Publishing Industry News: Feb. 28, 2020

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

• Charles Portis, the reclusive author of the western True Grit, has died at the age of 86. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

• Apple is taking legal action against Tom Sadowski, who led the App Store in Germany; and publisher Murmann Verlag to stop circulation of a book about Sadowski’s work based on allegations that it reveals confidential “business secrets” that the author wasn’t allowed to disclose. Lawyers working for Apple have ordered Sadowski and his publisher to cease deliveries of book orders, recall all copies of the book that are already in circulation, and destroy all manuscripts of the book. The publisher and author have so far resisted Apple’s demands.

• Bertelsmann, the parent company of Penguin Random House, announced Feb. 17 that the conglomerate will be carbon neutral by 2030.

• The Berbellion Prize is a new award for an author whose work has “best spoken of the experience of chronic illness and/or disability.” It will be awarded for the first time in February 2021 for a book published in 2020, with a cash prize of £600. Jake Goldsmith, the author of the disability memoir Neither Weak Nor Obtuse, established the prize.

• Zakiya Dalila Harris, a former Knopf assistant editor, has sold her debut novel, The Other Black Girl, to Atria in a seven-figure deal. The novel – about a young, black publishing-house assistant who becomes excited and then unmoored by the rare hire of another young, black woman – is a cheeky, occasionally searing send-up of the publishing industry, with nods to speculative fiction and horror.

• The Bologna International Children’s Book Fair has been rescheduled to May because of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Italy is currently experiencing Europe’s worst outbreak of the virus, and several cities are imposing restrictions on movement. The New York Toy Fair also took a hit from the coronavirus: it canceled this year’s China Pavilion as the U.S. denies entry to travelers from China.

• The three senior employees who were recently fired from their jobs at Wayne State University Press have been rehired, but their attorney is not ruling out litigation against the university for discrimination, retaliation and due-process claims.