Publishing Industry News: Feb. 21, 2020

Curious about what’s happening in the world of books and publishing? Catch up on the biggest acquisitions, news, adaptations and more here!

• Although BookExpo doesn’t begin until May 27, event organizer ReedPop has announced the lineup for the Adult Book and Author Breakfast, to be held May 28. Joining the panel are Joy Harjo, the first Native American U.S. poet laureate; horror writer Carmen Maria Machado; U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar; and author Rebecca Roanhorse. Radio host and MSNBC political analyst Zerlina Maxwell will moderate the panel.

• Three senior employees at Wayne State University Press (WSUP) – all part of its five-member management team – were fired unexpectedly Feb. 7. Editor-in-chief Annie Martin, editorial/design/production manager Kristin Harpster, and marketing/sales manager Emily Nowak were called into a meeting that day, told they were dismissed effective immediately, and escorted from the building by campus police. Collectively, they had almost 54 years of experience. Nearly 60 WSUP authors and the most recent WSUP permanent director sent a letter to the administration at WSUP condemning the university provost and “library governance” for the firings and calling for the three to be reinstated immediately.

• The Trump administration’s 2021 budget proposal has proposed the permanent elimination of the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, and with it, virtually all federal funding for libraries.

• Netflix has failed in its efforts to avoid a lawsuit brought by the children’s book publisher Chooseco, which owns the trademark for “Choose Your Own Adventure.” Chooseco filed the lawsuit in January 2019 after the 2018 release of Netflix’s film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Chooseco has been using the trademark since the 1980s and is claiming $25 million in damages. Bandersnatch allowed audiences to select the direction of the movie’s plot, and Chooseco has suggested that movie viewers have been confused about the association with the brand, especially after one Bandersnatch scene talks about the Choose Your Own Adventure books.

• The remaining board members of the Romance Writers of America resigned Feb. 12, and a special election will be held to fill the board seats for the remainder of their terms. The resignations come in the wake of the controversy surrounding the censure of author Courtney Milan following her public critique of romance author Kathryn Lynn Davis’ book Somewhere Lies the Moon for including harmful stereotypes about Chinese women. 

• Activist and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has launched his own publishing company, Kaepernick Publishing, to “reinforce the importance of Black ownership” and “give power to Black and Brown voices globally, offering unprecedented ownership options to collaborators and bringing greater diversity and representation to literature and spoken word.” The company’s first book will be Kaepernick’s memoir.

• The winners of the Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction were announced Feb. 14. Winners this year include Xeni by Rebekah Weatherspoon; Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan; Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert; A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole; One Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole; An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole; American Love Story by Adriana Herrera; Trashed by Mia Hopkins; and The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker.

• Sourcebooks has acquired 23 children’s and young-adult books produced by author and illustrator D. Corchin, who has been self-publishing books containing socially conscious messages since 2005.