Today in books and publishing: E-books are already cheaper; a new Oxford American editor; Hilary Mantel aims for her second Booker Prize; diversity in NPR's Top 100 Y.A. novels is lacking.
NPR's Y.A. canon called out for lack of diversity. It's only a matter of time before the issue of race crops up in any serious discussion of young adult fiction. Now, NPR's democratic list of the 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels is coming under fire for its lack of diversity. Only two of the books chosen feature protagonists who aren't white. Laurie Halse Anderson, an author featured on the list, wrote, "As lovely an honor as this is, it also made me sad. And angry and frustrated. This just might be the whitest YA list ever." NPR acknowledged the whiteness of its list, and ultimately concluded that "the problem was not the judges, but the nature of the poll and the make-up of [NPR's] audience," which is disproportionately white. It's an ugly fact about these types of crowd-sourced efforts—dredging public opinion to determine the "best" of anything returns the whitest, most middle-of-the-road choices every time. Aggregated opinions are usually boring and often raise some eyebrows. For reference, see the Pitchfork's People's List, a similar project that features only one non-white musician in the top 30. But at least this discussion has gotten people talking about young adult's ongoing struggle with race. [NPR]
Cheaper e-books are already here. As our own Adam Martin predicted, e-book prices have fallen just four days after a settlement between the DoJ and three major publishers over e-book price-fixing. Amazon is already selling e-books from HarperCollins at a discounted price-point far below what the publisher asked for under the agency pricing model. HarperCollins seems to have surrendered to Amazon's sway, saying in a statement, "HarperCollins has reached agreements with our e-retailers that are consistent with the final judgment. Dynamic pricing and experimentation will continue to be a priority for us as we move forward." We're already starting to see the outcomes of the settlement: Amazon will likely be the strongest force in determining e-book prices going forward, publishers will lament the diminishing returns on their titles and consumers will pay less for their e-books. A lot is riding on the case Apple, Macmillan and Penguin are still fighting with the DoJ. [Forbes]
Booker Prize contestants winnowed to shortlist. Hilary Mantel, Will Self, Alison Moore, Jeet Thayil, Deborah Levy and Tan Twan Eng are the six shortlisted finalists for the Man Booker Prize. This means that Mantel (pictured above), the author of Bring Up the Bodies, could snatch her second Booker (she won in 2009 for her novel Wolf Hall). Umbrella author Self is the only other well-known name in a list that features two debuts (Moore's The Lighthouse and Thayil's Narcopolis) and a novel by a Malaysian writer. "After re-reading an extraordinary longlist of 12, it was the pure power of prose that settled most debates," says Peter Stothard, Times Literary Supplement and chair of the Booker judges panel. "We loved the shock of language shown in so many different ways and were exhilarated by the vigour and vividly defined values in the six books that we chose." It's been a contentious Booker season, with lit-celebs like Martin Amis and Zadie Smith left out and charges of anti-Scottish bias being hurled at the award. [The Guardian]
Oxford American hires a new editor. After firing its founder and editor Marc Smirnoff over sexual harassment charges, the Oxford American has found a new editor in Roger Hodge who edited Harper's magazine for four years, wrote a 2010 book critical of Obama called The Mendacity of Hope, and will now become the second person to head up "The Southern Magazine of Good Writing." There's nothing Southern about his current home, Brooklyn, so Hodge will have to get in touch with his down-home roots again. Which shouldn't be too hard—he grew up in Texas, went to school in Tennessee and cut his journalistic teeth in North Carolina. He says the less he knows about the Smirnoff scandal, the better. "It's an awful thing for the individuals concerned and for the institution and I just want to move on from it," he said. "I just want to make a good magazine." [The New York Times]
Hachette's new CEO. Michael Pietsch—publisher at Hachette Book Group imprint Little, Brown and Company—is moving up the ranks to become the Hachette's new CEO starting April 1st of next year. David Young is stepping aside after seven years as CEO at the big six publishing company. [GalleyCat]
What does a 17-year-old need six figures for anyway? Abigail Gibbs published her first novel before she could even drive—she put The Dark Heroine: Dinner with a Vampire out on Wattpad at 15. Two years later, she has a six-figure book deal with HarperCollins, who will release The Dark Heroine this fall. A sequel is already in the works. [The Bookseller]