The BookBrowse Review

Published October 6, 2021

ISSN: 1930-0018

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In This Edition of
The BookBrowse Review

Highlighting indicates debut books

Editor's Introduction
Hardcovers Paperbacks
First Impressions
Latest Author Interviews
Recommended for Book Clubs
Book Discussions

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Publishing Soon


Historical Fiction

Short Stories




Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative, Alt. History


History, Current Affairs and Religion

Young Adults


Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Speculative, Alt. History

History, Current Affairs and Religion

  • Rise Up! by Crystal Marie Fleming (rated 5/5)


News Roundup

To read all recent stories click here (where you can also subscribe to receive news by email or RSS.)

Finalists announced for this year’s National Book Awards
(Oct 06 2021)

The National Book Foundation announced the finalists for this year's National Book Awards. Among the five categories, there are five writers who have been previously honored by the NBF: Hanif Abdurraqib, on the 2019 nonfiction longlist; Anthony Doerr, a 2014 fiction finalist; Nona Fernández and Natasha Wimmer, on the 2019 translated literature longlist; Lauren Groff, a finalist for fiction in 2015 and 2018; Kekla Magoon, on the 2015 young people's literature longlist; and Leri Price, a 2019 translated literature finalist. All five of the poetry finalists are first-time NBA honorees. Four of the 25 finalists are debuts.

The winners will be announced on November 17.

An erotica pioneer goes from hero to villain for dozens of authors
(Oct 04 2021)

In the constantly evolving romance landscape, Blushing Books has long occupied a specific niche: spanking erotica. Now some of its most successful writers just want their books back...

In interviews with The New York Times, a dozen Blushing authors and seven former employees described a haphazardly run business that frequently failed to pay authors on time, and threatened them with lower royalties and defamation lawsuits if they defected. Some writers who spoke to The Times discovered they were not being paid for books that Blushing was selling through certain online vendors or in audio format. Others were locked into contracts that gave Blushing “permanent and exclusive” rights to their books and pen names, which publishing experts called onerous and outside of industry standards...

“Writers who really want to get published are so easy to take advantage of, and there are more and more people out there to take advantage of,” said Mary Rasenberger, chief executive of the Authors Guild.

While every creative field has horror stories about artists who are underpaid and exploited, the dynamics of the romance industry can be especially difficult to navigate...

Where have all the midsize publishers gone?
(Oct 04 2021)

When Hachette Book Group acquired Workman Publishing, HBG CEO Michael Pietsch observed that Workman was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, remaining independent trade publishers left in the U.S...

Jed Lyons, president and CEO of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group and its sister company NBN, cited two reasons why it’s difficult to build a midsize publishing house: time and money. The key to being a successful midsize publisher is having a quality backlist, and that takes time to build, Lyons said. He noted that it took RLPG 45 years, and lots of acquisitions, to create his company’s 80,000-title strong backlist containing both academic and trade titles. Building a publisher also requires access to capital to support expansion, either by organic growth or through acquisitions. Smaller companies don’t have the access to cash that the larger companies have, and Lyons said that as he grew he had some “near death” experiences, usually tied to concerns raised by banks.

Lyons offered a final reason for the current paucity of midsize publishers. “They’ve been picked off,” he said...

Dave and Goliath: maverick writer Eggers makes a stand against Amazon
(Oct 03 2021)

This month, Dave Eggers, the award-winning campaigning author, is to risk American sales of his new novel, The Every, by limiting access to the hardback copies. Only small bookstores will stock it.

It is a typical move for Eggers, who has long pushed back against the conventions of the industry, setting up his own non-profit publishing house, McSweeney’s, in 1998, two years before his breakout bestseller A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. ...

... For the US release of the book, on Tuesday, Eggers will allow hardcover editions to go on sale only in small bookstores. Weeks later, Vintage, a division of Random House, will publish an e-book and a paperback version. Even then, customers won’t be able to buy the hardcover on Amazon.

Eggers’s maverick move has been met with great gratitude by America’s independent bookstore owners, who are struggling with the huge post-Covid shift to online services.

