The voting is done, and Goodreads has announced the winners of their 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards. If you’re not familiar (and didn’t get to vote!), Goodreads releases nominees for the best books of the year in genres like fiction, nonfiction, poetry, romance, sci-fi, YA, and several others. Readers vote, or write-in new nominees, and a second found of finalists is released. Voting continues, and a third round of finalists is released before the big announcement comes in early December. And today is that day!
I’ve included the full list of winners below, but I want to pause and talk about a new category that Goodreads included this year. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Goodreads Choice Awards, they introduced the Best of the Best category, where readers were asked to vote on the ultimate best book from the 170 past winners in the competition. The winner is Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give. She took the top spot at an 8K+ lead over the runner up (All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr). THUG has been a Book Riot favorite, and we’re psyched to see her book chosen from such a large pool of titles.
A couple of other noteworthy wins: Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone won in the Debut Author category. You might remember that Adeyemi’s book was the inaugural pick for Jimmy Fallon’s book club on The Tonight Show. She claimed the top spot at a whopping 35K lead over the runner up. So, she didn’t just win, she really won.
If no one has told you about The Kiss Quotientby Helen Hoang yet, do yourself a favor, call out of work, and read it today. Hoang’s book won for Romance in a category that boasted a diverse and exciting group of finalists. Lots of buzzy books from this year.
Speaking of diversity, Goodreads showed a bit of improvement in that category. Winners in the 2017 Awards showed 20% books by authors of color (with Angie Thomas’s THUGtaking two of those spots). This year’s awards round out to 29% books by authors of color.
See the complete list of winners below, and then get your book shopping on!
Incredible news in the book world this week: Author Margaret Atwood announced there will be a sequel to her novel The Handmaid’s Tale! Titled The Testaments, The Handmaid’s Talesequel is the book many fans of her classic dystopian novel have been eagerly awaiting.
Atwood announced The Handmaid’s Tale sequel on Twitter:
“Yes indeed to those who asked: I’m writing a sequel to The Handmaids Tale. The Testaments is set 15 years after Offred’s final scene and is narrated by three female characters. It will be published in September 2019.”
In her announcement tweet, Atwood also added this short video, with its simple text and background static adding to the ominous feel of The Handmaid’s Tale, and perhaps its coming sequel. “Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book,” the video reads. “Well, almost everything!” Atwood then adds, “The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.”
A New York Times bestseller, The Handmaid’s Tale was first published in 1985 and earned huge critical praise. The book is set in the near future under a regime called Gilead. The oppressive government forces the few fertile women into the role of handmaids: women who are enslaved for their ability to reproduce. The story is told through the eyes of Offred, who is a handmaid. Although the identity of the sequel’s three female narrators hasn’t been announced, there is speculation that one of the narrators will be Offred, and a second may be one of the wives of Gilead.
Hulu adapted The Handmaid’s Tale into an Emmy award-winning series in 2017, and the second season aired in spring 2018. Atwood was careful to clarify on her website that The Handmaid’s Tale book sequel “is not connected to the television adaptation.” Though fans of the series can only hope that the new story will be adapted, too!
In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale and the upcoming The Testaments, Margaret Atwood has written over 40 books of fiction, poetry, and essays. The Testaments hits shelves on September 10, 2019, and we look forward to bringing you more details about this exciting sequel as its release date nears!
With gift-giving season approaching, booksellers are gearing up for seeing more traffic through their doors and at the registers. But this year, more than any year in recent memory, booksellers are increasingly worried about whether there will be enough copies of the biggest titles. Some of the hottest picture books of the season, including We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins, were missing from shelves in the otherwise rigorously stocked indie Mclean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Michigan. Inquiries were made about special ordering the title and the expected fulfillment date was a ways off—January. But the delay isn’t solely due to immense popularity, bookseller Sara Grochowski explained.
One of the aspects of the book world we don’t think enough about is the very thing that serves as the backbone to publishing: paper. Ebooks have certainly caused a shift in reading habits, but they haven’t eliminated the need for print books to be printed on paper. Increasingly, though, sourcing paper for the production of books has proven challenging.
“There’s basically four different types of paper that are out in the world right now, and it’s freesheet, coated groundwood, uncoated freesheet, and uncoated groundwood. Most trade fiction and nonfiction, books you’d find on the New York Times list or in a store, straightforward text are printed on, those are all on an uncoated groundwood. Almost all of that paper, right now, is coming from the U.S. and Canada, mainly Canada. Most printers are always stocking up on that,” says Doug Wolff, Director of Production at Workman.
