Christian Book Awards

May 8, 2017

 

Christianity Today, magazine mouthpiece for a broad evangelical audience, has posted the Christian Book Awards for 2017. We owned most of them, except for a cultural work of interest that I am ordering this week, highlighted below.  Popular devotional works in Christianity and Buddhism especially are popular and have a high turnover, but selecting particular titles can be challenging.  It is worth paying close attention to industry coverage in PW, bestseller lists, and other sources within this niche.  For instance, one of the bestselling Christian titles of recent years hands down is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, which I never received a *single* RINC for but which after I finally ordered it has circulated over 220 times.  SINC’s in any of these areas are most welcome.

The prolific right-leaning Evangelical presses include Zondervan, Multnomah, Thomas Nelson, and Eerdman’s, among many others.  Liberal faith is represented by Beacon Press and HarperOne. Buddhist publishers include Shambhala and Wisdom Publications.  Wiccan interest is covered by Llewellyn, Catholic interest by Ignatius and Loyola Presses and unbelief and skeptical viewpoints by Prometheus Press. These are a few dedicated imprints but in general the Big Five and university presses also produce prodigious output.

 

Tebow, Tim.  Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms.  Waterbrook, 2016. [7 copies]

Shaken“First, he was a beloved college football champion, media sensation, and best-selling author drafted in the first round of the 2010 Draft. Then he had a miracle playoff run with the Denver Broncos before being traded to the New York Jets. After one season he was cut by New York, next signed by the New England Patriots, then let go after training camp. Tim Tebow has achieved big victories and plunged the depths of failure, all while holding firm to his faith. In Shaken he explains why neither the highs nor the lows of his life can define him–and he reveals how you, too, can find an unshakable identity and purpose. In revealing passages, Tebow pulls back the curtain on his life, sharing the vulnerable moments of his career that have shaken him to his core–while also teaching the biblical principles that will enable you to keep the faith, no matter what comes your way.”–Baker & Taylor.

 

 

 

Glaspey, Terry.  75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know. Baker, 2015. [Soon  in catalog]

75 Masterpieces Every Christian Should Know: The Fascinating Stories behind Great Works of Art, Literature, Music, and FilmSome of the greatest artists have taken their inspiration from their faith. Now you can discover the stories behind seventy-five masterpieces of art, literature, music, and film–and the artists who created them. From the Roman catacombs to Rembrandt, from Bach to U2, from John Bunyan to Frederick Buechner, author and historian Terry Glaspey unveils the absorbing true stories behind these masterpieces and shares the faith-filled details you might have missed.

Today’s PW Daily had a link to a Guardian article titled “How eBooks Lost Their Shine: Kindles Now Look Clunky and Unhip,” which presents the case for the idea that, far from bulldozing traditional print books into the dust, ebooks have lost sales in the recent couple of years and are settling into a certain specific use and marketing niche while the book itself as an object has become more appreciated.  One of the interesting points is the preference of teens for print when reading actual books, in part because of digital technology’s tendency to distract the reader with the draw of other digital forms of entertainment and interaction.  This article talks about the UK’s situation, but the New York Times in late 2015 published an article, “The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead” noting the same phenomena already developing here as well.

There is a rebutting argument, however, taking notice that all of this is focused on sales by publishers as reported to the Association of American Publishers, which these days hardly covers the entire ebook market.  Robert Springer in an article on the site EContent, clearly lays out the opposite case, quoting Smashwords CEO and Founder Mark Coker

Amazon’s virtual stranglehold on ebook sales is another reason that subscription services are struggling. The ecommerce giant controls “something north” of 70% of the ebook market, says Mark Coker, the founder and CEO of Smashwords, a company that helps authors and publishers distribute ebooks. For $9.99 a month, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program allows ebook readers to choose from more than 1 million ebooks.

So, ebooks sales of content by traditional publishers are settling if not outright declining, but “independent” author content sold by Amazon on the cheap represents a large segment of the ebook market, which Coker estimates at already 10-20% of the total book market.  Coker presented a program on this topic last summer at BEA, which I attended.  The Smashwords founder was critical of both traditional publishers (for not adapting effectively to the new situation) and of Amazon for habituating readers to the idea that books should be virtually free, for promoting quantity over quality, and for rigidly exclusive contracts with ebook independent authors (as part of the KDP Select program).

Smashwords incidentally, is the one indie title source that provides ebook content to OverDrive for us to lend. Still, the traditional publishers, while they seem to have succeeded in pulling back some of their own business to print, are the main drivers of our customers’ electronic borrowing, especially in the sharply increasing eaudio market but with respect to ebooks as well.  Sno-Isle’s OverDrive statistics showed over 130,000 checkouts last month, for instance, compared to less than 70,000 in April 2015.  Perhaps would-be buyers of some published ebooks are choosing to borrow them from their libraries instead?

 

Becky shared with the department and Nancy wanted to share on the blog this new Bowker study of self-publishers and the tremendous growth in their output from just five or six years ago.  For example CreateSpace (Amazon’s self-publishing arm) has grown over 1000% since 2010.

In the past this might have been considered that much more to simply ignore but no longer.  The list of self-publishing established authors with developed fan bases keeps growing, including Kristen Ashley and Jamie McGuire.  Diary of An Oxygen Thief by Anonymous was originally self-published also.  Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear by Stephen Manes has circulated nearly 90 times.

