Major Book Industry News for April & May 2024

The final two months of spring 2024 offer a wide variety of book and publishing-related news that affects everyone from casual readers to authors themselves. From the top-tier prizes awarded at the US Book Show to small-town changes that affect libraries and self-publishers, as the year heats up, so does the discussion about the right to read across the United States.

Here are the highlights of book industry news for April and May 2024. Explore updates and announcements from February & March, too.

  1. U.S. Book Show May 22, 2024
  2. Top Editors Dismissed from Penguin Random House
  3. Book Bans in Libraries & Illinois House Protections
  4. Children’s Book Diversity Soars
  5. Record-breaking Year for Entangled Publishing

U.S. Book Show May 22, 2024

The annual meetup of some of the biggest publishing and book sales names continued many discussions about tech and industry trends. This year, the US Book Show focused heavily on artificial intelligence (AI) and diversity. This show’s focus diverges from the usual conversation about hot genres or bestseller ranks. Instead, the unique panels of publishing and book industry executives discuss challenges for the sector itself.

AI topped the list of topics. It was described as both a valuable tool for everyone from authors to marketers and a problematic elephant in the room that infringed on rights and introduced potentially serious legal and ethical issues. These include not only copyright issues but also the risk of fake celebrity endorsements, fraudulent use of well-known voices for audiobooks, and more. Still, the general consensus was that AI is here to stay, and creating a roadmap for its use and accepting parameters mattered. CEO of Ulysses Press, Keith Reiger, echoed many sentiments, saying, “Somebody that is using AI that is going to take your job.”

Market discussions focused on libraries and, interestingly enough, the US Millitary. CEO of OverDrive, Steve Potash, called it one of the biggest markets with over 1.7 million individuals. Another panel discussion explored how to boost diversity and accessibility in publishing. The markets exist, they are hungry, and they deserve representation.

Top Editors Dismissed from Penguin Random House

The United State’s largest publishing house, Penguin Random House, released two of its long-time publishers: Reagan Arthur and Lisa Lucas. They published for imprints Alfred A. Knopf and Pantheon and Schocken, respectively. This surprising move comes when big publishers are struggling with profits. The dismissal was part of the restructuring and was “necessary for future growth,” standard, corporate-speak reasons that often align with money-saving measures alone.

These changes come in the wake of past CEO Markus Dohle resigning and US executive Madeline McIntosh following suit. Lay-offs across the board followed. This latest downsizing, unfortunately, surprised the two woman publishers but not those with an eye on Penguin Random House’s downward trend.

Book Bans in Libraries & Illinois House Protections

Unfortunately, the world of bookselling and publishing is not immune to political and social upheaval across the United States. According to the American Library Association’s research, public libraries face 92% more book censorship challenges today than in past years. These challenges frequently focus on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ titles and are perpetrated by organized groups rather than individuals.

While these disturbing numbers reflect a change in 2023 and the first quarter of this year, the responses to the growing issue of censorship and book bans continue today and will hopefully do so in the future. The Illinois House responded to these and associated threats against different institutions nationwide with House Bill 4567. It grants libraries with increased security measures and boosts legal repercussions for nefarious actors who threaten them. Rep. Anne Stava-Murray sponsored the bill, passed the house, and now goes to the state senate.

California and Washington State have similar laws protecting libraries. Ban-heavy states such as Iowa, Texas, and Florida have also positively changed reading and book access freedom. They have experienced challenges or refusals of strict, censorship-based efforts.

Children’s Book Diversity Soars

Recent numbers compiled about children’s book releases in 2023/4 have shown a marked upswing in diverse topics and voices. Whether in direct response to book bans and rising challenges across the United States or merely a matter of chasing profits, more books about and by BIPOC have continued to rise. In 2015, numbers hovered around 11% of children’s books and hit 15% by 2023.

Lee & Low Books, a diversity-focused publisher, released the most recent results for the Diversity Baseline Survey, which shows a slow but steady increase in non-white readers and publishing industry employees. The trend has sped up recently as more corporations and communities begin to understand the value in diversity.

Children’s Book Diversity Soars

Record-Breaking Year for Entangled Publishing

In a publishing world primarily dominated by the Big Five and with the ever-growing popularity of self-published authors, smaller presses struggle to remain active or relevant. This general statement does not hold true for Entangled Publishing, which opened its doors in 2011. They experienced record-breaking sales in 2023, and the trend continues in the first quarter of 2024.

Much of the current success comes from the rise of the romantasy genre. Author Rebecca Yarro’s superstar-level popularity with her Empyrean series books, Fourth Wing and Iron Flame, have only cemented Entangled Publishing’s place. Besides runaway bestsellers in their backlist of 2000+ books, they owe their success to agile and creative thinking in an ever-changing publishing industry and a continuing focus on listening to readers above all else.

In April and May of 2024, many new books have hit the shelves amid growing contention and division in the publishing, library, school, and general access debates. Challenges with AI generated content, marketing materials, and copyright infringement continue to plague the industry. Big names struggle to profit while medium-sized presses surge with blockbuster releases. As the year heads toward the busy summer reading season at the halfway point, things promise to grow more interesting in the world of books.

Entangled Publishing