The uncoated groundwood sourced in Canada raised fears in the publishing world earlier this year. New tariffs on imports made many nervous costs would rise, both on the production end and on the consumer end. This was resolved, however, later in the summer in a policy turnaround from the U.S. International Trade Commission in which paper was disincluded from the sweeping tariffs.
Not all books are published in the U.S. Whether a book is published domestically or abroad is determined by things like the type of paper or printing process the book might demand, lead time in its publication, and costs. Traditional fiction and nonfiction—the kind you’d find in bookstores or on bestseller lists—which are primary text-based are frequently published domestically. Books which require more of a special type of paper or printing process, or require more than two color production are most frequently sent abroad, where the printing presses operate a bit differently and the quality of the product is better. While costs for overseas printing might be lower, the time it takes for the book to make it to U.S. warehouses is another consideration for publishers: ship time can be an added 4–5 weeks on top of printing time. Paper costs comprise the largest expense in the making of the physical book, and that, combined with shipping time and specificities of design, add up to some tricky math for publishers.
Further complicating the matter is the shrinking of the domestic printing landscape.
“Right now, paper is a major problem domestically, for no other reason other than paper mills have been shutting down, paper mills have been consolidating, there’s not as much book paper being made, so for me today to say I want to do a book and I want to print it in two weeks, that could be impossible, just because I might not be able to get paper that quickly. We’re getting things where they’re saying it’s five to six to seven weeks to get paper, which has never been the case in all the years I’ve done production. We might have to choose a different type of paper,” says Wolff. “We’re seeing this a lot with our reprints, where a book was printed on one stock and the reprint, the only way we can get it somewhat quickly, we have to move it to a different stock and then the next printing, we might have to go to a totally different stock again because of paper availability. That’s happening more domestically.”
Stacy Whitman, founder and publisher of Tu Books, notes that printers have also deprioritized paper for book printing. “[T]here’s been a perfect storm of global events/trends to change how the paper manufacturers prioritize what papers they make/what orders they’ll fill. We and pretty much every publisher printing domestically ran into it this year.”
Via Twitter, Whitman highlighted the fact that the paper side of the book world is one we don’t talk about enough, and she linked to three articles that break the information down (you can read those pieces here, here, and here).
“I hadn’t realized it, but the backlash against plastic noted in the article is an interesting domino to have fallen in this situation: the backlash against plastic in packaging materials, fast food packaging, other shipping/packaging—means that paper manufacturers found they could suddenly make more money on cheaper paper products than fine book paper. They deprioritized the publishing industry. Add to that other global factors affecting the production of paper, and the dominoes fall to eventually mean that publishers trying to print books and magazines are running into supply delays and printing delays as a result, and higher paper prices on top of everything,” she said.
That anxiety over paper availability is trickling down to indie booksellers. Grochowksi reports that sales reps from smaller publishing houses advised her to stock up early on titles she was excited about, as they’d be unable to reprint anything before the end of the holiday season. This news isn’t entirely surprising—booksellers have been noticing delays as far back as March, when the reprint of Pat Zietlow Miller’s Be Kind was delayed without an in-stock date for weeks. “It’s all been very word of mouth and said kind of hushed during sales calls,” Grochowksi reports, but shared that Simon & Schuster struggled to print enough copies of Fear by Bob Woodward.
It’s not likely that books will become more challenging to find at the bookstore this season, but it’s also not entirely out of the question that books going for reprint or that become popular unexpectedly could be on backorder for a period of time. This may cause consumers to turn to other sources, such as Amazon (if the book is still in stock), instead of shopping locally. Tariffs aren’t the reason though; it’s paper.
Wolff notes, “The problem right now is lead times to get the paper and the allocation of the paper because of the mills. So right now, if anything is going to hold up a book [a traditional nonfiction or fiction title] going back to print, it’s that the paper is a little harder to get. On top of that, over the last five years, the printers in America have been slowly consolidating. So not only is paper hard to get, but because there are so few printers now more than there have been before, the capacity is completely full and has been full since August. We’re being told if you place an order today, the earliest we can get you books is a month and a half from now. And part of it is because of capacity, because it’s a big season, because of crashed political books going back to reprinting, everything is basically full. There is some truth to a book not being able to get enough books out there but it’s not really tariffs.”