With the explosion in the supply of titles and a steady number of readers reading a steady number of books, it is going to be increasingly challenging to connect readers with the right books, but perhaps all the more appreciated for that.

Publishers Weekly and other sources are covering statements of support from publishing associations and ALA OIF for Lam-King Wee, who refused to release the names of customers purchasing books critical of government officials.

Publishers Weekly has an article highlighting the sales success of some on the move independent publishers.  Sasquatch makes the list!  An excerpt :

As Seattle independent publisher Sasquatch Books enters 2016—its 30th year—the company points to breakout hits such as The 52 Lists Project and A Boat, a Whale, and a Walrus as keys to its recent success. Known for its list of nonfiction books, Northwest regional titles, and guidebook series, Sasquatch has branched out into a variety of subjects, including cooking, lifestyle, and children’s books.

For those maybe reading ahead for the 16 in 16 promotion, I have a few ARCs that may be of interest in the translated category.  Translations are getting more publicity and promotion lately, and it goes way beyond Scandinavian thrillers  (though they’re still going strong, too).  Publishers and imprints like New Directions, Europa Editions, Other Press, Overlook Books, etc. etc. are supplying great new genre and literary titles to expand the American reader’s mind.  Italian writer Elena Ferrante has hit the NYT bestseller list, along with Indian-American Jhumpa Lahiri, whose new book In Other Words is an interesting experiment by an author writing in her third language, Italian, and having it translated into English in a parallel text.

Also, I welcome input on getting originals of any translated work originally in one of the six non-English languages we collect., as reading the same book in two languages is a great way to study another language, including English.

Please comment to this post to claim.  The Dove’s Necklace by Raja Alem is particularly richly written and poignant, and Shelter by Jung Yun is developing a solid queue.

The dove's necklace : a novelAlem, Raja.  The Dove’s Necklace.

Summary: When a dead woman is discovered in Abu Al Roos, one of Mecca’s many alleys, no one will claim the body because they are ashamed by her nakedness. As we follow Detective Nassir’s investigation of the case, the secret life of the holy city of Mecca is revealed. Tackling powerful issues with beautiful and evocative writing, Raja Alem reveals a city–and a civilization–at once beholden to brutal customs, and reckoning (uneasily) with new traditions. Told from a variety of perspectives–including that of Abu Al Roos itself–The Dove’s Necklace is a virtuosic work of literature, and an ambitious portrait of a changing city that deserves our attention.

 

 

 

On the edge

Chirbes, Rafael. On the Edge.

Summary: On the Edge opens with the discovery of a rotting corpse in the marshes on the outskirts of Olba, Spain–a town wracked by despair after the burst of the economic bubble, and a microcosm of a world of defeat, debt, and corruption. Stuck in this town is Esteban–his small factory bankrupt, his investments stolen by a “friend,” and his unloved father, a mute invalid, entirely his personal burden. Much of the novel unfolds in Esteban’s raw and tormented monologues. But other voices resound from the wreckage–soloists stepping forth from the choir–and their words, sharp as knives, crowd their terse, hypnotic monologues of ruin, prostitution, and loss. Chirbes alternates this choir of voices with a majestic third-person narration, injecting a profound and moving lyricism and offering the hope that a new vitality can emerge from the putrid swamps. On the Edge, even as it excoriates, pulsates with robust life, and its rhythmic, torrential style marks the novel as an indelible masterpiece.

 

 

Montalbano's first case and other stories

Camilleri, Andrea.  Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories.

Summary: From the author of the New York Times -bestselling Inspector Montalbano mystery series, twenty-one short stories spanning the beloved detective’s career.  Inspector Montalbano has charmed readers in nineteen popular novels, and now in Montalbano’s First Case and Other Stories , Andrea Camilleri has selected twenty-one short stories, written with his trademark wit and humor, that follow Italy’s famous detective through highlight cases of his career. From the title story, featuring a young deputy Montalbano newly assigned to Vigàta, to “Montalbano Says No,” in which the inspector makes a late-night call to Camilleri himself to refuse an outlandish case, this collection is an essential addition to any Inspector Montalbano fan’s bookshelf and a wonderful way to introduce readers to the internationally bestselling series.

 

 

 

Yun, Jung.  Shelter.

Shelter : a novelSummary: You can never know what goes on behind closed doors.  One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of the Year (Selected by Edan Lepucki)  Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future. A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantageâe”private tutors, expensive hobbiesâe”but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and heâe(tm)s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?  As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one’s family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.

After their merger a couple of years ago, Random House, owned by a private German media firm called Bertelsmann, and the Penguin Group maintained separate and very different eBook licensing models for the library market.  It seems that has changed.  Starting in the new year both companies will offer eBooks with permanent licenses (Random’s practice) with prices somewhat reduced from what Random House had been charging (generally $65 per title vs. the standard maximum today of $85).  Read the PW article here.

The response by ALA President Sari Feldman has been as follows:

“Libraries will be pleased that the combined Penguin Random House license will ensure perpetual access to e-titles, and all will be glad the previous ceiling of $85 per title has been reduced,” said ALA President Sari Feldman. “But I also know many of my colleagues will miss the flexibility of paying near-consumer prices for e-copies they may not wish to maintain indefinitely, and some will be unable to afford to provide access to the ebooks their communities seek.”