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Below is a selection of news highlights from the wider publishing industry in the past month, courtesy of Books+Publishing. Want to stay up to date about the writing and publishing industry? Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of news about the book industry, keeping subscribers up to date with the latest book industry news, events, features, interviews, opinion, personnel changes, job advertisements and classifieds. Books+Publishing is also the only source of pre-publication reviews of Australian books. To subscribe, click here

Bestselling books of 2021

Nielsen BookScan—which tracks the sales of books (in both physical bookshops and online)—recently announced the bestselling books in Australia in 2021. The top selling books in 2021, with the number of copies sold, were:

  1. Apples Never Fall (Liane Moriarty, Macmillan) 196,550
  2. The Happiest Man on Earth (Eddie Jaku, Macmillan) 126,500
  3. The 143-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton, Pan Macmillan) 108,970
  4. The Barefoot Investor (Scott Pape, Wiley) 108,320
  5. The Dictionary of Lost Words (Pip Williams, Affirm) 92,880
  6. Better Off Dead (Lee & Andrew Child, Bantam) 91,810
  7. Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens, Corsair) 88,930
  8. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse (Charlie Mackesy, Ebury) 86,750
  9. Bluey: The Pool (Penguin) 86,620
  10. Bluey: Big Backyard (Penguin) 85,670

The list is notable for the number of local authors at the top of the chart—the five bestselling titles of last year were by Australian authors.

By comparison, in the UK, the bestselling titles in 2021 were:

  1. The Thursday Murder Club (Richard Osman, Penguin)
  2. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse (Charlie Mackesy, Ebury)
  3. The Midnight Library (Matt Haig, Canongate)
  4. The Man Who Died Twice (Richard Osman, Penguin)
  5. Pinch of Nom: Quick and easy (Kay Featherstone & Kate Allinson, Bluebird)
  6. Guinness World Records 2022 (Guinness World Records)
  7. And Away … (Bob Mortimer, Gallery)
  8. Megamonster (David Walliams, HarperCollins)
  9. Windswept and Interesting (Billy Connolly, John Murray)
  10. Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens, Corsair).

US government blocks PRH, S&S deal; Self-publishers avoid scrutiny to merge

Undoubtably the biggest publishing news from late last year was the US Department of Justice (DoJ) filing a lawsuit to block multinational publisher Penguin Random House’s acquisition of fellow publishing giant Simon & Schuster.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, argues the acquisition ‘would result in substantial harm to authors’. It also alleges the move would ‘enable Penguin Random House, which is already the largest book publisher in the world, to exert outsized influence over which books are published in the United States and how much authors are paid for their work’.

‘If consummated, this merger would likely result in substantial harm to authors of anticipated top-selling books and ultimately, consumers,’ the DoJ stated. ‘Post-merger, the two largest publishers would collectively control more than two-thirds of this market, leaving hundreds of authors with fewer alternatives and less leverage.’

The DoJ’s decision to sue to block the acquisition came following concerns from agents and authors that the deal will leave fewer major publishers able to acquire big-ticket titles.

Books+Publishing has the full story here.

In somewhat related news from the smaller side of town, a merger between two US-based self-publishing companies has escaped such scrutiny, with Draft2Digital merging with Smashwords.

As Publishing Perspectives reports,  the combined entity, which will take Draft2Digital’s name, says that the two companies will ‘enable 250,000 authors and publishers around the world to publish, distribute, market, and manage more than 800,000 ebooks and 11,000 print-on-demand paperback books.’

Both Draft2Digital and Smashwords have published FAQs for customers concerned about how the deal will affect them.

Upcoming writers festivals

After two years of cancelled, postponed and online-only events, the first programs for this year’s line-up of writers festivals have begun to be announced with the hope they’ll be going ahead in-person.

First up is the third Blak & Bright First Nations Literary Festival, which runs 17–20 March in Naarm (Melbourne). The program includes 27 events featuring over 67 guests including Alexis Wright, Tony Birch, Claire G Coleman, Jazz Money, Nardi Simpson, Ellen van Neerven, Tara June Winch, Chelsea Watego and Yung Tent Embassy activists. The festival will have in person and live streamed events. To view the full Blak & Bright program, see the website.

The program for the Brisbane Writers Festival (BWF), which runs 3–8 May, features over 100 artists who will appear at more than 80 events for the 60th celebration of the festival. For tickets and more information, see the BWF website.

Finally, art and design fair Semi Permanent has announced it will feature an art and design book fair to run concurrently with the festival across three days from 25–27 May in Sydney.

Organisers said the book fair ‘aims to bring together a diverse range of publishers, artists and designers to share their printed and digital matter (including books, magazines, zines, posters, NFT art and literature, and more) with an engaged audience of fellow creatives’, as well as a range of events, including keynote talks, panel discussions and workshops, relating to the practice of art book creation, design and production.

For more information, see the Semi Permanent website.

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