Title reprints complicate matters as well. Publishers often go beyond the standard cost analysis to look too at things like speed, printer availability, and whether or not shipping time will impact potential sales. Wolff calls it the tricky math of what the back end of the book production process does. Questions considered include how quick the reprint can be done domestically, if it can be done domestically in a time frame that would put it on shelves quicker than printing overseas, and, ultimately, what’s the cost to do it one way or the other in relation to the profit on the title.
“Something like Atlas Obscura, the majority of those are printed overseas. By the time I order a reprint, it can take three months to get to warehouse. So for holiday sales, in most cases, we’re ordering for the holidays in July knowing it’s going to get us books in October to get full distribution by the holidays, so if we get that number wrong and don’t discover that till October, we’re in trouble. It’s almost impossible to get books. Which is why we did a printing of Atlas Obscura domestically one year, because we couldn’t get books fast enough,” he says. He also notes that on the domestic side of printing, the challenge of paper stock and printer availability has been growing over the last few years, with 2018 being the most challenging to date.
Reprint decisions often happen early enough in a book’s life that publishers aren’t caught by surprise. But sometimes, they are.
Demand for the 2009 picture book The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith surged when a video of Scottish grandmother reading aloud to her grandson went viral in September. Grochowski noted that the book’s publisher, Scholastic, seemed to be able to keep up with demands fairly well…but also noticed that some graphic novels from Scholastic’s Graphix imprint experienced delays. Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk, a July 2018 release, was delayed until early December as of this writing, and Jarrett Krosoczka’s Hey Kiddo, a National Book Award finalist, experienced intermittent delays this fall, although Grochowski was quick to point out that Hey Kiddo’s delay probably wasn’t wholly due to the popularity of The Wonky Donkey. “The NBA longlisting and then the shortlisting made the sell-through happen more quickly than expected,” she acknowledged. “And now it’s harder to get printer access to get ahead of the demand.”
Wolff notes that if something goes viral or there’s a surprise uptick in sales, books may end up backordered while publishers seek out a printer and navigate the decisions of whether it can be printed domestically (taking into consideration cost, paper sourcing, and printer availability) or whether it is better served overseas (considering cost and shipping time).
Tariffs aren’t out of the question in the new year, though. With the threats of a potential trade war with China from the Trump administration, it’s possible that books could fall under the category of products from China seeing higher prices. “Books aren’t currently on the list of tariffed items, but if the tariffs include books, every book being produced in China—which are a lot and generally the more expensive ones—could all have a tariff imposed, and those tariffs are pretty high. There’s a threat they could go up to 25%. While books aren’t currently included in China tariffs, things like planners, diaries, engagement diaries are. They are on the list that should be getting tariffs at 10%. Calendars are not on there…yet! But there have been threats. This, more than anything, could cause a giant scramble come the new year if that changes at all. Publishers would struggle about where to print, whether domestically or into other Asian markets outside China,” says Wolff.
Preordering books can make an impact, though. Preorders do indicate to publishers there may be a strong interest in a title that they didn’t anticipate, encouraging a reprint of the title from the get-go or vice versa—a title they anticipated being a big title might need more publicity behind it in order to meet their projections. If you’re eager for a book, preordering encourages a publisher to act on that interest.
So what about your bottom line?
“You might notice that the prices of your books might be going up in the next year, and it all comes down to one thing: paper for books is getting harder to come by,” says Whitman.
“Might” is the key word here, as so many variables are unknown. Chances are you may not notice a significant difference in the cost of your books this season or next year, even if the cost of paper and production of a title nudges the list price up a dollar or two. But that might not remain the case if paper supply continues to be a challenge.
Wolff says, “We are looking at retail prices much harder than we ever have before because as paper costs rise, suddenly something that’s always been $14.95—we’re looking and realizing we’re not making the profit we should be and considering whether we should make it $15.95. As we’re going back and reprinting, we’re looking at retail costs because paper and material increases are really impacting the cost we’re paying out and at some point, you need to increase retail prices.”
As it stands now, finding the big, buzzy books at your local bookstore shouldn’t be challenging and the titles you wish to gift should be readily available. In the instances this isn’t the case, it’s likely due to paper and not tariffs. The average reader, in other words, shouldn’t expect to notice anything different.
The winners of the 69th National Book Awards have been announced! The ceremony was hosted by Nick Offerman and lifetime achievement awards were given to Doron Weber and Isabel Allende.
YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE:
THE POET X BY ELIZABETH ACEVEDO
A favorite among Book Riot contributors! Fans of Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, and Jason Reynolds will fall hard for this astonishing New York Times-bestselling novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.
