At Bloomsbury UK, Alexis Kirschbaum has been promoted to associate publisher. Alison Hennessey becomes publishing director. Rowan Yapp has been promoted to publishing director of the illustration list, while Emma Herdman becomes publishing director with a focus on literary and commercial.
Ileene Smith, previously vice president and executive editor at Farrar, Straus, is now serving as an editor at large for the house. She will continue to acquire and work with selected authors.
Andrea Joyce is now handling rights for Edinburgh-based agency Jenny Brown Associates. She was most recently rights director at Canongate for 12 years.
Author of over 70 books Karen Harper passed away last week after a short battle with cancer. Harper won the Mary Higgins Clark Award for her Amish suspense novel, DARK ANGEL, and was also a former English instructor at the Ohio State University and high school literature and writing teacher.
The NYT published an obituary for former president of Waldenbooks Harry Hoffman.
For the first time, Reese Witherspoon chose two titles for her book club, which the group will “read simultaneously over the course of June and July: Austin Channing Brown‘s I’m Still Here (published in May 2018) and Lucy Foley’s just-released The Guest List. Witherspoon writes, “Elevating women’s stories is at the core of Reese’s Book Club. I love how this community champions the narrative for women and we are just getting started. Unity and understanding through the lens of storytelling is how we will continue these meaningful conversations.”
The dual selection was not without controversy, however. A number of people criticized Witherspoon on Instagram: “I see the intention here but Reese you know damn well that these white women are going to pick the thriller instead because they don”t want to get uncomfortable and talk about race. This is a cheap move from your team…. It’s actually offensive because you have provided your white audience this choice of not reading about race.” Another person echoed that sentiment: “I wonder what the choice will be. The serious conversation about being Black in America or another thriller? If you truly want to make this convo about Austin Channing then make it about Austin Channing. You’re trying to please two sides of this conversation instead of actively trying to be better. Another thriller by a white woman? It can wait.”
J.K. Rowling sparked controversy over the weekend with several Tweets about trans people. On June 6, she posted a Sky News article titled “Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate” with the comment: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” She continued in a thread, “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”
The posts drew widespread criticism from people calling them transphobic, including LBGTQ organization GLAAD who posted, “JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans. In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people.”
People’s Books & Culture in Philadelphia (formerly the Penn Book Center) is closing permanently due to the impact of COVID-19. The store, which was founded in 1962, has been under new ownership since August 2019.
Together Live, the nationally-touring storytelling event founded by Jennifer Rudolph Walsh and Glennon Doyle and run by William Morris Endeavor, is evolving into a new, digital-only effort, Know My Story. Walsh built the tour to “amplify people’s authentic voices, especially those of marginalized people,” but “Covid and the continuous acts of police brutality in the US have required that megaphone to evolve,” she wrote in TL’s June 5 newsletter. Know My Story is moving forward independently, with Walsh as “founder and co-pilot,” and will be lead by writer, artist and “fierce black activist queen” Natalie Guerrero, who helped build the live event. As for Walsh, “I will be on the sidelines with a giant sign that says YES YES YES on one side, and GO GO GO on the other.”