Source: The Guardian

Pew Report: 'Who Doesn't Read Books in America?'
(Sep 30 2021)

Some 23% of American adults said they have not read a book in whole or in part during the previous year, whether in print, electronic or audio form, a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted January 25 to February 8 2021, found.

According to the PRC survey, adults with a high school diploma or less are far more likely than those with a bachelor's or advanced degree to report not reading books in any format in the past year (39% vs. 11%). Adults with lower levels of educational attainment are also among the least likely to own smartphones, an increasingly common way for adults to read e-books.

In addition, "adults whose annual household income is less than $30,000 are more likely than those living in households earning $75,000 or more a year to be non-book readers (31% vs. 15%). Hispanic adults (38%) are more likely than Black (25%) or white adults (20%) to report not having read a book in the past 12 months," the PRC wrote...

UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is a stage for AI-generated collective poems
(Sep 30 2021)

UK’s contribution to Expo 2020 Dubai is a wooden sculptural structure that celebrates cultural diversity and collaboration, highlighting Britain as a meeting place of cultures and ideas. Created by artist and designer Es Devlin, the Poem Pavilion uses advanced machine learning algorithms to transform the input of visitors into collective poems. The latter can be read in illuminating displays on the façade, transforming the pavilion into the exhibit itself.

When the New York Times book review panned the classics
(Sep 30 2021)

Some of today’s best-loved books — think “Catch-22,” “Tender Is the Night” and even “Anne of Green Gables” — had a rocky reception in the New York Times' pages.

Ten things nobody tells you about the publishing industry
(Sep 30 2021)

An article by Kilby Blades, bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction and a digital marketing veteran.

There’s more to authoring than conquering the blank page. Dozens of unique quirks of industry factor into the experience of a creative. If you’re an aspiring writer with traditional publishing in mind, pay attention. Here’s what to expect from author life:

The industry moves slowly. Very slowly. The publishing machine is overloaded. More manuscripts are submitted than agents and editors can comfortably review. Even established authors can wait weeks or months to hear back on submissions. And even once you receive an offer, the contract process takes time. That’s just on the acquisition side—on the publishing side, editorial cycles can lag, with digital-first projects taking up to a year from contract to publication and print projects taking up to two.

Advice: Unless you’re writing timely nonfiction, settle in for a leisurely ride....

France goes after Amazon’s books business
(Sep 28 2021)

In a fresh swipe at the e-commerce giant, French lawmakers will this week examine a draft law that would effectively stop Amazon from offering virtually free delivery for book purchases — a major selling point for the online platform versus traditional bookstores.

The draft law, which comes from the Senate and has the backing of President Emmanuel Macron himself, aims to protect brick-and-mortar shops from competition with Amazon, which has left them reeling. It's the latest in a series of moves designed to shore up local culture against foreign tech firms, which has included backing press publishers against Google and Facebook, and supporting TV broadcasters against Netflix.

Source: Politico

"How to Be an Antiracist" author Ibram X. Kendi wins MacArthur "genius" grant
(Sep 28 2021)

Ibram X. Kendi is one of 25 Americans to receive a $625,000 grant from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Known colloquially as “genius” grants, the fellowships are designed to “encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” The process of choosing each year’s fellows is highly secretive, with experts from a cross-section of professions asked to nominate colleagues who are doing cutting-edge work. Nominees are given no notice that they’re even being considered for an award until they’re congratulated.

Other writers to win include:
* Hanif Abdurraqib, 38, music critic, essayist and poet.
* Daniel Alarcón, 44, writer and radio producer.
* Reginald Dwayne Betts, 40, poet and lawyer.
* Don Mee Choi, 59, poet and translator.

Wyden, Eshoo question "big five" publishers over their library e-book practices
(Sep 24 2021)

In a potentially significant development, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo (D-California) this week presented a wide-ranging set of questions to the Big Five publishers regarding their practices in the library e-book market.

In their letter to the publishers the lawmakers reference “the exorbitant costs and burdensome restrictions” that they contend “are draining resources from many local libraries,” and “forcing [libraries] to make difficult choices to try and provide a consistent level of service” to their communities.

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