Judges this year: Robin Benway, Lamar Giles, Grace Worcester Greene,Valerie Koehler, and Mitali Perkins.
THE EMISSARY BY YOKO TAWADA AND TRANSLATED BY MARGARET MITSUTANI
Translated Literature is a new category at this year’s National Book Awards, the first to be added in over twenty years. Yoko Tawada’s new novel is a breathtakingly light-hearted meditation on mortality and fully displays what Rivka Galchen has called her “brilliant, shimmering, magnificent strangeness”
Judges this year: Harold Augenbraum, Karen Maeda Allman, Sinan Antoon, Susan Bernofsky, and Álvaro Enrigue
INDECENCY BY JUSTIN PHILLIP REED
In these poems, Justin Phillip Reed experiments with language to explore inequity and injustice and to critique and lament the culture of white supremacy and the dominant social order. Political and personal, tender, daring, and insightful―the author unpacks his intimacies, weaponizing poetry to take on masculinity, sexuality, exploitation, and the prison industrial complex and unmask all the failures of the structures into which society sorts us.
Judges this year: Mary Jo Bang, Ken Chen, Elise Paschen, Danez Smith, Stephen Sparks
THE NEW NEGRO: THE LIFE OF ALAIN LOCKE BY JEFFREY C. STEWART
A tiny, fastidiously dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to mentor a generation of young artists including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence and call them the New Negro—the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness. In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance, based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally.
Judges this year: Rachel Cast, John Freeman, Annette Gordon-Reed, Sarah Manguso, and Andrés Reséndez
THE FRIEND BY SIGRID NUNEZ
When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog’s care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them. Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.
Judges this year: Chris Bachelder, Laila Lalami, Min Jin Lee, Laurie Muchnick, and Chinelo Okparanta
Congratulations to this year’s winners and all the nominees!
Novelist and screenwriter William Goldman has died at the age of 87. Peter Jones/Corbis via Getty Images
Novelist and screenwriter William Goldman, who wrote the beloved cult classic The Princess Bride and won Oscars for writing All the President’s Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, has died at 87.
Goldman’s son-in-law, Mike Pavol, tells NPR that Goldman died Friday morning in New York City.
His legend was cemented in Hollywood, but Goldman himself was an avowed New Yorker. He was born in Chicago, went to Oberlin College in Ohio, served briefly in the military and got a master’s in English from Columbia University in New York.
He launched a successful literary career immediately after graduating from Columbia with his first novel, The Temple of Gold. A series of well-received and sometimes bestselling novels followed.
Then, in 1965, Goldman started to shift into movie territory. He helped on the script for Masquerade (1965) and adapted Harper (1966). Then he wrote his first-ever original screenplay.
That beginner’s stab at screenwriting was none other than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It sold for the then-record sum of $400,000 (some $3 million in 2018 dollars) and won Goldman an Oscar in 1970 for best original screenplay.
That was just the start. Goldman went on to adapt The Stepford Wives, adapt All the President’s Men — anotherOscar-winning screenplay — and turn his own novels Marathon Man and Magic into films.
Ten screenplays later, Goldman still didn’t see himself as a Hollywood man. “I’m not a screenwriter,” he told The New York Times in 1979. “I’m a novelist who writes screenplays.”
But he knew enough to write the definitive guide to screenwriting. Adventures in the Screen Trade was published in 1983 and became a bestseller. Screenwriting professor George Huang tells NPR’s Neda Ulaby the book “was like the Bible in the industry” — and that the advice in it still holds up today.
The 1987 film, which Goldman adapted from his own novel, performed modestly at the box office upon its initial release. But as the years passed, it found a passionate following. Lines from the movie have woven their way into the fabric of pop culture — “Inconceivable!” “Aaaaas youuuuu wiiiiiish.” “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
NPR’s Linda Holmes wrote an appreciation of the film on its 30th anniversary last year:
“Like Goldman’s book — which is built on a fictional frame claiming it’s a retelling of an old book by someone named “S. Morganstern” — the film is built as a story that knows itself to be a story. That contributes to its timelessness, because it knows its own old-fashioned qualities, but holds them at a certain distance. When the music swells behind a romantic kiss, for example, we instantly cut to young [Fred] Savage, looking up at his grandfather with suspicion, asking, ‘Is this a kissing book?’ It is a kissing book, although it is also, as his grandfather has promised, full of adventure and sword fights and dangerous creatures. Goldman knew the points of resistance when he wrote the book; that knowledge lives in the film, too.”
