Wednesday News: B&N fires CEO, Harper Collins launches new website, NK Jemisin on SF diversity, and American Book Award winners
Barnes & Noble Fires CEO, Calls Him a Poor Fit – Ron Boire, who previously served as CEO of Sears Canada and Brookstone, was hired less than a year ago to head Barnes & Noble, and while it is unclear what went wrong, publicly stating that he was “not a good fit” is unusually sharp, raising even more questions about the company’s short and long-term stability and prospects:
The sudden departure of Boire creates new challenges for Barnes & Noble at a time it is trying to renew itself. In a turnaround plan Boire unveiled to Wall Street analysts barely two months ago, Barnes & Noble announced initiatives such as opening four concept stores in fiscal 2017 that will feature bars offering wine and beer, along with better food, in cafés twice the size of its usual food spots, among other efforts to rejuvenate its business. – Fortune
HarperCollins Unveils Website Redesign – Attempting to be more “relevant,” HarperCollins is focusing on direct-to-consumer book sales, necessitating a redesign of the publisher’s website. You can check out the site here, and although I haven’t spent a lot of time investigating all the new features, I will say that the site is definitely more consumer-friendly. Will readers go there to buy books? I’m not sure what the advantages of doing so would be.
The new site offers a variety of new bells and whistles, including video, Instagram feeds and a feature called “Book Finder” that allows consumers to browse curated selections of gift books. – Publishers Weekly
N.K. Jemisin Has a Plan for Diversity in Science Fiction – This brief article on Jemisin is a good companion piece to the NPR article on the importance of culturally competent marketing . Because it’s not just about pointing to the same handful of authors as evidence of diversity, or about seeing diversity as something “risky.” Jemisin similarly focuses on markets, not authors, in supporting diversity:
Ever since a report from magazine Fireside Fiction called out a lack of diversity in sci-fi on July 26, Jemisin has received six invitations to contribute to anthologies or magazines—and she’s leery of being one of the few go-to names when panicked editors scramble to be more inclusive. And in a tweetstorm this afternoon (below), Jemisin placed the onus on the markets, not aspiring authors, to make writers of color welcome. “The front gates are still shut, see,” she wrote. “You’re just letting a few more exceptions in the side door.” Jemisin may have broken into the world of science fiction, but for other writers to do the same, those gatekeepers need to open those doors wide. – Wired
2 historians critical of ‘Hamilton’ win American Book Award – Remember that paper we covered a while back on how Hamilton failed to subvert the white slaveholding narrative? Well, the author, Lyra Monteiro just won an American Book Award for criticism, along with LSU’s Nancy Isenberg, who also critiqued the white politics of the play. Although these critiques have not received a lot of traction, it’s interesting that these two scholars were honored with an award focused on diversity.
The awards started in 1980 and are presented by the Before Columbus Foundation. They honor “outstanding literary achievement” that reflect the country’s diversity. . . .
Other winners Monday include poet Ray Young Bear’s “Manifestation Wolverine,” Ned and Constance Sublette’s history “The American Slave Coast” and activist Deepa Iyer’s exploration of racism and immigrant communities, “We Too Sing America.” Author and activist Louise Meriwether won a lifetime achievement prize. – Washington Post