridays off. After announcing a couple of weeks ago that they would be making a major push into ebook deals, Goodreads this week unveiled their redesigned user homepage. With larger book covers, more information about books available without having to click, and compiling updates into a single feed, the new Goodreads experience feels quite a bit more like Facebook, for good or ill. It seems to me that the focus has subtly shifted from your friends and followers to what they are reading and talking about.

Another Brick in the Wall for the Value of Books

There are have been quite a few studies that connect the presence of books in the home to kids’ educational and life achievement. A new study suggests that having even just 10 books around the house can predict significantly higher educational achievement–to the the tune of 21% more. Even controlling for other factors, this 10-book level seems to hold up (and its effects don’t scale to 50 or 100 books). As with all such studies, we can’t know if the books themselves or what they represent (parental interest in knowledge and education, availability of reading material at all) are the root cause.

The Most Well-Read Cities in the United States

Amazon released its annual rankings of the 20 most “well-read” cities in the United States last week. It is both a fascinating and dissatisfying ranking, as it doesn’t give any hard numbers and only uses Amazon activity as the measuring stick. As you might guess, Amazon’s hometown of Seattle comes out on top, and there are a few notable absences: New York City and Chicago among them. Are these the cities that are actually more well-read per capita? Or are they for whatever reason just disproportionately doing their book, newspaper, and magazine buying through Amazon?


Thanks this week to Penguin Random House and Room and Board for sponsoring This Week in Books.


Penguin Random House and Room & Board have partnered to offer one lucky book lover the prize of their dreams: modern furniture to create a reading nook and a library of books in their favorite genres to stock it! Enter here.

This Week In Books

Unlimited Comics, Audiobooks Ascending and more in This Week in Books

Summer is upon us, but book news waits for no Hampton Jitney. Here’s what’s going on this week in books and reading:

Comixology Announces Unlimited Subscription Service

In the on-going quest to find a subscription service for books and reading that actually works, Comixology is throwing its hat into the ring with a $5.99/month all-the-digital-comics-you-can-read offering. The catch: no Marvel or DC titles, which together account for more than 66% of comics sales. It’s hard to imagine that either hard-core comics readers or casual fans will be interested in ponying up without titles for the big two. We shall see.

Writers Begin To Openly Oppose Donald Trump

More than 600 writers, including a fair number of heavy-hitters like Stephen King and Junot Diaz, signed an open letter to the American people outlining the case against Donald Trump for president. More than 22,000 people have signed onto the petition since it first went live.

J.K. Rowling Defends Trumps Right to Be Trump

In her remarks at the PEN American Literary Gala last week, Rowling defended Trump’s right to be, well, basically everything the signers of the aforementioned petition condemned. He was her example of an odious messenger and message that still must be protected in the name of free speech. It was a striking choice, especially considering that there are writers all over the world that are actually imprisoned and persecuted for their speech.

The Millennium Series Gets a Fifth Installment

Quercus announced this week that Lisbeth Salander will be returning for a fifth book in the Millennium series, with David Lagercrantz returning to write it. The Girl in the Spider’s Web sold well enough that the series seems to have enough interest to become one of the very few series that has continued after the creator’s death. No title yet, but the next book will be out in both the US and the UK in 2017.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House for sponsoring This Week in Books. Enter here for a chance to win a modern reading nook stocked with books (or just click the image below).


This Week In Books

This Week in Books for May 23rd, 2016

Welcome to the inaugural edition of This Week in Books, our weekly wrap-up of the most interesting stories from the world of books and reading.

Special thanks to Penguin Random House for sponsoring this maiden voyage of This Week in Books. Enter here for a chance to win a modern reading nook stocked with books (or just click the image below).


On to the news:

  1. The big story last week was Goodreads getting into the discounted ebook game. With its treasure trove of user data, Goodreads is positioned to deliver notifications about ebook deals to exactly the right audience. Goodreads users now can sign up to receive notifications about downpriced ebooks for titles they have on their shelves or they sign up for by genre or interest.BookBub is probably the company most likely to feel the pinch here. They have broken out as the go-to resource for both publishers and readers for ebook deals with millions of email subscribers across all genres. In fact, Goodreads might be the only company that has a wider email reach. Goodreads could really squeeze BookBub on pricing if they so desire: Amazon certainly won’t feel the pinch if they drastically undercut BookBub’s prices, and they have a reach, between email and active users of the site, that is the envy of the entire book world.
  2. Jeff Bezos says more Amazon bookstores are coming. I promise not to make this an Amazon and Some Other Stuff newsletter, but Bezos announcing that they aren’t done opening bookstores has to be included here. Frankly, I am puzzled by what Amazon is doing. Are they trying to assemble Barnes & Noble’s coffin? Reacting to the resilience of independent bookstores and physical books? Trying to get people to just like Amazon more? All of these?
  3. Dan Brown abridging The Da Vinci Code into a YA version.I have to admit that when I read The Da Vinci Code, I did not immediately think, “Boy they are really going to have to dial this back to get teenagers to read it.” As far as I can tell, it will be The Da Vinci Code just…shorter. To my knowledge, this is the first time a big commercial adult hit has been modified this way to be remarketed as YA. Are there really teenagers out there that are like, “YES I always wanted to read The Da Vinci Code but it was just too long,” as they lugged around Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
  4. Lena Dunham publishes her teenage diary, donates proceeds to charity. Dunham apparently came across the diary she kept in her late teens, and, because she is Lena Dunham, decided that it needed to be public. She is donating the proceeds to Girls Write Now, a surpassingly deserving organization. Dunham is more and more plugged into the book world, and is certainly unafraid to experiment.
  5. Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love, dies at age 70.Okay, so this happened the week before last, but I am cheating because I love Geek Love and am just so sad about this. I had been waiting so long for her next novel that I had forgotten that I was waiting for it. In fact, Dunn had become one of those writers I thought of as being sort of unreal. Not dead, but just existing on a plane slightly refracted from our own and therefore largely inaccessible, like Pynchon or Ferrante. If you haven’t read Geek Love, do yourself a favor. And if you know a geeky teenager that likes to read, please make sure that they’ve heard of Dunn and Geek Love.
This Week In Books

CK: This Week in Books Test 1

Here are some of the most storied book shops to celebrate the bookworm in all of us.

Of these 12 Bookstores to Visit in a Lifetime, I’ve been to three. Work to do still.


This summer, my recommended reading list has a good dose of books with science and math at their core. But there’s no science or math to my selection process. The following five books are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep.

Bill Gates has some recommendations for your summer reading.

Goodreads has launched a personalized daily eBook discount program. Goodreads Deals will alert members to sales on books by authors they follow or to titles already on their shelves, making clearing space on your TBR a whole lost easier and more cost-effective.

There is a whole cottage industry of ebook deal services. Goodreads entering could change the landscape considerably.

Lena Dunham, star and creator of HBO’s GIRLS and co-founder of LENNY, surprised her fans — and Girls Write Now — with the flash-release of her new book, Is It Evil Not To Be Sure? at 6 a.m. today on In the spirit of women helping women, Lena announced that all profits from Is It Evil Not To Be Sure? will go to Girls Write Now.

Dunham is quickly becoming a serious mover & shaker in the book world.

This Week In Books

This Week In Books (TEST POST)

I will be looking into reading the following book:

Good Nintentions: 30 Years of NES: An Unofficial Survey of the Nintendo Entertainment System (GameSpite Journal) (Volume 1)