“Bertelsmann’s 7% decline in 2016 revenue was due entirely to a drop in sales at Penguin Random House. The lack of a big new bestseller hurt results at the company, and it divested some smaller divisions in the year.” For those interested in inside baseball, Publishers Weekly takes a look at how the world’s 50 largest publishers are faring. (TL;dr: Although their total revenue topped $50 billion, more than half of the list’s publishers reported sales declines – oh, and Harry Potter still really, really sells). As a counterpoint to all that capitalism, read our own Edan Lepucki‘s survey of self-published authors.
Jennifer Egan recently spoke with Willing Davidson, fiction editor of The New Yorker, as part of Rewiring the Real, a yearlong series of podcasts with writers about the interplay of literature, technology and religion. Rachel Hurn, a former Millions intern, was there and noted Egan’s ambivalence towards “personal writing.” [Updated to correct the quote] “If writing necessarily meant writing about myself, then I’d rather do something else,” Egan said.
The CS Monitor has a little piece about the travails of teenage novelists: “A youthful sensation doesn’t always translate into a distinguished literary career. For many teen authors, that first book proves a hard act to follow. Some never again meet with the kind of praise critics heaped upon their first offerings.”Speaking of (once) young phenoms, Bret Easton Ellis has a flashy new Web site that promotes his upcoming novel, Lunar Park. I’ve never read Ellis, but the Web site seems to indicate that this upcoming novel is about a character named Bret Easton Ellis, and it may or may not be autobiographical. Very meta. There’s an excerpt in there too.I’ve been enjoying EarthGoat lately. It’s a group blog out of Iowa City.
“I hate to break it to you but everyone does not, in fact, have a book in them.” For The Outline, literary agent Kate McKean writes about the difference between good stories and good books—and what it takes to write the latter. Pair with: an essay on the books that fight back
“The late 1920s found him in Hollywood (‘This place is loathsome’) drowning, stingless, in MGM honey, while doing hack work on a silly Marion Davies vehicle. His descriptions of reptilian studio fauna make for delicious reading.” At The Daily Beast, a look at P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters.
“This notion of investigation offers an alternative to confession. Its goal isn’t sympathy or forgiveness. Life is not personal. Life is evidence. It’s fodder for argument. To put the “I” to work this way invites a different intimacy—not voyeuristic communion but collaborative inquiry, author and reader facing the same questions from inside their inevitably messy lives.” Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes for The Atlantic about alternatives to the confessional mode in literature.