Goldman was a craftsman — a master with high standards. And he was self-deprecating about the value of his own work. “I do not think I write particularly well,” he told the Times in 1978.
(In the same interview, he explained that he didn’t work from home, although he could have. Instead he went to an office in New York City five to seven days a week — because “it’s essential that I maintain a sense that what I’m doing is as important as what an insurance man or businessman is doing.”)
His movie oeuvre impressed everyone except, apparently, himself.
“Goldman said with most of them he could only see his mistakes,” Ulaby reports. “He claimed to love only two: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride.”
Picture it: you’re in the middle of practically nowhere—a place so desolate that it could double as the setting for a science fiction film set on an alien planet. There are no(t many) humans, there is no Starbucks, there is no local pub. It’s you, a few emperor penguins, and a stack of paperbacks.
Penguins aren’t much for conversation, so the surprises in those books? They’re all that you have. They are the sole thing keeping you from going mad amid long stretches of ice, the midnight sun, and your own repeating thoughts.
I don’t much mind spoilers myself, BUT: I also live in an environment replete with distractions. I can jump from the end of a book, spoiled or not, into my car and head down to Target for a little late night aisle cruising, if I want; I can scoot over to an all-hours bar, order a Guinness, and engage in some weird conversation. Or go to a movie. Or go thrifting. I have options for instant distractions.
A person who’s floating lonely on an iceberg through stretches of frozen sea does not.
Here’s what we know: Antarctica just saw its first attempted murder, and it was definitely—most definitely—over the spoilers to books. Sergey Savitsky and his colleague Oleg Beloguzov have been stationed on King George Island for the past four years, researching and doing other science-y things during their working hours, and then passing their long and getting longer “leisure” hours of nightlessness in the few stark ways that they could: existential woe; ennui; despair. And when that got old (we presume), books.
Maybe it started as a joke born of boredom: Oleg sees Sergey pick up a familiar title. He feels a sudden burst of vicious glee. “Snape kills Harry at the end!” he declares. Sergey’s face goes white. Wondering about that ending was all that he had. His guesses are dead and his curiosity dashed. Now its back to troubling ice floes and wondering why he couldn’t just be a teacher or a grocer or something else nice and dull and local.
Props to Oleg, because it’s a HILARIOUS prank to pull, robbing a colleague of their one escape. The first time.
But EVERY time, for every book? Get a new schtick, Oleg. You’re wearing everyone’s patience thin.
No, I can’t imagine that Sergey didn’t warn Oleg to cut it out. I can’t imagine that he didn’t say, in the tone of a sibling who’s being continually poked on a long car ride or a mother who’s dealing with verse 104 of “The Song that Never Ends,” “STOP IT, YOU OAF.”
Woe to Oleg that he did not heed the warning.
Before book 34: “Hester Prynne turns out to be a witch, and she hexes the whole town for cramping her style.”
“Damnit, Oleg, I’m warning you.”
At the thirdway point of book 132: “Amy Dunne was a ghost all along, hell-bent on retribution because Nick had messed with her in a past life.”
“Seriously, Oleg, I’m going to lose it.”
Just as book 431 is nearing its end: “Rhett Butler up and decides that he frankly does not give a dam—”
So, Sergey snapped, and according to the attached article, Oleg’s “heart was injured.” Heart?! What heart?! Those books were all that Sergey had.
I’m not promoting violence, but I get it—don’t we kinda all? I might have chosen a method less murdery, but: snowblindness. Madness. Desolation. Sergey did what he did, and I guarantee you Oleg won’t be dropping spoilers again.*
Here’s a knowing nod to temporary booksanity, and here’s hoping that we all have the sense not to get between a stranded person and their books.
Tired of fictional murderers lurking around every page? Fed up with unwelcome apocalypses, unending wars, and miseries that somehow get worse as the chapters fly by? You’re not alone. We love stories, but they can sometimes be dreary things.
Enter “up-lit,” a book trend with modest intentions: It wants to make you feel better.
Of course, books have always improved readers’ lives, but “up-lit” [uplifting literature] seeks to do this by focusing on empathy and optimism. The characters in this wave of literature are everyday heroes dealing with everyday problems, championing human connection over romance, fulfillment over traditional success.
“These feel-good books tap into mental health and loneliness and anxiety and trauma,” editor Sam Eades told The Guardian about the growing trend. “By the end of the book the characters will have formed friendships, and been swept into a community.”
Want to check it out for yourself? We rounded up some of the most popular “up-lit” titles Goodreads members have been shelving below.