Monday News: New crowdsourced teen romance imprint, Penguin India pulls The Hindus, an interview with Binyavanga Wainaina, and an update on the B&N derivative shareholder suit
Macmillan Announces First Swoon Reads Romance – Macmillan made a Valentine’s Day announcement of their first acquisition under their “crowd sourced teen romance and online community,” which is a debut novel by Sandra Hall: A Little Something Different. The book will be released in both print and digital at the end of August, not only by Macmillan US, but also by Pan Macmillan UK and Australia. I’m trying to decide if this is the perfect manifestation of “be careful what you ask for,” when we’ve wanted publishers to be more connected to reader tastes, or if it’s a true step forward in how publishers see readers, instead of just publishers, as their customers.
Launched in September 2013, the Swoon Reads community includes readers and writers from across the world who submit, read, and comment on manuscripts submitted for publication under the Swoon Reads imprint. The community’s members are involved in every step of the publishing process, beginning with the initial discovery of the manuscript, and give input on cover design and marketing and publicity plans. The Swoon Reads Board, made up of staffers from various departments within Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, also weigh in on the acquisition process –Publishers Weekly
Penguin India Issues Statement on ‘The Hindus’ Recall – Penguin has been involved in a legal battle to publish Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus against Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, a Hindu group that filed suit against the publisher on both civil and criminal grounds. Penguin claims that section 295A of the Indian Penal Code makes the Indian publication of books like The Hindus unlawful, and without having any legal decision made against them, Penguin has settled with the group and pulled the Indian version of the book. Arundhati Roy wrote an incredible open letter to Penguin, insisting that (among other things),
“You have all the resources anybody could possibly need to fight a legal battle. Had you stood your ground, you would have had the weight of enlightened public opinion behind you, and the support of most—if not all—of your writers. You must tell us what happened. What was it that terrified you? You owe us, your writers an explanation at the very least.”
Penguin India released a lengthy statement, insisting that (among other things),
“Penguin Books India believes, and has always believed, in every individual’s right to freedom of thought and expression, a right explicitly codified in the Indian Constitution. This commitment informs Penguin’s approach to publishing in every territory of the world, and we have never been shy about testing that commitment in court when appropriate. At the same time, a publishing company has the same obligation as any other organisation to respect the laws of the land in which it operates, however intolerant and restrictive those laws may be. We also have a moral responsibility to protect our employees against threats and harassment where we can.” –Time
Binyavanga Wainaina interview: coming out in Kenya – You may know Binyavanga Wainaina from his satirical piece “How To Write About Africa,” in which he hilariously and poignantly takes on a variety of stereotypical perceptions about the continent, and when he wrote his first full-length book, One Day I Will Write About This Place, Wainaina left out what would become his published “lost chapter” from the memoir-ish novel. The chapter, in which he confesses to his mother that he is gay, is itself fictionalized, because his mother died before he could tell her (or even see her on her deathbed). Wainaina is Kenyan and his mother Ugandan, and Wainaina spends significant time in Nigeria — and all three countries are either hostile to or have criminalized homosexuality, which makes his work particularly important and risky. Among other things, Wainaina explains the very personal impetus behind his decision to write “I am a homosexual, Mum.”
That imperative had begun for him last year when a young friend, who had been living at his house, and whom he had helped fund through college, died. The man had been gay, and it is Wainaina’s understanding that he died from an Aids-related illness, but he had felt unable to admit that even to his closest friends. The family line was that he suffered throat cancer. Wainaina returned home from New York for good in time for the funeral and decided, angry, that he should perhaps do some of his friend’s talking for him. The news from Uganda, and then Nigeria, heightened that anger.–The Guardian
Deadline on March 10, 2014 in Lawsuit for Investors in Barnes & Noble, Inc. (BKS) Shares Announced by Shareholders Foundation – Remember that lawsuit some shareholders have filed against Barnes & Noble? Well, the deadline for participation is coming up next month. The announcement of an SEC investigation into the bookseller catalyzed the suits, which alleges a number of misrepresentations and failures to disclose. It’s going to be very interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this suit, especially given the huge question marks around the future of NOOK.
If you purchased a significant amount of shares of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (BKS) between June 27, 2012 and December 5, 2013, and / or if you purchased BKS shares prior to June 2012 and currently hold any of those shares, you have certain options and you should contact the Shareholders Foundation before March 17, 2014 at [email protected] or call +1(858) 779 – 1554. –Market Watch