Today in books and publishing: Elvis' bible sells for nearly six figures; international Jewish book battle; marketing JK Rowling; do we need a "new adult" genre?
Publishers push a new genre: 'new adult.' It's a sort of open secret that young adult fiction's recent resurgence has been driven mostly by adults, many of whom aren't so young anymore. It seems like Y.A. publishers are getting wise about how to better market to their readers. Intended to appeal to readers aged 14 through 35, the newly coined genre "new adult" deals with themes deemed a bit too racy for the Y.A. set, but with Y.A.'s familiar tropes and narrative arcs. The book at the center of this dubious trend is Tammara Webber's Easy, which unfurls from the main character's rape. It's certainly a heavy theme for young readers, but not one that Y.A. hasn't already touched on. Does Penguin Children's Razorbill imprint really need to create a new label to market Easy? How are we supposed to unpack the semantic differences between "new" and "young" anyway? With readers of all ages showing the irrelevance of genre boundaries by crossing the aisles previously dividing children's from adult fiction, it seems curious that publishers creating a proliferation of genre tags instead of collapsing them. [The Guardian]
US, Russia and Jewish group caught in book battle. Brooklyn-based Jewish group Chabad-Lubavitch want Russia to return tens of thousands of books and documents that contain centuries-old Jewish teachings and traditions. They even obtained a court order demanding that Russia give them back. But the US Department of Justice has decided not to charge Russia with civil fines for refusing to return the books. They've decided that imposing sanctions on Russia at this time would not be good for US interests. "Such an order would risk significant criticism from the international community, and would likely be resisted in this or other cases involving foreign sovereigns," the DOJ writes. Russia maintains that the books do not belong to Chabad-Lubavitch, and that they will continue to be housed in the Russian State Library as part of Russia's national heritage. [The Wall Street Journal]
J.K. Rowling markets her new novel by not marketing new novel. Even if she kept her new novel The Casual Vacancy a closely guarded secret right up until the publication date, J.K. Rowling could still hope to find success with her new book. She's J.K. Rowling after all. But apparently Hachette's minimal maketing campaign for the book is notable, according to Advertising Age's Thomas Pardee. He writes, "The theory is that while she's arguably the best-known contemporary author in children's literature, within the adult-fiction category she is an unknown entity. Distancing the "Potter" franchise from her new work could alleviate preconceived notions about The Casual Vacancy and open Ms. Rowling up to wider swath of readers." But wait, aren't all the kids who grew up on the Potter books adults now? The marketing campaign for Casual Vacancy has been tastefully restrained, but that seems like the obvious route. Why launch an expensive marketing blitz when every books-covering publication, including Advertising Age, will be lining up to spread the word for Rowling anyway? [Ad Age]
Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire, speaks with the San Francisco Chronicle about the forgotten, ignored or otherwise marginalized intellectuals who reacted against the legacy of Western imperialism. "As a writer, I tend to be drawn to marginal people - writers, poet-prophets, seers, eccentrics - who embody the deeper ambivalences of their societies and bear deeper witness to their world than the famous figures we are used to celebrating, or demonizing, in our histories," he says. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Elvis' bible: $94,600. Elvis' dirty undies: $0.00. Imagining Elvis' dirty undies on display at a fancy auction house: priceless. Elvis Presley's copy of the good book recently went for £59,000 at a British auction house. The book, which comes with the King's hand-scribbled marginalia, fetched double its expected value. But a pair of Presley's dirty underpants from from the fat Elvis days failed to sell at the same auction. [Reuters]