Well, in the type of news This Week in Books is made for, huge news dropped yesterday that hedge fund Elliott Management is buying Barnes & Noble for $476 million, or, in the words of Michael Cader, a “modest $3.50 a share.“
Needless to say this is immense news, but it surely was at least somewhat reassuring news to people in the traditional publishing industry that Elliott Management has appointed James Daunt to lead both Barnes & Noble in the United States in addition to his existing responsibilities running Waterstones in the UK.
Daunt has been credited with stabilizing Waterstones and expanding to new stores. As the Wall Street Journal writes:
Under Mr. Daunt, Waterstones rebounded from a period of losses and—unlike many other retailers—has been opening new stores, which it fashions to feel like independent shops.
“Somebody else had to save Barnes & Noble; the present ownership succeeded in a completely different environment and was not ready to jump into the 21st century,” he said. Of Elliott, he added, “The fact that they own Waterstones certainly puts them in the right direction. Their ability to influence the publishing industry is going to be stronger being in both markets.”
Gaming out the impact of a hypothetical Barnes & Noble bankruptcy has long been a publishing industry parlor game, but as Bloomberg points out, Barnes & Noble’s finances appear to have largely stabilized despite their Nook busts, and it will be interesting to see what Daunt’s approach will be to compete against Amazon.
Meanwhile, there were more links that caught my eye this week! Here they are…
Literary agent Jessica Faust wrote an extremely honest post lamenting her work with a client on a nonfiction project, only to see that author work directly with a publisher and cut her out of the deal. Authors: This is a very bad idea! Reputable publishers are happy to work with agents, you’re likely violating your author/agency agreement, and a good agent is going to get you a deal (and contract terms) that more than earns their 15%.
We are living in a winner take all economy, and this is especially extending to the arts. The NY Times has an interesting article on the gulf between the top musical artists and everyone else. The underlying principles would apply to the publishing industry as well.
Artist and author Austin Kleon wrote an awesome post on how inspiration doesn’t doesn’t come from the inside, it comes from the outside. You have to let it in.
Over at Writer Unboxed, Nancy Johnson has advice for white authors writing black characters.
I’ve still been hard at work updating and revising old posts to make sure the blog is as current as possible! Check out these compendiums especially, which have resources you may not have seen:
This week’s blog posts, in case you missed them:
- How to outline a novel
- A worthy guide to the publishing industry
- Try this trick when your novel is stuck
- This Roald Dahl video is everything
This week in the Forums: What made you start writing?
Comment! of! the! week! goes to April Henry, who has a Roald Dahl story that’s tough to top:
In 1972, I sent Roald Dhal a story I wrote. He not only sent me back a postcard about how much he liked it (which through some miracle I still have), he actually showed it to his editor, who contacted me to ask if she could publish it in a publisher sponsored magazine called Puffin Post.
And finally, speaking of Austin Kleon, I also really enjoyed hearing him talk about not putting so much pressure on yourself trying to do it all:
Have a great weekend!
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.