Laura Mazer has joined Wendy Sherman Associates as a literary agent representing adult nonfiction. Previously, she was executive editor at Seal Press.
Powell’s Books announced that they have rehired some of the employees they fired earlier in the month due to strong online orders. It was widely misreported that the store has rehired over 100 people — whereas what ceo and owner Emily Powell wrote on Facebook was that “over 100” people are working at the store again. The union representing many Powell’s workers clarified to the Oregonian “that the bookstore has only recalled 49 union workers, and said that the rest of the people now working are managers who are doing the frontline selling, shelving and shipping jobs that used to done by union workers.” (In mid-March the store laid off roughly 85 percent of its 400 employees.)
Note, too, that Powell wrote they will not pay vendors “for the time being,” while acknowledging “we can’t do that forever.” The statement goes on, “Our focus is on keeping Powell’s moving, keeping our community healthy, taking care of our wonderful customers, and having as many folks working with health insurance as our sales can support.”
In their latest weekly analysis of print book sales trends, NPD Bookscan suggests that, “We think next week will be pivotal for understanding whether we will see book sales remain resilient, demonstrating their importance to people during this time, or whether the volatile up/down of the last few weeks will continue. Bricks and mortar store closures may have a larger effect next week as more communities enforce ‘shelter in place’ orders, but these could be offset by higher ordering from home as people settle into the reality of extended self-isolation.” Note, too, that in normal times print book sales always spike in the week before Easter, driven by juvenile book sales. Easter falls a week earlier this year than it did in 2019.
While print sales held about even in the week ending March 21 with the prior week (when sales were down 10 percent), the category shifts are significant. The biggest swing came in the largest category — adult nonfiction — where sales fell approximately 700,000 units, down over 15 percent to 3.8 million units. The overall market was kept even because juvenile nonfiction books gained approximately 748,000 units in the week, to 1.88 million units. Study aids and activity books together accounted for over 680,000 of those juvenile nonfiction units. But many juvenile fiction categories declined for the week.
The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards for literature that confronts racism and explores diversity have been given to Eric Foner for lifetime achievement, as well as:
Namwali Serpell, The Old Drift (fiction)
Charles King, Gods of the Upper Air (nonfiction)
Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic (poetry)